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Improve Thyself! On the Fantasy Person You're Failing to Become

Improve Thyself! On the Fantasy Person You’re Failing to Become

If you go to an American bookshop, by far the biggest section is self-help and improvement. The idea that life is refine-able and that you can learn a technique for anything, whether it’s love-making, being a businessman, marriage, cooking, losing weight, whatever it is. There’s a Tony Robbins way of...

Death, Taxes, and the New England Patriots

Death, Taxes, and the New England Patriots

I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. In the main, the Steelers are a pretty great team for whom to root. They’re almost always pretty good, and win their division most years. Their ownership is stable, evidenced by the fact that they’ve had three coaches since 1969. For comparison’s sake, the Cleveland...

Church of the Deconstruction

Church of the Deconstruction

This piece was featured in Issue 7 of The Mockingbird: The Church Issue. Issue 8 is well underway!

In a recent visit to Mexico, Pope Francis spoke to a congregation of Mexican bishops and clergy. His words were harsh, to say the least. Instead of decrying the social and political upheaval...

When the Diagnosis Is the Treatment

When the Diagnosis Is the Treatment

We’re slowly but surely rolling out the list of confirmed speakers for this year’s NYC Conference (4/26-28) and somewhere very close to the top of the pile sits Alan Jacobs, a writer, teacher, and thinker who has been an invaluable influence on–and help to–our work these past couple years. Alan’s...

Turns Out Sex Is Still a Big Deal

Turns Out Sex Is Still a Big Deal

Like many people, for the past few days I have wrestled with what to make of the (too) well documented evening that a woman had with actor/comedian/writer Aziz Ansari. If you are living under a rock, a woman called “Grace” (hell of a pseudonym), had what she called the...

I, Tonya Justifies the 90's

I, Tonya Justifies the 90’s

Where were you in 1994 when Nancy Kerrigan took the famous billy club to the knee? Can you believe that event took place nearly a quarter century ago? It’s one of those strange decade-defining events that’s lasted in our minds alongside the Milli Vanilli lip syncing scandal of 1990, the Clinton...

The Last, the Least, the Lost, the Little and the... Old?

The Last, the Least, the Lost, the Little and the… Old?

I don’t have to think of a clever lead-in for this post. Erlich Bachmann has me more than covered:

That’s a solid four and half minutes of unaired, improvised, and largely top-drawer old-fogey jokes courtesy of T.J. Miller’s Silicon Valley maestro. As with much of what happens on that show, there’s a...

Because You Never Left

Because You Never Left

It’s no secret: I like God better when things are going well for me. Which makes 2017 a stellar year for the Almighty in my books. He landed us in Sydney, Australia, and provided a network of people and places to make us feel at home here: a...

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January Playlist

Can’t Stop the Signal: Enduring Hope for Divided Times

Been waiting for the right opportunity to post a video of this talk, which I had the privilege of giving twice this past Fall. I actually prefer the San Diego one (from the Here We Still Stand conference – sorry, DC!), partly cause it’s a little more theological, partly cause the lighting was better–read into those signals what you will. But as I was ruminating on a possible ‘state of the union’-type New Years post, I realized it contained a good deal of what I’d want to say:

p.s. As you’ll discover, you can hear but not see the clips I reference. The second one makes sense without the video (read a description), but the first one from Curb Your Enthusiasm is a lot funnier if you can see Larry’s face.

What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Life and Death

What Steve Jobs Taught Me About Life and Death

Grateful for this one by Nicholas Davis.

I made the decision to purchase an iPhone years ago because I already owned a MacBook and an iPad (why not have the whole system, right?). Steve Jobs invention has taught me much about life and death.

As a whole, I’ve been pleased with how little effort it takes on my part to accomplish virtually anything I want (short of making me my morning cup of coffee…there’s no app for that). From searching to syncing, to going “paperless” by scanning print documents, handling finances from my phone, reading the Greek New Testament with a tap…

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The Stray Bible of Christmas 1993

The Stray Bible of Christmas 1993

I spent Christmastide of 1993-1994 in a rural village on Shikoku, Japan’s smallest main island. I was 13, impossibly skinny—my brain a language-sponge my Japanese classmates teased me about for being more Japanese than Japanese.

There is almost nothing I forget about that winter vacation: the udon noodles, the persimmons from the trees in the yard, the home-made plum pickles in the cellar, the eleven-faced Buddha we visited on New Year’s Day after climbing 1,368 steps at Konpira-san, grandfather’s war-stories told from the Japanese side, the Shinto amulet on the kitchen wall honoring the war dead at Yasukuni, the smell of…

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Heaven for Heretics: A Vision from Coco (and Memaw)

Heaven for Heretics: A Vision from Coco (and Memaw)

This past October my grandmother went home to Jesus. She was as faithful as they come and her absence has left a hole in the heart of our family. It is one that will not be filled this side of heaven.

Her funeral was in a small Southern Baptist church with simply stained glass windows and one of the most pastoral preachers I have encountered. Really, we could not have asked for anything more beautiful.

And yet, one thing stayed with me. And it’s not a complaint but more of a longing. There was very little mention of my grandfather,…

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“Paul, Grace, and Human Worth,” A Lecture by John Barclay

A phenomenal lecture from Prof. John Barclay, one of the world’s foremost Paul scholars, talking about Paul’s theology of grace, its significance for today, the ideal of self-esteem, social media, and Martin Luther!

