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Posts tagged "Eden and Afterward"

Genesis, Instagram, and Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis

Genesis, Instagram, and Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis

I started following a legit “Lifestyle Blogger” on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. This is my first significant foray into this social media genre and I’m fascinated. This woman is young and beautiful and spunky and I want to be her friend. I’ve fallen into her trap—I even ordered some protein powder she featured on one of her recent Instagram stories. Why? Why do I want to be friends with this woman? She seems to be everything I’m not. And if I think too much about her lifestyle and the energy required to document various aspects of it, I…

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Welcome To My Neuroticism, I Mean, My House

Welcome To My Neuroticism, I Mean, My House

If you’ve ever embarked on a remodeling project, chances are you’ve found yourself–at some point–way in over your head, cheekily quoting Tom Hanks’s Walter from The Money Pit: “It’s going to be fun, fixing it up. You’ll see…A little imagination, and it’s gonna be great…” Little did he know…

The ups and downs of ‘making house’ were chronicled in The New York Times’ recent mammoth, “Making House: Notes on Domesticity,” by Rachel Cusk, which is all at once a cultural critique, a philosophy dissertation, and a comedy sketch (don’t miss the story about her ex-boyfriend’s table). Cusk’s article, primarily, is about the human impulses behind the urge to…

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FEBRUARY BOOK SALE – 20% Off All Mbird Books!

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A little self-promotion: Whenever we find a theme here on the blog we’re especially excited about and feel we’ve done some of our best writing on, we’ll take a few months, get an editor onboard, and take the time to basically do it way better and more in depth than we can find time for on the blog – thus Mockingbird books. They’re a little underused, but we love all of them – and want you to, as well. So we’re offering 20% off through the end of February. Get some books, tell your friends. IMHO, they’re solid work. Catalogue below:

A Mess of Help, by David Zahl: Our newest book presents the best of DZ’s music writing, revised, rethought and expanded, plus a good bit of never-before-done material, too. Get to know the ‘cruciform’ shape of the lives/work of many of the best rock n’ roll artists, and don’t miss the ultimate annotated playlist.

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Eden and Afterward, by Will McDavid: Mockingbird’s most ambitious biblical foray yet, it gives a pretty good deal of thought/reflection on the beginning of the Bible, Genesis. By reading it with fresh eyes and a view toward its character as literature, EAA makes these old stories fresh, new, and surprising.

PZ’s Panopticon, by Paul F.M. Zahl: PZP does comparative religion through the only lens that really matters, i.e., how do the different religions look to a dying person? Immensely provocative, entertaining, and profound, in classic Paul Zahl style.

The Mockingbird Devotional, edited by Ethan Richardson and Sean Norris: Our bestselling book by a good stretch, this 365-day devotional, by over 60 contributors, provides the Gospel every day. Called the “best devotional on the planet” by Tullian Tchividjian.

Grace in Addiction, by John Z: When it comes to the bound will and the crucial question of if, and how, people change for the better, look no further. This is our most practical book, an extended meditation on the Twelve Steps with almost infinite application to ‘Christian life’, and inexhaustible comfort.

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This American Gospel, by Ethan Richardson: A rare work of what might be called ‘personal theology’, TAG starts in the gritty, everyday stories of the popular radio program “This American Life”, and it weaves them together beautifully into deep meditations on themes of human life. Packed with insight.

The Gospel According to Pixar, edited by David Zahl and Todd Brewer: Just what it sounds like; Pixar’s golden age not only resulted in exceptional children’s movies, but also a surprising Gospel bent to almost everything they did. Toy Story, Cars, Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and others strike a remarkable balance between story and parable. Perfect for young Sunday School courses, adult nostalgia, or a good cry.

Judgment and Love, edited by Sean Norris: One of our earliest books, Judgment and Love takes a bottom-up approach to the old theme of Law and Gospel, telling personal stories of how these themes play out in real life.

Promo code for everything is 4FYR46BT – except for Pixar and J+L, which are already discounted. Pick up yours today!

 

A Reflection on the Fall, or Sisyphus vs. Jack Vincennes

A Reflection on the Fall, or Sisyphus vs. Jack Vincennes

This is the transcript of a talk given over the weekend by Mbird’s Will McDavid at The Olmsted Salon in NYC, loosely based on our recent Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis. For the audio, go to the Olmsted site here, and to order the book, go here.

I first want to speak a little about why I wrote this book. I think the relative decline of the Christian religion among intellectuals has resulted in a few interesting consequences for the Bible. People now are relatively less likely to study the letters of Paul, in which he lays out much…

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Introducing Eden and Afterward – Will McDavid

Another gem from our conference from Will McDavid, discussing his new book, Eden and Afterward.

Eden and Afterward: Introducing a Mockingbird Guide to Genesis ~ Will McDavid from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Introducing Mockingbird's Guide to Genesis

Introducing Mockingbird’s Guide to Genesis

This piece originally appears as the Introduction chapter of Eden and Afterward, Mbird’s latest publication, which looks at Genesis through the lenses of literary commentary, theology, and everyday life. Contents include Adam, Abel, Noah, Babel, Abram, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, Leah, Tamar, and Joseph.

