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A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

Author’s note: Over the past several months I’ve been asked the same question by multiple people, all in a very particular way. In the middle of a conversation, they will suddenly ask, “Who are you?” It’s not phrased in a demeaning way, but definitely with a politely confused inflection. My life doesn’t quite add...
The Déjà Vu Issue is Here!

The Déjà Vu Issue is Here!

Dear readers, Issue 12 is officially out to print and will be in your hands in a matter of days! Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself, “What is Mockingbird all about? And what should I read to get some insight?” If you have, or know your nosy roommate has, this is the...
Wait for It: The Surprising Perks of Suspense

Wait for It: The Surprising Perks of Suspense

Waiting, of any kind, is generally just stupid. We can all agree on this. We are on the same page here: I don’t like waiting, you don’t like waiting, nobody likes to wait. We want what we want, and we want it yesterday. Veruca Salt got this (“give it to...
2018 Fall Conference in OKC (10/11-13): Register Today!

2018 Fall Conference in OKC (10/11-13): Register Today!

Super excited to announce that pre-registration for our Fall Conference in Oklahoma City in now open! Join us October 11-13th at All Souls Episcopal Church in OKC as we explore what “Grace in an Age of Distraction” might look like. Speakers include Steven Paulson, Jady Koch, Carrie Willard, David Zahl,...
<i>Eighth Grade</i>: AKA Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

Eighth Grade: AKA Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

This reflection comes to us from Andy Clack. Middle school. Boys. Girls. Assemblies. Lockers. Meatloaf. Gym class. Talent shows. Choir practice. Braces. Acne. Whispering. Giggling. Blushing. Looking away. FREAKING OUT. Your mind grows. Your body changes. Your spirit breaks. Your parents suck. No, seriously, they’re the worst. Middle school. I...
My Church Is Not CrossFit

My Church Is Not CrossFit

I cannot do CrossFit. I’m not being sarcastic. I really wish I could, but a medical condition prevents me from taking part in the Workout of the Day (WoD). I have many friends that swear by CrossFit. They find it meets a multitude of needs, both physical and social. When I was newly...
What is Faith?

What is Faith?

Leave it to the Mockingcast to awaken me out of my summer-long blogging slumber. On it, they discussed a hilarious McSweeney’s article called “I am the Universe, and Humans are Interpreting my Signs.” The idea of the post is simple: God (or “the Universe”) is a living God who is...
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,...
Latest entries

Another Week Ends: Embellishers, Marital Branding, Christian Rock, Anxiety Economy, Reagan's Letter, and InstaBlues

Another Week Ends: Embellishers, Marital Branding, Christian Rock, Anxiety Economy, Reagan’s Letter, and InstaBlues

1. First up, a searing column from Eve Fairbanks on BuzzfeedNews, claiming that “Well-Off Millennials Are All Julia Salazar.” Not being much of a political junkie, I had to look Salazar up. She just won the Democratic primary for State Senate in Brooklyn, and was roundly criticized for misrepresenting her upbringing, making it sound inaccurately arduous […]

Healing in the Middle

Healing in the Middle

This piece comes to us from Andrew Taylor-Troutman. When I say Asa, I sing Asa – Bry Webb, “Asa” Our middle child is named Asa, which means Healer in Hebrew. His biblical namesake was the fifth ruler in the House of David, the third king of Judah. In his two and a half years, our […]

Fear of the Gospel (According to Steven Paulson)

Can’t believe we’re less than four weeks away from our conference in Oklahoma City (10/11-13)! What better way to prime the pump than reproducing a quote from keynoter Steven Paulson’s latest book, Luther’s Outlaw God? Dr. Paulson is speaking here in reference to the great 16th Century epistolary debate between Martin Luther and Erasmus:

“For Erasmus, freedom… is precisely the problem–it means freedom even from the law, which he will not abide as a good Christian man. Erasmus’s fear is the same held by Paul’s congregations in Galatia. Will people who are freely forgiven abuse their freedom once they realize the law does not save? If excessive gospel causes tumult and loss of concord in the church and society, shouldn’t the gospel be curtailed? No, said Paul, and Luther followed suit. That temptation to truncate the gospel for its possible ill effects is the ‘temporal leprosy’ that must be endured. Such abusers of the gospel, if they arise, are not worth suppressing the gushing public fountain of God’s word. Erasmus backed himself into a terrible corner by defending God’s law as the means of electing the righteous. In the end, all he could do was blame the gospel itself for the evil of the world. This fear of gospel is the nadir of unfaith–the prison of the will.”