Wendell Berry's Plea for Grace

Wendell Berry’s Plea for Grace

Have you ever seen your dog or cat suddenly turn its head, tense up, and stare intently into an unoccupied space? It’s quite unnerving. They obviously see something we can’t, and if the more instinctual part of our brain trusts their superior senses enough, we tense up as well. It’s an interesting cross-species bit of performance art that happens, and we, of course, have learned to harness those senses for our benefit and protection.

There are certain people throughout history that fill those roles in our own species. Martin Luther, and his namesake, Martin Luther King Jr., are obvious examples of…

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The Top Ten Films of 2017

The Top Ten Films of 2017

2017 was a great year in film. For more, check out our abbreviated wrap-up (Seven Films from 2017).

As the year comes to a close, let’s limp across the finish line together while reminiscing about the best that 2017 had to offer up to the silver screen! It was another big year for reboots and sequels. We were gifted additional installments in the Star Wars, Blade Runner, The Planet of the Apes and Fast and Furious franchises. Marvel continued to appease the masses’ appetites for men in tights, landing four films on the year’s top 15 highest grossing films list. Independent,…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion was written by K. Marc Choi.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5, NIV)

“Formless and empty.” These are the two words that the writer of Genesis uses to describe the world, pre-creation. They are frightening words. Enter God the Creator. He brings shape and substance to…

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Mockingbird Update: What’s in Store for 2018 and How You Can Help

A year of anniversaries–Mockingbird’s 10th and the Reformation’s 500th–is now behind us, and what a year it was. We published our first children’s book, released two issues of our magazine (Food & Drink and Love & Death), held three conferences, racked up 1.2 million pageviews on our website. We hired our fourth full-time and fourth part-time staff members (which makes a total of eight!). David Z enjoyed a rejuvenating summer sabbatical.

One of the first things we did upon his return was convene a group to brainstorm about the next stage of our work. Together we developed a slew of new projects and initiatives (and tweaks to old ones) that we’ve affectionately termed “Mbird 2.0”. The guiding principle was just as it’s ever been–to bring the “same old song” of the Gospel to people in fresh and creative ways.

The first wave of 2.0, due in early 2018, will include a native Mbird app for mobile devices, a reconfigured Mockingcast, and the introduction of curated weekly digest emails. The second wave will launch a revamped website with triple the number of pastoral resources, our first-ever set of mini-videos, and a second 365-day devotional.

All this in addition to our slate of regular activities: conferences in Tyler, TX (2/23-24), New York (4/26-28), and Oklahoma City (10/12-13); new volumes of our print magazine (Humor will be out in a few weeks!); more reissued titles from Robert Capon; not to mention the continued parade of awesome daily content on here.

Suffice it to say, the adventure continues–and we need your help! Scroll down for a few suggestions of how to do so. 

How You Can Help

Mockingbird relies on the generosity of individual donors and churches to fund its operations. Specifically, we need to raise $360,000 to keep fulfilling our mission in 2018. For more information about where the money goes, click here. Three easy ways to help might be:

  1. Become a monthly supporter. More than 200 people give automatically to Mbird every month, anywhere from $5 to $1200. We would love to see that number increase! Anyone who signs up for monthly giving (any amount) will receive a complimentary subscription to The Mockingbird. If you’re already subscribed but want to start giving monthly, we’ll send you the publication of your choice as a thank-you.
  2. See if your church can help. A handful of ‘partner’ churches support us every year with funds from their mission/outreach budgets. Others give via discretionary accounts. If you attend or work at a church that is benefiting from our ministry but hasn’t gotten behind Mbird “officially” yet, be our advocate! Email us at info@mbird.com if you have any leads.
  3. Spread the word. If you’re not in a place where you can give, there are other ways to pitch in. Write a review of one of our books on Amazon. Or rate one of our podcasts on iTunes. Publicize Mbird events and articles (like this one!) on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Use one of our resources at your church or in your small group (our Law and Gospel is ideal for this). Above all, please pray for us!

If you believe in what we’re doing and want to ensure that it continues, consider making a donation to Mockingbird today. Thanks for reading, and we wish you the happiest of new years.

P.S. Discounted earlybird pre-registration for our NYC Conference (4/26-28) only lasts until January 15th!

The Top Theology Books of 2017

The Top Theology Books of 2017

Were you given an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card, but don’t know what to spend it on? Or perhaps you’re a bibliophile like me and have an insatiable appetite for the latest and greatest theology books. In either case, I’ve got just the list for you: the top Mockingbird theology books from 2017. Click here to read last year’s list.

Books on St. Paul

Paul and the Person: Reframing Paul’s Anthropology by Susan Grove Eastman

This is a fantastic book. According to Eastman, Paul believed that one’s identity is irreducibly social, determined by the influence of external powers—whether it be…

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The Tree on the Curb

The Tree on the Curb

Few physical objects cause me more sorrow than do discarded Christmas trees. Starting on Christmas Day itself, they begin turning up on the curb. (I saw one in Connecticut already thrown away on Christmas Eve this year.) Some are tossed away still with lights and decorations on them, while others are stripped of their finery before being sent off to weather the elements. They sit for days and weeks without any attention from sanitation crews—collecting snow, soaking up rain, silent in their jealousy of siblings and cousins who have been allowed to stay in cozy living rooms for…

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