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Social Science

Turns Out Sex Is Still a Big Deal

Turns Out Sex Is Still a Big Deal

Like many people, for the past few days I have wrestled with what to make of the (too) well documented evening that a woman had with actor/comedian/writer Aziz Ansari. If you are living under a rock, a woman called “Grace” (hell of a pseudonym), had what she called the worst night of her life with Ansari. 

Needless to say, “Grace” has received a massive wave of critique. People are demanding to know why she stayed when she was uncomfortable and how she could possibly classify the evening as sexual assault. Perhaps the most upsetting critique is that everyone wants…

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The Secret History of the World

Exciting news: one of our favorite writers, Tim Kreider, has a new book coming out on Valentine’s Day, I Wrote This Book Because I Love You. (Word has it, he gives us a little hat-tip in there…!) For a refresher on why this is exciting, consider this timeless little passage from his essay, “The Creature Walks Among Us”:

Whenever I overhear someone talking on a cell phone about an illicit affair or excruciating divorce, or read the anguished confessions on postsecret.com or the hopeless mash notes in the “missed connections” ads, it feels like a glimpse into the secret history of the world. It belies the consensual pretense that the main thing going on in this life is work and the making of money. I love it when passion rips open that dull nine-to-five facade and bares the writhing orgy of need underneath…

My friend Lauren once told me that she could totally understand–which is not the same as sympathize with–those losers who kill their exes and/or their exes’ new lovers, that black, annihilating If-I-can’t-have-her-no-one-else-will impulse, because it’s so painful to know that the person you love is still out there in the world, living her life, going to work and laughing with friends and drinking margaritas. It’s a lesser hurt than grief, but, in a way, crueler–it’s more like being dead yourself, and having to watch life go on without you. I loved her for owning up to this. Not that Lauren or I–or you–would ever do any such thing ourselves.

But I sometimes wonder whether the line between those of us who don’t do such things and the few who do is as impermeable as we like to think. Anytime I hear about another one of us gone berserk, shooting up his ex’s office or drowning her kids to free herself up for her Internet boyfriend, the question I always ask is not, like every other tongue-clicking pundit in the country, how could this have happened? but why doesn’t this happen every day? It makes me proud of all of us who are secretly going to pieces behind closed doors but still somehow keeping it together for the public, collaborating in the shaky ongoing effort of not letting civilization fall apart for one more day.

Because You Never Left

Because You Never Left

It’s no secret: I like God better when things are going well for me. Which makes 2017 a stellar year for the Almighty in my books. He landed us in Sydney, Australia, and provided a network of people and places to make us feel at home here: a beautiful home (actually, we’re on our second one, which we like even more than the first). A gym with childcare workers who love my kids and chat with me about movies and alcohol. Therapists for my older son who advocate for and adore him. His school, which embraces him. Friends…

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Improve Thyself! On the Fantasy Person You're Failing to Become

Improve Thyself! On the Fantasy Person You’re Failing to Become

If you go to an American bookshop, by far the biggest section is self-help and improvement. The idea that life is refine-able and that you can learn a technique for anything, whether it’s love-making, being a businessman, marriage, cooking, losing weight, whatever it is. There’s a Tony Robbins way of doing it, there’s a things-they-didn’t-teach-you-at-Harvard way of doing it. There’s an unbelievable sense that life is improvable.

These are the words of Stephen Fry, on his way to explaining the difference between British and American comedy (clue: Adam & Eve). While I’m not sure I buy his ultimate point, there’s no…

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When Katie Met Luther: A New Kind of Love – Sarah Condon

Very excited to present the video of Rev. Condon’s highly meme-able talk from the DC event:

p.s. For on when (Sister) Mary Tyler Moore dated Dr. Presley, click here.

