Forget the Standard: Teaching in the Time of Testing

Forget the Standard: Teaching in the Time of Testing

It is now five years since the Common Core State Standards were introduced, the newest governmental answer to educational plight in America, and still it seems that no one really knows what they are—and if they do know what they are, chances are they don’t like them. It has been...

I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

To many students like myself, mid-July feels like this: “I can’t believe school starts in only a month—I haven’t done enough summery things yet.” There’s a nagging sense of regret even in the present that maybe we could do more to optimize our time. Maybe it’s FOMO, the fear of...

A Few Thoughts on Righteous Minds and Religious Liberty

A Few Thoughts on Righteous Minds and Religious Liberty

I believe it was Austin Powers’ father Nigel who once remarked, “There are only two things I can’t stand in this world. People who are intolerant of other people’s cultures… and the Dutch.”

That movie came out while I was in college, and the joke struck a chord. Having been educated...

Summer Vacay: Where is Mom’s Coffin?

Summer Vacay: Where is Mom’s Coffin?

Officially speaking, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying tells the story of Bundren family traveling to bury their mother, Addie. Quickly in the narrative she dies. Children and husband must fulfill last request to take Mom’s body on a 40-mile trek in a wagon to be buried in Jefferson, Mississippi....

Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

This piece originally appears as the Introduction chapter of Eden and Afterward, Mbird’s latest publication, which looks at Genesis through the lenses of literary commentary, theology, and everyday life. Contents include Adam, Abel, Noah, Babel, Abram, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, Leah, Tamar, and Joseph.

There’s an old story of a Jewish rabbi who once...

The Jilted Lover Rejoices! Lebron Goes Home

The Jilted Lover Rejoices! Lebron Goes Home

The biggest professional sports play in their history is notoriously referred to as “The Fumble”. Their NFL owner literally packed up their beloved team and moved them to Baltimore in the middle of the night. Their NFL team has been in existence for 68 years and has never sniffed a Super...

Love Endures Fecklessness: Marilynne Robinson on The Sound and the Fury

Love Endures Fecklessness: Marilynne Robinson on The Sound and the Fury

Among Marilynne Robinson’s many brilliant essays, a 2012 Foreword to the Modern Library’s latest edition of The Sound and the Fury particularly struck a chord, the edition a must-buy despite its paint-chipped wood (new south!) cover. Maybe it’s her easy command of language, her gently probing (rather than assertively polemical) style of argument, maybe that...

Noticing the Need to Be Noticed

Noticing the Need to Be Noticed

A particularly beautiful installment of The NY Times’ series on Anxiety would have to be “On Being Nothing” by Brian Jay Stanley. It’s a personal reflection on a universal reality: our undying need for affirmation from other people. Whether it be praise in the workplace, mail in the inbox, the...

2014 Fall Conference in Houston TX (10/17-18) – Pre-Registration Now Open!

2014 Fall Conference in Houston TX (10/17-18) – Pre-Registration Now Open!

Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free. – Robert Capon

The grace of God does not play it safe. It is imprudent, risky, foolish. It cannot be contained by the walls we build and masks we wear. It moves beyond deserving,...

Latest entries
The First Three Lessons for the Virtuous Raleigh W. Hayes

The First Three Lessons for the Virtuous Raleigh W. Hayes

As you’ll see in our summer issue of The Mockingbird, Michael Malone’s Handling Sin is belatedly perched upon the book shelf here at HQ. It’s a shame the 1983 novel (even taking place in the Piedmont, for crying out loud!), took this long to find us, because not since Wilder’s Theophilus North, or Cobb’s Old Judge Priest, have I had a copy so dogeared and underlined I’ve stopped doing so halfway through. And, much like the other two, it’s incredibly summer-friendly–my pages now smell like some mixture of coastal seaweed and SPF 30–and the 700-page journey ends faster than your…

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Terry Teachout on Pop Culture and the Need for a Balance Between High and Low

