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Posts tagged "10 Years of Grace"

How to Have (Just) One God – A Conference Breakout Preview

How to Have (Just) One God – A Conference Breakout Preview

Perhaps the most basic piece of information about the Christian faith — so basic that in the West it is more assumed than taught, even to the unchurched — is that there is one God. We don’t have to think much about this. When somebody says they are religious, we assume that they believe in one God and not many. People might ask, “Do you believe in God?” or say, “I don’t believe in God,” but the question, “Which of the gods do you believe in?” would take most of us by surprise.

It isn’t only Christians who speak of one…

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Hearing Law, Seeing Gospel: A Mockingbird History of Art – A Conference Breakout Preview

Today’s first conference breakout preview comes to us from Matthew J. Milliner, an associate professor of art history at Wheaton College.

It doesn’t take long at Mockingbird before one hears about… yes, here it comes… Law and Gospel. It is the name of the book after all. And while most of the fun is to be had in observing this versatile skeleton key to the human condition illustrated in everything from Finding Dory to David Bowie, or from Black Mirror to Axl Rose, the original Law/Gospel illustration, of course, came from Martin Luther’s BFF, Lucas Cranach the Elder, as evidenced below. On the left, expectation and obligation – with help from sin and death – send a helpless streaker toward an unwelcome barbeque (that’s Law). On the right, expectation is met by fulfillment. As the good news sinks in, a super-soaker of imputing blood jet streams from a side-wound, while sin and death get busted by a deputized sheep (that’s Gospel).

It would be perfectly serviceable to offer an extended talk on such wonderful illustrations, one of which bedazzles the front of Paul Zahl’s Short Systematic Theology. Cranach, after all, painted several variations, each of which convey different nuances to Law/Gospel dynamic. Nevertheless, addled as I am by the oppressive law of academia, with its merciless demand for originality, I am incapable of delivering something so straightforward, which, at any rate, has been done well in several top-notch publications.

Instead, I thought I’d look to artists from whom one would not expect such a message. Indeed, at the tenth anniversary conference I shall contend the Law/Gospel message can be found concealed in artists a long way from Wittenberg. The thrilling truth of grace emerges in art history just where you’d expect to hear something different (hence my title, “Hearing Law, Seeing Gospel”). What if the dynamic famously painted by Cranach could be found incognito in Orthodox icons, peeking from the unsurpassable achievements of Michelangelo and Pontormo, concealed in Catholic kitsch, even shining through the cult of creativity in contemporary art?

It’s all succinctly conveyed in the witty title, “camouflage Cranach,” really, but my wife said that sounded terrible.

Join us April 27-29 in NYC for the 10th annual Mockingbird conference!

After God’s Own Heart: Life, Death, and the Gospel in the Story of King David – A Conference Breakout Preview

It’s one of the most famous lives in the Bible. Chosen by God from seeming obscurity, faced immediately with an obstacle of gigantic proportions (wink wink), and—in the final analysis—a hero and sinner beyond compare, David’s story is a story that can sometimes be hard to relate to. It’s cinematic in its drama and packed with twists and turns…it would be easy to think that David’s life was one-of-a-kind. But it’s not. The stages (if not the gritty details) are lived out again and again by every person who has ever lived. In a powerful way, one of the most famous men in the history of the world is an everyman. David’s story is your story. It’s our story. It’s a story of God’s sovereignty, power, judgment, mercy, and grace.

At 2:30pm on Friday, April 28th at the 10th annual Mockingbird Conference, I’ll tell this story again. We’ll revisit David’s incredible life (focusing specifically on four watershed moments: his selection as future king, his duel with Goliath, his soap opera with Bathsheba and Uriah, and his final Song of Deliverance) and discuss how God’s interactions with David can help us understand his interactions with us. How does God make choices? How does he stand up for his people when they are in trouble? How does he deal with broken sinners? These questions and more find their answers in the life and rule of King David.

David was called something that we’d all like to be called: “a man after God’s own heart.” His story gives us better news: God is after us. Come hear the story in a fresh way later this month. I’m looking forward to being with you all in New York City!

Register for the 10th annual Mockingbird conference here!

Liars and Madmen and You: The Art of Narrative – A Conference Breakout Preview

Here begins our conference breakout previews–sneak peeks of the various topics we’ll talk about in NYC this April! Check out the conference site for more details

Most people will recognize Stephen King’s It as the one about the killer clown. Which it is. But at 1100 pages, it has to be more than that, you know? In his dedication King writes: “Fiction is the truth inside the lie”—which, I’ll admit, I still don’t fully get—but that’s nevertheless a good place to begin investigating one of It’s running themes: extracting the truth from the lies, particularly the ones we tell ourselves. Centered around a group of raggle-taggle tweens, It is a story about growing up and facing fears, about selectively remembering (and discarding) our early painful memories. What the characters develop, as their first line of defense against the killer clown in question, is an elaborate but ultimately fragile method of narrative construction that carries them into adulthood: Mike Hanlon, one of the story’s protagonists, explains, “We lie best when we lie to ourselves.”

It’s true for all of us. With the recent deluge of social studies concerning #confirmationbias, and with the self-righteousness of American politics cropping up wherever we look—not to mention moral dispatches from Starbucks cups—there’s never been a better time to take a second glance at the stories we tell ourselves. If spun right, “taking control of your narrative” can sound just as liberating as “taking a trip to Aruba”; but the late David Carr, in his memoir, The Night of the Gun, illustrates the exhausting side of this self-embossed coin: “You spread versions of yourself around, giving each person the truth he or she needs—you need, actually—to keep them at one remove.”

So let’s get all our narratives in one place and talk about them, Friday, April 28, 3:30PM, at the 10th Annual Mockingbird Conference. We’ll discuss some of the best stories told by liars and madmen, including some by me and some by you. And—of course—we’ll talk about the great, final page-turner that illuminates the truth about us and pulls us into it, not as tragic heroes but as pardoned villains.

Register for the conference here!

The Tenth Annual Mockingbird NYC Conference: 10 Years of Grace

Hard to believe that the 2017 Spring Conference will be our 10th annual get-together in New York City. It happens April 27-29, 2017 and you are warmly invited. Registration is now open! We’re so excited we produced a video about it:

We would love to see you there. Get your tickets here

Earlybird prices expire at the end of the year.

P.S. Just over two weeks til Oklahoma City! Click here for more info about this *free* event.