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The Archbishop’s Identity Never Changes

The Archbishop’s Identity Never Changes

Welby and his biological father, Anthony Montague Browne.

Not sure if you’ve been following the story unfolding around Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby this past week, but it is truly extraordinary, both in its details and in what it reveals about the Archbishop himself. In a nutshell, at the age...

You Gotta Tip on the Tightrope (Between the Ideal and the Actual)

You Gotta Tip on the Tightrope (Between the Ideal and the Actual)

For magic to come through in the performance of a tightrope dancer, he or she requires some amount of tension in their rope, and then to step out off the platform.

Tension is defined as: the act of stretching or straining.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Nadia Bolz-Weber speak at...

Black Day, Stormy Night: Don’t Die Without Knowing Prince

Black Day, Stormy Night: Don’t Die Without Knowing Prince

Deeply saddened by the news of Prince’s death today at age 57. Since it’s borderline impossible to find his music online, those looking for some immediate catharsis would do well to tune into Minnesota public radio The Current, which is streaming his records non-stop.

Like everyone else who was alive in...

So You Have Your Doubts…

So You Have Your Doubts…

Last week, William Irwin wrote an op-ed for the New York Times’ philosophy forum, The Stone, called “God Is a Question, Not an Answer.” Despite the nauseating title, and the ever more nauseating 2,000-plus comments that have come in the week since it has been published, the article asks a...

Now Available: The Church Issue of The Mockingbird!

Now Available: The Church Issue of The Mockingbird!

Issue number seven has arrived! We really love this one and think you will too. Needless to say, the theme this time is a potent one. Yet as laden with history and hope and hurt as the subject may be, that didn’t stop us from having some fun. Below find...

2016 NYC Conference Recordings: Relief!

2016 NYC Conference Recordings: Relief!

Thank you again to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our invaluable friends at Calvary St. George’s. Feels rather poetic that a conference about “grace in world of expectation” so exceeded our own. Praise God for that.

We’re once again making the recordings available gratis; we only ask that those who...

Cords of wool in the EU Colors

String Theory, Shoestring Theory, and Your Entry in Modern Jackass Magazine

In 2010 Kathryn Schulz, a journalist for the New Yorker, wrote a book called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. This passage comes from that book, and describes a phenomenon we know all too well: that we pretend to know something that we, in fact, don’t know anything about. Maybe we lay...

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: The Monster of “We”

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: The Monster of “We”

Welcome to the first installment of Act Three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here. 

In Act One of this series we discovered that as a society we cannot agree on a collectively applicable definition of greed. In Act Two we examined a half dozen answers to the question Why. Starting today we’ll take a deeper dive into the philosophy and theology of greed, with a look at how America’s long-celebrated individualism has evolved.

In his 2005 book Greed, Dr. Julian Edney…

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mbirdconf16

Wow! What a weekend. So grateful to everyone at Calvary St George’s for making it such a slice of heaven. Audio files should be available later this week – keep an eye on this space.

Needless to say, we’re going to spend today catching our breath. If you’re thirsty for fresh material, check out the ” conference episode” of The Mockingcast, recorded on site in NYC and featuring a wonderful interview with Ted Peters.

Kierkegaard on the (Lost) Offense of Christianity

Kierkegaard on the (Lost) Offense of Christianity

[T]ake away the possibility of offense, as they have done in Christendom, and the whole of Christianity is direct communication; and then Christianity is done away with, for it has become an easy thing, a superficial something which neither wounds nor heals profoundly enough; it is the false invention of human sympathy which forgets the infinite qualitative difference between God and man.

-Søren Kierkegaard, “The Offence,” Training in Christianity

Kierkegaard handles the problem of the “messianic secret” still, to me, better than almost anyone. That secret is the question of why Jesus, after healing people, often tells them to tell no one….

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The Archbishop’s Identity Never Changes

The Archbishop’s Identity Never Changes

Welby and his biological father, Anthony Montague Browne.

