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About David Zahl

David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their three sons, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church (christchurchcville.org).

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Author Archive
    
    The Father's Day Conundrum

    The Father’s Day Conundrum

    It’s not much of a secret in church circles that Mother’s Day is one of the best attended Sundays of the year, Father’s Day one of the least. The third Sunday in June is what’s known as a “low Sunday,” when the regular preacher often gives up the pulpit to a subordinate. If you happened to be in the pews yesterday, you may have even heard it referenced or joked about. What gives?

    The dime store explanation goes something like this: moms want the family to be together on Mother’s Day and tend to value spiritual life more to begin with,…

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    Another Week Ends: Nigerian Babies, Pairing Alzheimer's, Lonely Affluence, Competitive Meditation and New Spiritualized

    Another Week Ends: Nigerian Babies, Pairing Alzheimer’s, Lonely Affluence, Competitive Meditation and New Spiritualized

    1. At the top of the docket, two beautiful and deeply encouraging examples of grace in practice, the first programmatic and the second person-to-person. Nigeria, as you may know, currently suffers from the highest rate of HIV-positive infants in the world. Apparently many of the transmission prevention methods that work elsewhere have had a hard time catching on there, partly because so many mothers aren’t aware they’re infected (and understandably reticent to get tested, partially out of fear, partially out of shame). Instead of sounding the alarm bells more loudly, a new program called Baby Shower–developed in the church(!)–has taken…

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    Six Times Seinfeld Illustrated Theological Dynamics

    Six Times Seinfeld Illustrated Theological Dynamics

    Another peek at our recent Humor Issue (which we’re starting to run low on — grab yours before it sells out…!):

    We all have a list of our favorite Seinfeld episodes. Mine are mainly clustered around seasons five and six (The Puffy Shirt, The Lip Reader, The Marine Biologist), with a special affection for season nine’s cartoonish absurdity (Festivus, Merv Griffin, etc). But with the exception of a couple from season one, there are virtually no episodes I’d switch off, so tight was the quality control on this show. Instead of a “best of” then, we’ve collected a few of the many…

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    Another Week Ends: Napalm Conversions, Technophile Faith, Kanye Gambino Jackson, Nomophobia, Camp Manna and Atlanta

    Another Week Ends: Napalm Conversions, Technophile Faith, Kanye Gambino Jackson, Nomophobia, Camp Manna and Atlanta

    1. First up, there’s the jaw-dropping testimony that appeared in Christianity Today last week, in which Kim Phuc Phan Thi, the subject of one of the 20th Century’s most iconic photographs (above), outrageously confesses that “These Bombs Led Me to Christ”. She describes the anguish of the day in question, as well as the bodily fallout of the napalm to which she was exposed – Kim was left unable to sweat and is still receiving treatment for the burns 40 years later. By her own account, however, the physical ailments paled in comparison to the spiritual and emotional torment she…

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    Are We Divided Because We're Lonely? Or Lonely Because We're Divided?

    Are We Divided Because We’re Lonely? Or Lonely Because We’re Divided?

    Han Zicheng was barking up the right tree.

    Last December, the 85-year old Chinese widower made headlines when he put himself up for adoption. Han was suffering from chronic loneliness but had passed the age where seeking out some kind of fresh give-and-take companionship made sense. He needed an arrangement that acknowledged his frailty and didn’t require him to contribute much if anything. In other words, he craved the sort of care that only a family, or something family-like, could provide–people that would care for him simply because. As the notice he posted at bus stops in his neighborhood explained:

    “My hope…

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    May Playlist

    May is off to a rad start with new material from Jon Parks (!), Sons of Bill (!), and the collaboration of the year between Janelle and BW. And let’s not forget about Juliana Hatfield’s full-length ONJ tribute from last month – pure magic:

    From The New Yorker

    How to Turn a Neighbor into an Other (According to Thomas More and Martin Luther)

    How to Turn a Neighbor into an Other (According to Thomas More and Martin Luther)

    Another incisive excerpt from How To Think, the fantastic little book by upcoming conference speaker Alan Jacobs, this time about the origins of cultural repulsion and “othering”—featuring none other than Martin Luther and Thomas More. There’s some choice language in the following, but the parallels to modern online discourse are too spot-on not to share. 

    From How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, pages 81-82:

    “Thomas More’s attacks on Martin Luther and his followers, and Luther’s attacks on Catholicism (and especially the papacy), make most of today’s online insult fests seem tame. More wrote to Luther about “your…

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    Another Week Ends: De-Konged, Earning Easter, Natural Causes, Deep Laziness and American Recordings

    Another Week Ends: De-Konged, Earning Easter, Natural Causes, Deep Laziness and American Recordings

    1. Not quite sure what to make of the fact that in the eleven or so years I’ve been writing on Mbird, I have never been forwarded a single news item more than this one. I suppose I should take it as a compliment, as Lord knows there are worst things to be associated with. But it’s true: the mighty have fallen–and they have fallen hard. We’re talking here about Billy Mitchell, erstwhile record holder on both Donkey Kong and Centipede, AKA he of the perfect Pac Man game. The fulfillment of all (arcade) righteousness has been shown to be…

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    NYC Conference Update (T-Minus 2 Days and Counting!)

    NYC Conference Update (T-Minus 2 Days and Counting!)

    Our 11th Annual Conference in NYC (4/26-28) is almost here, and we wanted to relay a few exciting details that have just come together:

    The Pixie and the Scout sent us the final menu earlier this week and it looks scrumptious as can be. Click here to read. Reminder: registration for meals cuts off a few days before the event, so if you plan to eat but have yet to sign up, please do so at your earliest convenience.
    On Thursday evening, as people are arriving, we’ll be doing a live taping of The Mockingcast! 5:45-6:30pm-ish in the main sanctuary of St…

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    April Playlist

    Another Week Ends: French Police, Long Hours, Divine Pranks, Self-Aware Addicts, Oldham's Charms, and Wild Country

    Another Week Ends: French Police, Long Hours, Divine Pranks, Self-Aware Addicts, Oldham’s Charms, and Wild Country

    1. First, if you didn’t catch the headlines about French policeman Arnaud Beltrame, they’re tailormade for today, e.g., “French officer who swapped places with a hostage in terror attack dies.” The story is really something:

    The Daily Mail ran an interview with the Catholic monk who gave Beltrame last rites and was in the midst of preparing the gendarme to be married. It would appear that faith was not a minor part of the fallen man’s life.

    2. Elsewhere, Elizabeth Bruenig penned the brief yet moving “It Will Happen Again and Again” on the long hour that passes between Peter’s second and third…

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