A Life of Aching Beauty: Vincent van Gogh as Preacher, Failure, and Painter

A Life of Aching Beauty: Vincent van Gogh as Preacher, Failure, and Painter

Originally posted on Tides of God.

PART I: FALL

Undergrowth with Two Figures is the only Van Gogh painting I have seen in real life. Several times my wife and I have sought it out on visits to the Cincinnati Art Museum. It is not one of Van Gogh’s well-known paintings. The...

Francis Spufford on the Cruel Optimism of an Atheist Bus

Francis Spufford on the Cruel Optimism of an Atheist Bus

Another wonderful passage from the introduction of our 2014 NYC Conference speaker’s Unapologetic: Why, Despite Everything, Christianity Can Still Make Surprising Emotional Sense.

Take the well-known slogan on the atheist bus in London. I know, I know, that’s an utterance by the hardcore hobbyists of unbelief, but in this particular case...

SPRING CONFERENCE IN NYC (4/16-18) – FULL SCHEDULE!

SPRING CONFERENCE IN NYC (4/16-18) – FULL SCHEDULE!

Very excited to announce the preliminary schedule for our upcoming conference in NYC! For more info on the various speakers, click here. In addition to the sessions below, we can confirm that we’ll have a magician in tow to perform tricks between talks (seriously!). Some details subject to change. To...

The Ever-Blurring Line Between Workweek and Weekend

The Ever-Blurring Line Between Workweek and Weekend

As our fourth issue of The Mockingbird makes it way to you, here’s a glimpse at what’s headed your way, the Opener from yours truly.

In an upcoming 2015 documentary called The Land, Vermont filmmaker Erin Davis is capturing the nature of play and risk-taking on an unusual playground in North...

A Look Inside Issue 4 of The Mockingbird: The Work and Play Issue

A Look Inside Issue 4 of The Mockingbird: The Work and Play Issue

We’re happy to announce that Issue 4 will be on its way by month’s end. Here’s our Table of Contents for the Work and Play Issue. Needless to say there’s lots to be excited for, so if you’re looking for a subscription, now’s the time, because this is also the...

Muted Lights of the World: The Problem of Christian Assurance

Muted Lights of the World: The Problem of Christian Assurance

I recently got an invitation via email for a new social network for businesspeople, GoBuyside.com. While I know far too little about the finance world to receive an invitation, let alone reflect on it, I think buy side means the people who buy securities for investment, which seems like the...

Latest entries

Ethan Hawke on Acting Out the Death of Self

Ethan Hawke on Acting Out the Death of Self

The tenable success of independent films in an industry dominated by major Hollywood productions has become a hot topic as the 87th Academy Awards make their approach. The pulse of this conversation exists entirely because of two names: Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater. With six Oscar nominations between the two of them just this year, and eleven all time, Anderson and Linklater have become the godfathers of the indie family, maturing the clan into planet Hollywood’s lunar necessity.

The praise is proper, but not necessarily sought; at least not in the same way that, say, George Lucas sought success after 1977. Setting up…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses One Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Joshua Chapter Six Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion comes to us from Sean Norris.

Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out and none came in. And the LORD said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before…

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What Would Jesus Do (for Lent)?

What Would Jesus Do (for Lent)?

It is hard to believe that Ash Wednesday is upon us, with Lent coming in its wake. This season always stirs up some theological anxiety for me. I think it does for many of us. Each year, we hear the incredible story of Jesus heading into the desert. Here from the Gospel of Luke:

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

There is a widely preached theology which tells us that we can somehow identify with Jesus. This lens is…

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Another Week Ends: Carr’s Recovery, Forgiving Anchors, Lazy Love, 50 Shades South, Kensrue’s Back, Fortitude, and Better Call Saul

Another Week Ends: Carr’s Recovery, Forgiving Anchors, Lazy Love, 50 Shades South, Kensrue’s Back, Fortitude, and Better Call Saul

1. You may have heard the news that NY Times reporter David Carr died yesterday. I remember watching the documentary Page One a few years ago and being struck by Carr’s straight-shooting personality and street-smart charm. There was something iconic about him. Maybe it was just the filmmakers doing their thing, but Carr very much came across as the spirit of that esteemed institution, a man who had taken a supremely circuitous route to the top of the journalistic food chain and seemed as surprised as anyone to find himself there. I forget if he mentioned his history with addiction in the…

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You Gonna Clean that Up?…”I. Just. Can’t.”

You Gonna Clean that Up?…”I. Just. Can’t.”

A friend of mine who is working the 12 Steps recently said, “one of the most important things I do every morning is make the bed after I get up”. He went on to say that this simple discipline sets a tone for the day. This seemingly mundane task says, “I care about my life, I care about the people around me, and what I do matters”.

