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The Economics of the Incarnation

The Economics of the Incarnation

I don’t like the axiom, “Remember the reason for season.” While the commercialization of Christmas has superseded the meaning of the season, it’s not society’s job to get the season right — it’s the church’s. Instead of getting irate over a culture that fails to appreciate what Christmas means, perhaps it’s time to look in […]

Same Old Song Sings Again!

Thrilled to announce that our lectionary podcast, Same Old Song, is back! Join Jacob Smith and new co-host Aaron Zimmerman each week as they break down the lectionary texts for the coming Sunday. Abounding with Gospel insight, (in)appropriate cultural references, and a heart for the sufferer in the pew, Same Old Song works as an audio devotional just as much as a resource for the sermon-prepping pastor. All in 25 minutes or less.

New episodes will drop every Tuesday. You can listen/subscribe on iTunes or Spotify. Google Play and Stitcher coming soon, God-willing. Oh, and if you’re still subscribed to the old feed, you’ll probably have to re-up via one of the links above, as we switched hosts during the hiatus.

Lectionary readings can be found here. And thank you for your patience. We’re so excited to resume!

P.S. Same Old Song will be on The Mockingapp soon! Look for an update next week.

Popsicles and Prayer Books

Popsicles and Prayer Books

Despite a seldom-interrupted lifelong habit of weekly church attendance, I have difficulty recalling the content and personal impact of more than about a dozen sermons. I may be a poor auditory learner in any case, and my lack of recall does not reflect on the homiletical abilities of my many friends who spend hours every […]

When God Turns Down a Title

When God Turns Down a Title

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. […]

Now Available! Exit 36: A Fictional Chronicle, by Robert Farrar Capon

A priest’s suicide. A lover’s confession. A web of mysteries. The latest installment in Mockingbird’s Robert Farrar Capon series is available today! Exit 36: A Fictional Chronicle explores the secret life of a clergyman and the ultimate mystery of redemption.

In our discussions about Exit 36, Valerie Capon used one word repeatedly: “mystical.” She was adamant the book should have a colorful cover that could reflect the unique otherworldliness of this particular work. To me, her insight did not at first square with what appeared to be a coarse, noir-tinged novel about a suicide. “The suicide is the hook,” Valerie said. “Robert wasn’t really writing about that.”

So what was he writing about?

The Rev. Mark Strobel, our friend in Fargo, ND, says this book reads like one of Jesus’ parables. Brooding, humorous, a little outrageous, Exit 36 tells the story of Father William Jansson, an Episcopal priest with an unruly libido who receives an urgent phone call from a woman who knew the suicide victim (intimately). In her grief she turns to Jansson, who falls backwards into the four themes of eschatology: Death, Judgment, Hell, and Heaven. It’s undoubtedly one of Robert’s earthier works—grungy, sultry—but, as Valerie suggested, the persistent promise of the resurrection glows under its surface. The climactic sequence left me stunned.

This new edition of Exit 36 is the fourth entry in Mockingbird’s Capon collection and features a brand-new, deeply moving foreword by our friend Chad Bird. You can now find Exit 36 in our online bookstore and on Amazon, along with Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other works. As always, we welcome your help in spreading the word!

Happy reading,

CJG, editor

“Capon looks directly at the agony of a fallen world through the mystery of the reconciliation of everything and everybody in Christ. Whatever scandals one might find in this book, however, the scandal of grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus triumphs over it all. Capon’s voice is needed now as much as it ever has been.”

—The Very Revd Mark Strobel, Fargo, ND

“Running parallel to the good old-fashioned mystery is a long look at our deepest anxieties about death, sin, forgiveness when forgiveness is outrageous and impossible, and love. The romance of love is dealt with unabashedly. But the humanity of love – the Jesus who lives in us all and frees us from sin — is revealed by our narrator’s own searching thoughts, bold self-examination, frank dialogue with parishioners and quietly stunning acts of compassion.”

—Laura E. Bondarchuk, East Marion, NY

You can find Exit 36 in our online store and on Amazon!

You can also find Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other books: More Theology & Less Heavy Cream, The Man Who Met God in a Bar, and Bed & Board.

The Preacher's Understudy

The Preacher’s Understudy

In the 1990s, I served on staff at a church in a large metropolitan city in the South. For several years, we hosted an interdenominational worship service for young single adults. Close to a thousand singles would pack out our church’s sanctuary, with some people standing at the back of the balcony. Some college students […]

Loving the Dreadful Day of Judgment: Fleming Rutledge's <i>Advent</i>

Loving the Dreadful Day of Judgment: Fleming Rutledge’s Advent

The Rev. Fleming Rutledge’s “generous orthodoxy” defies pinning down. She loves both the Day of Judgment and the oppressed in society (and thinks the former will relieve the latter); she believes in Purgatory (without indulgences) and in the nine ranks of angels; and she boldly declares Christ to be Lord and King and coming again […]

An Air of Condescension: Why Working-Class Whites Don't Go to Church

An Air of Condescension: Why Working-Class Whites Don’t Go to Church

Grateful for this reflection by David Clay. In the 2016 film Manchester by the Sea, sixteen-year-old Patrick Chandler loses his father to congestive heart failure and finds himself in the custody of his uncle Lee, a laconic and depressed Boston janitor. Neither Patrick nor Lee are very excited about the situation; much of the movie revolves […]

My Church Is Not CrossFit

My Church Is Not CrossFit

I cannot do CrossFit. I’m not being sarcastic. I really wish I could, but a medical condition prevents me from taking part in the Workout of the Day (WoD). I have many friends that swear by CrossFit. They find it meets a multitude of needs, both physical and social. When I was newly ordained and working on a […]

Of Millstones

Of Millstones

One of the most stark and terrifying verses in all of the world’s religions is attributed to Jesus not once, nor twice, but three times identically in three different gospels: “Whoever will cause one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if he were thrown into […]

A Quick Word on Christian Freedom and Ill-Taught Piano Students

A gem from Robert Capon’s Between Noon and Three, pg 149:

If we are ever to enter fully into the glorious liberty of the children of God, we are going to have to spend more time thinking about freedom than we do. The church, by and large, has had a poor record of encouraging freedom. It has spent so much time inculcating in us the fear of making mistakes that it has made us like ill-taught piano students: we play our pieces, but we never really hear them because our main concern is not to make music but to avoid some flub that will get us in trouble. The church, having put itself in loco parentis (in the place of a parent), has been so afraid we will lose sight of the need to do it right that it has made us care more about how we look than about who Jesus is.

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

A Long Obedience in the Wrong Direction

Author’s note: Over the past several months I’ve been asked the same question by multiple people, all in a very particular way. In the middle of a conversation, they will suddenly ask, “Who are you?” It’s not phrased in a demeaning way, but definitely with a politely confused inflection. My life doesn’t quite add up to them, and I […]