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Preaching and Needing Grace, Again and Again

Preaching and Needing Grace, Again and Again

After I became a Christian during my junior year of college, I found myself attending a church where I heard the gospel of grace at Church every Sunday morning, at small group gatherings every Sunday night, and while sitting around kitchen tables and coffee tables with my new Christian friends...

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

How Did I Get Here: Breakdowns in IKEA and Other Tales from an Average and Foreign Life

I’m standing in IKEA, and I am shattered.

It’s not often one has an existential crisis in the checkout lane of a Swedish furniture store in the suburbs of Sydney–I think–but it happened to me, and very recently. In the twenty minutes (that felt like an eternity) that I spent behind...

The Struggle of Dying

The Struggle of Dying

This meditation on Lent and healing prayer comes to us from our friend Laurel Marr. 

In his book, The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane tells the story of Henry Fleming, a young soldier who enlists in the army in hopes of fulfilling his dream for glory. But, a long time goes...

Dear Reformation, It’s Not You It’s Me: Theology We Love to Hate – Sarah Condon

Dear Reformation, It’s Not You It’s Me: Theology We Love to Hate – Sarah Condon

The first video from Tyler is here! And as you'll see, the footage fills in a number of blanks from the recording, so if you've yet to listen to the audio, definitely start here. The good Rev. Condon brought the house down - truly one for the ages (and...
Love

The Title of the Show Is Love

At this point, Love is a show that can do no wrong in my eyes. I love that it moves slowly. I love that the characters have jobs, and that they seem to spend a decent amount of time there. Mostly, though, I love that no matter how low it...

The Ultimate Apocalypse

The Ultimate Apocalypse

Just in time for spring, this one comes to us from our fellow survivor, Zack Verham.

“Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?” – The First History Man (Mad Max: Fury Road)

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life,...

The Zacchaeus Option

The Zacchaeus Option

I guess there comes a point in every couple’s life where watching TV and not showering is a more alluring prospect than long hygenic rituals followed by being social. My wife and I are binge-watching a new show called Imposters. I thought the show’s premise was implausible, almost silly at first....

The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

The Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils

They say you can trace the exact moment the Great British Public fell out of love with Morrissey to the release of his 1996 album, Southpaw Grammar. It sounds like just the sort of brazen pronouncement rock critics love to make, more of a conversation-starter than a statement of fact....

2017 NYC Conference (4/27-29): New Video Invitation and Scholarships

2017 NYC Conference (4/27-29): New Video Invitation and Scholarships

With (magnificent!) Tyler behind us, it’s time to go full steam on the promotion for our big 10th Anniversary Conference in NYC which takes place the end of next month, April 27-29th. First up is our new video, which we encourage you to share to the ends of the Earth...

Latest entries

I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

I Did Not Build Me: Politics, Fragility, and the Self-Made Life

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own… If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

– Barack Obama July 13, 2012

When I heard President Obama utter those words I just about lost it. Usually I view the entire freakshow of politics as an insane sidebar — but this statement, made during the 2012 presidential campaign, marked one of those moments when a candidate inadvertently got up in my kitchen. All politics is local, but in this case it got personal. For…

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“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: Sarah Condon

“Mockingbird Turns 10” Interviews: Sarah Condon

This is the second installment in a series of monthly-ish interviews between myself and various Mockingbird writers and members of the Mockingbird community. These posts will explore some aspects of each individual’s personal story and some aspects of Mockingbird’s larger story and ministry as we celebrate its 10th Anniversary. My subject this time was The Rev. Sarah Condon.

Charlotte Donlon: How has your involvement with Mockingbird impacted you over the past several years?

Sarah Condon: It’s changed the kind of priest I am. I think that’s fundamental. Had I stayed in seminary on the path I was headed, I think I would’ve quit by…

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A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

Another taste of our recent issue on Food & Drink! Order your copy here! 

The soup kitchen at my church is currently in the midst of a cold war among its volunteers. On one side we have the pro-oil-and-vinegar contingency, armed with organic produce and health concerns; on the other side, the crusaders of ranch dressing are stuck in their ways. You’ll find me standing unapologetically behind oil-and-vinegar lines, and I don’t mean to brag, but, as one of the soup kitchen’s head cooks, I make a bitchin’ salad. Fresh greens (often from a local garden), walnuts, cukes, strawberries if they’re in…

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Blind Pilot’s Biblical Paradox

Blind Pilot’s Biblical Paradox

Half album review, half theological forage, this one comes to us from Madeline D’Elia. 

Panic in the first beat of the morning
Even what I’ve got isn’t worth offering
Even faces change—my heart stays the same.

