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The Stories We Tell

The Stories We Tell

For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband Jason and I opted out of the traditional romantic candlelit dinner scenario and, instead, took a too-seldom trip to the movie theater to see Black Panther. As with Wonder Woman before it, I had high expectations due to pre-release buzz surrounding the film. Also, I was just excited to watch something that wasn’t animated (PJ Masks, I’m looking at you).

A spate of recent movies and TV shows, including the aforementioned, has stepped intentionally into the arena of untold or undertold-as-yet stories, narratives in which the main characters occupy a group that has…

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If Only In My Dreams

If Only In My Dreams

I love Christmas music. I say that fully aware of the considerable aesthetic shortcomings that this love means I must endure, and yet every year as dusk falls upon Thanksgiving Day, I tune in like a character in a Lou Reed song waiting for their man. I find it easy to overlook the saccharine sweetness that under most other circumstances would be a disincentive, to say the absolute least: at no other point in time would I ever even consider sitting through an entire Barry Manilow song. But if it’s “Jingle Bells” with Expose then you bet your duff I’m…

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What If I Never Change?

What If I Never Change?

Sydney is currently seventeen hours ahead of my beloved EST, the time zone occupied by my former homes of New York and Atlanta. Funny how waking up so many hours ahead can leave me feeling so far behind.

Most days our king-sized bed holds three to four people by the time of my sons’ circadian-induced awakening around 6 am. Our older son is burrowed underneath the covers between us, his feet unfailingly within inches of my face, and our younger boy is typically planted on the pillows between my husband and me, or upon my husband’s chest, telling the “lazy bum”…

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My Big Sick: When A Diagnosis Threatens to Define Us

My Big Sick: When A Diagnosis Threatens to Define Us

Over here in Sydney, the eclipse didn’t occur, and a 14-hour time jump from the East Coast means I actually often receive current events updates on a delay (while lying in bed reading them on my phone at 6am). The weird FOMO/day-ahead mentality, where my daylight is your nighttime, renders me disoriented; I feel as though I’m watching the world from a distance, as a bystander to all things America. The break from that most patriotic of traditions, the 24-hour news cycle, has been healing for me: in the absence of bottom-of-the-screen news tickers, I can choose when and how…

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When You Can't Get the S-Town Off of You

When You Can’t Get the S-Town Off of You

There are these golden moments in interviews where everything before and after becomes fuzzy, and the clarity of what is happening between those two people gets thrust into sharp contrast, like an audio pull-quote. Recently I had just that experience.

I felt an urge to relisten to S-Town just a few weeks ago. It was even more moving the second time, hearing Brian Reed tell the story of the eccentric genius John B. McLemore and the equally colorful supporting cast of characters that were his family and neighbors. It was like listening to a real-life Flannery O’Connor story; Southern Gothic meets…

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Digging up Death: The Macabre Story of Count Carl von Cosel (And Us)

Digging up Death: The Macabre Story of Count Carl von Cosel (And Us)

The Miami Herald called it the love story that defied death, the dark romance that hit the front page of the paper in 1940. It all started when Carl Tanzler, or Count Carl von Cosel as he preferred to be called, spotted the beautiful but dying tuberculosis patient Elena Hoyos in a Florida hospital in 1931. Though Elena never returned his affections, was married at the time, and died shortly after she caught von Cosel’s attention, he visited her tomb every day for the next year and half. And then, one fateful night, he claims to have heard Elena singing…

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Theology Lessons from a Ghetto Star

Theology Lessons from a Ghetto Star

Another amazing one from our friend Chad Bird. 

When the phone rang at his friend’s house, Tommy Shakur Ross picked up the receiver. And into his ears fell razor-sharp words that would keep falling and falling, shredding his insides in their violent descent…

Tommy—who goes by Shakur—was a member of the L.A. gang, the Eight Trays. Raised by a minister father and church-going mother, Shakur discovered within the gang a new identity, a new culture, new aspirations. He even received a new name; he became Joker.

But despite his moniker, Joker was dead serious. He was out to earn a reputation, score points,…

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Welcome to Night Vale, Governor Ventura. Limetown next exit, and now for the weather…

Welcome to Night Vale, Governor Ventura. Limetown next exit, and now for the weather…

When my mother bought a new Oldsmobile Intrigue, I was very happy, more happy than I should have been over an Oldsmobile. Why? Because it was The X-Files car from their 1998 big screen debut, that’s why! You remember, the scene where Mulder and Scully are following the train to the cornfield with the glowing bee domes? They were driving an Intrigue.

I loved The X-files. I loved Chris Carter’s other series, Millennium, the Lance Henriksen creased forehead vehicle. Heck, I even loved The Lone Gunmen. Add the metaphysical and abstruse to even the most mundane of procedural shows, and I’m…

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Freedom's Just Another Word

Freedom’s Just Another Word

The first time I heard an Aussie ask “How are you going?” I thought he wanted me to give him directions, which is hilarious because I know how to get to, like, three places here. Then I realized I was being presented with an alternative to our American phrase “How are you doing?” And I decided that I really liked it.

There’s a chance I’m taking idioms too personally here, but my journey through faith has been like this: religion to grace. Javert to Valjean. Imperative to indicative. My early years of preoccupation with behavior—to my idea of God as the…

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Wendell Berry's World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

Wendell Berry’s World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

A few days ago, I happened across the round-table discussion with Wendell Berry, Paul Kingsnorth (author of the forthcoming Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist), and economist Kate Raworth on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week hosted by Andrew Marr. The conversation, from this past May, centered around problems associated with the environmental movement, particularly issues of idealism without responsibility.

Wendell Berry, an avid environmentalist himself, is not opposed to stirring the pot. He just released a book of essays optimistically titled The World-Ending Fire and is the subject of a documentary produced by Nick Offerman — yep, that Nick Offerman — called Look and…

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Dear Evan Hansen, I'm Missing Richard Simmons from S-Town, or: A Note from the Outcast

Dear Evan Hansen, I’m Missing Richard Simmons from S-Town, or: A Note from the Outcast

I saw the emotional avalanche that is Dear Evan Hansen two weeks ago, on a yearly childless pilgrimage my husband and I make to the city where we fell in love, and conveniently, where Mockingbird holds an annual conference. Maybe it’s the range and sincerity displayed by headliner Ben Platt, with whose image I am considering adorning my bedroom walls (I think my husband will be fine with it; considering our age difference, it would be more of a proud Teen Mom situation). Maybe it’s the poignant and earworm-ridden soundtrack. Maybe it’s the tendency of the cast to depart from the…

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A Quick Update from Mbird HQ

This Just In: Starting today, March 31, The Mockingcast and the Same Old Song podcast will be taking a break as we focus our energies on the upcoming conference in NYC. We’ll resume once things settle down and will update you when we know more. The Mockingpulpit and PZ’s Podcast will continue as is. Thank you for your patience! In the meantime, Scott Jones is starting a new project/podcast, Give and Take (Tagline: “Cultivating the Art of Conversation”). For more info, or to subscribe, click here. And don’t forget about his ongoing New Persuasive Words program, co-hosted with Bill Borror.

[We are experiencing some problems with our iTunes feed at the moment and are working to fix.]

Oh and speaking of NYC, we are officially running out of seats for the meals. So… if you’re planning on eating but haven’t pre-registered yet, we need to know ASAP. Sign up on the conference site or email us at info@mbird.com post-haste. Be sure to check out the full list of breakout sessions, too!

P.S. Something is coming… And it’s not alone. All will be revealed April 27th.