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There's a Wideness in God's Mercy

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

My husband is the rector, or head pastor, of a church in Houston, and we live in a rectory, which is a house owned and maintained by the church. You might know it as a parsonage or a manse. In our fifteen years of marriage, we’ve lived in four different houses, but this is our first stint in a rectory. We chose to live in this house for a variety of reasons: we’d been burned on some harsh real estate transactions in the couple of years prior to the move, and we knew we couldn’t otherwise afford to live in…

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A Terrifying Act of Clemency

A Terrifying Act of Clemency

A certain sometimes-Presbyterian WWE enthusiast and former game-show host from Queens, preternatural in the ancient American art of getting attention, has commanded the usual furor of late — but for reasons that, even by his own standard, count as unusual. While the handshake in Singapore with Kim the 3rd is startling enough (for good, we can yet hope), I don’t mean that. Instead, the President has made a bit of a show of his Constitutionally granted pardon power, and displeased more than a few people in the process.

Whenever the concept of “pardon” is discussed in public, we should take note…

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Boycotting Communion (& Other Tales from a Divided Church and World) – RJ Heijmen

From our recent conference in NYC (themed “The Grace of God in Divided Times”), here’s Thursday night’s opening talk with Mockingcast host RJ Heijmen.

Boycotting Communion (& Other Tales from a Divided Church and World) – RJ Heijmen from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) - Part 2

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) – Part 2

This is the second in a 3-part series on Bruce Cockburn. To read the first part, go here. 

Act II: The Struggle Against the Darkness of the World (1980-1986)

Three dramatic changes occurred in Cockburn’s life around 1980: (1) his 10-year marriage to Kitty—which had included the birth of their daughter Jenny in 1976—ended in divorce, (2) his music caught fire in the U.S. and brought him fame he’d never had and was ill-prepared for, and (3) he moved from his 1970s home in rural Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario, to downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Perhaps as an effect of these changes, it was…

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We're Better Than This (and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves)

We’re Better Than This (and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves)

Grateful for this reflection by Connor Gwin.

In high school, I wanted to be the President of the United States.

It was a humble goal. I was involved in politics on a local level in my small town in Alabama. I kept up-to-date on all the top political news. I was a top debater for both the Model U.N. and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Club.

When I got to college I immediately double-majored in International Affairs and Political Science and began mapping out my career. You know, work a few years in the foreign service through the State Department then transition to local elected…

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The Road Back for Pariahs

The Road Back for Pariahs

It is hard to know how much of his tongue was in his cheek when Politico’s Jack Shafer penned “The Sex Pariah’s 6-Step Guide to Rehabilitation.” Yet the questions he addresses in the wake of Weinstein and Lauer and O’Reilly (and so many others) are both serious and timely: once the pariahs have served their punishments, “can we, should we, allow them to return to public life and their careers? And by what avenue?” The advice which follows is laced with explicit Catholic pastoral care and 12-Step best practices. They include unqualified confession, a season of retreat, submission to a…

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The Mixed Legacy of Hugh Hefner

The Mixed Legacy of Hugh Hefner

In the wake of Hugh Hefner’s death, the headlines have been split—some celebrating the playboy mogul for liberation and others condemning him for objectification. These opinions, however, haven’t followed traditional party lines. Some on the left condemned and some celebrated; some on the right wagged their fingers and some looked wistfully back at Hefner’s ideology.

I was particularly struck by that last group—those generally on the conservative side of things who have held up Hefner as a co-belligerent in the culture wars. Ben Domenech fondly eulogized Hefner in The Federalist, and a piece by Telly Davidson in The American Conservative attempts…

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Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game

Wherever you get your news, you have surely read about (or skipped over) the ongoing National Anthem disputes among NFL teams on game day, a controversy fanned ever higher by President Trump’s continued Twitter-complaints about it. Media outlets have, of course, come around to sample their own spin on the conversation.

And then, just yesterday, news broke about the FBI sting operation on multiple NCAA men’s basketball programs, allegedly in cahoots with sportswear giant Adidas for all kinds of illegalities, not least the funneling of hundreds of thousands of dollars to high school prospects’ families, in exchange for their contracts, both…

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Heroin in the Hymnals

Heroin in the Hymnals

There is a moment deep into Netflix’s underrated Ozark (spoilers below), where the raising of a cross atop a church emits ripples of fear, as if recreational Missouri were ancient Rome. Whatever the show’s imperfections, I submit that restoring a sense of the scandal of the cross to America’s Bible belt is a considerable accomplishment. For the most part, the sex and violence in this show is more narrative tool than titillation – though I do wish there had been less of it. Even so, while most critics have fallen into lock-step complaint that Ozark is not Breaking Bad, I…

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A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

A Message from Christ Church in Charlottesville

As a follow-up to his recent sermon, here is the message Rector Paul Walker sent to his parishioners at Christ Church in Charlottesville—relevant for all of us left shocked and dismayed by the events of last Saturday.

Dear Friends,

Evil is not a word to be used lightly. But it is a word that is squarely within the canons of Christian scripture, theology, and tradition. If you have participated in one of the many baptisms at Christ Church, you will have heard  the minister ask the following question to the parents and godparents of the baptismal candidate. “Do you renounce the evil…

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When We Were Young: A Story of America

When We Were Young: A Story of America

Back in the summer of 2004, roughly fifteen months after the United States invaded Iraq, I sat in the United States House of Representatives, high in the balcony on to the right of the lectern for he who stood at it, and listened to Colin Powell speak to a chamber full of congressional interns. It was a hard time for the United States. The Bush presidency and the invasion of Iraq had led to a sense of national division as great as we had experienced in my lifetime, and certainly since the Vietnam War. I tried to remain aloof and…

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People Are Dying in Texas and I Am a Lucky Schmuck

People Are Dying in Texas and I Am a Lucky Schmuck

As a Southern transplant to New York City, riding the subway during rush hour was the most jarring activity of the week. After a long day of work, people were ready to get home and order some takeout. In the summer, everyone smelled bad, me included. Train after train would pass with no room for the crowds to get on. There was always an air of chaos and immediacy that I haven’t experienced in any other setting.

After a few months of this daily trial, I begin to notice the shift that would happen in myself as I…

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