The Impossibility of Knowing I’m Good

The Impossibility of Knowing I’m Good

Hannah Arendt, a non-Christian thinker with a strangely more accurate perception of Christianity than almost anyone, offers some thoughts on the problems with being good:

The one activity taught by Jesus in word and deed is the action of goodness, and goodness obviously harbors a tendency to hide from being seen...

Aaron Rodgers – “God Doesn’t Care About Football Game Outcomes”

Aaron Rodgers – “God Doesn’t Care About Football Game Outcomes”

Thank you Aaron Rodgers! The Green Bay QB gave a great answer to a question he was asked on his weekly radio show a few days ago during a “mailbag answer” segment. Here’s the exchange:

(Radio Host) Jason Wilde: Melissa says: I always find it a little off-putting when athletes, actors,...

The Cost and Benefit of Forgiveness (Class)

The Cost and Benefit of Forgiveness (Class)

I remember a conversation some years ago where a friend was voicing her chief objection to Christianity. It had nothing to do with science, or politics, or even suffering (at least not explicitly). What she found offensive about the faith was the notion/assertion/accusation that one of our primary needs as...

SPRING CONFERENCE in NYC: Theme and Details

SPRING CONFERENCE in NYC: Theme and Details

THE 8th ANNUAL MOCKINGBIRD CONFERENCE April 16-18, 2015 St George’s Church, New York City

 

“Pardon’s the word to all” – W. Shakespeare

A fresh start. A free pass. An expunged record. To be let off the hook, and not just in theory—that is what it means to be absolved of sin, and...

Spiritual To-Do Lists and Mental Acrobatics

Spiritual To-Do Lists and Mental Acrobatics

A few items were added to my New Year’s to-do list in a Bible study last week:

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek,...

Je Suis Tired

Je Suis Tired

Having just come off a bevy of year end retrospectives, and faced with the horrible news from France, Nigeria, and half a dozen other places, I keep wondering what we will be saying about this year in late December. If you happen to catch The Today Show or some such...

On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

God bless Portlandia. Their first season contained a skit that has proven to be more than a little prophetic. In case you missed it (ICYMI):

On the surface, Fred and Carrie are emphasizing how people compete over being well informed, how prideful our relationship with information has become. They’re lampooning a...

Mining Netflix: Performancism and The School of Rock

Mining Netflix: Performancism and The School of Rock

Did you watch the Golden Globes on Sunday? One of the biggest stories from this year was the accolades given to Boyhood, an epic-of-the-ordinary that took 12 years to film. We wrote about Boyhood back when it came out, and if you read that post you’ll get a sense of why its...

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Francis Schaeffer on the Problem with Thomas Kinkade’s Optimistic Art

Francis Schaeffer on the Problem with Thomas Kinkade’s Optimistic Art

Several months ago I wrote a post on the well known and now deceased “Painter of Light,” Thomas Kinkade. I addressed Kinkade’s tragic backstory of suffering and how his pain never came through in his I’m-OK-you’re-OK artwork. Most of all I lamented that Christians in particular promote his brand of sentimental artwork because it is safe. What I originally thought would be an obscure post actually got a lot of attention. I was surprised that it struck such a nerve. One redditor called me patronizing: “F*ck Matt Schneider. This piece was condescending and nauseating.”

I don’t usually criticize individual artists and thinkers publically,…

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Je Suis Tired

Je Suis Tired

Having just come off a bevy of year end retrospectives, and faced with the horrible news from France, Nigeria, and half a dozen other places, I keep wondering what we will be saying about this year in late December. If you happen to catch The Today Show or some such show in the beginning of January, they often try to encapsulate the depressing news by telling us this was a “tough year” as they show footage of natural disasters and acts of terrorism. Sometimes I wish they’d say, “Just like every other year humans have been running the show, 2014…

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SPRING CONFERENCE in NYC: Theme and Details

nyc15banner

THE 8th ANNUAL MOCKINGBIRD CONFERENCE

April 16-18, 2015

St George’s Church, New York City

 

“Pardon’s the word to all” – W. Shakespeare

A fresh start. A free pass. An expunged record. To be let off the hook, and not just in theory—that is what it means to be absolved of sin, and it is the life-saving heart of the Christian message. It’s what it is all about.

Yet we seldom experience absolution, in church or any other context. When is the last time you were forgiven for something you had done and it wasn’t surrounded by implicit expectations for the future? What would it look like if we truly believed that God does not hold our past against us? Nor our complicated present, for that matter.

Join us in April as we delve into this most hopeful of subjects. To help, we’ve enlisted Nadia Bolz-Weber (author of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint), Jamin Warren (editor of Kill Screen Magazine), and a host of Mockingbirds, including Sarah Condon, Will McDavid, Ethan Richardson, Jacob Smith, and John & David Zahl. Our chaplain will be Jim Munroe, and we’ve got a number of special guests in the works that we hope to announce very soon.

In addition to the main presentations, there will be breakout sessions on a wide range of topics, from theology and religion, to movies and music, children and relationships, to philosophy and psychology. If the past eight years are anything to go by, the conference is sure to be a time of warmth, laughter, delicious food, and maybe even a little freedom. We hope you can join us!

Full schedule will be announced Feb 1st.

The event is open to all, and we guarantee there will be something for everyone. Just be sure to pre-register ASAP, as space is limited.

PRE-REGISTER TODAY!

