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Posts tagged "Paul Zahl"

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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PZ's Podcast: The Sacraments... Walk in the Room

PZ’s Podcast: The Sacraments… Walk in the Room

EPISODE 225: The Sacraments… Walk in the Room

A forthcoming book on the sacraments, edited by Justin Holcomb and David A. Johnson, has got me thinking about the “means of grace” — or rather, how do we know and recognize God’s grace in our actual personal lives. The history of the Christian Church could almost be reduced to a long timeline of disagreement over the sacraments as means of grace, and in particular, the Lord’s Supper/Eucharist.

In order to think about this today, I’ve had to travel back to basics: which is Jackie DeShannon, and a song she wrote, and performed and…

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PZ's Podcast: MIA & Robert Nathan

PZ’s Podcast: MIA & Robert Nathan


I think American Buddhists are missing in action. I think they really are. At least in one particular.

They are missing in action in relation to an almost overwhelming contradiction with their teaching that exists in common public culture today.

I am talking about the notion of “narrative”.

“Narrative” is the word for a “story” — the usual term for it in mindfulness therapy — that collects the different realities in your life into one basket. Story, or narrative, is an attempt to understand as a single whole the different experiences you have in life. It is almost invariably imposed, or…

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PZ's Podcast: Centennial and Circle for a Landing

PZ’s Podcast: Centennial and Circle for a Landing

EPISODE 221: Centennial

Healing, one’s healing, doesn’t come from fiat, i.e., from declaration. Nor does it come from deletion, i.e., from living as if events in your past never took place.

Healing comes from abreaction and merger, from engagement, even the ‘clash by night’, with the past and with your hurt, rejection and pain.

I saw this recently “up close and personal” during a visit to my old college.

It was the centennial of my final club (i.e., fraternity), and the whole world had returned to show good faith and loyalty. Suddenly I became witness to an ancient institution that is throbbing with life….

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PZ's Podcast: 1,2,3 Red Light

PZ’s Podcast: 1,2,3 Red Light


I’m getting more and more convinced that we’re doing our peers a disservice by not talking about Satan. Satan is alive and well; and, as the New Testament says, he is prowling around like a lion seeking someone to devour.

This cast touches on assisted suicide — doffing my hat to the new upcoming issue of The Mockingbird, which concerns mental health. “Please… Don’t Do It” (The Band). Under any circumstances. If you don’t believe me, read Kipling’s short story “Uncovenanted Mercies” (1932).

But I’m not just gunning for assisted suicide. I’m warning you about The Burning Man. People who cultivate…

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Grace in Practice 10 Years Later: A Conversation

Don’t think we’ve posted the wonderful on-stage conversation that took place in NYC between PZ and Scott Jones:

Grace in Practice 10 Years Later: A Conversation Between Scott Jones and Paul Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

From the Archives: Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

From the Archives: Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

As with most of the provocative second half of Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice, the following excerpt goes well beyond abstractions and gets uncomfortably close to the bone–in the best possible way. The language here has to do with marriage, but you could easily substitute a variety of other relational contexts:

Men and women encounter a serpent-ridden wilderness of Eden when they enter into marriage. Competition for need-fulfillment and attention squanders huge amounts of energy in resentment and suppressed antagonism. The nature of the law is to place every single marriage under the Damocles’ sword of needs to be met. The word…

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PZ's Podcast: Hey, Everybody

PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody


Gosh, I like Tommy Roe!

But why?

Well, partly, because his songs are catchy and sweet, and especially “Everybody” (1963). But “Dizzy” (1969) also makes me… dizzy.

The real reason a person likes a song — or really likes a song — is that it speaks for them. Or speaks to them. Or speaks from them. The song “resonates”, to use the idiom, with you. In other words, it’s not just the song. It’s the part of you that connects to the song.

All these things we like so much (i.e., pop songs, videos, movies, novels, television shows, poems, paintings) draw something out…

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From Grace in Practice: The Problem with Christianity

Here’s another excerpt from Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice, from pages 36-38, in the sections entitled “What is Grace?” and “Grace in the New Testament.”

otis-redding-try-a-little-tend-290448In 1965 Joe Meek produced a would-be pop single that was sung by Bobby Rio and The Revelles and was entitled “Value for Love.” It was a great tune, but, like almost everything Joe Meek produced, it only grazed the Top Thirty. The lyrics were wildly false. The singer keeps telling the girl she should go for him because he is “good value for love.” He is “worth” her falling for him. Sure, Bobby Rio! That line never works. It never will. It is all weights and measures. Grace is one-way love.

The one-way love of grace is the essence of any lasting transformation that takes place in human experience. You can find this out for yourself by taking a simple inventory of your own happiness, or the moments of happiness you have had. They have almost always had to do with some incident of love or belatedness that has come to you from someone outside yourself when you were down. You felt ugly or sinking in confidence, and somebody complimented you, or helped you, or spoke a kind word to you. You were at the end of your rope and someone showed a little sympathy. This is the message of Otis Redding’s immortal 1962 song, “Try a Little Tenderness.” […]

One-way love is the change agent in everyday life because it speaks in a voice completely different from the voice of the law. It has nothing to do with its receiver’s characteristics. Its logic is hidden within the intention of its source. Theologically speaking, we can say it is the prime directive of God to love the world in no relation to the world’s fitness to be loved. Speaking in terms of Christian theology, God loves the world in a kind of reverse relationship to its moral unfitness. “God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

In the dimension of grace, one-way love is inscrutable or irrational not only because it is out of relation with any intrinsic circumstances on the part of the receiver. One-way love is also irrational because it reaches out to the specifically undeserving person. This is the beating heart of it. Grace is directed toward what the Scripture calls “the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Not just the lonely, not just the sick and disconsolate, but the “perpetrators,” the murderers and abusers, the people who cross the line. God has a heart — his one-way love — for sinners. This is the problem with Christianity. This piece of logical and ethical incongruity and inappropriateness is the problem with Christianity.