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Feeling Pretty, Feeling Loved

Feeling Pretty, Feeling Loved

Most of the time, I do not feel anything close to “pretty.” On some rare days, I feel like a bombshell the likes of Margot Robbie or Lauryn Hill. But most days, I feel a little ashamed when I look in the mirror. My eyes are too puffy. The skin...

Negative Grace: Eliot's Dark Gospel

Negative Grace: Eliot’s Dark Gospel

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the...

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...

A Preview of (Funny) Things to Come

A Preview of (Funny) Things to Come

“Do You Think There's a Slight Possibility That The Hepworths Might Be Slowing Us Down, Sir?" Queried McCormick
What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

It’s official: leisure has gone the way of the leisure suit. At least according to an excellent “long read” by Jenny Diski in The New Statesman, “Learning How to Live”, which explores the question of why we find free time so terrifying. If it sounds like an essay-length rumination on...

Message in a Bottle - An Excerpt (and Video!) from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt (and Video!) from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Mockingbird's latest book—“Unmapped” by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips—is now available! The following "Message in a Bottle" will give you a little taste of what you'll find in this hilarious and (mostly) true story of two long-distance friends who found hope and grace in unexpected exile.
Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in "My Year of Rest and Relaxation"

Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”

When asked about her favorite holiday, writer Ottessa Moshfegh says, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on holiday…?” And then laughs.

On the one hand, I suppose she could be speaking literally. But I take the above response as an invitation, a question: Do human beings ever really relax? After...

We Are All One Bad Day from Derailing a City Zoning Meeting

We Are All One Bad Day from Derailing a City Zoning Meeting

Meet Lisa. She just moved here. Nobody is helping her, and she has had enough of that.

Btw, this was at a zoning meeting for Portillos in Davenport, Iowa. pic.twitter.com/9yYbvcZyr8

— Collin Strajack (@collinstrajack) July 10, 2018

Her “testimony,” for lack of a better term, is misguided at best. She is...

Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

I know that there’s already been quite a bit said about suicide on this site, but I’d like to add my own two cents, and this from the standpoint of an ordained pastor who is called to step into these situations as a representative of Jesus Christ—to actually try my...

Latest entries

Abstract Doubt

Abstract Doubt

Even when procrastinating on YouTube, I still exhibit the embarrassingly obscure interests of a unadulterated nerd. A week ago, a friend caught we wasting time while mesmerized by a clip of English change-ringing—a intricate method of chiming church bells of various tones to produce an eerie, ordered clamor. Sometimes I also watch lectures on theology or literary theory (I spent not a few hours on the latter last summer). Mostly though, if I want to put off work, I find videos on art history, and I will happily consume anything from Lascaux to Nouveau to Rothko. Recently I stumbled…

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The Future of Our Children: Doom, Gloom, and Love at the End of the World

The Future of Our Children: Doom, Gloom, and Love at the End of the World

This week Roy Scranton wrote a stirring op-ed for the New York Times called “Raising My Child in a Doomed World.” Frankly it’s not a headline you would have seen before 2016. Now, this rhetoric is everywhere. Fictional dystopias are no longer phantasms of who we could become, of where we might go, but of who we are—‘shocking commentaries on the state of things.’ This is it. This is the end. Amidst all the fear, Scranton confesses an interesting conflict:

I cried two times when my daughter was born. First for joy, when after 27 hours of labor the little feral…

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Getting to Know Fred

Getting to Know Fred

My childhood memories involving Mr. Rogers were probably pretty average for kids my age; he was the nice storyteller that my parents trusted enough to give full control over our afternoon TV; his show always moving at a infuriatingly slow walking pace, with enriching guests like Yo-Yo Ma and other musicians showing up to uphold virtuous habits and innocent ways of looking at the world that the rest of the shadowy empire of children’s television was ruining so thoroughly.

Do I sound cynical? While Mr. Rogers has always been held relatively dear in my mind, he wasn’t exactly the most…

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My Most Selfish Prayer

My Most Selfish Prayer

This one comes to us from Andrew Taylor-Troutman:

Dear Lord: let me die before my wife.

I’m bouncing our baby daughter on my lap as she drools on a wooden rattle. Her mom makes pancakes every Saturday morning, but the baby has only recently gotten her first taste. Our middle child, age two and a half—his big brother has taught him to emphasize—marks time by the weekly passage of pancakes, which doesn’t seem all that idolatrous to me.

My wife and I are both ordained. But she alone is the Saturday priest, the celebrator of this eucharist of flour, butter, and syrup. Her…

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Tully: Ever-Present Wounds and Subdued Joy

Tully: Ever-Present Wounds and Subdued Joy

The following review was written by Caleb Ackley. Tully is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and other outlets as of today, July 17. Spoilers below.

Charlize Theron isn’t a name typically associated with the average in society. Known best for her roles which require both acting ability and incredible athleticism — think suave assassin in Atomic Blonde or shaven-headed warrior in Mad Max: Fury Road — the name of Theron rarely evokes the pedestrian struggles of a stay-at-home mom. But the year is 2018, after all, and anything, it seems, is possible.

