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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.


Author Archive
    Churches Dying for a Laugh

    Churches Dying for a Laugh

    Another glorious glimpse into The Mockingbird’s newest issue on Humor, this one from the Rev. Aaron Zimmerman. Copies can be ordered here, subscriptions here. 

    “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel.” — Young Life saying

    “The comedian always doubles down.” — Pete Holmes

    The Church Is No Laughing Matter (Sadly)

    Quick, grab a pencil and paper. Now, write down whatever words your mind conjures when you hear the word “church.”

    I’ll wait.

    What’d you come up with? High-strung hymn-singing hypocrites? Boring Baptist blowhards? Happy Hillsong hipsters? Purity-preaching pedantic Presbyterians? Long-winded Lutherans? Effete Episcopalian…

    Read More > > >



    Thank you to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our invaluable friends at Calvary St. George’s and The Pixie and the Scout! What a wonderful time it was.

    Click on the image to subscribe

    For the recordings this time around, we’ve decided to launch a brand-new podcast, TALKINGBIRD, which will be your destination for talks given at Mockingbird events–past, present and future.

    After each conference, we’ll upload everything we have to that feed. In between events, we’ll pull a fresh talk from our archives each week and post it there as well. From here on out, The…

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    Devotion 1 – Sarah Condon

    The first video from our recent NYC Conference is here! It’s the opening devotion from our chaplain, The Rev. Sarah Condon. Recordings should be ready any day now – just waiting on Apple to approve a dedicated feed (stay tuned!).

    Devotion #1 – Sarah Condon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    2018 NYC Conference Book Table

    2018 NYC Conference Book Table

    As requested, here’s the list of books we had for sale up in NYC last week, along with a few selections that were heavily referenced in talks. Lots of overlap with the “Recommended Reading” list on our I’m New Here page. Recordings coming later this week!

    Babette’s Feast and Other Stories by Isek Dinesen
    Bed and Board: Plain Talk about Marriage by Robert F. Capon [brand new!]
    Being Dad: Father as Picture of God’s Grace, 2nd ed. by Scott Keith
    Beyond Deserving: Children, Parents and Responsibility Revisited by Dorothy Martyn
    Cancer Is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo by Jason Micheli
    The Christian Life: Cross or…

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    Announcing Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon!

    It is a privilege to announce the latest installment in our Robert Farrar Capon series… Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage.

    This little book was Robert’s first best-seller, originally published in 1965. Now re-released for the first time, Bed & Board is Father Capon’s enduring, rambunctious counsel on marriage and family life—woven through with the message of grace that never changes, no matter the decade.

    From inside:

    “This book is not about those giants who tower over you: Psychology, Education, Maturity, Sexual Adjustment—not even Religion. They can take care of themselves. This is about you—that is, about me (for we are all unique, and practically identical). This is, to be honest, not a book at all. It is only a monologue, and not an entirely sober one at that. It is one peasant swapping stories with another in the cold backyard of the House of Important Subjects, while the grand seigneurs hold their solemn consultations within. The author’s qualifications therefore almost cease to matter. Indeed, he has arranged things so that only one is really necessary: He must be an expert in absurdity. And that is the only qualification that will be offered. An absurd Baedeker for an absurd journey; no apologies, no explanations…”

    You can order Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage, by Robert Farrar Capon here!

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

    PZ's Podcast: Welcome to the Club

    PZ’s Podcast: Welcome to the Club

    EPISODE 246

    One of the best things about the recent Mockingbird conference in NYC was its unerring focus on universals and primary factors in human destiny and identity, rather than on contingencies and elements in life that do not endure, but pass away.

    Hence one’s love for Blue Magic.

    Blue Magic were a Philadelphia group in the early and mid-1970s who stuck to absolute basics. Which is to say, Blue Magic stuck to romantic connection and romantic loss as the big drivers. Almost every song they performed is about acutest mourning (for a person) or ecstatic presence (of a beloved and loving person)….

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    Message in a Bottle - An Excerpt from Unmapped Washes Ashore

    Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt 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.

    Announcing Unmapped by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips!

    We couldn’t be more excited to announce Mockingbird’s latest book project, a sprawling and poignant “spiritual memoir duet” by two longtime Mockingbird writers, Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. This book features a patchwork of personal essays, pocket liturgies, and pseudo-fictional plays, and not a dull moment between them.

    Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz never expected to raise their families anywhere but home, in the American South. But then…life happened.

    Quirky, hilarious, and (mostly) true, UNMAPPED is the tale of two long-distance friends who found home—together and apart—in unexpected exile. This spiritual memoir duet is unlike anything you’ve ever read.

    Pre-order here: Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home! 

    Free domestic shipping on pre-orders made before May 7! Available in hardback and paperback.

    PZ's Podcast: How U Break a Soul-Tie

    PZ’s Podcast: How U Break a Soul-Tie

    EPISODE 245

    Well, the short answer, tho’ not the whole answer, is: you can’t. I wish you could. I can give you a hundred pointers and tips concerning it; and can even print out some prayers for you to say, in hopes of their breaking the soul-tie.

