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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 (


Author Archive
    Another Week Ends: Loving Pets, Eight Year Plans, Liberal Arts, Good Places, Academic Hoaxes, and Private Life

    Another Week Ends: Loving Pets, Eight Year Plans, Liberal Arts, Good Places, Academic Hoaxes, and Private Life

    1. With the exception of a month-long garter snake residency, I grew up in a pet-free house. Allergies was the official reason behind the prohibition, but I suspect the fact that my brothers and I were more than enough for my folks to handle also had something to do with it. As I’ve gotten older […]

    From The Onion: Casual Christian Accepts Christ As His Lord But Not His Savior

    America’s Finest News Source beating The Bee at its own game…

    CALHOUN, GA—Admitting that he certainly likes the son of God but “doesn’t exactly love the guy, per se,” self-described casual Christian Brian Neely disclosed Monday that he accepts Jesus Christ as his lord but not his savior. “Listen, I know Jesus is the King of Kings, but I’m pretty sure I can deliver my own soul from eternal peril and reconcile myself with God the Father just fine on my own,” said Neely, 35… “Don’t get me wrong, Christ’s undying love and eternal wisdom guide me in my never-ending quest to lead an honest life, a life that reflects His values and teachings, but rescue us from the wages of all sin? I don’t care who your dad is, that’s a lot to ask from anyone.” Neely added that, while he finds God to be good, he is personally still on the fence as to whether He is, in fact, great.

    October Playlist

    Leaning heavily on some upcoming episodes of The Well of Sound this time, along with our recent Christian Rock convo on The Mockingcast. Click here to listen on Spotify (minus two tracks).

    T-Minus 2 Weeks ’til OKC: Talk Titles (and Darwin’s Appeal)

    In two short weeks, we’ll be gathering in Oklahoma City for our Fall Conference (10/11-13)! Our theme is “Grace in an Age of Distraction” and the details are coming together beautifully. The finalized talk titles are as follows:

    • Grace in an Age of Distraction I&II – Steven Paulson
    • In Praise of Distraction – Curt Benham
    • Marriage-Salvation Events – Ellis and Debbie Brazeal
    • Instagram Scrolling and Twitter Rants: Today’s Solutions to Luther’s Anfechtung – Kelsi Klembara
    • Grace in Distracted Parenting – Nathan Carr
    • Walker Percy on Distraction and Selfhood – Scott Johnson
    • The Distraction of Our Lives – Jady Koch
    • I’m So Worried: How God Loves Me Through Anxiety – Carrie Willard
    • Sinners in the Hands of—SQUIRREL! – David Zahl (ht AJ)

    Keep your eyes peeled to the conference site for further details as they develop, including the menus from The Kitchen at Commonplace. And to whet your appetite even more, here’s one more passage from Steven Paulson, this time via his essay “Life Without a Preacher: Darwin’s Origin of Species,” ht AD:

    “Is it any wonder why a person would prefer the law’s death to the gospel? Darwin did not reject the beginning of Genesis as a preached God because its science is faulty, but because its divine election is appalling. God elects humans over plants for no legal reasons. God elects Jews who had become idolaters and were taken away to Babylon, only to be freed by Cyrus, the strangest of all Messiahs… Yet, as Darwin traveled around the world he naturally asked, what about all these people who have never had a preacher? What about the unnamed animals of Galápagos? There must be a more rational way God operates than that. Why not make God into a silent pigeon breeder? So Darwin bravely went about discovering life without a preacher. Indeed, that life seems to be a much better arrangement than the election by baptism in opposition to the law—unless, of course, you are the weak.”

    Click Here to Pre-Register

    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 […]

    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!

    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.

    Bringing You The Gospel, pt 46

    A Quick Word on Christian Freedom and Ill-Taught Piano Students

    A gem from Robert Capon’s Between Noon and Three, pg 149:

    If we are ever to enter fully into the glorious liberty of the children of God, we are going to have to spend more time thinking about freedom than we do. The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. It has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that it has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our pieces, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some flub that will get us in trouble. The church, having put itself in loco parentis (in the place of a parent), has been so afraid we will lose sight of the need to do it right that it has made us care more about how we look than about who Jesus is.

    September Playlist

    You can listen to (most of) it on Spotify here.

    What About Michael Jackson?

    What About Michael Jackson?

    In honor of the King of Pop’s 60th birthday, here’s the entire MJ chapter from A Mess of Help. I don’t remember where I was when the Berlin Wall fell. I can’t tell you what I was doing when I heard that my grandfather had died. I’m a little shaky on the details of my […]

    Another Week Ends: Tuesday Treatment, Sad Musk, #SelfCare, Catholic Mothers, Presbyterian Pool Parties, and Steve Perry

    Another Week Ends: Tuesday Treatment, Sad Musk, #SelfCare, Catholic Mothers, Presbyterian Pool Parties, and Steve Perry

    1. First up, the incredibly moving TED talk above, in which Aaron Stark describes what led him to consider perpetrating a school shooting–and what prevented him from going through with it. It’s well worth the seven minutes. And the phrase “treat you like a Tuesday” may be my favorite new euphemism for grace. Just beautiful. […]