Our weekly Breaking Bad post will be up tomorrow morning, but for now – addiction just can’t be put on hold. A story of resentments, forgiveness, meat-cleavers and self-reflection, from John Z.’s Grace in Addiction:
“Imagine a guy named Gary and another guy named Levar. Gary and Levar are not great friends, but they are – or rather used to be – acquaintances. Now they hate each other.
Here’s what happened. Both Gary and Levar are smokers. One day Gary found himself sitting next to Levar in the library at their college. Gary noticed that Levar had a fresh pack of cigarettes sticking…
If Alcoholics Anonymous really is a model for the Church, then Raymond Carver has some of the best ecclesiology around! This time we turn to a story from his Cathedral collection about addiction, love, empathy, and (just maybe!) redemption. To read along, go here.
The next morning Frank Martin got me aside and said, ‘We can help you. If you want help and want to listen to what we say.’ But I didn’t know if they could help me or not. Part of me wanted help. But there was another part. All said, it was a very big if.
1. To start off, Henry Allen over at The Wall Street Journal describes a contemporary cultural inertia he’s felt. An ironically self-described ex-”Ziggy Zeitgeist”, he’s now in limbo, the cultural doldrums, ht VH:
Now I am disquieted. It’s not that I see things changing for better or worse, for richer or poorer, or even not changing at all. It’s something else: The most important thing in our culture-sphere isn’t change but the fact that reality itself is dwindling, fading like sunstruck wallpaper, turning into a silence of the dinner-party sort that leads to a default discussion of movies.
Some angel of the Lord put together the Costanza-12 Steps storyline from “The Apology” episode of Seinfeld and who would we be if we didn’t post it here. So rich and hilarious, featuring a great cameo from James Spader and touching on a gazillion of our favorite themes, from scorekeeping to repentance and forgiveness, recovery, motivation, self-sabotage, etc, and ending with a scene of public condemnation of “law-breaking” that backfires to an almost New Testament degree:
Perfect opportunity to plug the Step 9 section of John Z’s Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody:
I was saddened yesterday to hear that Roger Ebert had died. Like many of my generation, I grew up watching him and Gene Siskel talk movies and do their thumbs-up-or-down routine on TV, probably my first public role models for cultural criticism of any kind. Ebert gave you permission to have an opinion–a strong one–about a movie, yet also didn’t seem consumed by loftiness. At least, not completely. You could disagree with another person and still be generous to them; it was clear that he and Siskel were friends. Plus, you always got the sense that he genuinely liked movies,…
Continuing with our series of previews of our recent publication Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody, here’s a section from the chapter having to do with Step 7, i.e. “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”
An important part of parenting comes when the parent makes a mistake. Perhaps tempers flare in a regrettable way. Or maybe a crucial decision turns out to have been a misstep. Maybe the parents move their child into a new school that proves to be a poor match, and the child has to switch back later. God’s grace is…
1. Not knowing much (at all) about Pope Francis, maybe you were as pleasantly surprised as I was to read David Brooks’ irenic column about “How Movements Recover”, in which he articulated a philosophy and approach quite near and dear to this mocking-heart:
Augustine [of Hippo], as his magisterial biographer Peter Brown puts it, “was deeply preoccupied by the idea of the basic unity of the human race.” He reacted against any effort to divide people between those within the church and those permanently outside. He wanted the church to go on offense and swallow the world. This would involve swallowing…
Continuing with our series of previews of our recent publication Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody, we move to a section from the chapter having to do with Step 7, i.e. “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.”
“Although people do sometimes have a sense of peace with God… nevertheless, in a given situation it is not so much peace with God that is the true mark of the Holy Spirit at work, but birth pangs.” -Christoph Blumhardt
Another image of God’s work in a person’s life comes from John’s Gospel: “The wind blows wherever it…
A second preview from our brand new publication Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody. We’ve heard that it makes a terrific Christmas present (not unlike giving someone a stick of deodorant, but hey…). This one comes from the chapter on Step 3 (“made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him”), pgs 64-69:
“Let me give you a truth that can make all the difference in the world: almost everything you think about doing to make something better is wrong and will only make…
Our last post before taking a break for the holiday and the first in a series of previews of our brand new publication, Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics for Everybody by John Z, this section comes from pages 23-25:
An important issue for Alcoholics Anonymous is the problem of agency: in other words, is the emphasis placed on the individual’s initiative or on God’s work upon the individual?
For starters, it should be understood that the “work-related” terminology of the Twelve Steps can just as easily be interpreted as a descriptive tool, rather than a prescriptive one. In other…
Church basements are curious places. Playing host to the vibrant world of Twelve Step Recovery, they witness the sort of healing and redemption that would make those on the ground floor proud, and maybe even envious. Yet despite the Church and Alcoholics Anonymous both being in the business of bringing “hope to the hopeless”, the two worlds seldom seem to interact. Packed with vivid illustrations, good humor, and practical wisdom, Grace in Addiction attempts to bridge this divide and carry the unexpected good news of AA out of the basement and into the pews–and beyond! Highly recommended for anyone who has struggled with addiction, knows someone who has struggled with addiction, or spent any time living and/or breathing.
*Not to be confused with the Grace in Addiction pamphlet that Mockingbird published in 2010. That one provided some of the basis and inspiration for this one, but it was 30 pages, as opposed to 285! To read an excerpt of the introduction, go here. There are also some preview pages available on Amazon–where the book is available for purchase–though please note: Mbird receives quite a bit more revenue if you order directly from CreateSpace.
In 2010, Mockingbird published a little pamphlet called Grace in Addiction: What the Church Can Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous, and the response was so positive that we decided to develop it into a full-length book. We are truly excited to announce that the project–retitled Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody–is now finished and will make its debut later at the Fall Conference in Charlottesville, VA (9/28-29)! Not only will it be available for the first time, the esteemed author John Z will be on hand to present some of the material in person. The session,…
Another wonderful section of Mary Karr’s memoir of addiction and recovery, Lit, tells of how God chose to speak profoundly to her through the mouth of a total nut (and fellow addict). Obviously the Bible offers great precedent for this kind of thing (what we like to call The Nazareth Principle), but it’s nonetheless remarkable to hear of such occurrences in more modern contexts. Of course, Alcoholics Anonymous–the subject and setting of much of the book–embodies this idea. Crazy people in AA meetings often say smart things. Balaam’s ass might as well be the movement’s mascot.
A beautiful passage about what it means to have a spiritual “awakening,” taken from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:
“Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service, gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world outside we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God’s sight all…
WHAT: Mockingbird seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
WHY: Are we called Mockingbird? The name was inspired by the mockingbird’s peculiar gift for mimicking the cries of other birds. In a similar way, we seek to repeat the message we have heard - God’s word of grace and forgiveness.
HOW: Via every medium available! At present this includes (but is not limited to) a daily weblog, semi-annual conferences, and an ongoing publications initiative.
WHO: At present, we employ three full-time staff, David Zahl and Ethan Richardson and William McDavid. They are helped and supported by a large number of contributing volunteers and writers. Our board of directors is chaired by Mr. Thomas Becker.
WHERE: Our offices are located at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA.
WHEN: Mockingbird was incorporated in June 2007 and is currently in its seventh year of operation.
The work of Mockingbird is made possible by the gifts of private donors and churches. Our 2014 operating budget is roughly $195,000, and with virtually no overhead, your gifts translate directly into mission and ministry. Can you help? Please feel free to email us at email@example.com if you have any questions or would like more information.
As a convenience, we are set up to accept online donations via Paypal. This method will allow you to give with a credit card, in any amount you wish. Simply click on the button below and follow the instructions.