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2019 Mbird NYC Conference (4/25-27): "Beyond Deserving"

2019 Mbird NYC Conference (4/25-27): “Beyond Deserving”

A bunch of details about our upcoming 12th annual conference in NYC are now up on conference.mbird.com. Some things to note: Our theme will be “Beyond Deserving: Hope in a World of Performance”! Speaking of performance, we didn’t get just any Conference YoYoist – we got JWYOYO! On Friday night...
See It, Believe It! The Faith & Doubt Issue!

See It, Believe It! The Faith & Doubt Issue!

As early as January 30, we will be putting the thirteenth issue of The Mockingbird onto mail trucks to readers like you. We’re incredibly excited for you to see it. It’s colorful, it’s insightful, and believe it or not, despite the heady-sounding theme, it’s as winsome and down-to-earth and heartfelt...
The Art of Subtlety in Faith (and Doubt): Our Interview with Meghan O'Gieblyn

The Art of Subtlety in Faith (and Doubt): Our Interview with Meghan O’Gieblyn

Our first peek into the Faith & Doubt Issue is this interview with Meghan O’Gieblyn, author of the new book of essays, Interior States. We also were lucky enough to republish parts of her essay, originally published in The Point, “The Insane Idea.” Copies of Faith & Doubt can be...
The Quiet Misery of Children's Birthday Parties

The Quiet Misery of Children’s Birthday Parties

You get past the person at the front door. There’s throbbing music. You walk into a sea of black lights and unfamiliar faces. While this may feel like a bad choice you made in your 20s, this is not in fact a dance club in the meatpacking district. This is...
The Peril of Good Things (from <i>Milkman</i>, Pt 2)

The Peril of Good Things (from Milkman, Pt 2)

I tried to…unravel the distortions, have her right mind restored to her. She said it was impossible, that it was perilous to focus on good things when there were bad things, all these bad things, she said, that could not be forgot. She said old dark things as well as...
Accommodating Parents and Their Anxious Kids (or, What I Really Want For Dinner Is Not To Make a Decision)

Accommodating Parents and Their Anxious Kids (or, What I Really Want For Dinner Is Not To Make a Decision)

This is what’s for breakfast, that’s what you’re wearing, and here’s how we’re getting to school. Nothing about the next hour is up for grabs, boys. Get to it! …I wish that’s how the morning routine in our house went. Alas, like a lot of modern parents, my reflex is...
Sobriety as More Than Deprivation

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...
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”...
Latest entries

Optimus Prime and the Religion of Toys, Part 2: The Birth of (Cybertronian) Tragedy: The Cyclic Deaths and Rebirths of King Optimus Prime

Optimus Prime and the Religion of Toys, Part 2: The Birth of (Cybertronian) Tragedy: The Cyclic Deaths and Rebirths of King Optimus Prime

Thankful for this one, the second part of a series by Jeremiah Lawson. Don’t forget the first part! In The Golden Bough, James Frazer proposed that ancient kings died and were reborn in cycles in fertility religions. Nothing can die and be reborn quite like a robot. Surprisingly, one of the most prominent examples of […]

Dying…with Style

Dying…with Style

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear I wrap my fear around me like a blanket I sailed my ship of safety ’til I sank it I’m crawling on your shores — Indigo Girls I like the pillows on my couch and bed to be arranged […]

Mercy Fights for Losers (Mark 2:13-17)

Mercy Fights for Losers (Mark 2:13-17)

This morning’s devotion comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, a slim devotional on the Gospel of Mark: An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel, by conference chaplain Larry Parsley. This resource is available for purchase through our online store and on Amazon. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the […]

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, […]

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!

The Peril of Good Things (from <i>Milkman</i>, Pt 2)

The Peril of Good Things (from Milkman, Pt 2)

I tried to…unravel the distortions, have her right mind restored to her. She said it was impossible, that it was perilous to focus on good things when there were bad things, all these bad things, she said, that could not be forgot. She said old dark things as well as new dark things had to […]

What to Like about <i>Like</i>

What to Like about Like

This poetry review was written by Joey Jekel. What do translations of Homer, the Eurasian refugee crisis, blacksmithing, and Alice in Wonderland all have in common? They are all in the strange and pleasing ken of A. E. Stallings. A previous resident of Athens, Georgia and current resident of Athens, Greece, this contemporary poet and […]

Replaying Failure Over and Over

Replaying Failure Over and Over

This reflection comes to us from Bo White. Growing up in Northern Illinois, I had the chance to attend the training camp of the Chicago Bears as a spectator and as a fan. And yes, attending camp in 1984 and 1985 was really fun. I remain a fan and follower of most Chicago teams which, […]

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 […]

Grace Knows the Back Story

Grace Knows the Back Story

Big Ellis, a young farmer in Wendell Berry’s short story, “Down in the Valley Where the Green Grass Grows,” literally struggles to keep his pants up, due to his awkwardly proportioned body. His social graces are a little off as well, and this complicates his romantic exploits in the town of Port William. He did […]

February Playlist

Click here to listen on Spotify (minus a couple tracks, unfortunately, one of which being the extra special Faith & Doubt gem from Dion).

When We Are Distracted, God Is Mindful

When We Are Distracted, God Is Mindful

Grateful to share the following reflection, from Amanda McMillen. I’ve been practicing yoga for 8 years or so, on and off, which led me to meditation and the wonderful buzzword “mindfulness”. The idea of mindfulness is truly a beautiful one. It’s the concept of pausing long enough to bring us out of the minutiae of […]