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Literature


The Like Button – Mary Karr

From Tropic of Squalor, the latest collection of poems by former Mockingbird conference speaker Mary Karr.

The Like Button

Back in the before time
those days of amber
desire was an inner
and often ugly thing.
And if we wanted,
my brothers and hungry
sisters, we were oft flung
far from each other. Think
tin-cans-and-string far,
plum-colored-smoke-signal
far. No web wove the pinpoints
of ourselves into a map. No
upward thumb could be pressed
to say yes or its detractor: no.
Soon, we may each evolve
a glow button maybe mid brow,
so as we pass each other we can vote
praise or scorn to light up yay
or nay on a passing stranger’s face
a thumb. At first the young celebs
with asses you can serve drinks off
will rack up zillions of votes
till we tire of such bodacious butts,
and then the smart, the brave,
the strong will take their turns,
but what if we start to like,
say, the stout, the schlubby
neighbor raking leaves or that
subway sleeper who’s woven
yellow crime scene tape into
a jock strap—Police Line: Do
Not Cross—till all the undeodorized,
the unloved all their lives, start to feel
their foreheads blip
and blip as it becomes hip
to love the oddest, the most
perilously lonely. Imagine
the forever dispossessed
transforming as they feel the thumb
of yes impress itself
into the very flesh.

Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Our friend/favorite/conference speaker John Newton’s newest book Reckless Love: The Scandal of Grace in a Performance-Driven World puts at odds the reality of the grace we receive daily with the ways we think grace is supposed to work. Instead of something given in return for our own goodness, grace can cause outrage by the abundance with which God gives it and in the way that he “refuses to love selectively.”

Read an excerpt below:

The tax collector and all the other disreputable types in the Gospels loved Jesus’s program of forgiveness. It was the religious establishment that gave Jesus pushback. Forgiveness struck…

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The Things We Think And Do Not Say

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

I operated as if there’d be a verdict. An easy answer. A story. I operated as if we were setting the tone for the rest of our lives. It did not occur to me that we could simply muddle through. Change things later. Forgive ourselves.

I was a freshman in college when Jerry Maguire came out, and I remember watching through my fingers the scene in which he wrote his explosive mission statement (NOT memo) and wondering why he was getting so excited about interrupting the status quo. What’s wrong with just doing your job and flying under the radar? I thought….

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A Great Insight

A Great Insight

I imagine it’s a common experience: Whether in Bible studies, or from the pulpit, or in one-on-one “discipling” relationships, Christian ministers often feel pressured to come up with something genius, something that will knock the spiritual socks off whoever it is they’re ministering to. If you say just the right thing, maybe you can save or convert or help this person.

And I have to admit, on this website, the quandary’s similar. When we begin writing, often our first (or ever-present) concern has to do with saying something new and brilliant. “But has someone already said this?” With eleven years under…

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The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon – New Edition Available Now!

And now we present an excerpt from the most recent addition to our Robert Farrar Capon series, his greatly esteemed work Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage. An essential book for any Capon-lover, this was Robert’s first bestseller, and you’ll see why in this introductory chapter, reproduced below.

“Bed and Board is necessary and offensive in the best possible way.” – Sarah Condon

“…sage wisdom, biting humor, uncomfortable truths…never a page that must be forgiven for pedantic, sawdusty prose.” – Chad Bird

I.

ABSURDITY

The author celebrates the Holy Estate of Matrimony, professes disillusionment with the usual advices about it, and gives…

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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.

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.

"The Confession of St. Jim-Ralph: Our Patron of Falling Short, Who Became a Prayer," by Denis Johnson

“The Confession of St. Jim-Ralph: Our Patron of Falling Short, Who Became a Prayer,” by Denis Johnson

The Confession of St. Jim-Ralph
BY DENIS JOHNSON

OUR PATRON OF FALLING SHORT,
WHO BECAME A PRAYER

I used to sneak into the movies without paying.
I watched the stories but I failed to see the dark.
I went to college and drank everything they gave me,
and I never paid for any of that water
on which I drifted as if by grace until
after the drownings, when in the diamond light
of seven-something A.M., as the spring was tearing
me up in Cartajena, only praying
on my knees before the magnifying ark
of the Seventh St. Hotel could possibly save me,
until falling on my face before the daughter
of money while the world poured from the till
brought the…

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The Man Who Ate with Capon

The Man Who Ate with Capon

Robert Farrar Capon is dead.

That means, by necessity, he is now a finite resource post September 5th, 2013. I had read a little of him previous to that date, heard him referenced and quoted by people I respected. His death prompted, as things like that often do, a serious search for his books, many now sadly out of print. I looked for old interviews, articles about him, finding some funeral tributes by those who knew or loved him. That search led to Mockingbird, of course, but also to a man named Jamie Howison. He had one of the few audio…

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Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Ivan Karamazov Visits Westworld

Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Ivan Karamazov Visits Westworld

This post was written by Nate Mills. 

When Moses stood before the Burning Bush, he responded to the Lord by asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” Moses’s hesitancy was rooted in a deep uncertainty surrounding his identity. He was unsure of his own right to be an actor in God’s plan for the Israelites. King David, wondering similarly about the weight of his duties, asked of the Lord, “What is man that you are mindful of him? What is the son of man that you care for…

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