Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

We could not be more excited to have Slaid Cleaves join us for the Houston Conference next week. It’s just one of the reasons we hope you’ll meet us there. There’s plenty of eye-rolling when it comes to American country and folk music, mainly because so much of what used...
That’s Some Arthur You’ve Got There: Robert Farrar Capon on the Layoff of the Accountants

That’s Some Arthur You’ve Got There: Robert Farrar Capon on the Layoff of the Accountants

A particularly vivid unpacking of Christ’s lesson on dinner party etiquette in Luke 14:1-14, this time from pages 282-284 of Father Capon’s Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus:

That, I take it, is the point of Jesus’ words against reciprocation and repayment. Jesus is saying,...

I Gotta Try Losing Sometime: Rivalry, Redemption, and Donkey Kong

I Gotta Try Losing Sometime: Rivalry, Redemption, and Donkey Kong

“I wanted to be the hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame, I wanted the pretty girls coming up and saying, ‘Hi, I see you’re good at Centipede.’” – Walter Day

“When I have to watch that pile of eight tapes...

Love and Logos in the Dying of the Light

Love and Logos in the Dying of the Light

Reviewing Sons of Bill’s new record.

A couple of years ago, The New Yorker asked “Whatever happened to movies for grownups?” It’s an important question, and one that has only become more pronounced since David Denby posed it, and not just at the multiplex. In fact, nowhere does it apply...

Decentering, Humbling, and Sanctifying: David Brooks and Dorothy Day on What Love Can Do

Decentering, Humbling, and Sanctifying: David Brooks and Dorothy Day on What Love Can Do

NY Times columnist David Brooks spoke recently at The Gathering, an annual conference of Christian philanthropists, and his remarks have to be read to be believed. It’s an elongated and even more explicitly sympathetic version of what he said at the 92nd St Y earlier this year, and as such,...

A Reflection on the Fall, or Sisyphus vs. Jack Vincennes

A Reflection on the Fall, or Sisyphus vs. Jack Vincennes

This is the transcript of a talk given over the weekend by Mbird’s Will McDavid at The Olmsted Salon in NYC, loosely based on our recent Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis. For the audio, go to the Olmsted site here, and to order the book, go here.

I first...

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“Is This Real Life or Is This Just Fantasy”: Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

“Is This Real Life or Is This Just Fantasy”: Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

Ian Olson (who brought Mbird a wonderful reflection on Law and Grace in the new Godzilla) and I decided to put together a 4-part series in celebration of October and Halloween–Mbird-style, of course! We both chose two of our favorite horror films and wrote an article for each one and then allowed the other to present a brief addendum/rebuttal about the film and the article written. This week we open with a classic vampire film from 1932 from the Danish filmmaker, Carl Theodor Dreyer, entitled Vampyr.

Ian:

How awake must I be to grasp the real world? To see it for what…

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Hopelessly Devoted: First Corinthians Chapter One Verse Two

Hopelessly Devoted: First Corinthians Chapter One Verse Two

This morning’s devotion comes from John Zahl who, as a matter of fact, has a book of sermons coming out next month, called Sermons of Grace. One of these sermons will be featured in the Fall Issue of the magazine.

To the church of God in Corinth… together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours. (1 Corinthians 1:2, NIV)

When I lived in New York City, my roommate and I often found ourselves walking from one place to another at night. Coincidentally, it seemed like every time we did this, a random…

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Another Week Ends: Kafka’s Facebook, Pre-cations, New Hugo, New Pixar, the Empathy Police, and Kid Worship

Another Week Ends: Kafka’s Facebook, Pre-cations, New Hugo, New Pixar, the Empathy Police, and Kid Worship

1) Facebook at the top of our list again this week, thanks in whole to Joshua Rothman’s New Yorker article, “In Facebook’s Courtroom.” The article depends on a deadly cocktail of TMZ’s Ray Rice video release and Kafka’s “The Trial.” What he gets at, in doing so, is the idea of Facebook as our junk-room of judgment—a place where ‘likes’ are actually ‘hate-likes’ and a user’s status updates stand as verdicts on the world around them. Even the positive “Gratitude Challenge” trends that crop up are indirect judgments disguised as inspirational montages.

Rothman is not just talking about the tendency to…

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October Playlist

  1. 1995-texas-mockingbird-and-bluebonnet

    T-minus two weeks and counting!

    I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie – God Help the Girl

  2. Everything’s Tuesday – General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board
  3. The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow) – The Jam
  4. Nuclear Boy – 2020
  5. Can I Borrow a Kiss? – The Knack
  6. No Substitute – The Shivvers
  7. So Long – ABBA
  8. Niemals Einer Meinung – Die Toten Hosen
  9. That’s How People Grow Up – Morrissey
  10. Lady With the Spinning Head – U2
  11. Glorious – Andreas Johnson
  12. Not a Second More – The Lees of Memory
  13. Elevate Me Later – Pavement
  14. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds
  15. Drinkin Days – Slaid Cleaves
  16. Cold Hands – Carl Anderson
  17. Why Go Alone – Chris Von Sneidern
  18. Dancing in the Dark – John Legend


From The Onion: I’m Sorry, But You’re Just Not the Man I Hoped You Would Become When I Married You

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Woah, this one is painful, ht TM:

“Back when we first met, my irrational and entirely unfounded vision of what you could someday become seemed almost too perfect: kind, thoughtful, caring. That fictional mental construct that I envisioned you eventually developing into was everything I ever wanted. I thought that imaginary version of you and I would be happy together forever.

