Reflections on a Notched Gun from Selma

Reflections on a Notched Gun from Selma

Over the summer, my father gave me an old, Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 revolver. His father, who received it as a gift from his best friend, gave it to him. Family lore has it that my grandfather’s friend took it from someone else in an apparent altercation. What...

Old Persuasive Words: Seven Common Theology Phrases That Should Be Used More Precisely

Old Persuasive Words: Seven Common Theology Phrases That Should Be Used More Precisely

In honor of our upcoming merger with Buzzfeed (just kidding), there are a few very commonly used, but imprecisely defined, Christian words which could stand some rethinking in how we use them.

Redemption – Often you hear questions like, “Can ____ be redeemed?” or ask questions like, “How will God redeem...

The Hospitality Sting: We Are All the Least of These

The Hospitality Sting: We Are All the Least of These

In yet another one my “live your best life” moments, I started a new scripture study on hospitality last week. As a Mississippian, I was raised to smile broadly at people I find tiresome and to entertain with the latest Jr. League Cookbook. You know, life skills. So, I thought...

From Issue Three: An Interview with Modern Love’s Daniel Jones

From Issue Three: An Interview with Modern Love’s Daniel Jones

Now that the Relationship Issue is out the door, we couldn't wait to give a little sampling of the amazing conversation we had with NYT Modern Love Editor, Daniel Jones. The full interview can, of course, be read by ordering the magazine, here, but why stop there? A subscription sounds...
Sinner and Saint Vincent

Sinner and Saint Vincent

St. Vincent arrived in theaters just in time for All Saints’ Sunday, the day the church recognizes and remembers those in the parish community who have died, and all the other “saints” that went before them. It is not a coincidence; first-time director Ted Melfi must have known what was...

Issue 3 of The Mockingbird Out Now!

Issue 3 of The Mockingbird Out Now!

The Relationship Issue (No. 3) is here! Let it be known: you will not be disappointed. 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....

Existential Modesty and the Death of Brittany Maynard

Existential Modesty and the Death of Brittany Maynard

A striking editorial by Lisa Miller appeared in New York Magazine last week about the recent death of Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old who had elected (and advocated for the right) to commit suicide after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Miller is less interested in the ethics of...

2014 Fall Conference Recordings: The Risk of Grace

2014 Fall Conference Recordings: The Risk of Grace

An enormously heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on our Fall Conference in Houston, TX: our friends at St. Thomas Episcopal Church for hosting, The Magills for playing such fantastic music (click here to check out their stuff on iTunes), Mark and David Babikow for being such lifesavers on...

Latest entries

David Bazan’s Latest, Bazan Monthly Vol. 1

David Bazan’s Latest, Bazan Monthly Vol. 1

Back in September, I finally attended one of David Bazan’s living room shows, after years of missing out. He did not disappoint. Lit by flickering candles, with a cool fall breeze blowing through the room, the erstwhile Pedro the Lion entertained not just with great music, but with his trademark self-deprecation and unflinching honesty as he fielded questions from the audience. While, outside of a few side projects, Bazan hasn’t released new music since 2011’s Strange Negotiations, earlier this year he began recording two songs per month, dubbing this collection Bazan Monthly Vol. 1. A few weeks before the living…

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Preaching to the Choir: Hermeticism in Religious Discourse

Preaching to the Choir: Hermeticism in Religious Discourse

There was a time in Christianity when approval could be gotten for free, when repeating X orthodox arguments against y heretics would, no matter how pandering to existing consensus or intellectually unoriginal, garner adulation. I think back to poor Tigranes, the Armenian king who was facing attack from the Romans in the first century. A messenger warned him and was killed, so subsequent messengers brought only assurances, and they spent several weeks in a nice, Armenian echo chamber. All voices concurred and dissent punished by exile or death (back to the RC church now), and this singleness of mind, leading…

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A New Comic From Bill Watterson!

Created for France’s Angoulême International Comics Festival, it’s vintage stuff. Bravo, ht KW:

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The comic’s appearance prompted one fan to ask, “Is Bill Watterson Staging a Comeback?”

Can’t pass up the opportunity to mention our “Resolving to Love Calvin and Hobbes” post from a few years ago. A personal favorite.

Hopelessly Devoted: Philippians Chapter Three Verse Twenty

This morning’s devotion comes from Kate Norris.

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:20, ESV)

a_560x375When I was an infant, my mother tells me, I suffered regularly from ear infections. A particularly painful infection reduced me to a fit, and my mother, who tells me she was completely undone by my screams, took me to the doctor in panic. New decibel levels ricocheted against the linoleum floor and the high gloss wall-paint in the examination room. Frazzled, she couldn’t help the doctor; I obviously couldn’t either. The doctor took me in his arms and laid me down on the table. Gently he held me securely down and stilled my head with one large hand, and with the other he examined my ear.

We enter the world like this, as babies raging against the world, and we live our lives in much the same way onward—though perhaps sometimes a bit more socialized. And yet sometimes, the more we rage against our various illnesses, the worse things seem to get.

