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What They Don't Show You On Fixer Upper

What They Don’t Show You On Fixer Upper

In keeping with the millennial stereotype of rustic appeal, my wife and I bought our first home this summer, a “fixer-upper” with a lot of character, wet insulation, and dead birds. We took a selfie out front, made a list of future projects, hired a contractor, personally knocked some walls...

At Long Last...The Humor Issue!

At Long Last…The Humor Issue!

Ladies and gentlemen, wisecracks, cornballs, jesters, and twerps! After what has felt like eons of soliciting writers, fielding interviews, landing interviews, losing interviews, editing, copy editing, proofing, and an entire magazine REDESIGN, we have finally reached the best part. Childbirth. Out of the womb and into the world. After all,...

Modern Bible Wars: On Scripture, Authority, and the Law-Gospel Hermeneutic

Modern Bible Wars: On Scripture, Authority, and the Law-Gospel Hermeneutic

The following was written by Charis Hamiltonius.

I didn’t live through the “Bible Wars” of the 20th century (thank God), but their effects still reverberate into the many debates today. Those who hold to scriptural authority, usually defined as inerrancy or divine inspiration, view it as a bulwark against the...

Apparently I Am Not James Bond

Apparently I Am Not James Bond

When I was young I loved action movies. Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond was a focal point of my pre-adolescent years. I owned action movies on VHS, played their corresponding video games, and collected any paraphernalia that I could get my hands on.

On leaving the theater, after seeing the newest action...

Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Ivan Karamazov Visits Westworld

Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Ivan Karamazov Visits Westworld

This post was written by Nate Mills. 

When Moses stood before the Burning Bush, he responded to the Lord by asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Moses’s hesitancy was rooted in a deep uncertainty surrounding his identity....

NYC Conference Update (T-Minus 4 Days and Counting!)

NYC Conference Update (T-Minus 4 Days and Counting!)

Our 11th Annual Conference in NYC (4/26-28) is almost here, and we wanted to relay a few exciting details that have just come together:

The Pixie and the Scout sent us the final menu earlier this week and it looks scrumptious as can be. Click here to read. Reminder: registration for...
Latest entries

A Woman vs. Her Roomba: The Battle for Biblical Femininity

A Woman vs. Her Roomba: The Battle for Biblical Femininity

Several months ago, my husband Alex made a peculiar suggestion for his approaching birthday: he wanted a Roomba.

The notion was mildly annoying to me at the time (I wasn’t sure why), but I chose to brush it off as a disturbing lack of imagination on Alex’s part. You want a vacuum for your birthday? Okay, grandpa.

Several weeks ago the thing arrived, and I have never seen my betrothed operate with such rabid demeanor. Excitement and anticipation emoted through Alex’s every gesture. He darted around the house picking up any odd end that might get in the Roomba’s path. He flipped…

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Finding God at Arby's: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

Finding God at Arby’s: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

This sermon was delivered this past Sunday in Charlottesville, by Sam Bush.

This is a very exciting time for the church. It’s one week after Easter. The lilies are still up, the altar is in full splendor. We are living in the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection. And today we see how the resurrection immediately plays out in the lives of his disciples. Jesus stands among them and everyone is shocked and then they rejoice. I picture it like the end of a movie — there’s a montage of all of them laughing, maybe messing up each other’s hair, or playing a…

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Everything I Never Learned from Seinfeld – David Zahl

In this talk, from the recent Mockingbird conference in Tyler TX, DZ speaks about the personal and spiritual significance of Seinfeld’s trivial obsessions (9 seasons’ worth). It’s an abbreviated version of his essay featured in the just-released Humor Issue, which you can find here.

Everything I Never Learned from Seinfeld – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

David Grann has penned a gripping New Yorker profile on Arctic explorer Henry Worsley. If you don’t have time to read the whole lengthy piece (or even if you do), this 25 minute New Yorker Radio podcast is a fantastic supplement. A retired British army commando, he was obsessed with the Arctic explorer (and current leadership book icon) Earnest Shackleton. Worsley (who once spent the night sleeping near his hero’s grave) adopted Shackleton’s credo as is own: “by endurance we conquer.”

