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For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

Alain de Botton explains why we are cruelest to the ones we are closest to. Most of it has to do with the fact that we have such devastatingly high expectations for them to meet our devastatingly deep neediness. A section on “Pessimism” from The School of Life’s book, Relationships. 

No one can disappoint and upset us as much as the person we’re in a relationship with–for of no one do we have higher hopes. It’s because we are so dangerously optimistic that we call them a c***, a s***head, or a weakling. The intensity of the disappointment and frustration is dependent…

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Stupid Kids Doing Stupid Stuff

Stupid Kids Doing Stupid Stuff

This little piece comes to us from the Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase.

In the film “20th Century Women,” there’s a compelling scene between a mother and her teenaged son. The mother has just brought him home from the hospital; he was rushed there after playing a game with his friends that went wrong. The game involved him hyperventilating while another boy stood behind him, wrapping his arms around his torso, and squeezing. Which caused him to pass out. Normally, a person comes to just a few seconds after this, but in this case, the boy remained unconscious. By the time his distraught…

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The First Chapter of Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage 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



The author celebrates the Holy Estate of Matrimony, professes disillusionment with the usual advices about it, and gives…

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PZ's Podcast: Shoe Horn

PZ’s Podcast: Shoe Horn


People are constantly trying to shoe horn their search for God into containers too tight for the Object of the search. This is probably true of some of your interests, whether it’s food or Hammer horror films or “Philadelphia Soul” — to name two of my current but chronic faves — or you name it. On something or someone, you are probably pinning very high hopes.

The blogosphere is full of such shoe horns — interests such as a movement or style or movie or type of music that attracts your “ultimate concern” (Tillich). But they don’t actually produce for…

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Existential Angst, Just in Time for Mother's Day

Existential Angst, Just in Time for Mother’s Day

I almost didn’t have children.

I can hardly say that sentence aloud now, now that I am a mother, without choking on the words.

I almost chose not to have children.

I did not want the world to have more of me in it.

When I say that aloud now, people laugh, as though I’m joking. I’m not joking. And I wasn’t joking then, or being unnecessarily self-deprecating. I did not want the world to have more of me in it, and I did not want to put another person through the experience of being me. One of me seemed like plenty.

The luxury of…

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The Distraction of Grace

The Distraction of Grace

This reflection comes to us from Blair Kilgallen.

Our two granddaughters had been staying with us for several days while our kids took a respite in Iceland before they got too weighed down with the arrival of their third child.

Morning plans were set. My wife Rachel was working at the clinic. Arrangements were made for me to drive our granddaughters over the mountain-pass to drop them off with their other Gramma in Denver. Afterwards, a group from our local church-plant was to meet with the leadership of our oversight church.

Then things took an unexpected turn, as they often do in the mountains.


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Announcing Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon!

It is a privilege to announce the latest installment in our Robert Farrar Capon series… Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage.

This little book was Robert’s first best-seller, originally published in 1965. Now re-released for the first time, Bed & Board is Father Capon’s enduring, rambunctious counsel on marriage and family life—woven through with the message of grace that never changes, no matter the decade.

From inside:

“This book is not about those giants who tower over you: Psychology, Education, Maturity, Sexual Adjustment—not even Religion. They can take care of themselves. This is about you—that is, about me (for we are all unique, and practically identical). This is, to be honest, not a book at all. It is only a monologue, and not an entirely sober one at that. It is one peasant swapping stories with another in the cold backyard of the House of Important Subjects, while the grand seigneurs hold their solemn consultations within. The author’s qualifications therefore almost cease to matter. Indeed, he has arranged things so that only one is really necessary: He must be an expert in absurdity. And that is the only qualification that will be offered. An absurd Baedeker for an absurd journey; no apologies, no explanations…”

You can order Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage, by Robert Farrar Capon here!

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

Are We Divided Because We're Lonely? Or Lonely Because We're Divided?

Are We Divided Because We’re Lonely? Or Lonely Because We’re Divided?

Han Zicheng was barking up the right tree.

Last December, the 85-year old Chinese widower made headlines when he put himself up for adoption. Han was suffering from chronic loneliness but had passed the age where seeking out some kind of fresh give-and-take companionship made sense. He needed an arrangement that acknowledged his frailty and didn’t require him to contribute much if anything. In other words, he craved the sort of care that only a family, or something family-like, could provide–people that would care for him simply because. As the notice he posted at bus stops in his neighborhood explained:

“My hope…

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Ordinary Manna

Ordinary Manna

We humans like big stories. We are often unwilling to engage in and be moved by the ordinary and the small. We flock to movies about super heroes; we break all the records when someone puts all the super heroes into one movie together. If God really wanted to impress Abraham, He could have told him he’d have as many children as tickets sold to Avengers: Infinity War. And this desire for bigness pervades all areas of life, even (especially?) our interactions with grace offered to us by God and man.

And part of that is Jesus’ fault, really. We are…

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PZ's Podcast: Welcome to the Club

PZ’s Podcast: Welcome to the Club


One of the best things about the recent Mockingbird conference in NYC was its unerring focus on universals and primary factors in human destiny and identity, rather than on contingencies and elements in life that do not endure, but pass away.

Hence one’s love for Blue Magic.

Blue Magic were a Philadelphia group in the early and mid-1970s who stuck to absolute basics. Which is to say, Blue Magic stuck to romantic connection and romantic loss as the big drivers. Almost every song they performed is about acutest mourning (for a person) or ecstatic presence (of a beloved and loving person)….

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Message in a Bottle - An Excerpt from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Mockingbird’s latest book—“Unmapped” by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips—is now available to pre-order! Free shipping on all orders made before its official release day, May 7.

The following “Message in a Bottle” will give you a little taste of what you’ll find in this hilarious and (mostly) true story of two long-distance friends who found hope and grace in unexpected exile.

To Whom It May Concern,

First and foremost, whoever you are, SEND HELP. There are eight of us stuck on a small lifeboat. We’ve been out here for a week. Our coordinates are approximately THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE but we think…

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What They Don't Show You On Fixer Upper

What They Don’t Show You On Fixer Upper

In keeping with the millennial stereotype of rustic appeal, my wife and I bought our first home this summer, a “fixer-upper” with a lot of character, wet insulation, and dead birds. We took a selfie out front, made a list of future projects, hired a contractor, personally knocked some walls out, and let some light into a house that had not been lived in for nearly ten years. We slapped a fresh coat of paint on the outside, with a green accent door, and voila! Home! Eat it, Chip and Jojo…got no time for that shiplap!

Of course, it has not…

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