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Mockingbird is devoted to connecting the Christian message with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.

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    The Mockingapp Has Landed!

    The day we’ve all been waiting for has arrived: The Mockingapp is now available–for FREE–in the iTunes store! It was a mammoth undertaking but we think you’ll agree that it was worth the wait. The app brings together several strands of our work and puts them at your fingertips. Features include:

    • The Mockingbird Blog, optimized for mobile reading, searchable and sortable by category, fully redesigned by magazine designer Tom Martin.
    • The entire 365-day Mockingbird Devotional, easy to share with customizable reminders.
    • Every episode of Mockingbird’s various podcasts (The Mockingcast, The Mockingpulpit, PZ’s Podcast, Talkingbird, Same Old Song), available to stream as well as download for offline listening.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you dig, please be sure to give us a review and tell your friends! We’re really proud of this thing. Major, major thanks goes to Alex R and Jonathan W for making us look far more legit than we actually are.

    Get the App here, or by searching the App Store for “The Mockingapp.”

    Note: as of right now, the Mockingapp is only available for iOSx devices, a decision made based solely on where the vast majority of our web traffic comes from. BUT we value our android readers, big-time, and hope to develop a version that works for them soon–pray that software would emerge that could translate apps across platforms!

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    I Don’t Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God ~ Adam Morton

    With sincerest apologies to the much esteemed and beloved Rev. Morton, this video fell through the cracks! Behold, the final breakout video from our Spring Conference in NYC, featuring a cover image for the ages:

    I Don't Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God – Adam Morton from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    Now Available! Exit 36: A Fictional Chronicle, by Robert Farrar Capon

    A priest’s suicide. A lover’s confession. A web of mysteries. The latest installment in Mockingbird’s Robert Farrar Capon series is available today! Exit 36: A Fictional Chronicle explores the secret life of a clergyman and the ultimate mystery of redemption.

    In our discussions about Exit 36, Valerie Capon used one word repeatedly: “mystical.” She was adamant the book should have a colorful cover that could reflect the unique otherworldliness of this particular work. To me, her insight did not at first square with what appeared to be a coarse, noir-tinged novel about a suicide. “The suicide is the hook,” Valerie said. “Robert wasn’t really writing about that.”

    So what was he writing about?

    The Rev. Mark Strobel, our friend in Fargo, ND, says this book reads like one of Jesus’ parables. Brooding, humorous, a little outrageous, Exit 36 tells the story of Father William Jansson, an Episcopal priest with an unruly libido who receives an urgent phone call from a woman who knew the suicide victim (intimately). In her grief she turns to Jansson, who falls backwards into the four themes of eschatology: Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven. It’s undoubtedly one of Robert’s earthier works—grungy, sultry—but, as Valerie suggested, the persistent promise of the resurrection glows under its surface. The climactic sequence left me stunned.

    This new edition of Exit 36 is the fourth entry in Mockingbird’s Capon collection and features a brand-new, deeply moving foreword by our friend Chad Bird. You can now find Exit 36 in our online bookstore and on Amazon, along with Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other works. As always, we welcome your help in spreading the word!

    Happy reading,

    CJG, editor

    “Capon looks directly at the agony of a fallen world through the mystery of the reconciliation of everything and everybody in Christ. Whatever scandals one might find in this book, however, the scandal of grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus triumphs over it all. Capon’s voice is needed now as much as it ever has been.”

    —The Very Revd Mark Strobel, Fargo, ND

    “Running parallel to the good old-fashioned mystery is a long look at our deepest anxieties about death, sin, forgiveness when forgiveness is outrageous and impossible, and love. The romance of love is dealt with unabashedly. But the humanity of love – the Jesus who lives in us all and frees us from sin — is revealed by our narrator’s own searching thoughts, bold self-examination, frank dialogue with parishioners and quietly stunning acts of compassion.”

    —Laura E. Bondarchuk, East Marion, NY

    You can find Exit 36 in our online store and on Amazon!

