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Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

This reflection on one of the newest in the 30 for 30 catalog, comes from Mockingfriend Paul Harris.

It is needless to say that ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has repeatedly brought to screen some glorious glimpses into the human heart.  The Four Falls of Buffalo, now streaming on Netflix, is...

The Best Natural Disaster There Is? In Praise of Blizzards

The Best Natural Disaster There Is? In Praise of Blizzards

The psychology around snow days is fascinating. Blizzards especially, like the one we experienced in Virginia over the weekend. For all they cover up, a massive snowstorm also exposes some less-than-fluffy sides of our species and culture.

If you’re like me, the snow days of childhood are cloaked in soft-focused wonder...

Good News From Doctor Who: On Being a Baby Christian

Good News From Doctor Who: On Being a Baby Christian

Growing up in the Deep South, I heard my fair share of churchy catchphrases. One of them is making a comeback (or it’s been here for years?), and I’m calling horse manure. Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, stop calling people “Baby Christians.”

The first time...

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

In Spite of Everything, He Loves Me

This passage is written by Simone Weil. The French theologian and writer, Jean Sulivan writes in his Spiritual Journal Morning Light that, when he thinks about the tenderness of God, and the enigma of Christ, nothing for him describes better the longing (and pain) better than this passage from Simone Weil. 

He brought me...

Mockingbird at the Movies: Intro (and Final Edition)

Mockingbird at the Movies: Intro (and Final Edition)

As this year’s Oscar buzz revs up, be sure to take a look at our latest publication, Mockingbird at the Movies, an anthology of film essays collected from many of Mockingbird’s contributing writers. Last week, we quietly released the fully-polished final edition, which consists of a few less typos but all of the same...

How Do You Preach to the Donald? (Or, Thoughts on the Afflicted and the Comfortable)

How Do You Preach to the Donald? (Or, Thoughts on the Afflicted and the Comfortable)

Donald Trump went to church last Sunday. Lots of people did. My guess is he doesn’t do that on the regular. Nor do most people who at one time or another have been religiously observant but for some some reason have been on a kind of hiatus. But you run...

2016 NYC Conference: Breakouts and Theme

2016 NYC Conference: Breakouts and Theme

At long last, some details about our upcoming 9th Annual New York conference (4/14-16). Thank you for your patience! We’re excited to announce that the theme this year will be “Relief! The Boldness of Grace in a World of Expectation”, and we can confirm that the slate of breakout sessions...

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...

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PZ’s Podcast: How To Be Popular If You’re a Guy

PZ’s Podcast: How To Be Popular If You’re a Guy

Episode 209 (up now!)

The answer to that question has to lie, somehow, in whatever explains the popular success of Rodney Marvin (‘Rod’) McKuen.

Rod McKuen died a year ago, and did you know he sold 100 million records? No kidding. Rod McKuen sold 100 million records.

(He also sold 60 million books. But hey…)

Here is a man who was universally dismissed, from day one of his earthly success, as being a “kitschy” Philistine and arch-sentimentalist. No critic had a word of praise for him. Ever, ever, ever. And that’s been true right up to the present day.

And let the People say: He…

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Another Week Ends: That Dragon Cancer, Grief Police, Fat Waiters, Groucho’s Invention, Bad Jazz and Barcelona

Another Week Ends: That Dragon Cancer, Grief Police, Fat Waiters, Groucho’s Invention, Bad Jazz and Barcelona

Click here for this week’s episode of The Mockingcast.

Thank You For Playing (2016) – Official Teaser from Thank You For Playing on Vimeo.

1. I’m a little embarrassed we haven’t given this initial story its due yet. Given the nature of the content and my own stage in life, I suppose I’ve been putting it off. But it’s simply too powerful and beautiful to ignore any longer, a testament to the very best that Christianity has to offer the world, and in a highly unexpected form. I’m referring to the creation and release of what is being called “the most profound…

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MBird Tyler 2016 Conference (3/18-19) – Registration Now Open!

What'sTheStory_Poster

The human heart responds to story. Narrative is unique in its power to shape our imagination and inspire us to dream and, yes, even wake up. But stories can also trap and trick. Join us for The 2nd Annual Mockingbird Tyler Conference, March 18th-19th, as we welcome acclaimed Hollywood script developer and “story guru” Bobette Buster along with David Zahl, Ethan Richardson, Sarah Condon and Aaron Zimmerman of Mockingbird to explore the question we all must answer: “What’s The Story?”

To register, or find out more, click here.

Studies Show…That Happiness Is a Waste of Time

Studies Show…That Happiness Is a Waste of Time

© sunlight cardigan CC-BY 2.0

For years, I lived with the nagging thought that my melancholy, pessimism, and cynicism were taking years off my life. I did not arrive at that conclusion based on research or conviction; I absorbed it from the assumption, endemic in American culture, that subjective positivity improves objective markers of healthfulness. Once my therapy regimen broke through the fog of clinical depression, I saw the difference between truly unhealthy behaviors and an intractable melancholy disposition. Even though I feel mentally healthier, will my lack of optimism or positive thinking kill me?

A recent study published in The…

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Long Days and the In-Between Times

Long Days and the In-Between Times

My husband and I decided to take advantage of the recent three-day weekend by potty training our not yet two-and-a-half-year-old son. It’s times like these when my palms begin to shake, missing late nights or showering regularly or skipping out of the house for a spontaneous dinner gathering.

