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Rest, Delight, and Community: An Interview with Kendall Vanderslice, Author of <i>We Will Feast</i>

Rest, Delight, and Community: An Interview with Kendall Vanderslice, Author of We Will Feast

Grateful for this interview conducted by Aarik Danielsen, with Kendall Vanderslice: Men and women cannot live by bread alone but, in its breaking, we recognize the one who gives us life. We bring nothing to the table of Jesus, yet he graciously offers us all the abundance he shares with the Father and Spirit. Called […]

Bo Giertz Sees the Gospel With New Eyes

Bo Giertz Sees the Gospel With New Eyes

In the wake of a 1931 trip to Palestine, PhD hopeful Bo Giertz’s experience of scripture reached new depths. A physical encounter with the biblical context freed Giertz to “read his Bible with completely new eyes. It smelled of earth and daily life. It reflected a reality that one could still see with their own […]

A Little Ditty ’Bout Jack and the Desert Monks

A Little Ditty ’Bout Jack and the Desert Monks

In the gallows humor of this thing called Life, it’s usually in the afterglow of fulfilling our ultimate dreams that we wake up and ask, “What in the hell was I thinking?” Was it worth delaying marriage, foregoing children, neglecting aging parents and ignoring friendships, to find myself in my late-40s with a career fat […]

Confession of a Dieting Supremacist (*in June)

A short, timely excerpt from Seculosity, which turned two months old over the weekend! Scroll down for info about the final dates in the book tour. This is taken from chapter 7:

When I was in middle school, my grandmother sat me down and told me that unlike my two brothers, I would have to watch what I ate as I got older. I don’t know what tipped her off, whether it was my husky build or awful snacking habits, but she wanted me to know that if I didn’t pay attention to what I ate, I could develop a problem, the one known as–[whispering]–fatness.

She was frank, but she was right. The truth is, I’ve always looked to food for comfort, especially during times of stress. Ben and Jerry’s, not Budweiser, is my preferred method of self-medication.

And so, every June of adulthood, I’ve undertaken a month-long “reduction” in which I cut out desserts and carbs and late-night nibbles. For men my age, the pounds fall off with relatively little effort and old pants soon begin to fit again. Affirmation starts to flow my way in the form of unsolicited comments (which my inner lawyer immediately flips into condemnation, i.e., “had I really gotten so heavy?”). I start to feel a bit better, both physiologically and emotionally. Your body thanks you, as they say. The social rewards can be pretty noticeable, too, even for a guy. No more pizza-neck!

Yet the downsides are not negligible. For thirty days it’s tunnel vision all the way, as I place my needs and plans above those of my wife, kids, and coworkers. I can’t seem to do it any other way. All to avoid the accusation of F-A-T, aka the worst F-word in the English language.

The self-centeredness pales in comparison to the self-righteousness. The moment I step on the scale and it registers less is the moment I reproach both my past self for being lazy and others for their failure to be as disciplined as I am. I become what journalist Joyce Wadler calls a “Dieting Supremacist” or we might call a Food Pharisee, forgetting the many factors that contributed to my weight loss, as well as the inconvenient fact that I gained it all back the last time. Instead I craft a narrative about self-determination and effort and performance. A testimony, if you will.

The swiftness of this change in attitude, and the size of the feelings involved, reveals just how much I lean on my relationship to food (and by extension, body image) for self-esteem and justification. Still, given the choice between being a self-aggrandizing performancist who can fit into his clothes and a self-loathing performancist who can’t, I choose the former. Neither is what we might call spiritually healthy, but the latter at least reinforces need rather than self-sufficiency.