Not sure if you’ve been following the story unfolding around Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby this past week, but it is truly extraordinary, both in its details and in what it reveals about the Archbishop himself. In a nutshell, at the age of 60, it has been discovered via a DNA test that Welby’s parentage is quite different than he had always been told/assumed. It turns out that his father was not Gavin Welby (a first generation Jewish immigrant to the UK, described by The Telegraph as an “alcoholic trickster”) after all…

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Trump Semper Accusat

Trump Semper Accusat

Another from new contributor Eric Dorman:

Election season is always nasty, brutish and long. This cycle is no different, really, except that it’s worse. There are candidates running now who make some of the folks from the past few elections look like scholars and saints. Bread and circuses, indeed.

Of course, the chief offender is Donald Trump, and most of the culture hates him for it. Left, right, center, every major news outlet regularly publishes diatribes against him or exposés about him.

Some people have thought about Trump more creatively, though. For example, Paul Zahl used Trump as an instrument for identifying some of…

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Tasting Myth: A Brief History of Story – Matt Boulter

In this talk from our conference in Tyler, TX, Matt Boulter discusses the history of story. From Mockingbird on Vimeo. 

From The New Yorker: Or Will They?

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The Most Foolish Job in the World: Planting a Grace-Centered Church

This conference breakout preview comes to us from our friend Curt Benham, who will be speaking this Friday afternoon at Mockingbird NYC

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Church planting is so hot right now.

These are heady times in the Church Planting Industrial Complex. There’s lots of money flowing around, and lots of conferences with lots of hype and lots of really, really, ridiculously good looking people slinging lots of “actionable steps” to help you plant the church of your dreams and make a Giant Impact ™ for Christ on your city.

Church planters have become the tech entrepreneurs of Western Christendom. We’re the ones who must innovate, innovate, and innovate some more in order to get all those wayward millennials’ butts back in the pews and make our cities a utopian paradise.

But here’s what they won’t tell you: church planting will kill you (ministers and laypersons alike). You will die. The law (of church planting), which promises life, will in fact kill you.

In other words, planting a church looks a lot like a life. You have big dreams for your church (or for your career, or for your children), and you feel empowered to take control of those dreams, become the master of your domain, execute your strategy, and ride off in the glow of your success. But you soon realize that you do not have control, and that the millennials aren’t showing up, and that your city is not becoming a utopian paradise, and that people are sick of hearing about grace and want “better, deeper” sermons with more “life application,” and that you’re a crappy “leader.” Ultimately, even though you talk about him all the time, you realize that you are not God. And that kills you. That’s the death-blow.

Resurrection is pretty sweet too, though. What comes out of the ashes of a dead church planter and his/her dead church can be a beautiful thing. Resurrection life usually looks nothing like what you expected or what you would have chosen. But it’s beautiful.

In this break-out session we’ll get honest about the joys and the sorrows of planting a grace-focused church.

Pre-register here!

Hopelessly Devoted: Psalm 148

This morning’s devotion comes from Ross Byrd.

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!… (Psalm 148, ESV)

Perhaps, as a kid, you also experienced the absolute downer of being told by some adult that in heaven “we just praise God for all eternity.” Great. So all visions of surfing perfect waves, jumping waterfalls, finally dunking a basketball, and recording with Billy Joel are out the window, because instead we’re just going to “praise God” in a never-ending church service. And who is this God who has designed eternity around Himself receiving praise from His creatures? Who is this God who even now commands us to praise him? Does he really need the boost

Of course I knew there had to be more to it, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I read something that turned all my thoughts upside down about the whole thing and made me want heaven (and God) more than I ever had.

