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About Ethan Richardson

Ethan Richardson is a contributing staff member for Mockingbird. Born and raised in Lexington, KY, he graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009, majoring in Religious Studies and English. In June of 2011, he finished two years of teaching 5th grade in the inner city of New Orleans, and now lives in Charlottesville, VA and works for Mockingbird along with serving at Christ Episcopal Church.

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Author Archive
    
    Another Week Ends: Fake Meat, Away Messages, Ambiguous Grief, Dopey, Lebowitz, Gaffigan, and Generous Pot Roast

    Another Week Ends: Fake Meat, Away Messages, Ambiguous Grief, Dopey, Lebowitz, Gaffigan, and Generous Pot Roast

    1. Meghan O’Gieblyn’s been on our radar of late, and not just because she’s featured so prominently in our new Faith & Doubt Issue. Meghan’s book of essays, Interior States, is phenomenal. American religiosity (and #seculosity) is on full display, and the theme continues in this new monthly series she’s doing at The Paris Review, […]

    Moonlighters Anonymous

    Moonlighters Anonymous

    Moonlighting—also known as working a second job, having a “side hustle”—is a pretty standard theme these days. Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, everyone’s got a home renovation project, a knack for macramé, and a small business opportunity. But in truth it’s been around forever. Loads of famous people “made it” by moonlighting. The American poet […]

    Another Week Ends: Prison Seminary, Bingo Card Memes, Tidying Up (and Stuffing It Down), Wendell's Port William, and Four Very Specific Oreos

    Another Week Ends: Prison Seminary, Bingo Card Memes, Tidying Up (and Stuffing It Down), Wendell’s Port William, and Four Very Specific Oreos

    1. First up is this doozie of an interview from Christianity Today, about a woman recently released from a 30-year sentence in a California prison. Linda Barkman was sentenced with second-degree murder in 1979 after her boyfriend murdered her 2-year-old daughter. That devastating outcome, she says, came at the end of a string of abusive […]

    The Helplessness of the God of Christmas

    When I read this way back in September, I just knew I needed to come back to it for Christmas. This is from W.H. Vanstone’s Love’s Endeavour, Love’s Expense, a short reflection by the late English theologian-priest on the nature of God’s love. You can’t talk about God’s love becoming knowable without talking about Christmas, which is why Vanstone tells this simple story. What becomes clear though, is how this depiction of God’s love—which looks discomfortingly like helplessness—is evacuated from our usual understandings of Christmas. In the story, Vanstone is closing up the church in preparation for services the following day, and there meets a disruption to his pretty Christmas picture.

    The Word of God discloses to us at Christmas the helplessness of love at the hands of its own creatures—the fact that it is in their hands, vulnerable to their hands, dependent upon their hands for its own triumphant or tragic issue. But the disclosure is made graciously, in the form and presence of a Child. The helplessness of a child is a manageable helplessness, about which we know what we may do, by which our heart and our will are touched. It is not a harrowing helplessness, before which one who saw it might stand appalled. The same truth, the tragic possibility of the love of God, might have been exposed to us in harrowing and appalling form.

    On a certain night, shortly before Christmas, I stood in the beautiful church which, in due time, rose beside the commonplace building where, at the first, the people of a new community had worshipped. The Church was ready for Christmas; and the quiet light of candles enhanced its tranquility and beauty. It was very late: but the beauty of Christmas and of its symbols seemed peculiarly intense that night; and I was glad to receive it while I might. I was disturbed by a noise behind me—a dull thud: and I saw, against the glass door, a face pressed, and grotesquely distorted by the pressure. A man was half slumped, half kneeling against the door. He was drunk; and when we talked and he gradually became more sober, it was clear that, though he was quite young, he was already an alcoholic. His experience of life was nothing but the experience of conflict and squalor: and at Christmas he expected nothing different. When at last I retired to sleep my mind must have dwelt on the tragic and distorted face which had, so to speak, invaded the beauty of Christmas. For I dreamed: and in my dream a rubbish-collector came to me and told me that he had been clearing up after a riot; and I myself saw a huge pile of stones and cans and waste paper and scrap metal which he had collected. Then the man touched my arm and said, ‘But what am I to do? For deep within the pile, buried at the bottom of it, I have seen a living face.’ Though my own eyes did not see a face, I knew in my dream that it must be the face of God.