After five years of waiting for their album release, I was hooked on And Then Like Lions in the first fifteen seconds. Once again, with trumpets, banjos, guitars, ukuleles, and mountain dulcimers, Blind Pilot poetically captured the experience of being a human. But this album was markedly different content-wise because it focused on tragedy from beginning to end. Called a “darker shade of folk” by the Wall Street…

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How Low Can You Go? The Soul of the Gospel – Paul Zahl

The opening talk from Tyler is here! As as you’ll see, it was really something else:

How Low Can You Go?: The Soul of the Gospel ~ Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Zacchaeus Option

The Zacchaeus Option

I guess there comes a point in every couple’s life where watching TV and not showering is a more alluring prospect than long hygenic rituals followed by being social. My wife and I are binge-watching a new show called Imposters. I thought the show’s premise was implausible, almost silly at first. But now we’re hooked.

Imposters begins with a newlywed couple so immersed in their own love and happiness, it’s almost nauseating. After some intimate moments (this show is on Bravo) we cut to the husband, Ezra Bloom (played by up-and-coming actor Rob Heaps), talking about his nuptial bliss with co-workers at the…

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Internet Trolls Have a Case of the Mondays

Internet Trolls Have a Case of the Mondays

A doozie of an article from the WSJ last week, provocatively titled, “We’re All Internet Trolls (Sometimes).” The piece highlights recent research out of Stanford and Cornell on the patterns and habits of internet trolling. Like any study of taboo topics, the research has its own missing pieces, but some of the findings are, frankly, revealing:

New research by computer scientists from Stanford and Cornell universities suggests this sort of thing—a generally reasonable person writing a post or leaving a comment that includes an attack or even outright harassment—happens all the time. The most likely time for people to turn into trolls?…

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Lenten Soup Supper in the Church Basement

Lenten Soup Supper in the Church Basement

A wonderful piece by Rebecca Florence Miller. More of her writing can be found here. 

The Lenten soup supper in the church basement. A staple of the Lutheran tradition of which I am a part—and because we are Lutheran (grace!), rather than being meager, fast-like meals, we sustain ourselves for the hard truths of Lent with hardy chili, seafood chowder, tomato bisque with mozzarella, five varieties of bread, and seven choices of dessert. Just for starters: brownies with whipped cream, carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut, a nutmeg Bundt with a brown-sugar caramel frosting. Ah, free in…

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Another Week Ends: Buffy Summers, Joan Didion, Progressive Comfort Zones, Petrified Wood, Hapless Patriots, and Silent Faith

Another Week Ends: Buffy Summers, Joan Didion, Progressive Comfort Zones, Petrified Wood, Hapless Patriots, and Silent Faith

1. Believe it or not, today marks the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No small thing for those who grew up in the 90s and/or appreciate good television. The AV Club has been mining the series all week for great articles, but the single best thing I’ve read is Sophie Gilbert’s piece in The Atlantic about “The Radical Empathy of Buffy‘s Best Episode”, AKA season 5’s “The Body”, which Gilbert calls “one of the most sophisticated analyses of the impact of death ever produced on television”. Amen to that. As for our own celebration, I invite you to…

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Gratitude for the Waves

Gratitude for the Waves

Grateful for this reflection by Richard Mammana. 

In the genetic funnel that began my life, the English came in 1634, and the Dutch a few months later. The Germans came in annual waves as religious Pietists or farming Protestants between 1720 and 1750, and again as song- and beer-loving Papists in the 1860s. My cheek swab and my waist tell a story of German rotundity with just fractional admixtures of religion and surname. The Italians arrived with their mozzarella in the famous year of 1901. By the time I was born in Pennsylvania in 1979, we had somehow avoided the temptations of Manifest…

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If This is Us, Then I Am Frank Gallagher

If This is Us, Then I Am Frank Gallagher

Every week millions of people tune in to watch the emotional, touching, and poignant This is Us and my Facebook newsfeed is all:

😢

And every week I’m like:

🙄

I realize that writing about my dislike of the show is akin to social atheism. We all want to believe that our family story looks like the attractive, well-written characters we see played out each week. But you can count my country ass out.

I do not like This is Us. It feels emotionally manipulative and unrealistic. But then again, I didn’t like Parenthood either. I KNOW. KICK ME…

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Unshackle the Should: An Overlong Post on the Art of Failure (and the Failure of Art)

Unshackle the Should: An Overlong Post on the Art of Failure (and the Failure of Art)

I had the honor of presenting earlier this week at “The Art of Failure” event here in Charlottesville, alongside Invisbilia co-host Lulu Miller and musician Devon Sproule. You can listen to all of the recordings on the Christ Church site, but here’s the modified/edited transcript, the first portion of which is adapted from A Mess of Help. Sincerest thanks to New City Arts and The Garage for co-sponsoring! What a fabulous evening.

In 1966, The Walker Brothers reportedly had a bigger fan club in the UK than The Beatles. Boggles the mind but it’s the truth, or close to it. The…

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