Shackleton’s fame, however, should not obscure the fact that he was “in many ways, a failure.” He emerged physically broken after Captain…

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Another Week Ends: Jean Vanier, Amen Dunes, Father Freeman, Invisibilia, 1 Corinthians (Ortberg Translation), and A Flock of (Hotel) Seagulls

Another Week Ends: Jean Vanier, Amen Dunes, Father Freeman, Invisibilia, 1 Corinthians (Ortberg Translation), and A Flock of (Hotel) Seagulls

1. Stephen Freeman, at it again, this time translating the story of the rich man and the eye of the needle. Freeman offers that maybe we should read the pronouncement today as saying that it is impossible for the middle-class man to make it to heaven, not just the rich man. Freeman argues that whenever we read this little bit from the bible, we immediately sigh a sigh of relief that, praise be Him, we are not, like totally loaded, at least not like Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So that have a ton of extra cash and extra homes. Freeman says…

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The Easter Effect, Dolly Parton, and a Specific Kind of Jesus

The Easter Effect, Dolly Parton, and a Specific Kind of Jesus

Happy Easter! By now, the ham leftovers should be about finished, the bonnets returned to their boxes, and the elusive eggs left unfound on Sunday are easily discovered by following the faint smell of sulfur. Clergy are just about recovered from the multiple services of Holy Week. And for those of us from liturgical traditions, Alleluias are back on the table. Lent has passed, and we’re now in an “Easter State of Mind.”

That “Easter State of Mind” is the subject of one of the better think-pieces offered up by the web this year. At the Wall Street Journal, George Weigel…

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On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

Our first glimpse into the issue we’ve all been waiting for, this one comes from award-winning humorist Harrison Scott Key. Subscribers, orders should be hitting the mailbox this week! For the uninitiated, YAW! GIDDYUP! 

When your book wins the Thurber Prize in American Humor, our nation’s most important literary prize for a funny book, people have a lot to say, such as, “Oh, wow, I’ve never heard of that award!” or “You still have to pay for your food.”

Once, I was introduced at a book festival as, “Harrison Scott Key, winner of the largest and most important prize in…

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A Visit to Another World: Modern Fiction and Life After Death – A Conference Breakout Preview

Christians have long puzzled over whether literary fiction is of any use to the remnant of believers in the world. Of course, most of the Western canon is essentially Christian; you can’t get anywhere in a lit course without some basic familiarity with the Bible. But many of today’s stories seem postmodern, remaining thematically ambiguous and unresolved. Even so, stories remain one of our surest avenues for (something like) transcendence.

Good fiction describes the reality of everyday life—describes, in the words of Flannery O’Conner, “what is.” But for many Christians this seems too earthly a goal. Where have the symbolic references to Calvary gone? How long do we wait for this character’s redemption? Good stories are not always innocent or sentimental, nor necessarily redemptive. O’Connor, a Catholic herself, seemed just fine with this: “We lost our innocence in the Fall,” she writes plainly, “and our return to it is through the Redemption which was brought about by Christ’s death and by our slow participation in it. Sentimentality is a skipping of this process in its concrete reality and an early arrival at a mock state of innocence, which strongly suggests its opposite.” Oof!

During this breakout session, we’ll spend some time looking at the work of 3 contemporary writers—Denis Johnson, George Saunders, and Ottessa Moshfegh—who I haven’t been able to get out of my head this year. Their stories relate, sometimes brutally, sometimes humorously, “what is.” These writers are not Christians (actually one of them is), but they nevertheless “reinforce our sense of the supernatural by grounding it in concrete, observable reality” (O’Connor). These stories poke fun at the absurdity of our everyday reality and illuminate our desperate need for a life after life. My hope is that their words will help us put some fresh “skin on the bones” of the Christian message (in the words of John Zahl). It should be fun and maybe a little weird! Hope to see ya there.

