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Falling from Law

Falling from Law

This one was written by our fallen friend, Julian Brooks.

A few years back I was blindsided by the Gospel of Grace. Things I had heard for years about God’s love and forgiveness started to take on flesh and become more than just recited truths; they became a living person. And that’s...

Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Human being is storied being. We find meaning in our present according to where we’ve been and where we’re going. This is why a condition like PTSD is so devastating. By making the traumatic past ever present it robs a person of the ability to narrate their own story or even...

You Take It, and You Say Thank You

You Take It, and You Say Thank You

This one was written by our friend, Carrie Willard.

A few years ago, we (my husband, two young sons and I) lived in a house that was very cute, but sometimes not very practical. Our refrigerator, for example, was tiny. And the more I fed my growing family, the more I...

Sending Lady Gaga to Her Room

Sending Lady Gaga to Her Room

Circa 2009, around the time of The Fame Monster, there were very few American high schoolers cool enough to talk down about Lady Gaga. For both girls and guys, she was edgy enough (and inevitable enough, releasing single after single after single) to leave everyone feeling at the very least a...

To the End of the Line: Captain America: Civil War and the Demands of Love

To the End of the Line: Captain America: Civil War and the Demands of Love

How far would you go for your friend?

Not an acquaintance, not an associate, not a work buddy: a friend, your companion, the counterpart whom you love. To what length would you go to protect her? Is there anything that would compel you to hesitate rushing to his side? What if...

Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

During a 1995 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Pat Conroy related a story about his father, Don, that epitomized the patriarch’s delusional view of identity. The two men were discussing why Pat’s mother left Don when the elder Conroy broke down sobbing. Thinking that Don had finally realized the error...

Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

This one comes to us from Zac Koons:

An Appreciation of “You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes”

There’s a lot about Pete Holmes’s podcast that might put you off. For starters, episodes of “You Made It Weird” are long—like, Lord-of-the-Rings-long—and even more unwelcome perhaps, they’re almost entirely unedited. Its premise (comedian interviews...

Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Before The Babylon Bee, there was The Wittenburg Door, a satirical Christian journal with some serious humor–a cartoon called “Dogs Who Know the Lord”, fake news headlines, a Theologian of the Year (with winners like Xena Warrior Princess and Mister T)–all pointed in cornball fashion at the Church and its bizarre inner- and outer-workings....

Vulnerability, Judgement and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds Turns 50!

Vulnerability, Judgement and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds Turns 50!

Half a century is pretty “outta sight” if you ask me. To celebrate, here’s the two main Pet Sounds portions of The Beach Boys essay in Mess of Help. We’ve posted portions before but never all of it. Catch a wave: 

Brian Wilson was the original heart-on-your-sleeve auteur. Young men had been vulnerable on record...

In Praise of Huge, Honking Guilt Trips

In Praise of Huge, Honking Guilt Trips

A bit tardy perhaps, but hold on to your hats cause this week Scott and co produced a special, plus-sized episode of The Mockingcast, all about the recent Church Issue of The Mockingbird. The episode features a fresh interview with author (and NY Times columnist) Molly Worthen, a discussion with editor-in-chief Ethan Richardson...

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Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Angels with an Incredible Capacity for Beer: A 1986 Interview with Brennan Manning

Before The Babylon Bee, there was The Wittenburg Door, a satirical Christian journal with some serious humor–a cartoon called “Dogs Who Know the Lord”, fake news headlines, a Theologian of the Year (with winners like Xena Warrior Princess and Mister T)–all pointed in cornball fashion at the Church and its bizarre inner- and outer-workings. Our mentor and spirit-guide Robert Farrar Capon was, in fact, a “Keeper of the Door”–he started a column series he called “Pietro and Madeleine,” a theological love story (of sorts). But The Door, as it later became known, also did some very serious interviews. In these interviews, they were both just playing…

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In Praise of Huge, Honking Guilt Trips

A bit tardy perhaps, but hold on to your hats cause this week Scott and co produced a special, plus-sized episode of The Mockingcast, all about the recent Church Issue of The Mockingbird. The episode features a fresh interview with author (and NY Times columnist) Molly Worthen, a discussion with editor-in-chief Ethan Richardson about the publication itself, as well as a recording of the ecclesiologically-themed panel Scott moderated at the Missio conference last month in Philadelphia. Click here to listen, and if you haven’t ordered a copy of the issue yet, just think: today could be the day you rectify that oversight.