123391-497x600It was an essay on “praising” in C. S. Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms. He had apparently been asking some of the same questions, including this one: why does it seem that the psalmist’s favorite way to praise God is simply to tell other people to praise Him? And not only people, but as we see in the above passage, stars and sea monsters and snowstorms! What is this all about? Lewis gives two simple observations:

First, that God Himself actually “demands praise” inherently. In other words, even if He did not command it, to praise God is simply to be awake, to be healthy, to be sane, to have “entered the real world.” And consequently, not to praise Him is to have missed everything and lost all.

Second, he writes of our everyday lives, “I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise.” Whether wine, music, books, sunsets, artists, sports, or children, we cannot fully enjoy a thing unless we praise it. Lewis continues, “and just as men spontaneously praise what they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: ‘Isn’t she lovely?’”

In the same way, the psalmists praise God, the true and ultimate object of praise, by telling us (and everything!) to praise Him. And so I picture heaven as being kind of like the moment after a last-second championship win for the home team where you’re just grabbing your friends, shaking them, and saying, “Can you believe this? Are you seeing this?” And there our praise, which is our happiness being fully directed toward the thing it was always meant for, will never end.

In the meantime, we may find ourselves more often resonating with the psalms of complaint (or revenge!) rather than the psalms of praise. But even then, we may find true comfort in the fact that we have a God who loves us enough to make His glory and our happiness ultimately the same thing.

Another Week Ends: Lots of Religious Things Including But Not Limited To Cheerleaders, Voyeurism, Marshmallows, and Solitary Confinement

Another Week Ends: Lots of Religious Things Including But Not Limited To Cheerleaders, Voyeurism, Marshmallows, and Solitary Confinement

Check out this week’s episode of The Mockingcast–and subscribe through iTunes or your favorite Android Podcasting App!

1. The Atlantic’s project, “Choosing My Religion,” is running full steam ahead (Ethan mentioned it a couple weeks back), and its goal is simply to record stories of how young people deal or don’t deal with religion.

As a part of the project, a particularly interesting article surfaced this week entitled, “Cheerleaders for Christ,” featuring the story (as reported with a surprising amount of grace) about a Texas high school whose cheerleaders wrote Bible verses on their banners at football games. (Speaking of Texas high school football, and…

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The Disappointing Heroism of Indiana Jones

The Disappointing Heroism of Indiana Jones

This one comes from Mockingbird friend, Jared (Indy) Jones. 

For my birthday a few weeks ago I got an amazing gift: the complete Blu-Ray set of all four Indiana Jones films. (Yes, there are four of them; no you cannot just pretend the fourth one was never made.) Indy has been in the news lately since Spielberg and Ford agreed to take a shot at a fifth installment in the franchise, which is as yet untitled (though some pretty amazing titles are already being thrown around). Indiana Jones 5 will almost certainly be… Actually, I have no idea if it will be good or not.

These movies hold…

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A Just Relief: A Conference Breakout Preview

This conference breakout preview comes to us from Raleigh Sadler.

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“Do you not care about the orphans?” she asked. “Because if you actually do, then you will support my ministry.” I was at a loss. I simply stared back at her as she continued to take me on her “guilt trip.” Though she was asking me to do something “good,” I couldn’t help but feel bad.

Oftentimes, conversations about “relief” can make us feel anything but relief. If you are honest with yourself, you will have to admit that at some point, you’ve felt this way.

For this reason, many of us resist following the latest social justice trends. Though we are not against “digging wells” or “fighting human trafficking,” we struggle with exhaustion at the very thought of it.

This year at the 9th annual mockingbird conference, I will be leading a discussion entitled “A Just Relief: How the Gospel produces Justice.” Using the parable of the Good Samaritan as our paradigm, we will discover how we can use law and Gospel to radically change how we approach social justice.

In this breakout, we will discuss shifting our motivation from law to grace, how “rest” in the gospel leads us to good “works,” and how to free your church to enjoy doing mercy and Justice in your community. See you next week!

Pre-register here – Walk-ins are always welcome but Tuesday 4/12 is last day to guarantee food.