    But they would all be “tweaks”. They would all be wistful hopes that will let you down. This is because in “the natural” — i.e., within the systems and interactions of this world — the soul-tie is a tethering of something eternal, your endless soul, to a contingency. The chain of your soul to the…

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    It’s Up! The Humor Episode of The Mockingcast

    Sliding in right between last week’s podcast and next week’s live taping in NYC, we are delighted to deliver this ridiculous journey into the Humor Issue, at the direction of editor Ethan Richardson. Ethan is joined by Ben Maddison and Aaron Zimmerman, who provide enough foolishness on their own, as well as two special guests: Harrison Scott Key, author of The World’s Largest Man, which won the Thurber Prize for being funny, even when it was sad; and Caroline Henley, who invites us into the black, bizarro world of the short-lived, MTV2 comedy Wonder Showzen. We also play the first ever game of “Who Said It: Wonder Showzen or Soren Kierkegaard?” See if you can guess…

    That description alone can’t hold a candle to the fun that awaits you, both within the cast and in reading the magazine. A huge shout-out to TJ for the amazing mixing and production.


    And get your copy of the magazine here, also available in digital format!

    Candy Cigarettes and Stubborn Grace — A Conference Breakout Preview

    This NYC Conference breakout preview comes to us from Daniel Emery Price.

    When I was thirteen, I was seen walking down the street “smoking cigarettes.” A woman in our church witnessed this “highly rebellious” and “brazenly defiant” act, and she immediately informed a different woman in the church who reported it back to my mother. This lady “just thought my mom should know” while informing her that I was no longer allowed to be friends with her son.

    My mother was outraged. I only know about this because I walked into a room where she was firing both barrels of an all-law sermon on gossip and slander to this other mother over the phone. I was completely freaked out as I had never seen my mother this angry before. But not angry at me—angry for me.

    I quickly exited the room to retrieve my backpack. While my mother proceeded to unload into the phone, I reached into my bag and pulled out the box of candy cigarettes I had been pretending to “smoke” while walking down the street. After I handed them to her, she hung up the phone with no reference to the evidence of innocence I had just provided

    “Why didn’t you tell her they were candy?!” I shouted.

    “Because it doesn’t matter,” she replied.

    I didn’t realize until much later that my mother was not defending my innocence. She didn’t think I was innocent. She was merely defending me. She was defending my reputation and was willing to sacrifice her own reputation (as a good Christian mother) out of love for me. It seems like a small thing, but that helped shape my thoughts on grace and Christ-like-ness.

    That is a short story, a parable of sorts. Jesus told a lot of those. People like short stories because our lives are made up of a long series of them.

    At the Mockingbird Conference in NYC, I will be sharing a few parables of Jesus (and a few of my own) to talk about our addiction to judgment and the stubborn nature of God’s grace.

    Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference!

    Lent Itself — A Conference Breakout Preview

    This conference breakout preview comes from Duo Dickinson.

    Between Ash & Maundy, I write in silence.

    It happens to be Lent. I happen to be at Level 23. I most always do this every day anyway, but 90 minutes, every day, is a lot.

    Like this morning, while writing, I trigger some unknown algorithm on my new iPad, and some weirdness happens, but stuff gets done.

    Like my childhood, it is a time of screaming. Almost every channel that I usually watch while working out every morning is trying to express a point, to validate its presence with a conviction. It is depressing.

    I retreat to Law & Order reruns when they are on, and I have missed those during these 40 days, and replays of NFL games. In these 40 days, I have heard no Joe Scarborough or Jack McCoy (or is it McCaughey?) for the 4th Lent.

    Four years ago, it was just Holy Week, where I ranted about what none of us know, but what is undeniable.

    The next year I wrote a modest set of observations, mostly to myself, about myself in the world.

    Last year I tried to be more thoughtful, graphically evocative, and then BANG (or better, POP) a defective vein burst and I missed a day, the Spring Equinox, with the first gap in two years, a planned gap, but not because I was in Yale Hospital, but because I was to be in DC. Which was cancelled. A good thing for those scheduled to fly and meet with me. (THANK YOU, God).

    That event framed all the other events since, even though apparently, according to all those doctors, I cured myself — despite 100 hospital hours and $64,000 of insurance. But I take 4 pills, every day. So this morning I am at 120/67BP with 49 HBM.

    This 40 day period is, intentionally, of the Flood, the Wilderness, and any other allusion the learned can divine. But Lent is, like, 45 days long, or 44 — because the Sunday’s should not count, but, that does not work out either, as there are 5, and Leap years, and…

    This year I initially noted the point guard on F&M’s basketball team was on the verge of an end of his 4 years that may be exceptional to the tiny number that care. It turned out to be mixed. He got the record 2,000 points, the 4th First Team All Conference, the NCAA Sweet 16 (D3). But missed all the national honors that were hoped for. If you cared about numbers you were happy and sad.

    Like Lent.

    Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference!