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“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

“The Only Thing You’ve Got Is What You Can Sell”: Making Peace with the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Death of a Salesman is one of my favorite stories, not because it is a piece of great “litracha,” but because it is about a man to whom I can profoundly relate. For anyone who wasn’t subjected to Arthur Miller’s masterpiece in high school, here are the basics: Willy Loman is...

Autoimmunity and the Heart Curved Inward

Autoimmunity and the Heart Curved Inward

I am sick. That’s pretty much all I can tell you about it with any real confidence. For two years, a harvest of strange and debilitating medical maladies have continued to hurl wrenches into the functioning of my poor and puzzled body (I’ve detailed some of that elegant saga here...

The Cost of Teenage Optimism

The Cost of Teenage Optimism

Here’s a timely one. Last week a major new study of happiness hit the web, courtesy of the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science. The title of the report itself says it all, “More Happiness for Young People and Less for Mature Adults: Time-Period Differences in Subjective Wellbeing in...

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Back in 1998, my father wrote an unfashionable yet characteristically compelling little volume entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. With the big anniversary finally here, it seemed like an ideal time to remind people of its existence (and merit)! Coincidentally, the book shares the title of PZ’s latest project, a tumblr devoted to, well,...

Mbird Tyler 2017 (2/24-25): The Soul of the Gospel

Mbird Tyler 2017 (2/24-25): The Soul of the Gospel

Come join us next month (2/24-25) for our third annual event in downtown Tyler, TX! Our theme this year will be “The Soul of The Gospel”. Paul Zahl and Sarah Condon, along with a host of others, will guide us as we explore the question, “what remains when cultural attachments...
Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry (30) reacts after hitting a 3-point basket during the second half of Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Saturday, April 25, 2015. The Warriors won 109-98 to sweep the series. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Prejudice Like Crack: Confirming Confirmation Bias with Michael Lewis

I’ve been enjoying Michael Lewis’s new book, The Undoing Project, which picks up where Moneyball left off: When it comes to sports recruitment, if the numbers are more reliable than human judgment, the next question is why? What’s going on in the human mind that makes even the experts’ top picks hit-or-miss?

One answer...

US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-L) and his wife Melania(2nd-R) to the White House in Washington, DC January 20, 2017.  / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Two Mockingbirds Talk Two Corinthians

Here’s a timely collaboration from Sarah Condon and Scott Jones, following up on today’s Mockingcast round table.

President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama, greets President-elect Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Last week one of our friends (one of...

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

However many years a man may live,    let him enjoy them all.    But let him remember the days of       darkness,    for they will be many. — Ecclesiastes 11:8

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:5

I wake up mornings in the darkness, to...

The Top Theology Books of 2016

The Top Theology Books of 2016

Another year and there are many, many more books to read. If that statement feels more like a celebration than an arduous demand, this post is for you. I buy an inordinate amount of books each year, so I’m firmly in the former category. Below are the best theology books...

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In the Church of All the Answers – Nina Forsythe

We’ve had numerous requests to post this poem on the site, since it first appeared in the Church Issue of The Mockingbird. You can see why:

inthechurchofalltheanswers

 

The Deepest Search in (Thomas Wolfe’s) Life

twolfeA quick excerpt from Thomas Wolfe’s The Story of a Novel, his book-length meditation on the writing process, published in 1936, ht LM:

“From the beginning—and this was one fact that in all my times of hopelessness returned to fortify my faith in my conviction—the idea, the central legend that I wished my book to express has not changed. And this central idea was this: the deepest search in life, it seemed to me, the thing that in one way or another was central to all living was man’s search to find a father, not merely the father of his flesh, not merely the lost father of his youth, but the image of a strength and wisdom external to his need and superior to his hunger, to which the belief and power of his own life could be united.” (Pg 39).

PZ’s Podcast: Christiaan, Yes

PZ’s Podcast: Christiaan, Yes

EPISODE 226

I’m feeling optimistic about our future — both mine, and Mary’s, personally; and also the future of our country and the world. This is partly because we are witnessing a kind of up-ending of shibboleths and “narratives” that have neglected universals in engaging with our deep human struggles and woundedness and given the floor to secondary elements, in particular identity-predicates. Secondary traits and qualities of a human being do not solve the inward hauntedness and heartbreak and rejections that make a misery of so many people’s lives. One’s color and background — the accidents of birth and inheritance: these…

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Another Week Ends: Amputee Palliatives, Burnouts, Good Riddance Day, Pig Ethics, Silence and the Penitent Magdalene

Another Week Ends: Amputee Palliatives, Burnouts, Good Riddance Day, Pig Ethics, Silence and the Penitent Magdalene

1. This first one is an absolute treasure, well deserving of a post of its own. I’m referring to “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die” by Jon Mooallem in The NY Times Magazine. Mooallem profiles doctor and triple amputee B.J. Miller, who has become well-known for the unconventional and rather Buddhistic approach to palliative care he’s pioneered at a hospice in San Francisco. To these ears, however, Miller’s story and vocation brim with what can only be called grace in practice. Meaning, his is a case in which the experience of grace–of being loved at your darkest/ugliest/most…

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Does Hockey Have a Soul? Thoughts on a Cruciform Zamboni

Does Hockey Have a Soul? Thoughts on a Cruciform Zamboni

Here’s one from hockey enthusiast, our friend, Scott Dalton.