Click here to register for the upcoming Mockingbird conference in NYC! And check out the incredible line-up of speakers here.

Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie's Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie’s Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

This piece was written by Brad J. Gray.

It’s a turn of phrase that I’ve seen around the Internet and various other places in the past, but only recently has it been actually uttered to my face. I wouldn’t have thought much of it but it was said twice in a few short days and it got me to thinking about how prevalent the sentiment is despite its inherent falsehood and treachery. I am, of course, referring to the oft-quoted statement, “God helps those who help themselves.” No doubt you’ve heard this expression before, more than likely from a well-meaning person….

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Meme Lore 101: Lecture 1 - Course Overview

Meme Lore 101: Lecture 1 – Course Overview

Henlo class, and welcome to your introductory course on the dankest Internet trend since coolmath-games.com and Early Youtube. I’m sure that many of you have elected to take this course because of your confounding daily encounters with spicy fresh-baked memes. You’ve caught yourself thinking “what are these ‘may-mays’ my children are always talking about? Why do my friends sound like they’re talking in a completely different dialect, always referring to the ‘Top Five Strongest Anime Characters of ALL TIME’ and Neil Degrasse Tyson? What is the ‘Wednesday Frog’ and why is he so important? Have no fear, soon-to-be dank memers!…

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I Don’t Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God – A Conference Breakout Preview

This NYC 2018 Conference breakout preview comes from Adam Morton, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church and associate pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, both in Lancaster, PA.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You’ve heard that bit before. If not, purchase or steal a Bible (we can work on the ethics of acquisition later), and crack it open to the very first chapter. It’s a good read. This passage is one of the small set that might come out of the mouths of folks who have little or nothing to do with the church; nevertheless, they have heard that humanity is somehow the “image of God,” and this is surely important. But what does it mean?

Modern life is such that the definition of a human being seems to be daily renegotiated. The pet food commercials tell me that my pair of cats (let us never speak of them again) and my son are more or less equal objects of my care. I doubt this, but clearly not everyone does, else General Mills wouldn’t have offered $8 billion to acquire Blue Buffalo. Various experts and news stories have warned me, repeatedly, that if the robots don’t rise up to kill us, they’ll seduce us instead—and that this sort of thing is one day going to be perfectly normal. Silicon Valley appears awash in the notion that humanity can be—no, that’s too weak—will be transcended by way of the proper application of consumer electronics to the body. Sad as it is to say, neither are we anywhere near rid of the notion that certain colors or other configurations of the anthropoid form are markedly less than human.

Hear enough of this stuff and you might begin to suspect that we don’t yet really know what a human being is. This ancient notion of the image of God might be helpful in such a mess, if only we could pin it down. However, the thorny heart of the matter is that this image isn’t all that apparent in my daily life. I can’t see it, and while I could make several plausible suggestions as to its meaning, settling on which one (if any) is true is another matter—which means, strangely enough, that it has something in common with the God whose image it is supposed to be.

In this conference breakout we’ll try to talk about this image-of-God thing, what it means for it to be hidden from us, and how this confusion impacts us on a daily basis. Along the way we’ll enlist the help of Johann Georg Hamann, the greatest 18th century German writer you’ve never heard of (yes, I know, that’s hardly a selling point—but trust me, this guy is hilarious in a very un-German and un-18th century way).

You can sign up for the 11th annual Mockingbird conference here! No human beings will want to miss this!

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) - Part 2

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) – Part 2

This is the second in a 3-part series on Bruce Cockburn. To read the first part, go here. 

Act II: The Struggle Against the Darkness of the World (1980-1986)

Three dramatic changes occurred in Cockburn’s life around 1980: (1) his 10-year marriage to Kitty—which had included the birth of their daughter Jenny in 1976—ended in divorce, (2) his music caught fire in the U.S. and brought him fame he’d never had and was ill-prepared for, and (3) he moved from his 1970s home in rural Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario, to downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Perhaps as an effect of these changes, it was…

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