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Char and Steph Wander the Desert: A Flashback to Ancient Israel

Char and Steph Wander the Desert: A Flashback to Ancient Israel

The following play — a precious relic from ancient Israel — tells the untold story of motherhood in Exodus. It was published in Mockingbird’s latest book, Unmapped, a memoir duet about spirituality, family, and finding home in unexpected exile. This is Act I of IV:

Char and Steph Wander the Desert
A Play by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips
ACT I

CHAR and STEPH, two young-ish Hebrew women, work side-by-side in a field making bricks out of clay and straw. They are just two women amongst thousands, and the sun beats down on them all without a trace of shade in sight.

CHAR (wipes…

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Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in "My Year of Rest and Relaxation"

Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”

When asked about her favorite holiday, writer Ottessa Moshfegh says, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on holiday…?” And then laughs.

On the one hand, I suppose she could be speaking literally. But I take the above response as an invitation, a question: Do human beings ever really relax? After all, we never catch a break from the predominant source of our exhaustion: us.

This points to the central conflict in Moshfegh’s haunting (and darkly funny) new book My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which reviewers have called “the finest existential novel not written by a French author.” (It’s already been optioned…

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The Apostles' Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism

The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism

I always judge books by their covers. In part, this habit is a terrible prejudice, but I also think it’s a useful way of deciding how to use limited time on an unlimited supply of books. Thankfully, Lexham Press crafted a beautiful design for their recent book The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism. It’s the first in their “Christian Essentials” series, set to cover the Ten Commandments, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Prayer, and corporate worship.

In this book, form and content match beautifully. The design, which merges traditional iconography and contemporary minimalism, reflects the…

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On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none of them are explicitly prescriptive. Instead, Jamison ends up talking a lot about her experience with alcoholism, and gently exploits the memoir genre to create a case which is so intimate with her own reality that it will not leave its readers alone after they…

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For the Record: Summer Reading (From the Humor Issue)

For the Record: Summer Reading (From the Humor Issue)

Here’s to hoping there’s a beach in your future, or some other cosy spot to kick up your feet and soak in a good book. Below, you’ll find staff picks for this summer, taken from the recently released Humor Issue.

On Our Bookshelf

Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) by Kate Bowler

After having her first child and landing her dream teaching gig, Kate Bowler found out, at the age of 35, that she had stage IV colon cancer. Since then, she has had to live life in 3 month increments between treatments and scans, in the presence of…

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The Only Available Candidates for Holy Matrimony

The Only Available Candidates for Holy Matrimony

Well, it’s wedding season here in Charlottesville, VA, which is as good a time as any to share some marital non-advice from the late priest-chef-writer Robert Farrar Capon. The following excerpt is taken from his seminal work, originally published in the 60s, Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage (ht AM). 

A man and a woman schooled in pride cannot simply sit down together and start caring. It takes humility to look wide-eyed at somebody else, to praise, to cherish, to honor. They will have to acquire some before they can succeed. For as long as it lasts, of course, the first…

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Lex Semper Accusat

Lex Semper Accusat

The following is excerpted from Mockingbird’s Law & Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints). 

If the law were simply a matter of doing or not doing, commission or omission, we might reasonably imagine we have a shot at keeping it. And sometimes the echoes of law we hear in society are strictly behavioral. Not so with the Law of God. It goes a step further. Christ himself applies the divine ordinance to motivation as well as action. In the Sermon on the Mount, instead of simply prohibiting acts of murder, he prohibits thoughts of murder. Later on he tells us…

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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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