    You can also find Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other books: More Theology & Less Heavy Cream, The Man Who Met God in a Bar, and Bed & Board.

    OKC 2018 Recordings: Grace in an Age of Distraction

    An incredibly heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped put on our conference in Oklahoma City last weekend, especially the good folks at All Souls Episcopal Church, The Anglican Foundation, Commonplace Books, and all-around miracle-worker Carol Johnson. We’re also supremely grateful to Terry Prather and Doug Klembara for filling in on A/V at the last minute.

    As per usual, we’re making the recordings available at no charge; if you weren’t able to attend but would like to make a contribution to the cost of putting on the event, Lord knows we’d appreciate it! You can do so via our Support page.

    Download links are followed below by an in-line player for each session. And everything’s available on our Talkingbird podcast if you prefer to listen that way. Videos of the talks will be rolled out gradually over the next few weeks. Photos courtesy of Casey and Travis Squyres at Stellate Photography.

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    Talks

    “Grace in an Age of Distraction I” — Steven Paulson

    “In Praise of Distraction” — Curt Benham

    “The Distraction of Our Lives” — Jady Koch

    “Grace in an Age of Distraction II” — Steven Paulson

    “I’m So Worried: How God Loves Me Through Anxiety” — Carrie Willard

    “A Discussion on Law & Gospel” — Steven Paulson and Jady Koch

    “Sinners in the Hands of—SQUIRREL!” — David Zahl

     

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    Breakouts

    “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

     

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    On Naked Trust: Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, Revisited

    This weekend our friends in San Diego, at the Here We Still Stand conference, are commemorating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s landmark disputation wherein he drew a distinction between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross.” With this in mind, we’ve selected the following excerpts (doozies, really!) from one of Mockingbird’s favorite and most frequently referenced texts—Gerhard Forde’s On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518. (Note the language may at first blush seem lofty or abstract, but the gist, when you get to it, yields major implications for everyday life.) This, on our relationship to God:

    It is a sheer gift to be received only by faith, by being called into relationship as an entirely passive receiver. God, that is, insists on being related to us as the giver of the gift. What God “demands” is, as Luther will put it a bit later, “naked trust,” pure receivers. To be a receiver, to believe that the gift is complete, is to be “right with God.”

    This means there are two ways we can miss the mark of righteousness before God, two ways the relationship can be destroyed. One is more or less obvious: outright sinfulness, unrighteousness, lawlessness, self-indulgence, what the Bible would call “worldliness” or, perhaps in more modern dress, carelessness or heedlessness. In other words, we can just say to God, “No thanks, I don’t want it, I’ll take my own chances.” The other is much less obvious and more subtle, one that morally earnest people have much more trouble with: turning our back on the gift and saying in effect, “I do agree with what you demand, but I don’t want charity. That’s too demeaning. So I prefer to do it myself. What you are offering is ‘too cheap.’ I prefer the law, thank you very much. That seems safer to me.” What this means, of course, is that secretly we find doing it ourselves more flattering to our self-esteem — the current circumlocution for pride. The law, that is, even the law of God, ‘the most salutary doctrine of life,’ is used as a defense against the gift. Thus, the more we “succeed,” the worse off we are. The relationship to the giver of the gift is broken. To borrow the language of addiction again, it is the addiction that destroys the relationship. The alcoholic can be either a drunk or a “dry drunk.” While the latter is socially preferable, there is little to choose between them in a broader religious view. One can be addicted to what is base or to what is high, either to lawlessness or to lawfulness. Theologically there is not any difference since both break the relationship to God, the giver. (26-27)

    …preaching against our own ability…does not give cause for despair because it seeks to prevent the ultimate despair that will inevitably result if we rely on those abilities. At the same time it is true that such preaching brings about the final surrender of faith in self, the “utter despair of our own ability” that is inspired by and prepares to receive the grace of Christ. Ultimate despair is due to the temptation to believe that there is no hope beyond our own abilities. Despair itself then becomes ultimate and so leads to death. Utter despair of our own ability, however, looks to the grace of Christ and so leads to life. (66-67)