I can’t pass up the opportunity to post a nugget from one of the essays in the issue that’s garnered a particularly enthusiastic response, Paul Walker’s survey of the art and task of preaching, “A Splendid Failure” (worth the price of admission alone!):

preachingThere is not a single person who has come through the red doors of a church who is not hoping beyond hope for a salve to be applied to his bleeding wound. This hope is often buried below bravado, barely recognizable, but it beats in the heart of every human, because everybody hurts…

For anyone to have half a chance to walk out of those red church doors and into his actual life, he must know that he is forgiven, not just for what he’s done, but for who he is. It is the preacher’s job to let him know. She must talk about what has been done for him, rather than what he must do. It’s her most important job, the job that looms so much larger than all her other ministerial concerns. It is this message alone that makes her feet beautiful.

In other words, every sermon must be a huge, honking guilt trip. Um, what? I don’t mean the tired claptrap dished (often unwittingly) out by sermonizing guilt-invokers. Things like, “You know, you are the only hands and feet that Jesus has in the world. You know, you are the only Bible some people will ever read.”… I’m not talking about those kinds of guilt trips.

The “guilt trip” that every sermon must be is the transfer of guilt, from the rightly condemned sin junkie onto the wrongly condemned Christ Jesus. The sermon must be a beast of burden, carrying the hearer’s red-handed guilt straight into the speared side of Christ on the cross, plunged into the fountain of water and blood, which bleaches away all evidence of our criminality.

P.S. A reminder that all monthly supporters of Mockingbird ($5 or more) automatically receive a complimentary subscription to the journal. Click here to sign up. We can’t do this without you!

In the Valley of the Blind

In the Valley of the Blind

This post comes to us from Bobby Goodrich. 

A general in the Athenian navy, Sophocles had seen the empire at its height, and he’d also seen it falter. He’d seen the dream that was Athens crumble under it’s own hubris as one Greek city-state, and then another, chafed under Athenian despotism and broke ranks. He watched as her people suffered under Spartan blockade and plague ravaged the city–and it was in the midst of this decline that he penned Oedipus Rex, a play that is actually not primarily about incest (Freud’s interest notwithstanding) but about human ignorance.

See, the real tragedy of Oedipus…

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Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

This one comes to us from Zac Koons:

An Appreciation of “You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes”

There’s a lot about Pete Holmes’s podcast that might put you off. For starters, episodes of “You Made It Weird” are long—like, Lord-of-the-Rings-long—and even more unwelcome perhaps, they’re almost entirely unedited. Its premise (comedian interviews comedian) doesn’t promise anything out of the ordinary, and he breaks almost every imaginable rule of interviewer etiquette: he indulges tangents, his research is from Wikipedia, and he constantly interrupts his guests to regale them with stories of his own. And then there’s his laugh, which is constant, lasts for…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Let’s Build-A-God!

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Let’s Build-A-God!

Welcome to the third installment of act three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here.

“You like your church, right?” My friend’s question came from out of the blue. “I tried bikram and meditation, then Buddhism for a while, then my own thing but none of it’s working for me. I need to try something different. Work is killing me.”

“Do you believe in God?” I asked.

“Well … I believe in a divine energy that unites all things in the…

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You Take It, and You Say Thank You

You Take It, and You Say Thank You

This one was written by our friend, Carrie Willard.