Terry Teachout on Pop Culture and the Need for a Balance Between High and Low

This one comes to us from the fascinating mind of Jeremiah Lawson, aka Wenatchee the Hatchet:

The Library of America recently rolled out the first installment in a set of Elmore Leonard novels that are now part of their line-up. To mark the occasion, critic and columnist Terry Teachout has revisited his skepticism about Elmore Leonard being regarded as a member of a literary pantheon. This isn’t to suggest that Teachout isn’t a fan of Leonard’s work. This is the same man who published a fine biography on Duke Ellington last year. Instead, he is concerned that our efforts to exegete…

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Everything I Never Learned From Seinfeld

Everything I Never Learned From Seinfeld

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of our all time favorite show’s premiere, we offer up a re-run of “a breakout session about nothing”:

Rochelle Rochelle. Yo Yo Ma. Vandelay Industries. Marble Rye. Del Boca Vista. Get Out! The sea was angry that day. I’m a Da-ay Person. These. Pretzels. Are. Making. Me. Thirsty.

You got that right, mojambo–our 2012 NYC Conference included an hour long session on about the greatest sitcom of all time, Seinfeld.

W.H. Auden once wrote that “Christian comedy is based upon the belief that all men are sinners; no one, therefore, whatever his rank or talents, can claim…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Five Verses Fourteen through Thirty

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Five Verses Fourteen through Thirty

July 7′s devotion comes, ironically enough, from our returning honeymooner himself, Ethan Richardson. To order The Mockingbird Devotional, look no further than here.

…He who had received the one talent came forward, saying, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?…” (Matthew 25:14-30, ESV)

A common reading…

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Another Week Ends (Quickly): Buzzfeed Ambivalence, Forgiving Bieber, The Jayhawks, Swedish Conversions, Ayn Rand Goes to Hogwarts, and Habsburg Sinners

Another Week Ends (Quickly): Buzzfeed Ambivalence, Forgiving Bieber, The Jayhawks, Swedish Conversions, Ayn Rand Goes to Hogwarts, and Habsburg Sinners

A digest version this week as we head out of town for the holiday weekend. May the Fourth be with you:

1. The NY Times Magazine brought us Heather Havrilesky’s brilliant “794 Ways in Which BuzzFeed Reminds Us of Impending Death”. It may not inspire immediate feelings of patriotism, but what do you expect:

American pop culture leaves little room for mixed feelings, thereby inciting mixed feelings every step of the way. No wonder filmmakers and TV producers like Steven Spielberg and Matthew Weiner have inserted the ambient glee of Saturday-morning cartoons and radio D.J.s gasping over sunny weather in order to…

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The Messy Truth of the Axe Effect

The Messy Truth of the Axe Effect

Before the early 2000’s, the mention of the word “axe” conjured up visions of heavily bearded, weapon wielding men; men who were cloaked in bright red, pre-hipsterdom flannel, the kind of flannel that a man could wear while walking through a forest of ten foot tall thorn bushes and come out unscathed. Maybe hearing the word would even force out an occasional banshee like “TIMBER!” scream. But now, the word axe, attacks a different sense. It brings back the toxic smells of an overly fumigated high school boy’s locker room. Or, if you are a girl, the scent of that…

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Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Last week as I was tucking our 3 year old son into bed he whispered to me, “Mama, I’m scared of the dark.” I tossed out the first thing in my brain that would make him feel better and make him stay in bed, “Don’t be scared. God is with you.” I really don’t like religious platitudes. For some reason I thought my toddler wouldn’t mind as much.

Immediately my child sat up in bed, looked around and said, “Where?”

After mentally going through the list of answers adults said to me when I was his age (your heart, right beside you,…

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Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

This piece originally appears as the Introduction chapter of Eden and Afterward, Mbird’s latest publication, which looks at Genesis through the lenses of literary commentary, theology, and everyday life. Contents include Adam, Abel, Noah, Babel, Abram, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, Leah, Tamar, and Joseph.