If you’ve been paying much attention this season to ESPN’s commentary on the NHL, this article may have caught you off guard.

In the seemingly endless stream of ESPN’s NHL news, there sits an article written by John Buccigross that attempts to tap into the spirituality of one of America’s most violent sports: hockey.

With striking and overt spiritual imagery, Buccigross draws parallels to Catholic confession and an endless cycle of “rinse and repeat” justification he experienced in high school. He credits hockey for a feeling of renewal.

For Buccigross the Zamboni has been a…

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Mbird Tyler 2017 (2/24-25): The Soul of the Gospel

1

Come join us next month (2/24-25) for our third annual event in downtown Tyler, TX! Our theme this year will be “The Soul of The Gospel”. Paul Zahl and Sarah Condon, along with a host of others, will guide us as we explore the question, “what remains when cultural attachments are relinquished or extinguished and religious traditions have run their course, what is the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of The Son of God?”
None other than Liz Vice will serve as our guest artist with a Friday night concert and Saturday morning worship.

FEED YOUR SOUL AND REGISTER TODAY!

P.S. Lonestar state double-whammy: Grace on the Big Screen event happens in Dallas next weekend (1/13-14)! Click here to view the schedule.

One Reader’s Favorite Fiction from 2016

One Reader’s Favorite Fiction from 2016

My two favorite entertainments this year were Greg Jackson’s Prodigals – a collection of short stories on seekers at various life stages – and Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash – a sleek, psychological drama set on a gorgeous Italian island. This post is about books, but I wanted to mention the film because it hasn’t appeared on the site yet, and it’s one that our consumption patterns indicate could be of interest. Here’s a scene from the movie that’s up there with the “City of Stars” montage in La La Land and Michelle Williams’ impromptu run-in with Casey Affleck in Manchester…

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Why Sarah Almost Titled Her Book Prodigal Daughter Who Is the Worst

Why Sarah Almost Titled Her Book Prodigal Daughter Who Is the Worst

Mockingbird’s latest publication, Churchy by Sarah Condon, is flying off the shelves! A hilarious and deeply touching dispatch from the trenches of contemporary life, the book recounts the real life (and grace-saturated) adventures of a wife, mom, and priest as only Sarah can. The introduction alone, excerpted below, features tips on raising churchy kids of your own, and an explanation of the startling white robes seen here:

“Are you guys wearing KKK hoods?!”

I started college at a small liberal arts school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Upon arrival, I affixed several family photos to the wall of my dorm room. After about a week of…

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The Academic Terror Dream

The Academic Terror Dream

This one comes to us from our terrified academic friend, Duo Dickinson.

I am 61 years old. The last time I took a meaningful test was when I took, and passed, the last 2 (of 5) days of licensing exams to become an architect in 1982, 35 years ago.

But 20 years of testing from grammar school through licensing exams infected me with a disease so deep it’s unseen, unfelt and without consequence. Unless I am asleep.

By any objective estimate, I have lived a blessed life. I may have worked hard, but I have been given every advantage by circumstances I did…

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The Top Theology Books of 2016

The Top Theology Books of 2016

Another year and there are many, many more books to read. If that statement feels more like a celebration than an arduous demand, this post is for you. I buy an inordinate amount of books each year, so I’m firmly in the former category. Below are the best theology books of 2016, categorized by their movie genre equivalent. You can click here for the accompanying podcast. Happy Reading!

The Best Pixar Films (Abreactive Theology Books)

John Newton’s Falling into Grace

A book for those of us who have ever failed and found themselves in dire straits–that is, all of us. Newton writes for…

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The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

I am an American Christian, however little I sometimes want to own that label. God, preaching, and proper theology may matter to me, but I know there is a business side of the church that demands pragmatic response. Bills must be paid, complaints satisfied, and attendance must be kept up, and all these things seem to ask technique of this pastor far more than faith. Pragmatism is rewarded, and this pragmatism easily hardens into cynicism when one knows how the ecclesial sausage is made.

I serve two congregations and converse daily with an assortment of other insiders, and I have to watch my tongue around…

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My Best New Years Eve(r)

My Best New Years Eve(r)

In downtown Milwaukee, there’s a Starbucks attached to an ice rink where every winter, you can drive past and see families, singles, couples, and kids of all ages gliding in graceful rotation over an artificial frozen pond. The sight evokes the kind of Americana sentimentality one might feel upon seeing a Norman Rockwell painting or a 1980’s Speilberg film. It just looks like the thing to do – the thing you ‘ought’ (read Law) to do in the winter, in the Midwest, with your wife and kids…especially during the holidays. It seems so inviting to sit with a cup of hot coco or…

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