There’s an old story of a Jewish rabbi who once attempted to heal a blind man. After rubbing saliva in the man’s eyes and laying hands on him, the rabbi asked if the cure had worked. “I can see people,” the man ventured, “but they look like trees, walking.” Then, as the account of this healing in the book of…

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Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

For those interested in human folly and hard truths, look no further than John Gray, a political philosopher whose work On Progress and Other Modern Myths (The Silence of the Animals) debunks many of our species’ self-flattering stories about where we came from and where we’re going. An agnostic himself, Gray realizes the decline of Christianity won’t issue in quite the same unproblematic post-religious paradise that some of his contemporaries might think:

For humanists, denying that humanity can live without myths can only be a type of pessimism. They take for granted that if human beings came to be more like the rational…

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A Place on the Ladder: Notes from Sibling Rivalry

A Place on the Ladder: Notes from Sibling Rivalry

It was a Ken Griffey, Jr. baseball card, blue and shiny and highly-coveted by Little Leaguers everywhere. Packed in with four other no-names, it was a diamond in the rough. And it was mine. My brother, a year older, couldn’t believe I was so lucky—I mean, Ken Griffey, Jr.—so he proceeded to, quite sneakily, remove it from my collection and place it in his own. I can’t remember exactly what happened next but, after many tears and a flurry of hand-to-hand combat, the card lay discarded on the ground with river-like creases running over Ken’s regal face. My Ken Griffey…

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The Laughter of God in Eden and Afterward

The Laughter of God in Eden and Afterward

A memorable excerpt from the chapter “Ishmael and Isaac (Genesis 16:1-18:15)” in our newest resource, Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis, by Will McDavid, which is available here.

God appears to Abram again, thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth, to reaffirm his covenant, albeit with a couple of new twists. First, he receives a new name, Abraham, meaning “the Father is exalted” and “father of a multitude,” a name not based on Abram himself, but rather his identity as chosen, as recipient of the God’s promise. Likewise, Sarai becomes “Sarah,” or “princess,” which also points to God’s promise.

The latter, however,…

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NOW AVAILABLE! Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis

Mockingbird’s newest resource, Eden and Afterward, by Will McDavid, is available now! With imagination and deep empathy, the book brings to life some of the Bible’s oldest stories, looking at them through the lens of narrative. The symbols, motifs, situations, and characters explore the murky depths of human love, envy, pride, and need for deliverance. It’s a Bible commentary with surprising imagination, intellectually grounded but always approachable, and a guide to familiar work that  brings the unfamiliar to light. The book is available from our printer, Createspace, as well as Amazon. Mockingbird benefits more if you click the first – but each to his own. Excerpt from the introduction below:

EdenAndAfterward-331x500There’s an old story of a Jewish rabbi who once attempted to heal a blind man. After rubbing saliva in the man’s eyes and laying hands on him, the rabbi asked if the cure had worked. “I can see people,” the man ventured, “but they look like trees, walking.” Then, as the account of this healing in the book of Mark puts it, “Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

The most obvious way to look at the healing is as a partially botched job, the first time around, like when a character in the Harry Potter books tries to transfigure someone into a cat, but only succeeds in giving their human target whiskers and a tail. But the man’s fuzzy, only partially restored vision works as a potent metaphor for the way we view the world around us. We see other people through the lenses of expectations and grudges, biases and resentments. Or perhaps our lens is rose-colored, like the immovable love a parent has for a child.

These resentments and biases and blind spots impair our ability to live. The way we see the world deeply affects our ability to love and feel loved, to forgive others and forgive ourselves. Sin and self-justification often blind us to the way things truly are, and in so doing they damage our relationships with others and with God. Reconciliation in those relationships, giving and receiving mercy, and learning to love lie at the core of our desires as humans. These desires are frustrated by our blindness, so we pray, like another blind man, “My teacher, let me see again” (Mk 10:51).

Stories captivate us because the good ones sharpen our vision. They teach us about the world, about other people, and about ourselves. Good stories can be revisited over and over, throughout one’s entire life, and there is always more to see, more to take away. A good story’s reserve of truth is inexhaustible, because stories describe our ineffable human experience; we see the meanings of our lives and the things that happen to us blurrily—they appear like trees, walking. So as a story’s various images and characters and meanings come into focus ever more sharply, they simultaneously reveal how much meaning continues to elude us.

The stories contained in the book of Genesis are, at worst, brilliant bits of cultural mythology that endure, like the Greek myths, because they express an unspeakable something which lies near the essence of human experience. On the lowest estimation, Genesis has earned its place alongside such literary masterpieces as The Iliad, The Odyssey, or Othello. Like those works, Genesis has exercised an enduring power to shape one of the world’s oldest and most rich cultures, Judaism, to say nothing of its ongoing influence today. But on the highest estimation, Genesis presents something even greater: an exploration of the relationship between God and human beings, a work which cannot lead us astray because it is an authoritative revelation by God himself.

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At its lowest common denominator, which is world-class literature, Genesis can be examined for how it works as a story, for its deep reservoir of truth about humanity and, just possibly, God. It can be appreciated by anyone as great literature, and yet it always resists being read as just great literature. To the three world religions which hold it in highest esteem, whenever we examine the literary merits of Genesis—just as we would with Faulkner or Hemingway—the book subtly prods us toward reading it as something more than just good literature. So although this companion to Genesis will focus upon the stories’ symbols, motifs, emotions and characters, the human experience distilled into these narratives will constantly raise new questions, questions of providence and blessing and judgment.

At the heart of these questions lies God’s relationship with Israel and, by extension, the way he relates to us today. But we must start with human experience, just as Christianity started with a series of concrete, grounded events, which doctrine then described. So the stories here must come before our ideas about them, must be allowed to shape those ideas rather than vice-versa. They ask us to imagine their sights, sounds and scents, placing us in their characters’ shoes and asking us to feel their emotions. When the Bible chooses to speak about God through story, imagination and empathy come first, and analysis comes second.

This companion to the stories of Genesis focuses on God’s gradual, messy, and often convoluted redemption of fallen humanity in history…

Get your copy today!