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Posts tagged "Paul Zahl"

A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

A friend recently noted that TV, post-Breaking Bad, seems to be getting more violent. Typically I’d discard this as your run-of-the-mill cantankerous “kids these days” complaint…but somewhere between grimace-inducing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Netflix’s The Keepers, I realized, well, maybe he had a point. Game of Thrones fits the bill. So does HBO’s adaptation of Big Little Lies, which was much darker than its airport-thriller source material. The list goes on.

Considering all this, I was reminded of the landmark violence of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, which I read way back in high school, for a project about banned books. For the (lucky?) uninitiated, it tells the story of a violent young…

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Opening Welcome from Paul Zahl at the 10th Annual Mockingbird Conference 2017

All right, ladies and gents, here we go! The first video from this year’s NYC conference has arrived. Leading off with Paul Zahl’s incredible opening welcome: “It’s not Mockingbird — it’s the ancient, unalloyed message of the Christian gospel.”

Opening Welcome ~ Paul Zahl The 10th Annual Mockingbird Conference 2017 – from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Viva La Resistance: Personal and Pastoral Resistance to Grace – Paul Zahl

Here is the last talk from our recent conference in Tyler, TX — and what a finale it is!

Viva La Resistance: Personal and Pastoral Resistance to Grace – Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Hopelessly Devoted: Romans Three Verse Thirty-One

This morning’s devotion was written by Paul Zahl. 

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (Romans 3:31, ESV)

Time and time again, Christian people stumble on this question of the Law.

The question I get, time and time (and time) again, is this one: How will I know to do right when grace and forgiveness are everything? Don’t we need a few tips, or pointers, say, from the Bible? Won’t people take advantage of grace?

That is the question you always get when you present the Gospel. You don’t get it from “non-believers,” who respond to the Gospel with incredible relief and assurance.

You get the question from “Christians,” believers for some time, who seem fearful of it, or maybe even jealous, I don’t know. “Christians” just can’t seem to understand that grace always ends up “upholding the Law” in practice. You don’t have to worry. The Holy Spirit automatically creates works of loving from prior love.

Even so, I don’t think the ministers of grace are ever going to “persuade” the Christian community that grace applies to Christians. I have failed utterly at this for well over 30 years. Outsiders love the message; insiders resist it, even hate it. Probably we just have to “let them go”—the “Christians” I mean. Something about the way the religious (sub-)culture works just makes it impossible to hear the grace word there. I’ll try to keep on going, and “I won’t… back… down” (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). But have no illusions: You’ll never persuade the “religious.”

Better maybe just open up a hospital for these people when they crash (they always crash). Take ‘em in then, offer the Old, Old Story, and maybe then, after crashing and burning, they’ll hear it with new ears.

How Low Can You Go? The Soul of the Gospel – Paul Zahl

The opening talk from Tyler is here! As as you’ll see, it was really something else:

How Low Can You Go?: The Soul of the Gospel ~ Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Living in Denial in Victory

Living in Denial in Victory

If you read enough popular Christian books, listen to enough Christian sermons, radio shows, or podcasts, you could reasonably get the idea that Christians are like the Black Knight in Monty Python and The Holy Grail. With cries of, “I’m invincible!” the Knight continues to fight, even after King Arthur has relieved him of all of his limbs.

I hear versions of this all the time in Christian media, and in conversations with Christian brothers and sisters: something awful has happened to them, and with a strained look and a hard swallow, the mask goes on, and they say, “But everything’s great!”…

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PZ's Podcast: Eternal Return

PZ’s Podcast: Eternal Return


I keep trying to make sense of the divisions we are almost all feeling currently. How can one get “under” them, i.e., in hopes of lessening them a little? Does anyone who is reading this enjoy feeling estranged from others, especially old friends, for example, because of political opinions? Very few, I’ll bet. But it’s happening.

Then the insight came: Remember what it was like 47 years ago. Remember what it was like in the Spring of ’70. Everybody, and I mean, everybody, was up in arms! If you were a college student then, your campus was probably shut down….

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PZ's Podcast: Do the Bus Stop

PZ’s Podcast: Do the Bus Stop

Episode 227: Do the Bus Stop

The animus expressed in connection with the Inauguration has made me think about events that happened almost 47 years ago. The catalyst was the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, and then Kent State. Everyone went wild.

A few of us were conservatives then. (Don’t blame me, please. It’s just a statement “du fait”.) And did we get clobbered!

One night five or six of us were having lunch in Adams House. That particular residence hall was “crawling” with SDS (i.e., Students for a Democratic Society). We had somehow forgotten about that. All of a sudden, our table in the refectory was surrounded by yelling SDS’ers….

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Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Hope, Realism, and the Protestant Face of Anglicanism

Back in 1998, my father wrote an unfashionable yet characteristically compelling little volume entitled The Protestant Face of Anglicanism. With the big anniversary finally here, it seemed like an ideal time to remind people of its existence (and merit)! Coincidentally, the book shares the title of PZ’s latest project, a tumblr devoted to, well, you guessed it. He’s provided us with a personal introduction to the project below, but first, a couple of zinging paragraphs from the final chapter of the book in question:

The Reformers saw the message of justification as a word of comfort, first and primarily, to the troubled conscience. The conscience, unable…

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PZ's Cure for Existential Beastliness

PZ’s Cure for Existential Beastliness

The other day I was suffering from the normal post-holiday, first-of-the-year, what-has-happened-to-my-life, dear-God-help-me blues. We’ve all been there, right? Right? I was scanning my bookshelf, as you do, desperate for some encouragement, and my eyes lit on PZ’s Panopticon.

I have quite a few of Paul Zahl’s books and have given away Grace in Practice, specifically, more times than I care to count. I even own Comfortable Words, edited by J.D. Koch Jr. and Todd Brewer, the festschrift (isn’t that a great word–literally means “celebration writing”) devoted to his life and work. Suffice it to say, I am a fan. There is…

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PZ's Podcast: Christiaan, Yes

PZ’s Podcast: Christiaan, Yes


I’m feeling optimistic about our future — both mine, and Mary’s, personally; and also the future of our country and the world. This is partly because we are witnessing a kind of up-ending of shibboleths and “narratives” that have neglected universals in engaging with our deep human struggles and woundedness and given the floor to secondary elements, in particular identity-predicates. Secondary traits and qualities of a human being do not solve the inward hauntedness and heartbreak and rejections that make a misery of so many people’s lives. One’s color and background — the accidents of birth and inheritance: these…

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When God Speaks To You (Personally) Through a Movie

When God Speaks To You (Personally) Through a Movie

Here’s one from someone named Paul Zahl:

I think we’re all agreed that movies and television have the power to help us abreact (i.e., bring to the surface) grief, feel (vicariously) painful emotions, and illustrate in arresting ways the Grace of God. It has almost been a “plank” in the platform of the Mockingbird project, that the visual arts, together with music, are marvelous ways in which profound convictions and universal experiences can be conveyed and observed.

I’d like to take this just a little further — “Just a Little Bit” (Beau Brummels). I’d like to ask you the question: Through what…

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