As Delirious sings, “Love will find a way to break through.” This is the hope of the Christian faith. God broke through as this Love in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus forgave all those who raged against God; he made the sick well. His promise is that we will realize the full scope of what he did for us when he comes again; he will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body. He has the power to overcome our worst tantrums and even our death. Perhaps today something is hanging over us: a fear, a regret, a loss, an addiction. He knows our problem more than we do, and he will subject that thing—even the big thing in our lives—to himself for healing.

Another Week Ends: MacNicol Burns Out, Winton’s Discretion, Lomax Forgives, Skeletor Insults, Lena Bares, and Zissou Goes Digital

Another Week Ends: MacNicol Burns Out, Winton’s Discretion, Lomax Forgives, Skeletor Insults, Lena Bares, and Zissou Goes Digital

1. In an unintentional bit of foreshadowing, yesterday’s dispatch from The Onion condensed a number of today’s (anti-Gospel) themes into a succinct bit of satire: the frenetic pace of modern-day America, the exhaustion and restlessness and the humble-brag workaholism endemic to our way of life, the overvaluing of accomplishment/career and the cult of productivity, the fear of idleness and aversion to ‘being’, the compulsive, non-stop proving afforded by technology–the sum total being what we not-so-lovingly refer to as the World of Demand. The stakes were drawn afresh for me this week in an article that came across my desk from an unexpected source, Elle magazine….

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Stephen Tyng on Pardon, Preaching, and Unchangeable Acceptance

Stephen Tyng on Pardon, Preaching, and Unchangeable Acceptance

After being in the ministry for 50 years, The Rev. Dr. Stephen Tyng (who, from 1845-1878, was rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church, where we hold our annual NYC Conference) was asked to deliver a series of lectures to the School of Theology in Boston University entitled “The Christian Pastor.” This particular quote comes from his lecture on the topic of preaching. He never intended to have them published, but evidently the students were so blown away by the whole presentation that they insisted the talks be made available. It’s always reminded me of the mission of Mockingbird:

This is your message…

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Open the Door, Homer

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Never thought the day would come when The Complete Basement Tapes would be a legitimate release, but as they say, with Bob Dylan all things are possible. There are volumes and volumes to be written on those sessions, and indeed, some already have been. For today, we’ll have to make do with the final verse of “Open the Door, Homer”:

“Take care of all your memories”
Said my friend, Mick
“For you cannot relive them
And remember when you’re out there
Tryin’ to heal the sick
That you must always
First forgive them”

My favorite version of the song would have to be the one that Pete Townshend produced for Thunderclap Newman. Enjoy:


From The Onion: Laid-Back Company Allows Employees To Work From Home After 6 P.M.

The hits just keep coming. Check the original here

Newsletter-College03-320GRESHAM, OR—Underscoring the benefits of working for a laid-back company like SocialFire Marketing, founder and CEO Matt Avalon told reporters Tuesday he had instituted an office-wide policy permitting employees to work from home anytime after 6 p.m. “If it helps them be efficient and get more done, I have no problem with people working remotely once they’ve left the office for the day,” said Avalon, who noted that as long as they’re doing their jobs, the location where his staff members choose to work between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. is “completely up to them.” “That’s the kind of relaxed culture we strive to create here—one where you can even be working from your living room couch at two in the morning if you’d like.” Avalon added that since they don’t have to be in the office for any meetings, employees are free to work from home on weekends and holidays as well.

The Uncertain Lessons of Lie Witness News

The Uncertain Lessons of Lie Witness News

We haven’t done a straight social science post in a while, so here goes. The Pacific Standard published a goldmine of fallibility and low anthropology last week in David Dunning’s not-so-subtly titled “We Are All Confident Idiots,” ht TB. Dunning, a professor at Cornell, takes as his jumping off point the brilliant “Lie Witness News” segments that Jimmy Kimmel does on his late-night show, where street respondents fake knowledge about a fictitious subject rather than admit they don’t know, or aren’t aware of something. It’s hilarious… until you realize that you do the exact same thing, all the time. Just yesterday…

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Wednesday Afternoon Gospel: Dorothy Love Coates’ “Strange Man”

Good grief this is fabulous:

When the Grief Index Backfires

When the Grief Index Backfires

The church I attend is trying to reboot their “pastoral care ministry”, which is one of those amorphous seminary terms for something that could (and maybe should) mean more than it intends. Isn’t the job of a pastor to care? I got a little worried when I heard ours needed rebooting! I haven’t gone to seminary, but it doesn’t take long in a tour of church websites to see what is generally meant by pastoral care: hospital visits, home visits, prayer shawls, marriage counseling, baptisms, funerals. In other words, pastoral care has a lot to do with the church sharing…

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“In Pain You Shall Bring Forth Children”

“In Pain You Shall Bring Forth Children”

The first time I gave birth nearly three years ago, it knocked me off my feet in every way possible: physically, mentally, emotionally. A few weeks in, my husband and I were sitting on the couch, staring at each other with sleep-deprived eyes, and I burst into tears. His glazed eyes widened–my emotional avalanche was apropos of nothing. And yet…everything.

I’ve always felt it was under-discussed, this postpartum newborn period devoid of sleep, glutted with hormones, and full of fear. All around me, people posted pictures of their fresh babies on social media, even hiring professional photographers to place said baby…

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