Instead, I spent the weekend in my pajama pants with the Wiggles singing in the background, carefully eyeing my son to make sure he didn’t unload on our carpet.

Wild times.

Today is shaping up to be crisis-free–a real rarity in (our) married life. From the moment we said our vows, life has felt like…

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Frank Lake on God-Talk and the Power of Plainspeak

Frank Lake on God-Talk and the Power of Plainspeak

This comes from Frank Lake’s Tight Corners in Pastoral Counselling. In this section, entitled, “The Use and Misuse of Religion,” Dr. Lake discusses the age-old propensity of religion and religious language to become either a self-defensive shield between a person and their much-needed comfort; or, on the flipside, for religion to become the “bad thing” upon which all of their collective discomfort–past, present, and future–is projected. This is not the time for apologetics, Lake argues. In a time of such opposition, it is better to listen. This great story illustrates his meaning:

I never find myself threatened by hostility to religion in those who consult me: quite the reverse. The…

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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 under the clothes racks where she’d watch shoppers’ feet scuttling by and imagine she was a kid, two feet tall, and she’d smell the new clean clothes and run her hands through them. It was her way of feeling reborn.

A couple of weeks ago, The New York Times published an…

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From the Magazine: Our Interview with Nicholas Carr

From the Magazine: Our Interview with Nicholas Carr

A teaser edition of our interview with Nicholas Carr, the entirety of which can be read in the Technology Issue! You can subscribe to our magazine here.

In his book, The Shallows, which was a 2011 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Nicholas Carr talks about the internet’s re-wiring of the human mind. Like a number of well-regarded tech skeptics (Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman, Sherry Turkle), Carr argues that the way the internet presents information to us is changing the way we think everywhere else—in our jobs, in our free time, in our inner lives. Towards the end of his book, he…

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Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

Can Anything Good Come from Buffalo?

This reflection on one of the newest in the 30 for 30 catalog, comes from Mockingfriend Paul Harris.

It is needless to say that ESPN’s 30 for 30 series has repeatedly brought to screen some glorious glimpses into the human heart.  The Four Falls of Buffalo, now streaming on Netflix, is no exception. Place this movie on the top of your must see list!

You may remember the Buffalo Bills losing streak of four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Sadly, The Bills, especially the 1990-96 rosters were and often remain synonymous with failure. Players like quarterback Jim Kelly, star running back Thurman…

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I Love You, Child, As I Have Been Loved

I Love You, Child, As I Have Been Loved

Perusing some of the links in my favorite online parenting journal, I ran across an interesting little story of a mother and daughter, told from the daughter’s perspective primarily. (Full article here.) The background goes as follows: the mother is apparently in the hospital, hooked up to tubes and unresponsive. The daughter is at her mother’s bedside begging for her to respond. “Please? Mom? C’mon…you have to wake up. This whole thing is freaking me out! You’re just staring.” Throughout the story, the daughter repeats: “Mom, blink if you can hear me.”

But the daughter’s story is less about getting her mother to…

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The Gospel According to Hamilton

The Gospel According to Hamilton

This one comes to us from our new friend Cort Gatliff.

My life can be divided into two distinct eras: Before Hamilton and After Hamilton. On October 1, 2015, after months of following the online hysteria and critical acclaim, the former era came to an end when I finally set aside time to listen to the Broadway cast recording of composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s latest, unconventional project: a hip hop musical about the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Moments after hitting play, this work of art captured my imagination in a way no other cultural phenomenon in recent memory has. So…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis Chapter Thirty Three Verses Twenty Four Through Twenty Eight

This morning’s devotion comes to us from the Rev. David Browder. 

Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. And when he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And he said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:24-28, NRSV)

Although swooning on my part is a rarity, U2 is a band I like very much. In their song “Bullet the Blue Sky,” Bono sings, “Jacob wrestled the angel; and the angel was overcome.” Bono then folds the famous story of Jacob wrestling the angel into the midst of a song about unjust violence and hypocrisy. Military force in El Salvador is mentioned, as is 1980s televangelism.

R-1311927-1253218044.jpegWith all the flux and panic of humanity, what does it mean for Bono that Jacob overcomes the mysterious man with whom he is wrestling? As dour as Bono’s prognosis is, Jacob’s is no better. Jacob is sure that his sly chicanery has brought him a just and violent death, courtesy of his brother Esau. As you might remember, Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright by a despicable deception, and Esau is now on the way to meet him face-to-face. Jacob is backed into a corner, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata playing in the background, with no one to blame but himself.

It is at this moment that God comes to Jacob. He does not come as a sweet and gentle person but as an adversary. As an adversary He breaks the remaining vestiges of Jacob’s faith in himself. Wrestling with God, Jacob actually believes that he is prevailing, but all the mysterious “man of God” had to do was reach out and touch Jacob’s leg to dislocate it. As dawn breaks, Jacob asks for God’s blessing, and what a beautiful metaphor: Jacob’s faith is transferred from himself to God as a new day dawns.

All the political and social unrest of the world adds to personal strife. Troubled relationships, broken dreams, and unexpected tragedies can be like a powerful Esau racing toward you with fires to start. “Bullet the Blue Sky” plays as belief in your own ability to master your domain diminishes. It is then that God visits “under the guise of His opposite.” A new day dawns as your faith is placed in One who does have control and dominion. It turns out that the One you have been fighting all night is totally in your corner.