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Sobriety as More Than Deprivation

Incredibly pleased to announce that the final addition to the speaker line-up at our upcoming NYC Conference (4/25-27)–our ‘mystery guest’–is none other than Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath. Needless to say, her work has served as a mighty source of inspiration these past few years, and it is a rare privilege to host her. She’ll be joining us on Saturday morning, April 27th, and to celebrate, here’s a favorite passage from The Recovering, a book which details, among (many) other things, her relationship with addiction:

Leslie Jamison by Beowulf Sheehan

For a long time, I’d believed that sincerity was all about actions lining up with belief: knowing myself and acting accordingly. But when it came to drinking, I’d parsed my motivations in a thousand sincere conversations–with friends, with therapists, with my mother, with my boyfriends–and all my self-understanding hadn’t granted me any release from compulsion…

I didn’t know what I believed, and prayed anyway. I called my sponsor even when I didn’t want to, showed up to meetings even when I didn’t want to. I sat in the circle and held hands with everyone, opened myself up to cliches I felt ashamed to be described by, got down on my knees to pray even though I wasn’t sure what I was praying to, only what I was praying for: don’t drink, don’t drink, don’t drink. The desire to believe that there was something out there, something that wasn’t me, that could make not-drinking seem like anything other than punishment–this desire was strong enough to dissolve the rigid border I’d drawn between faith and its absence. When I looked back on my early days in church, I started to realize how silly it had been to think that I’d had a monopoly on doubt, or that wanting faith was so categorically different from having it.

When people in the program talked about a Higher Power, they sometimes simply said “H.P.,” which seemed expansive and open, a pair of letters you could fill with whatever you needed: the sky, other people in meetings, an old woman who wore loose flowing skirts like my grandmother had worn. Whatever it was, I needed to believe in something stronger than my willpower. This willpower was a fine-tuned machine, fierce and humming, and it had done plenty of things–gotten me straight A’s, gotten my papers written, gotten me through cross-country training runs–but when I’d applied it to drinking, the only thing I felt was that I was turning my life into a small, joyless clenched fist. The Higher Power that turned sobriety into more than deprivation was simply not me. That was all I knew. It was a force animating the world in all of its particular glories: jellyfish, the clean turn of line breaks, pineapple upside-down cake, my friend Rachel’s laughter. Perhaps I’d been looking for it–for whatever it was–for years, bent over the toilet on all those other nights, retching and heaving. (pgs 303-4)

Click here to pre-register for our NYC Conference!

Now Available! An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley

We could not be more pleased to announce the latest Mockingbird publication, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley.

This accessible, down-to-earth devotional walks verse-by-verse through the shortest official take on the biggest life ever lived — the story of Jesus played out in the Gospel of Mark. You’ll follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he performs healings and preaches to crowds. Mockingbird writer Larry Parsley brings the story to life, offering approachable, personal, and insightful commentary along the way.

You can purchase An Easy Stroll through our newly redesigned bookstore (store.mbird.com) where you can also find all of Mockingbird’s other publications, along with seminars for purchase and a selection of merchandise…! Major thank-you to Brian M for the redesign.

As with all of our books, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel is also available through Amazon—and all positive reviews help promote the cause!

“This is a short, meditative work that you will want to read slowly and repeatedly as you walk through the shortest and oldest canonical Gospel. As you do, significant—sometimes startling—insights await, as Larry Parsley gently, thoughtfully, and ably guides you through Mark. As it happens, Dr. Parsley has written his first book on the first Gospel. My hope is that this work is but the first fruits of future harvests from this gifted interpreter, storyteller, and teacher.” — Todd D. Still, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Scriptures in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University

A gentle journey… Larry’s wisdom and eye for beauty might readily serve as inspiration for daily spiritual exercises.” ― Dr. Paul Scott Wilson, Professor of Homiletics at Emmanuel College, Toronto, and author of The Four Pages of the Sermon

Wonderfully refreshing…compelling [and] down-to-earth…  It truly is ‘an easy stroll’ and a disarmingly profound one simultaneously. All I know is that I will never teach from Mark’s Gospel again without first consulting this book.” — Andy McQuitty, author of Notes from the Valley: A Spiritual Travelogue Through Cancer and The Way to Brave: Shaping a David Faith for a Goliath World

Find An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel in Mockingbird’s new online bookstore and on Amazon.

How a Comedian Helped Me Pray the Ghosts Away

How a Comedian Helped Me Pray the Ghosts Away

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On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none […]

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This year for Lent, I decided not to get crazy. In the past, especially as a kid, I’d sometimes give up three things at once, candy, my Gameboy, and fun in general. In the absence of those worldly distractions, I’d take up the terribly sanctified tendency of comparing and contrasting my virtue against my brother’s: […]

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

Tragic school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida this week are becoming an all-too-common occurrence in our culture. Ubiquitous screens and news outlets surround us as we encounter these tragedies, in a second-handed fashion, in a strange collective way (only those directly affected can experience them). As with any repeated and communal form of […]

<i>The Crown</i>, Season 2: Reconciliation and Her Majesty

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This piece contains possible spoilers from the Netflix Original Series The Crown, Season 2, Episode 6.  The second season of The Crown is just as beautiful as the first, and more complex. As we watch the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip ever-so-slightly unravel at the seams and Princess Margaret’s love life take […]

Vulgarity, Anguish…and Truth

Vulgarity, Anguish…and Truth

Punksters and non-punksters alike will be able to relate this one by Cole Hartin: I’ve always had something of a penchant for punk rock. Anything gritty, really. This eventually extended itself into post-hardcore. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure, though. I only listen to it once in a while, after sneaking glances over both shoulders, […]