Before the Big Top, There Was Love: The Greatest Showman

Before the Big Top, There Was Love: The Greatest Showman

The many movies that contemplate men experiencing work/dream/family conflicts have not, generally, been helpful to viewers—men or otherwise. This category of film is vast, of course, but they almost always posit that fathers who sincerely return their gaze to family in Act 3 will achieve a previously inconceivable version of whatever they were pursuing to their children’s detriment in Act 1. It’s a bit like the pop theology “let go [of yourdesires/needs/wants] and let God [lavishly reward your moment of selflessness with all the riches and favors you’ve ever wanted].” If I can just trick myself into believing that my…

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What Russell Brand Used to Think of as Happiness

On the Mockingcast this past week, we talked a bit about our favorite books of 2017. For me, Russell Brand’s Recovery was right up there, in part because it’s so funny but mainly because it cuts through so much of the baloney (read: reactivity) surrounding the G-O-D question these days and grounds it in the reality of lived experience and desperation. Here are a few more cases in point:

I have heard 12 Step support groups referred to as a cult and it could be argued that any group with a system of beliefs is a cult. In working a 12 Step program I don’t feel like I’ve joined a cult, but that I’ve been liberated from one. The cult that told me that I’m not enough, that I need to be famous to be of value, that I need to have money to live a worthwhile life, that I should affiliate, associate and identify on 
the basis of color and class, that my role in life is to consume, that 
I was to live in a darkness only occasionally lit up by billboards and screens, always framing the smiling face of someone trying to sell me something. Sell me phones and food and prejudice, low cost and low values, low-frequency thinking. We are in a cult by default. We just can’t see it because its boundaries lie beyond our horizons. (pg 67)

When my last great romance combusted and I came fleeing from the inferno, looking for comfort and peace, it is to this community, assembled around the mutual wound, that I turned. Every time I reinvest in the material world as a potential source of happiness I am able to return to them when it fails. When religions talk of idolatry, I feel I know what they are saying; when I make something else,… my symbol of the divine, I get in trouble. If you take away the bombast, the sense that these edicts are being bellowed down from a purple cloud, ‘Don’t get too wrapped up in relationships or money’ sounds like the sort of thing a grandparent might say. I have an inclination to make these things my salvation. (pg 101)

What I used to think of as happiness was merely distraction from the pain. (pg 218)

How do you stop yourself from milking [a] situation for spiritual credit? Of course there is no such thing as spiritual credit, as soon as credit is sought you are in the domain of the ego. So even by writing about it the purity is compromised if not undone. How do you avoid making it about the result? You just do your best and let go of the outcome. It’s easy to become snared on each of these points. In the end, you just try your best. (pg 235)

Heaven for Heretics: A Vision from Coco (and Memaw)

Heaven for Heretics: A Vision from Coco (and Memaw)

This past October my grandmother went home to Jesus. She was as faithful as they come and her absence has left a hole in the heart of our family. It is one that will not be filled this side of heaven.

Her funeral was in a small Southern Baptist church with simply stained glass windows and one of the most pastoral preachers I have encountered. Really, we could not have asked for anything more beautiful.

And yet, one thing stayed with me. And it’s not a complaint but more of a longing. There was very little mention of my grandfather,…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion was written by K. Marc Choi.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5, NIV)

“Formless and empty.” These are the two words that the writer of Genesis uses to describe the world, pre-creation. They are frightening words. Enter God the Creator. He brings shape and substance to…

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I'm Going to Be Nothing: On Giving Up at a Christmas Pageant

I’m Going to Be Nothing: On Giving Up at a Christmas Pageant

When our daughter announced last week that she wanted to be “nothing” in the Christmas Pageant this year, I was like cool, cool. Totally fine. It’s just that you’re already assigned to be one of the angels. And you look like an actual angel. Oh, and your Dad is the minister at the church. But you do you, three year old.

So when the other kids were all, “I’m going to be a sheep! I’m going to be Mary!” our daughter was all, “Imma be nupping.”

This week I struggled with what I should bribe/threaten her with. I told…

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He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway

He Knows If You’ve Been Bad or Good…and Fills Your Stocking Anyway

“Do you think Santa is actually real?”

My six-year-old asked my nine-year-old this question in the backseat of my car recently, and I tried to squelch the “of COURSE he is!” that was dying to escape from my throat.

The nine-year-old, who is the tallest innocent I’ve ever met, said that yes, he believed that Santa is real. The six-year-old had his hang-ups. “What would make you say that he isn’t?” I asked from the driver’s seat, imagining a list of logistical challenges that one man might have distributing gifts around the world.

Instead I got:

“I just can’t believe that he thinks we’re…

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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