For more info or to pre-register, click here!

This Old House

This Old House

I asked my mom once if she believed in ghosts. She never seemed afraid of much of anything, and so I figured if she wasn’t afraid of them, it probably wasn’t worth bothering working myself up over them, either. “I don’t know about ghosts,” she replied. “But I do wish my mother could come visit […]

On Being the Center of the Universe: A Reminder for the Narcissist in Me

On Being the Center of the Universe: A Reminder for the Narcissist in Me

Without giving anything away, NBC’s The Good Place (returning September 27) features six major characters, one of which is Tahani al-Jamil: a tall, gorgeous philanthropist with a sophisticated English accent. In the afterlife, Tahani wears only the finest clothes and throws extravagant parties for her recently deceased community of do-gooders. She also finds a way […]

Holding Out…Forever

Holding Out…Forever

The NFL season is in full swing. I know that’s more of a baseball metaphor, but “the NFL season is in full tackle” doesn’t really get my point across. One of the nice things about the start of the actual season (versus the coverage of the preseason) is that most of the stories we read […]

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 3

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 3

Here is the final installment of a three-part series about my recent retreat at Gethsemani Abbey in rural Kentucky. A tiny shrew was clinging to the inside of the novitiate screen doors, trapped in the house! I took her up and she ran a little onto my sleeve and then stayed fixed, trembling. I put […]

PZ's Podcast: T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)

PZ’s Podcast: T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)

EPISODE 257 Mrs. Zahl recently used the word “periphery” to describe our attitude, mine and hers, to increasing numbers of institutions, groups, and schools of thought to which we have been attached and for which we have been engaged for a long time. It’s not that one has changed one’s mind, or believes differently. Rather, […]

When Obligation Freezes the Feelings: Sensing God with C.S. Lewis

When Obligation Freezes the Feelings: Sensing God with C.S. Lewis

This one comes to us from Scott Dalton. I thought I saw how stories of this kind [fairy tales] could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the […]

Special Deja Vu Podcast Up Now!

Super excited to announce that over the weekend we dropped a special new episode of The Mockingcast, devoted to The Deja Vu Issue of the magazine. I love these magazine casts, not just cause I enjoy so hearing from Ethan and the various contributors, but because it gives us a chance to slow down the process and utilize some extra production flourishes–and give listeners a bit more.

This time around, Ethan takes us on a tour of issue, interviewing all-stars Jacob Smith, Nancy Hanna, and Simeon Zahl. Together they talk subjectivity, wedding dresses, lost doctrines, and where grace touches down in everyday life. Listeners also find out about an exclusive promotion! Very much worth your time (and worth sharing with others).

Listen on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or Fireside.

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Seven Verses One Through Three

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-3, NIV)

I find obedience to this command to be very elusive in my life. It’s tricky, and I can never quite get the hang of it. Sin truly lies waiting to ambush us…and the worst assault is our blindness to what we’re indulging. So often, I find myself judging people before I even realize what I’m doing. In the moment, it just seems like normal assessment and observation. I think I’m seeing the real, flesh-and-blood, image-bearing person…but I’m really viewing a perverted caricature I have created in my mind. For me, that individual’s faults have literally become who they finally are. It’s so unconscious most of the time… Yet sometimes I know what I’m doing but can’t stop…

I’ve heard it said that unbelief is the sin beneath all sins/sinning. I want to argue then that self-justification is the pleasure beneath all pleasures. There is something intoxicating and pacifying about that moment when I look at my neighbor and feel in my heart, ‘I’m glad I’m not like that…’ It’s pacifying, but not satisfying. The only satisfaction we can find is the satisfaction of the law which Jesus accomplished for us.

How do I resolve this tension? I don’t want to judge, but I do. I want to see the real person in front of me, but I can’t. Thanks be to God: Christ incarnate literally embodied and fulfilled ‘judge not’ (see John 8:11). Christ crucified was judged with a harsher measure than we judge one another. You were crucified with Him. You are hidden in Him. You were judged and found innocent…therefore the record of not judging your brother is perpetually and eternally yours. Even while you secretly thank God you are not like others…the Spirit graciously reminds you, you are like His Son.

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 […]