A few years ago, we (my husband, two young sons and I) lived in a house that was very cute, but sometimes not very practical. Our refrigerator, for example, was tiny. And the more I fed my growing family, the more I craved a little more space. I went on a search for a “garage fridge”–that ubiquitous Midwestern appliance where people keep extra beverages, garden surplus, food for parties, etc. I found that even dormitory-sized refrigerators were outrageously expensive, and so when I found a gently used refrigerator at the neighborhood garage…

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Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Faith, The Future & The Frightening Reality Of Online Dating

Human being is storied being. We find meaning in our present according to where we’ve been and where we’re going. This is why a condition like PTSD is so devastating. By making the traumatic past ever present it robs a person of the ability to narrate their own story or even sometimes to have much of one.

A recent little piece by theologian Peter Leithart reminded me just how central the tug forward is for us if we’re to live anything like a meaningful life. Leithart points out the curious fact that, at the end of the book of Revelation, the heavenly city…

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Vulnerability, Judgement and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds Turns 50!

Vulnerability, Judgement and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds Turns 50!

Half a century is pretty “outta sight” if you ask me. To celebrate, here’s the two main Pet Sounds portions of The Beach Boys essay in Mess of Help. We’ve posted portions before but never all of it. Catch a wave: 

Brian Wilson was the original heart-on-your-sleeve auteur. Young men had been vulnerable on record before, but usually in the service of garnering swoons rather than expressing actual warts-and-all weakness. Brian’s was not the attractive kind of vulnerability; it was the awkward kind. In the song, his girl’s devotion even makes him “want to cry”. The Beach Boys sang about teenage male tears more than…

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Jayber Crow’s Path Through the Dark Woods of Error

wberry

I am only about 100 pages into Wendell Berry’s novel, Jayber Crow, but I couldn’t wait until I finished to share this beautiful reflection on a life lived from the barber/priest himself:

“Now I have had most of the life I am going to have, and I can see what it has been. I can remember those early years when it seemed to me I was cut completely adrift, and at times when, looking back at earlier times, it seemed I had been wandering in the dark woods of error. But now it looks to me as though I was following a path that was laid out for me, unbroken, and maybe even as straight as possible, from one end to the other, and I have this feeling, which never leaves me anymore, that I have been led. I will leave you to judge the truth of that for yourself.”

Sending Lady Gaga to Her Room

Sending Lady Gaga to Her Room

Circa 2009, around the time of The Fame Monster, there were very few American high schoolers cool enough to talk down about Lady Gaga. For both girls and guys, she was edgy enough (and inevitable enough, releasing single after single after single) to leave everyone feeling at the very least a distant admiration. She did however possess a particular power in the art classes, one that you wouldn’t see her having on, say, the lacrosse field, and this was because historically speaking art classrooms have always been “interesting” places. Mine was no exception: it was by all accounts an underground church, the…

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Another Week Ends: Stone Roses, Avatars, Tinder Humanitarians, (Un)Funny Sermons, Self-Compassion, Good Christian Films and a Bunch of Marbles

Another Week Ends: Stone Roses, Avatars, Tinder Humanitarians, (Un)Funny Sermons, Self-Compassion, Good Christian Films and a Bunch of Marbles

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, which features an interview with Howard professor of Homiletics Kenyatta Gilbert.

1. What a glorious day it is when you wake up to a new single by The Stone Roses! I’m going to withhold judgment til I’ve had a bit more time to sit with it, but woah that guitar solo:

2. Next, writing for The NY Times magazine, Amanda Hess asks, What Do Our Online Avatars Reveal About Us? A lot, as it turns out. The stakes are theologically richer than meets the eye too:

The word “avatar” originates in Hinduism,…

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Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

Call Me Aaron Burr, Sir

During a 1995 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, Pat Conroy related a story about his father, Don, that epitomized the patriarch’s delusional view of identity. The two men were discussing why Pat’s mother left Don when the elder Conroy broke down sobbing. Thinking that Don had finally realized the error of the ways, Pat quoted the ensuing conversation to Gross: “‘Dad, do you understand what you did wrong?’ And Dad said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘What is it, Dad? What did you do wrong?’ And my father said, ‘I was too good. I didn’t crack down hard enough. I was…

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