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But Now We’re Stressed Out

But Now We’re Stressed Out

During my senior year of high school, around college admissions time, the girl who sat in front of me in AP English turned around and made possibly the weirdest confession I’d ever heard. She said that sometimes she’d get so stressed out that she would drive to Target and hide...

The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter

The Seven Sacraments of Harry Potter

In honor of the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, here is another essay from our new anthology of movie essays, Mockingbird at the Movies, available in print here and on Kindle here. 

Before anyone calls bluff on a Harry Potter essay found in a book about movies, let...

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it.

More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone a...

Latest entries

Hiding Under the Stage of Political Certainty

Hiding Under the Stage of Political Certainty

It’s not even September, which means we’ve only just begun to moan at the radio, “Good grief, another piece on approval ratings?!” With three months to go, we’re going to need all the help we can get, which is why I came back to Kathryn Schulz and her book Being Wrong. This excerpt discusses the allure of ‘public displays’ of certainty, even when the evidence plainly proves otherwise. Schulz explains why we, despite the false promises of the past, continue to cast our votes for a certain future.

Certainty might be a practical, logical, and evolutionary necessity, but the simplest truth about it is that it…

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The Ministry of Personal Concern

From Henri Nouwen’s classic The Wounded Healer, this excerpt seems to describe pastoral care (and relationships) 101: the power of one’s own inner-archaeology to “break the fourth wall” with another; to actually reach out and meet another by first reaching in.

ec85f5bc2fe180880ec3f2c022986e5687045070_mIt is not just curiosity which makes people listen to a preacher when speaks directly to a man and a woman whose marriage he blesses or to the children of the man whom he buries in the ground. They listen in the deepseated hope that a personal concern might give the preacher words that carry beyond the ears of those whose joy or suffering he shares. Few listen to a sermon which is intended to be applicable to everyone, but most pay careful attention to words born out of concern for only a few.

All this suggests that when one has the courage to enter where life is experienced as most unique and most private, one touches the soul of the community. The man who has spent many hours trying to understand, feel, and clarify the alienation and confusion of one of his fellow men might well be the best equipped to speak to the needs of the many, because all men are one at the wellspring of pain and joy.

This is what Carl Rogers pointed out when he wrote: “…I have–found that the very feeling which has seemed to me most private, most personal and hence most incomprehensible by others, has turned out to be an expression for which there is a resonance in many other people. It has led me to believe that what is most personal and unique in each one of us is probably the very element which would, if it were shared or expressed, speak most deeply to others. This has helped me to understand artists and poets who have dared to express the unique in themselves.” It indeed seems that the Christian leader is first of all the artist who can bind together many people by his courage in giving expression to his most personal concern.

“I Must Have Done Something Good”

“I Must Have Done Something Good”

When I was a little girl, our family’s acquisition of a VCR coincided with my older sister’s debut in several small town musical productions. This meant that I could watch Annie, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and The Fiddler on the Roof to my heart’s content, when not elbowing my brother out of the way when he wanted to watch Star Wars. I watched the Fiddler on the Roof on VHS so many times that the tapes warped. We also had vinyl records of musical soundtracks, and hearing a needle hit the vinyl still makes my throat catch before I…

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Rest for the Fickle

Rest for the Fickle

We’re fickle. Human beings are fickle. You and I both know it and we’re free to confess it. Our hearts and minds easily change orientation and preferences by the mere shifting of the wind, our hearts and minds have a difficulty staying the course, being constant in our loyalty and affections.

I do want to be clear that I don’t think all moments of changing our mind are bad; sometimes our propensity toward changing our mind isn’t necessarily a bad thing; there are times receiving new information and incorporating it into our database of knowledge is good, in fact it’s an…

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Another Week Ends: All-American Phelps, Puritan Play, Forgiving Mel, Cargo Shorts & #FirstSevenJobs

Another Week Ends: All-American Phelps, Puritan Play, Forgiving Mel, Cargo Shorts & #FirstSevenJobs

Click here to listen to this week’s episode of The Mockingcast, in which Scott interviews Krista Tippett, host of NPR’s On Being. Seriously!