There’s an old story of a Jewish rabbi who once attempted to heal a blind man. After rubbing saliva in the man’s eyes and laying hands on him, the rabbi asked if the cure had worked. “I can see people,” the man ventured, “but they look like trees, walking.” Then, as the account of this healing in the book of…

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Iraq: Into the Fire and into the Water

Iraq: Into the Fire and into the Water

It’s going down in Iraq. As ISIS (the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) presses towards Baghdad, the amount of blood on their hands grows thicker and the number of knee-jerk reactions grows greater, and the storm of indescribable pain rises higher, especially for the individuals on the ground. For what it’s worth, ISIS’s organized structure suggests it shouldn’t be written off as a haphazard group of militant extremists; they move with steady precision, employing highly-trained armies and sophisticated social media. (A quick Google search returns systematic Tweeting and refined yet chilling video footage…

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A Mockingbird World Cup Review (So Far)

A Mockingbird World Cup Review (So Far)

I gave myself whiplash celebrating a USA goal. When Jermaine Jones scored in the 64th minute for the US to even the score at 1-1 with Portugal, I raised my fists and snapped my head back so rapidly as I roared that I had quite the headache, and was left massaging my neck. Yes, it was idiotic, but no, I don’t regret it.

I have fully bought into the fanaticism of the World Cup. I took a little bit too much pride in being able to recite all of the possible outcomes for the US going into the final day of…

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Jesus, Nietzsche & Me – Tim Kreider

You may be surprised to hear we’ve gotten more positive feedback on Tim’s talk than almost any other. We unfortunately weren’t able to include the slides from the powerpoint, so a few jokes may lack punchlines (apologies!). Needless to say, he took us out of our comfort zone in a very engaging way.

Jesus, Nietzsche & Me ~ Tim Kreider from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

To read what we’ve written about Tim Kreider over the years, click here.

July Playlist

  1. mjgooniesBang-A-Boomerang – ABBA
  2. Take Me To Church – Sinead O’Connor
  3. Sister Shadow – Roddy Frame
  4. Lovers on the Run – Echo & The Bunnymen
  5. Who Gets Your Love – Dusty Springfield
  6. The Night – Frankie Valli
  7. Synthetic World – Jimmy Cliff
  8. Sitting – Cat Stevens
  9. Unbreak My Heart – Weezer
  10. Our Song – Matchbox Twenty
  11. Forgiveness – Bob Mould
  12. Tellin Stories – The Charlatans
  13. The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead – XTC
  14. Letting Go – Squeeze
  15. Lula Lula – The Zombies
  16. Wot’s Uh the Deal? – Pink Floyd
  17. Happy – John Fullbright
  18. The Battle – Whiskeytown


Mockingbird: Bringing You the Gospel (pt 35)

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“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
    —let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
    when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive…”

(Psalm 124:1-3)

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

Matthew Linder (who gave Mbird a delightful treatise on Willy Wonka) and I, for well over a week and counting, have been infatuated with the newest Lana Del Rey album, and conversations over Facebook and email ensued. Below are some of the highlights of our discussion of what we both consider a tremendously beautiful and heart-wrenching album.

 

Blake:

So from the first listen, I felt an aural tie to the gothic americana genre, but without the usual folk/bluegrass instrumentation. Gothic americana is notorious for using religious allusion and imagery for often non-religious reasons. It is all tied into this idea of Flannery…

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Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

For those interested in human folly and hard truths, look no further than John Gray, a political philosopher whose work On Progress and Other Modern Myths (The Silence of the Animals) debunks many of our species’ self-flattering stories about where we came from and where we’re going. An agnostic himself, Gray realizes the decline of Christianity won’t issue in quite the same unproblematic post-religious paradise that some of his contemporaries might think:

For humanists, denying that humanity can live without myths can only be a type of pessimism. They take for granted that if human beings came to be more like the rational…

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