I’ve been reading Niccolo Machiavelli lately, the brilliant Renaissance-era adviser of princes, and have found myself much more attracted to him than I’d expected. To say that his reputation precedes him is an understatement–very few last names become as frequently dropped modifiers as ‘Machiavellian’, which usually refers to someone who believes that ends justify means (a statement often misattributed to the Florentine) and endorses cruelty, opportunism, and cold manipulation. But there’s a gap between Machiavelli’s reputation and his writings, and I think that gap can speak to us.
I won’t attempt (and don’t think there’s much warrant for) a revisionist reading…
1. The breathtaking trailer for Wes Anderson’s new film hits the web:
3. The Washington Post acknowledges/validates your existence. It’s almost too much. Strike up the foreboding violin music…
A great quick one about inner-lawyers and the heat they can generate when the wheels start turning:
BELMONT, MA—Escalating over the course of 20 minutes from a restrained discussion with a coworker to a heated confrontation between multiple members of his management team, the fantasized argument currently taking place in the mind of Digital Ventures, Inc. employee Jesse Newman is getting pretty intense, sources confirmed today. “You’re talking to me about incompetence? Me?” Newman said in his mind while furrowing his brow and letting the entirely fictitious dispute go to an increasingly frank and emotionally charged place. “Mark, no one in this room agrees with you. Why? Because they don’t respect you. And they never have. And if you honestly believe that what you do around here is in any way vital, or important, or irreplaceable, then you are out of your mind. Absolutely out of your mind. No…you made it personal by insinuating that I wasn’t up to the task.”
It’s hard to believe that today (12/31) marks the 17th anniversary of the end of Calvin and Hobbes. While 17 years may sound like a long time, the strip has hardly dated at all. Instead, it is slowly but surely being recognized as the work of art that it is/was, and not just by us. The amount of expression and joy and humanity that Bill Watterson was able to wring out of those four panels over ten short years (1985-1995) is simply astounding. Mark my words: Calvin and Hobbes will go down as one of the abiding cultural achievements of…
Before the clock strikes 2013, we wanted to give you a brief update from the Mockingworld. 2012 was quite a year for our little organization. We hosted two major conferences, welcomed another gifted member of staff, and produced our two most substantial publications yet, This American Gospel and the full-length Grace in Addiction. In addition, our online audience grew by more than 40%, from roughly 270,000 unique visitors in 2011 to a whopping 380,000 in 2012. And those are just “the numbers”!
We have a lot on great projects on tap for 2013: In addition to our regular Spring and Fall conferences (New York, NY from 4/18-20 and Houston, TX from 10/24-26, the latter of which will double as our first ever Mockingbird Retreat!), we are playing a significant role at the Liberate gathering in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (2/21-24) and hosting an evening in March (3/6) with esteemed poet and author Christian Wiman in Charlottesville, VA.
We couldn’t be more excited about our publications slate for this coming year:
- Believe it or not, the long-awaited 365-Day Mockingbird Devotional will finally be available in April! We’ve worked incredibly hard on it and are confident you’ll enjoy the finished product as much as we do. For a taste of what it’ll be like, be sure to check out our ongoing Hopelessly Devoted series (all of which are taken from the finished book).
- Next, Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul Zahl is finished and should be out by the end of the summer. Watch this space for more details.
- Speaking of PZ, the 20-plus hours of the Grace In Practice course he taught this past July should be ready for download by late January.
- Jim McNeeley’s wonderful The Romance of Grace hits the shelves in February.
- David Zahl is eagerly at work on an expanded collection of his Mbird work that should appear in time for the October conference in Houston, tentatively titled These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty.
- Finally, stay tuned for an announcement about Kindle versions of our various publications early in the new year.
As for our website, aside from keeping the daily content coming, we’re planning to overhaul our Resources section, supercharge the Search functionality, give the sidebars a facelift, and create an inviting section for “first-timers.” Suffice it to say, 2013 will not be boring!
How You Can Help
The last thing you probably need is another organization jockeying for your hard-earned cash. Like any non-profit or ministry, Mockingbird relies on the generosity of individual donors and churches to fund its operations. Our budget for 2013 is $170,000–for info about where the money goes, go here–and two easy ways to help might be:
- Mbird currently has about 35 supporters who give automatically every month, anywhere from $10 to $1000/per month. We would love to see that number increase! To that end, anyone who signs up for monthly giving (any amount) by Jan 11th will receive a complimentary copy of the Mbird publication of their choice. Sign up for $50 or more per month (a tank of gas!), and we’ll even send you a copy of the devotional the second it’s ready. If everyone who reads our site gave even $5/month (a couple cups of good coffee) we wouldn’t have to think about money ever again!
- Right now there are a handful of churches that support us every year with money 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 maybe hasn’t considered getting behind Mbird “officially” yet, please be our advocate! We’re happy to fill out applications, make presentations, phone calls, offers that can’t be refused, etc – just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any leads.
To donate to Mockingbird, or to sign up for monthly giving, visit our Support page.
Bonus Track: According to research published last month in the journal Religion, Brain and Behavior, “people who recall being absolved of their sins are more likely to donate money to the church.” On that note…
Final Update: Eleven new monthly donors! Thank you so much.