I thought about my friend’s comment this week when I listened to a podcast conversation between comedian Marc Maron (on a Dec 2014 episode of his WTF weekly podcast, h/t B.I.C.) and his longtime…

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Fifty Shades of Something

Fifty Shades of Something

It’s a Fifty Shades world this week, and we just live in it. Not sure how close attention you’ve been paying to the ‘debate’ surrounding the film, but it’s a fascinating one, touching as it does on a number of our current hot potatoes, most notably sex and gender. Everyone seems to agree that the astronomical number of books (and tickets) sold indicates something larger going on, though no one seems to agree on what that is. Some say the success of the franchise reveals a deep faultline in 21st century bedrooms between Should and Is, between what’s acceptable to want and what is actually wanted, the ideal of egalitarian…

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Introduction to Theology Lectures (BRAND NEW)

Last night saw the completion of a five-week series here at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA of a five-week Introduction to Christian Theology class, taught by our own Will McDavid. Recordings of the lectures (about 70 min each) are linked below to entries on our Resources page. Each entry also contains the recommended readings that are discussed during that class. Enjoy:

Week 1: Theology and Bible – What’s the Bible? What’s it do?

Week 2: Creation, Fall, and Sin – Sinful why? Sinful how?

Week 3: Christology – Why is Chalcedon so wordy? Atonement how?

Week 4: Soteriology/Christian Life – Sanctification? Really?

Week 5: Trinity and (Brief) Eschatology – To the inner mysteries of things like spiration

Gerhard Forde on the Language of Grace

Another gem from theologian Gerhard Forde, via one of his responses in Five Views of Sanctification, pg 192:

The language of grace must be a language that comes totally from without. It does not call on the old self, not even the inner life of the old self, to somehow traverse a new way. It announces him who is the Way. It is thus a use of language which does not call on the old self to “surrender”; rather it is a use of language which through its very givenness slays the old by the absolute unconditionality of the gift itself… the Word does not call on our old being to die. It simply announces that we have died, and sanctification occurs to the degree that we get used to that fact…

Love is the source and goal of sanctification, but the only way to bring that about is to simply announce, “I love you.” The word of grace must bring the old unlovely and unloving existence to an end by the sheer strength of the promise, the gift, which breaks into our dreary lives and just announces flat-out that the old has passed away and the new is here.

An Exhausted Prayer: Get Me Out of {Into} the Woods

An Exhausted Prayer: Get Me Out of {Into} the Woods

One less-than-magical night, not so long ago, while afflicted by a monstrous spell of boredom cast upon me by the solitary confinement of the common cold, I ventured, alone, Into the Woods. Why not? I had a gift card… Honestly, as much as I jest, I wanted to see the cluster-cuss of historic fairy tales on the big screen, even though it meant sitting through over 2 hours of sing-a-long Disney tunes (…alright, I liked those too). It was electrifying; an out-of-the-blue good time; like seeing the neo-Gothic steeples of Cinderella’s Orlando castle in person for the first time all over again. More outstanding was the…

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PZ’s Podcast: Dualism Clinic with Dennis Wheatley (plus, the Ending of The Devil Rides Out)

PZ’s Podcast: Dualism Clinic with Dennis Wheatley (plus, the Ending of The Devil Rides Out)

EPISODE 182

It’s not that one’s “dialing back” on insights hard won from the last five years. No, it’s just that you have to be true to the whole of experience. And experience teaches that monism — the “bulk” picture of what we see and face — requires an element of enhancement. That element comes under the heading “dualism”.

Thus when Kerouac, a faithful Catholic, saw through the overly acute dualism of his upbringing in favor of a monism derived from Dwight Goddard, he was making a necessary correction. On the other hand, that correction was not sufficient to break every bondage. Far from it! So at…

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Scientific Wedding Vows and the Biggest Lie (and Truth) of Them All

Scientific Wedding Vows and the Biggest Lie (and Truth) of Them All

Valentines Week is upon us and with it, a fresh crop of articles on how to love and be loved, never a dull subject. First up, an article in The NY Times posing the timely question “Can Scientific Relationship Advice Save Your Marriage?”, in which couples are profiled who have chosen to base their wedding vows on the scientific study of relationships. Before you venture an answer, let me say that I found the honesty refreshing–at least these couples take the occasion seriously enough to acknowledge their true object of worship. On other hand, the vows dictated by ‘science’ sound…

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Demanding Answers: The Rise of the Economist

Demanding Answers: The Rise of the Economist

The New York Times dropped a fairly juicy opinion a while back from economist Justin Wolfers about the rise of economists in culture analysis and policy making. It does seem like economists are increasing in social prominence, and as Wolfers mentions, they’re ascending at a quicker pace than the rest of the social sciences. At least, that’s what the anecdotal evidence indicates (that evidence being a study of word counts in archived New York Times past editions). It’s more than just conversations about money, suggests Wolfers–it’s a trend that’s been growing as national economies have become global and more intertwined:

It wasn’t always this way. Historians…

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