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The Top Theology Books of 2017

The Top Theology Books of 2017

Were you given an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card, but don’t know what to spend it on? Or perhaps you’re a bibliophile like me and have an insatiable appetite for the latest and greatest theology books. In either case, I’ve got just the list for you: the top Mockingbird theology books from 2017. Click here to read last year’s list.

Books on St. Paul

Paul and the Person: Reframing Paul’s Anthropology by Susan Grove Eastman

This is a fantastic book. According to Eastman, Paul believed that one’s identity is irreducibly social, determined by the influence of external powers—whether it be…

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Consuming 2017: Favorite Music, Media, Humor, and Books

Consuming 2017: Favorite Music, Media, Humor, and Books

Alrighty, my friends, it’s time for our annual round up of favorites, which I had way too much fun putting together. As always, these are predominantly personal picks, albeit ones with an eye toward Mocking-resonance. TV went live last week. (Click here to check out last year’s list). Here goes:

Music

Favorite Discoveries

Jimmy Webb. This one counts as about 20 discoveries wrapped up into one. I had known the hits–“Galveston”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Macarthur Park”, who doesn’t?–but that was as far as it went. Talk about the tip of the iceberg! Webb’s is a gift that’s been giving for nigh on…

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The Very Persistent Pirate: A Thank You Note from Houston

Dear Mockingsupporters,

This isn’t a normal post. I’m not here to talk about the wonders of Martin Luther or to tell you that Advent could be more chill. I am writing to thank you.

Yesterday I visited our neighborhood school and talked with a room full of first graders about what it’s like to be a published author. This past fall, they worked for months writing and “publishing” their own books. The topics ranged from Pokémon to Cats to Jesus (“’cause it’s close to Christmas”). As St. Whitney profoundly sang, I do believe the children are our future.

I fielded questions about what it is like to be a published author. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you:

  1. Does your book have any explosions in it?
  2. Did you know that the Mockingbird is the state bird of Texas?
  3. I have a sister named Maddy.

Of course, in talking about being a published author, there was no way I could actually read from my own book. Not only is Churchy not public school safe, it’s not really “safe church” either. Besides, it didn’t seem like the place to offer the little girls a cautionary tale about the difficulties of being a mother and a priest.

Anyway.

When they asked me to spend some time with the kids I knew immediately the book I had to read: Mockingbird’s own The Very Persistent Pirate. It casts a picture of grace that is foreign to most of us in this frightening world. The Kid in the story keeps doing the wrong thing and the Pirate continues in his persistent generosity. They even have a party at the end. I needed to hear it more than the children did.

Plus, The Persistent Pirate has the word “booty” in it no less than 4 times. Which is a real riot when you are 7.

But these are not just any kids at any school. These are kids at a school in Houston. They are from neighborhoods that were hit particularly hard by Hurricane Harvey. Many of their houses flooded which meant that entire childhood libraries were lost. Many of you donated to make sure that every one of those first graders received their own copy of The Very Persistent Pirate. So thank you.

As one little girl exclaimed to me, “YOU MEAN WE GET TO TAKE IT HOME?!”

Yes. Yes you do.

Grateful,

Sarah

Music, Truth, and David Zahl’s A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll

Music, Truth, and David Zahl’s A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll

Last week I was revising an essay that’s in my thesis for my MFA in creative writing. It’s about music and memory, and I write about how music roots us to past, present, and future versions of ourselves. While I was revising that piece, my soon-to-be-15-year-old daughter asked me to review one of her essays. It was also about music and memory. It was about other things, too (essays are usually about other things besides the obvious things), but it was a sort of exploration of different seasons of her life and music was the vehicle that carried me through…

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The Gospel of Alexander Hamilton

The Gospel of Alexander Hamilton

If you haven’t yet snagged your e-version of Never Satisfied Until Satisfied In Thee: Finding Grace in Hamilton, now’s your chance! Mockingbird’s latest e-book is a wonderful collection of gospel-centered essays about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s landmark musical, Hamilton. Edited by Tim Peoples and Cort Gatliff, this e-book features fresh essays by Stephanie Phillips, Michael Sansbury, Lauren R.E. Larkin, Margaret Pope, Matthew Linder, Amanda McClendon, and the editors themselves.

The following excerpt comes from Cort’s introduction:

My life can be divided into two distinct eras: Before Hamilton and After Hamilton. On October 1, 2015, after months of following the online hysteria and critical acclaim, the former era came to an…

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Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

If you write, you’ve probably read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. She is the shy, neurotic, wise, funny, dread-locked, recovering alcoholic, who is a font of sanity and encouragement for many of us engaged in the compulsion of writing. Anne grew up in a family of atheists, but came to faith and got sober — in that order, as that sobriety wasn’t instantaneous. Her descriptions of the struggles and joys of parenting, the messiness of life, and the wonders of being part of a church family are alternately hilarious and weepingly beautiful.

There aren’t many interviews with her, but when…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Five Verses Twenty-One to Forty-Three

Hopelessly Devoted: Mark Chapter Five Verses Twenty-One to Forty-Three

In an undergraduate class on the short story, James Joyce’s Dubliners in hand, I learned how to hunt for epiphanies. In Joyce’s Araby, for example, a young boy is infatuated with his friend Mangan’s sister. She is to him a chaste goddess — “Her dress swung as she moved her body and the soft rope of her hair tossed from side to side.” In her presence, he was the harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires. Yeah, the boy’s got it bad.

One day she casually asks him if he planned to go to an exotic-sounding…

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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…

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When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

“As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, firstly slowly then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt the misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened by soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free… Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought….

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Announcing a Mockingbird Take on Hamilton!

Announcing a Mockingbird Take on Hamilton!

We are excited to announce an ebook titled Never Satisfied Until Satisfied in Thee: Finding Grace in Hamilton—which drops on November 1!

America needed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton: An American Musical as 2016 left us with unprecedented division and cynicism about our national values. Fortunately, Hamilton modeled grace to America and its people, past and present in its hip-hop, sung-through presentation of the life of our “ten-dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton.

Never Satisfied Until Satisfied in Thee, edited by Tim Peoples and Cort Gatliff, explores the many ways that grace shows itself in Miranda’s musical: Cort Gatliff, Michael Sansbury, Matthew…

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Stories of Grace and Ethan Richardson's This American Gospel

Stories of Grace and Ethan Richardson’s This American Gospel

In an article from The Atlantic, Cody C. Delistraty writes about the psychological comforts of storytelling. He writes, “Stories can be a way for humans to feel that we have control over the world. They allow people to see patterns where there is chaos, meaning where there is randomness.” He also says stories can impact and form our emotional lives. Storytelling pulls back the curtain on others’ minds so we can see how people operate and think. This process can validate and challenge our own beliefs. Another reason we tell stories is that we all want to be a part…

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Stewards of Our Scars

Stewards of Our Scars

The following excerpt comes from Chapter 9, “Stewards of Our Scars,” in Chad Bird’s new book Night Driving: Notes from a Prodigal Soul.

In a Bible full of bizarre stories with bizarre endings, the account of Jacob wrestling the angel ranks among the more unusual. At the end of the narrative, we are given an odd little detail about the enduring legacy of Jacob’s struggle. Jacob was “limping because of his hip.” “Therefore,” the text adds, “to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the…

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