How wrong I was.

Today, it’s evident that you’re simply not the nonexistent, purely hypothetical person I always wanted to grow old with. Just last week, for example, when you didn’t so much as look up from your laptop after I came home from work, even though you knew I was supposed to hear about my promotion that day, I realized that you aren’t even capable of magically changing into what I need in a husband. When I look at you now, all I see is a workaholic with intimacy issues who has persisted unchanging for the past decade and a half—no longer the ideal husband I convinced myself you would morph into through some miracle. And that’s just sad.

I see it all now. Your outright lack of interest in my sculpture classes and my volunteering work at church, your single-minded obsession with your career, the fact that you explicitly told me on our first date that you never wanted children. I thought those things were important to the theoretical idea of who you’d become in the future that has long lived in my head, and it breaks my heart to realize that they are not.

Honestly, it’s almost as if you’re the exact same man I married.”

Read the rest here.

The Apple Isn’t the Only Biblical Reference: 50 Years of The Giving Tree

The Apple Isn’t the Only Biblical Reference: 50 Years of The Giving Tree

Did you read Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree as a child? Do you remember how it made you feel? The children’s book turns 50 this year, so theoretically, a few generations have had their chance to soak in the bittersweet melancholy of Silverstein’s prose. Acknowledging the anniversary, The Giving Tree was featured in this week’s Bookends column of The New York Times, which invited two contributors to reflect on the book’s history and meaning [ht DJ via Twitter]. That’s no surprise, of course–the book is well loved and continues to be a children’s classic. But what I was shocked to discover (maybe…

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Aphex Twin’s Syro and the Joy of Forgetting (and Remembering)

Aphex Twin’s Syro and the Joy of Forgetting (and Remembering)

Enigmatic and revered electronic artist Aphex Twin (real name Richard D. James) released his long awaited new album, Syro, last week, ending a 13-year hiatus that followed his previous album, Drukqs. The new album is–in true Aphex Twin form–a colossally dense and impeccably composed piece of electronic music that morphs, warps, and toils considerably for its 65 minute run time. This tends to make for a somewhat unsettling listen in places (given the harsh and, in some cases, terrifying sounds he exuded during much of his 90s output, it’s not unexpected). As soon as you get your footing on a…

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Riding (Too) High on Christian Imagination

Riding (Too) High on Christian Imagination

Over at the John Jay Institute, there’s a symposium happening on the topic of “Christian imagination.” One of the papers submitted was a guest post by our own Will McDavid. The entire thing is available at their site, here, but an excerpt below:

“James K.A. Smith, a recent lynchpin of smart Evangelicalism in America, has embedded a myth in the conversation about imagination and desire: “compelling visions, over time, seep into and shape our desire and thus fuel dispositions toward them” (Desiring the Kingdom). This idea lay behind Smith’s defense of Christian schools in the wake of a Christianity Today blogger making an…

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“Will Someone Take a Chance on Me?” A Look Into Issue 3 of The Mockingbird

“Will Someone Take a Chance on Me?” A Look Into Issue 3 of The Mockingbird

As the fall Relationship Issue makes its way to the printers, it’s high time we provide a morsel of what’s to come. Let it be known: you will not be disappointed. So here’s for ratcheting up the expectations! Interviews with Modern Love editor Daniel Jones, and the Oscar-winning team behind Undefeated. Essays on marriage, parenthood, relationships with bandmates, relationships with God. A short story from Welcome Wagoner Vito Aiuto, brand new poems by Brad Davis. We have spot illustrations by the famous Jess Rotter. It’s all a little hard to believe.

Find below the Table of Contents and Introduction. If you’re…

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Mockingbird: Bringing You the Gospel (pt. 40)

From Lutheran Satire, the funniest apophatic Trinity intro I’ve seen in a while:

Later, Skater: How to Stop Procrastinating (Now!)

Later, Skater: How to Stop Procrastinating (Now!)

I meant to have this post up first thing in the morning. What happened? An email here, a phone call there–the trailer for the new P.T. Anderson film (with Joaquin Phoenix channeling Dennis Wilson!) isn’t going to watch itself–and here we are, late-afternoon. The feeling is not a good one. It sounds so silly on paper, and indeed, if you subscribe to anything like a hierarchy of suffering, few things seem more trivial than procrastination, so much so that to write about it inspires, well, more procrastination.

I once heard procrastination described as the battle between Want and Should, one where…

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‘Cultural Engagement’, a Bad Fix for Christian Isolationism

‘Cultural Engagement’, a Bad Fix for Christian Isolationism

It’s hard now to sort through too much Christian media without hearing moving and grandiloquent talk  about “cultural engagement.” It’s the trendy thing now, and it seems like the Christian para-academic establishment prepped the ground for an overdue reaction against the isolationism and confrontationalism of now-octogenarian culture warriors. But the talk often seems inversely proportional to the engagement itself. One framework: affirm the good, critique/subvert the bad, discuss redemptive possibilities.[1] (We here tend to omit the latter two.) Talk about talking about culture, and the Evangelical Church is your best conversation partner; talk about a spectacular Game of Thrones battle…

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