1. Even if you’re not as absorbed in the Olympics as yours truly, you can’t have spent much time on the interwebs this week without hearing something about what’s happening in the pool down in Rio. The US is dominating to an almost embarrassing extent, and you-know-who just keeps on winning gold medals. Since we didn’t highlight it back in June, do read Karen Crouse’s “Seeking Answers, Michael Phelps Finds Himself” if you haven’t had a chance, as…

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A-Rod’s Legacy: It’s Complicated

A-Rod’s Legacy: It’s Complicated

Normally, a great athlete announcing his/her retirement provides an opportunity to reflect on a legacy. Image-management, tweaking of narratives and ad nauseam SportsCenter coverage often ensue. For professional athletes, therefore, this can be viewed as a strategic opportunity to forge a lasting impact, like a President in the final year of his second term. Different players choose to handle the retirement issue in different ways. Michael Jordan retired three times, Brett Favre stumbled over it so much we were eventually begging him to leave and Peyton Manning stepped into his next job as Papa Johns and Budweiser PR-man on the…

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Pick Up Your Pool Noodle and Follow Me

Pick Up Your Pool Noodle and Follow Me

I have two boys, ages 8 and 5, and they are delightful. No, really. They are. I think some people find that hard to believe, but they are what my parents’ generation would call “good kids”. I just call them easy kids. They get along with each other more than I thought possible for two human siblings, and they are generally kind, sweet kids. I would sometimes like to take credit for their behavior, but mostly, I’m just grateful.

The last two summers have been particularly great. We are in what writer Julianna Miner has dubbed “the sweet spot.” The kids…

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When Forgiveness Flounders

Timely paragraph from Miroslav Volf’s volume Exclusion and Embrace, ht SJ:

exclusion-and-embrace-1“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion — without transposing the enemy from the sphere of the monstrous… into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.”

How To Be Miserable, Lesson 27

How To Be Miserable, Lesson 27

Putting the finishing touches on the Mental Health issue of our print magazine, and simply couldn’t wait to share an excerpt from one of the books we’re including in our list Non-Self-Help Self-Help Books. This comes from Randy J. Paterson’s recently released How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use, a tongue-in-cheek guide to being your own worst enemy. You’ll learn, for example, how to “filter for the negative”, “construct future hells”, and “rehearse the regrettable past.” As you can imagine, it’s all pretty much worth reprinting, but for the sake of brevity, here’s one of my favorites, the…

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How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

How Many Friends Have I Really Got?

The most awkward part of the wedding wasn’t the foot-washing, believe it or not. Uncomfortably sensual, sure, but there was also something touching about it.

More awkward was the fact that she was there in the first place. You see, she would’ve been surprised to receive an invitation, let alone a request to be a bridesmaid. But there she was, lined up at the altar with six ladies she’d never met before, all of them wearing the same dress, standing behind an amiable young woman with whom she had at best a passing acquaintance.

A more honest person (or less of a…

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An Upholder’s Confession

An Upholder’s Confession

This one comes to us from friend and contributor Lindsey Hepler:

In her recent book about habit formation, Gretchen Rubin describes four types of people: obligers, rebels, upholders, and questioners. Without ever taking her short quiz, I already know which type I am: an upholder, through and through. Upholders, Rubin says, respond readily to outer and inner expectations. Basically, we are rule followers and rule lovers.

On the positive side, being an upholder often contributes to success in school, where being a good rule follower is essentially seen as the same thing as being a smart/gifted child. An adult tells us what…

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Grace in Practice 10 Years Later: A Conversation

Don’t think we’ve posted the wonderful on-stage conversation that took place in NYC between PZ and Scott Jones:

Grace in Practice 10 Years Later: A Conversation Between Scott Jones and Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.