Another Week Ends: Modern Love, Measured Grief, Moral Progress, and Invisible Sciences

Another Week Ends: Modern Love, Measured Grief, Moral Progress, and Invisible Sciences

1) Kicking off this week’s roundup we have a story that posted last week over at Modern Love. Entitled, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” it posits the theory that intimate love can happen between any two people willing to open themselves up. We read to find that not only has this theory been tested, by a scientific researcher named Dr. Arthur Aron, but that it is also put to the test by the writer herself, on a first date, in a bar. And it works.

It sounds like another sensationalized love algorithm, but the thought behind it makes…

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Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – Two Alpha Males Pass in the Night

Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – Two Alpha Males Pass in the Night

Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – two guys at the top of their sports professions earlier this century (both leading their teams to multiple championships) – were in the news these past few weeks. Meyer, of course, on Monday night became only the 8th coach in NCAA history with three or more National Championships.  This was certainly the most improbable of the three as his Ohio State Buckeyes (behind a 3rd string QB) manhandled Oregon by 3+ touchdowns. Meanwhile over at Grantland, Brian Phillips wrote a definitive piece on the downward trajectory of NBA icon Kobe Bryant (h/t DZ).

Prior to…

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The Impossibility of Knowing I’m Good

Hannah Arendt, a non-Christian thinker with a strangely more accurate perception of Christianity than almost anyone, offers some thoughts on the problems with being good:

The one activity taught by Jesus in word and deed is the action of goodness, and goodness obviously harbors a tendency to hide from being seen or heard. Christian hostility toward the public realm, the tendency of at least the early Christians to lead a life as far removed from the public realm as possible, can also be understood as a self-evident consequence of devotion to good works independent of all beliefs and expectations. For it is manifest that the moment a good work becomes known and public, it loses its specific character of goodness, being done for nothing but goodness’ sake. When goodness appears openly, it is no longer goodness, though it may still be useful as organized charity or an act of solidarity. Therefore: ‘Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them.’ Goodness can exist only when it is not perceived, not even by its author; whoever sees himself performing a good work is no longer good, but at best a useful member of society or a dutiful member of a church. Therefore: ‘Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.’

It may be this curious negative quality of goodness, the lack of outward phenomenal manifestation, that makes Jesus of Nazareth’s appearance in history such a profoundly paradoxical event; and it certainly seems to be the reason that he thought and taught that no man could be good: ‘Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.’ The same conviction finds its expression in the talmudic story of the thirty-six righteous men, for the sake of whom God saves the world and who also are known to nobody, least of all to themselves. We are reminded of Socrates’ great insight that no man can be wise, out of which love for wisdom, or philo-sophy, was born; the whole life story of Jesus seems to testify how love for goodness arises out of the insight that no man can be good.

(The Human Condition, pp 74-75)

Eliot’s Journey of the Magi and Our Discomfort with Choosing Another Way in 2015

Eliot’s Journey of the Magi and Our Discomfort with Choosing Another Way in 2015

Journey of the Magi

T.S. Eliot

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had…

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Mining Netflix: Performancism and The School of Rock

Mining Netflix: Performancism and The School of Rock

Did you watch the Golden Globes on Sunday? One of the biggest stories from this year was the accolades given to Boyhood, an epic-of-the-ordinary that took 12 years to film. We wrote about Boyhood back when it came out, and if you read that post you’ll get a sense of why its director, Richard Linklater, won top honors on Sunday. Oddly enough, though, as Linklater was bestowed his award, my twitter feed was not filled with applause for Boyhood, but for another project of his: 2003’s School of Rock.

Why in the world would School of Rock be so well remembered over a…

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The Guru’s Distinction Between Power and Force

The Guru’s Distinction Between Power and Force

Opening up Power vs. Force by 1990s self-help psychiatrist-guru David R. Hawkins, I must confess I should’ve done some background on what I was getting into. Dr. Hawkins worked with Linus Pauling on the Nobel-prize winning Orthomolecular Psychiatry. And then he left clinical psychiatry to travel and speak about his pursuit of “pure consciousness”–his theory on the accessibility of the great Truth of life. Power vs. Force is his blueprint–an “anatomy of consciousness,” he calls it–the map of the hidden motivators of human behavior.

There’s lots of kooky stuff in here. For one, Hawkins’ fundamental “database of consciousness” is based in…

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Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Judas: A Biblical Take on FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – Ethan Richardson

Here it comes, ladies and gents, Dr. Richardson’s wonderful session from Houston. No more missing out!

As a reminder, the last day to take advantage of earlybird pre-registration for our New York Conference (4/16-18) is this Friday!

On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

God bless Portlandia. Their first season contained a skit that has proven to be more than a little prophetic. In case you missed it (ICYMI):

On the surface, Fred and Carrie are emphasizing how people compete over being well informed, how prideful our relationship with information has become. They’re lampooning a world where ‘staying on top of things’ has become an increasingly treasured form of righteousness, where the mastery of information–for certain personality types–is as tantalizing as it is illusive.

One expression of this pursuit is the barrage of links we receive and share with others over social media. Taken individually, such…

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Comfortable to Death: Confessions of an Un-Showered College Student

Comfortable to Death: Confessions of an Un-Showered College Student

Brett Helquist

Like spaghetti and meatballs, comfort and rest go well together; unlike spaghetti and meatballs, however, comfort and rest can’t often be served on a nice dinner plate. More fleeting and mysterious in nature, comfort and rest resist definition and therefore law. (For more details on the Sabbath/Law fiasco, see Mark 2.) Even in contemporary churches, Sabbath (and therefore rest) remains touchy. Given that rest is good (Gen 2, Mark 6) and that comfort lends to rest, it’s worth prying deeper into the nature of comfort.

We’re all familiar with discomfort: We often define ourselves by the amount of discomfort…

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