Last leg of the Seculosity Tour kicks off later this month! Those dates, plus a couple Fall add-ons, are:

  • June 19, 2019: Jacksonville, FL (Church of our Savior @ 6pm) – This is a ticketed event, with dinner provided. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 20, 2019: Winter Park, FL (Winter Park Country Club, WP 9 @ 6:30pm)
  • June 21, 2019: Orange County, CA (WeWork 200 Spectrum Center Drive, Suite 200, Irvine CA @ 6:30-9pm) – This is a ticketed event. Click here to reserve your spot today!
  • June 22, 2019: Los Angeles, CA (The Zank’s 1101 Hartzell St, Pacific Palisades CA 90272 @ 3:30-5:30pm) – totally free, but please rsvp to info@mbird.com
  • August 28, 2019: Wenowah, NJ (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church @ TBA)
  • October 13, 2019: Charlotte, NC (Christ Church Charlotte @ TBA)

p.s. If you haven’t posted a review on Amazon yet (even a single line!), gosh it would be appreciated. Thanks!

Tales Too Uncomfortable to Be Apocryphal

Tales Too Uncomfortable to Be Apocryphal

An amazing phenomenon happens every time I climb a ladder. With each step, I gain about a thousand pounds. I probably should report it to science, or it’s simply that I’m really afraid of heights; either way, the effect is as real as gravity. I’ve climbed right up through the clouds to the very top […]

Father of the Bride(groom): Winning and Losing with Vampire Weekend

Father of the Bride(groom): Winning and Losing with Vampire Weekend

This one was written by Ryan Stevenson-Cosgrove. The members of band Vampire Weekend have always been winners. Only on their latest album, “Father of the Bride,” they no longer sound like it. At least, not in the way we tend to think. Vampire Weekend’s star began to rise at a time in the music industry […]

<i>Fleabag</i> Season Two: The Healing of the Fourth Wall

Fleabag Season Two: The Healing of the Fourth Wall

If you have not seen Season 2 of Fleabag then watch it first. Then come back and dish with me in the comments section about that caliente priest. Full disclosure, I enjoyed the first season of Fleabag but did not adore it. But the second season contains more incredible moments than should be allowed in […]

At the Bottom of Your Vanilla Life

At the Bottom of Your Vanilla Life

For me, this could not have come at a better time—the opportunity to sit down and read the newest publication by Chad Bird. Chad is a writer/speaker (and frequent Mockingbird contributor), and the book is the friendly-looking Upside-Down Spirituality: The 9 Essential Failures of a Faithful Life. What a title! Keep your eyes on this […]

The Sunday Scaries: Reclaiming Our Day of Rest

The Sunday Scaries: Reclaiming Our Day of Rest

We love to hate our alarms. There you are — peacefully lounging in a meadow, surrounded by friendly grizzly bears munching on grass. And then, just as Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett finish a rendition of “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”…BAM! A Soviet-era nuclear submarine surfaces in the middle of the meadow, uprooting trees and sounding […]

The Wheel in the Sky Keeps On Turning: Penultimate Thoughts on <i>Game of Thrones</i>' Penultimate Episode

The Wheel in the Sky Keeps On Turning: Penultimate Thoughts on Game of Thrones' Penultimate Episode

Spoilers ahoy for Game of Thrones fans. Sadly, with the finale arriving Sunday, you are pretty much out of time to jump in and watch all 72 episodes before the show concludes, but there’s something here for the non-GoT community too. Also, like the caveats provided by the AV Club, this is post from a […]

When Your Friends Are the Devil

When Your Friends Are the Devil

Do you ever dread meeting with a friend? Do you involuntarily find yourself imagining the ways this is going to go all wrong? Do you feel a knot in your guts when you receive a text message asking to “connect” later (why that word?) and zero elaboration is given? You feel the foreboding circulate through […]

All Pride Contains a Hint of Malice

All Pride Contains a Hint of Malice

Another heartening excerpt from David Brooks’ new work The Second Mountain. Here the Times columnist turns over the definition of grace with a little help from Martin Luther and Reinhold Niebuhr—but with the heavy-lifting from Anne Snyder, Brooks’ erstwhile research assistant, now wife. I was struggling with the concept of surrender and grace. I didn’t […]