Enter Tully, the latest offering from director Jason Reitman, which stars…

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Char and Steph Wander the Desert: A Flashback to Ancient Israel

Char and Steph Wander the Desert: A Flashback to Ancient Israel

The following play — a precious relic from ancient Israel — tells the untold story of motherhood in Exodus. It was published in Mockingbird’s latest book, Unmapped, a memoir duet about spirituality, family, and finding home in unexpected exile. This is Act I of IV:

Char and Steph Wander the Desert
A Play by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips
ACT I

CHAR and STEPH, two young-ish Hebrew women, work side-by-side in a field making bricks out of clay and straw. They are just two women amongst thousands, and the sun beats down on them all without a trace of shade in sight.

CHAR (wipes…

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Christian Rejection in the Era of Facebook (From the Retro Perspective of Space: 1999)

Christian Rejection in the Era of Facebook (From the Retro Perspective of Space: 1999)

For those of us who attend Lectionary-based churches, last week Mark’s Gospel reminded us of the time when Jesus faced a nasty rejection. He was in Nazareth, among his own, but his own received him not. They dismissed him by pointing to his apparently illegitimate birth, saying, “Is this not Mary’s son…?” (subtle but powerful slander in this patrilineal culture). Matthew and Luke cleaned it up a bit, but Mark tells it this way. The people of Nazareth have heard his words, they have seen his actions, and still they have labeled him a bastard.

I wonder how we would react to…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Seven Verses Fourteen Through Fifteen and Verses Twenty-One Through Twenty-Three

Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Seven Verses Fourteen Through Fifteen and Verses Twenty-One Through Twenty-Three

This morning’s devotion was written by Todd Brewer. 

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them… For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:14-15, 21-23, NIV)

Jesus is talking about the origin of the great problems of life and how,…

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Another Week Ends: Forgiving Kings, Forgiving Narcissists, Polite Smart Speakers, Religious Parties, and the Saddest Croatian

Another Week Ends: Forgiving Kings, Forgiving Narcissists, Polite Smart Speakers, Religious Parties, and the Saddest Croatian

1. They say never talk religion and politics, so let’s increase the trespass and start our time this week with a discussion of religion and politics. Michele Margolis is a U Penn political science professor who specializes in the link between faith and government. She makes the case that we’ve got the chicken and egg backwards when it comes to the question of denomination and party choice:

Most Americans choose a political party before choosing whether to join a religious community or how often to attend religious services…

In 1965, M. Kent Jennings and Richard Niemi conducted a…

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The Trouble with Ladder Theology

From Gerhard Forde’s Where God Meets Man, pp 7-11, ht MF:

…what is wrong with our usual understanding of the Christian faith[?] We tend to think it has to do primarily with “going up” somewhere — either to heaven or to some kind of “religious perfection.” The Christian faith is often likened to climbing a ladder or, if you will, a staircase. Take, for example, the symbol of “Jacob’s ladder.” In the middle ages it was popular, especially among mystics, as a symbol of the struggle the Christian must undertake to reach perfection…

The difficulty with the idea of the ladder, however, is that it tends to send us off into the wrong direction. It tends to make us concerned with works of pious sublimation; it involves us in the task of ascending to heaven when we should be seeking like our Lord to come down to earth, to learn what it means to be a Christian here on this earth…

The troublesome question of the nature of law and gospel and the relationship between them…it is here, in the question of the law and the gospel, that our incurable tendency to go “up the down staircase” is most apparent… The main trouble is that this “ladder theology” inevitably distorts our understanding of the gospel. The gospel is taken captive by the system and turned into a new kind of law… The gospel comes to make up for the deficiencies of the law. The gospel does not come as anything really new. It is not the breaking in of a radically new age with an entirely new outlook. It is simply “a repair job.” …The net result is that the gospel itself simply becomes another kind of law. (pp. 7-11)

New Blackened Dawn Approaching: Deafheaven as a Mirror in the Darkness

New Blackened Dawn Approaching: Deafheaven as a Mirror in the Darkness

There’s something deliciously ironic in the fact that a blisteringly hot summer such as this one should serve as a portal for bone-chillingly cold black metal in the form of a new Deafheaven LP. But yea verily, the underworld doth cackle at the fittingness of said album launching on Friday the 13th. Swirling within this nebula of polar opposites and apposite poetics is the culmination of Deafheaven’s development, an album whose cohesion and strange sonic palette shows the world they are more energetically themselves than ever.

To date, Deafheaven have released three full-lengths: Roads to Judah (2011), Sunbather (2013), and New…

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We Are All One Bad Day from Derailing a City Zoning Meeting

We Are All One Bad Day from Derailing a City Zoning Meeting

Meet Lisa. She just moved here. Nobody is helping her, and she has had enough of that.

Btw, this was at a zoning meeting for Portillos in Davenport, Iowa. pic.twitter.com/9yYbvcZyr8

— Collin Strajack (@collinstrajack) July 10, 2018

Her “testimony,” for lack of a better term, is misguided at best. She is getting a divorce, but it won’t be final until September 18. Her ex-husband won’t help her. Her parents (dad’s a minister!) won’t help her. Her attorney won’t help her. She’s a very very very loving parent. Her college-age daughter, bless her, isn’t expected to help, but her full name and…

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