    A New Recipe: Grace in Family Life

    A New Recipe: Grace in Family Life

    This is an edited version of a talk given by the famed child psychologist, Dorothy Martyn, at the second annual Mockingbird Conference in 2009 and republished in our most recent issue of the magazine, the Deja Vu Issue. She died in January 2018. I suppose that you are, in some way or another, engaged in […]

    A Rock that Cracked

    From Lloyd Ogilvie’s Ask Him Anything:

    “What can you do when you’ve failed and denied what you believe?” This question and others like it came out of the heart of a person who had stumbled badly. He felt he had no right to pray, and when he tried, he felt self-incrimination and condemnation. We all deny our Lord in so many little ways, but what do you do when the denial contradicts everything you’ve stood for and believed? Is there a way back? How does the Lord deal with failures?

    The answer is vividly portrayed in the way Jesus Christ dealt with Simon Peter’s denial. Peter could not handle the anguish of his cowardly denial. He had to block it out, try to forget; but his efforts were futile. Was that why he now could not bear to look Jesus in the eye?

    What adventure Peter had known following the Master! He remembered with self-affirmation how on the road to Caeserea Philippi he felt the spirit rush within him. He had blurted out the conviction, “Thou art the Christ!” He would never forget the tone of the Lord’s voice when he told him that the church would be built on the rock of his faith. A rock? The recollection reverberated with shock waves within him. “A rock that cracked!” he said to himself.

    But the basic message of the story is this: the Lord’s love does not fail however much we fail him. Peter had built his whole relationship with Jesus Christ on his assumed capacity to be adequate. That’s why he took his denial of the Lord so hard. His strength, loyalty, and faithfulness were his self-generated assets of discipleship. The fallacy in Peter’s mind was this: he believed his relationship was dependent on his consistency in producing the qualities he thought had earned him the Lord’s approval. 

    Many of us face the same problem. We project onto the Lord our own measured standard of acceptance. Our whole understanding of him is based in a quid pro quo of bartered love. He will love us as if we are good, moral, and diligent. But we have turned the tables; we try to live so that he will love us, rather than living because he has already loved us. 

    Hopelessly Devoted: First Corinthians Chapter One Verse Eighteen

    Hopelessly Devoted: First Corinthians Chapter One Verse Eighteen

    From The Mockingbird Devotional, today’s entry was written by Matt Johnson. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18, ESV) You’ve heard the spiel. It’s practically a Christian summer camp mantra: you have a […]

    Hiding in Plain Sight: The Lost Doctrine of Sin

    Hiding in Plain Sight: The Lost Doctrine of Sin

    An immense honor to put this up for online reading. This essay from Dr. Simeon Zahl was originally given at the NYC Conference in 2016 and was republished in written form in our most recent issue of the magazine, The Déjà Vu Issue. To order one for your favorite sinner, go here. And if you […]

    An Air of Condescension: Why Working-Class Whites Don't Go to Church

    An Air of Condescension: Why Working-Class Whites Don’t Go to Church

    Grateful for this reflection by David Clay. In the 2016 film Manchester by the Sea, sixteen-year-old Patrick Chandler loses his father to congestive heart failure and finds himself in the custody of his uncle Lee, a laconic and depressed Boston janitor. Neither Patrick nor Lee are very excited about the situation; much of the movie revolves […]

    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, […]

    On Our Bookshelf: From the Déjà Vu Issue

    On Our Bookshelf: From the Déjà Vu Issue

    If you get déjà vu scanning this list, it would be no surprise…you may have encountered some (but perhaps not all!) of these titles on this site. As compiled for the latest issue of The Mockingbird, these are the books we’ve been reading and re-reading this summer: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison: […]