    A few hours later, when I preached in Church, I was compelled to speak of my dream. For it seemed to suggest a different way in which the truth of Christmas might have been disclosed—a harrowing and appalling way. It made one newly sensitive to, and grateful for, the graciousness of the way in which the truth of Christmas is in fact disclosed to us. But, in substance, it was the same truth. It was the truth of a God Who, in love, is totally expended for the being of His creation—so that He is helpless under its weight and barely survives for its everlasting support; so that, in the tragedies of creation, in its waste and rubbish, God Himself is exposed to tragedy: so that the creation is sustained at the cost of the agony of the One Who is buried and almost wholly submerged within the depths of it.

    Another Week Ends: Esther Perel, Tourist Photos, Six-Week Church Services, Perfect Products, and Lunch Brushers

    Another Week Ends: Esther Perel, Tourist Photos, Six-Week Church Services, Perfect Products, and Lunch Brushers

    1. For those of you who are, like me, already devotees of Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin? podcast, much of her interview with the New Yorker will come as no surprise. On multiple platforms I’ve heard her give this explanation about our current marital malaise, but that doesn’t matter because it’s great: Marriage is […]

    Another Week Ends: Honest Obituaries, Wounded Healers, Humblebrag Injuries, Employee Surveillance, and the Google Pixel 3

    Another Week Ends: Honest Obituaries, Wounded Healers, Humblebrag Injuries, Employee Surveillance, and the Google Pixel 3

    1. Maybe you have already read this obituary from a Vermont newspaper; it went viral this week and for good reasons. It recounts the life of Madelyn Linsenmeir, and all the love that surrounded her as she struggled through addiction to opiates. Linsenmeir was 30 and the obituary, written by her sister Kate O’Neill, captures […]

    The Decisive Question About Faith

    The Decisive Question About Faith

    This comes from a new book out by Kierkegaard scholar, Gordon Marino, The Existentialist’s Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age. Marino divides his chapters up among the crucial talking points of the famous existentialists — Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, Sartre — and this particular passage comes in the chapter on faith. While […]

    Another Week Ends: Data Thugs and Emotional Scientists, René Girard and Johnny Cash, Hurricane Pop-Tarts, Personality Tests, and Mean Houseplants

    Another Week Ends: Data Thugs and Emotional Scientists, René Girard and Johnny Cash, Hurricane Pop-Tarts, Personality Tests, and Mean Houseplants

    1. A mishmash of articles coming our way this week regarding the search for objectivity in the public sphere. First, a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the “replicability crisis” in the field of psychology. If you’re uninitiated, this is the recent (and ongoing) debunking of numerous landmark studies in psychology, debunked […]

    The Jeffersonian Ideal and the Unexpected Solution to Racism

    The Jeffersonian Ideal and the Unexpected Solution to Racism

    As you may know, Mockingbird HQ is situated here in happy, wealthy, intellectual, pastoral Charlottesville, Virginia. When I moved to Charlottesville for college almost 15 years ago, it was considered “America’s Happiest City” and one of the best places in America to raise a family. It still is. For this reason, and others, there is a […]

    Another Week Ends: Aretha Franklin, Robot Lovers, Instagram Repetitions, Submarine Parents, Forever 37, and Forgiving Spouses

    Another Week Ends: Aretha Franklin, Robot Lovers, Instagram Repetitions, Submarine Parents, Forever 37, and Forgiving Spouses

    1. This weekender would have been done so much sooner had I not gotten completely entranced by Aretha Franklin YouTube videos, which I’ll smatter throughout this post. While the Queen of Soul has a litany of songs you have heard for decades, there are so many live performances (and so many stories) (and so many […]

    Anhedonia: The Disease of Happy People

    Anhedonia: The Disease of Happy People

    Falling in love stereotypically brings with it a come-what-may optimism. It is a symptom of what we are feeling so strongly at the present moment. Never in our lives have we felt so magnetized in the present moment than in these with this one person—we can sit and talk until three in the morning, the […]

    Another Week Ends: Startup Churches, Effortless Perfectionists, Food Tribes, Behavioral Economists, and Weak Men

    Another Week Ends: Startup Churches, Effortless Perfectionists, Food Tribes, Behavioral Economists, and Weak Men

    1. What says entrepreneurship like the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church? The subject of this season of Start Up, the popular podcast from the guys at Gimlet Media, is “church planting,” specifically one church plant in Philadelphia, its lead pastor, and the difficulties of getting such a church to self-sufficiency in a certain amount […]