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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.

A…

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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

EPISODE 246

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 (and Video!) from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt (and Video!) from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Mockingbird’s latest book—“Unmapped” by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips—is now available!

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.

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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Do I Feel a Draft? Keeping the Door Open for Reconciliation — A Conference Breakout Preview

With one week left until our New York Conference, here’s another breakout preview. This one comes to us from Carrie Willard.

Reconciliation might feel like something that is Someone Else’s Problem, preferably people who live at least an ocean away. Korea should probably get its act together, and the Middle East would also be a nice place to start. These conflicts are a nice, safe distance from our having to do anything about it. But reconciliation comes home in this conference breakout session, when we discuss reconciliation in family life.

We’ll talk about family reconciliation close to home, especially about the sister who’s been missing from the Family Math for the past eighteen years. Even when reconciliation isn’t readily available on the deadline we’d prefer, we can count on God to keep the door open for that reconciliation as we move through the rest of our lives without a balanced, settled equation.

We’ll also discuss the reconciliation in the House of Windsor, when the Queen of England felt called to reconcile with her uncle, the former King. Again, there’s no tidy, balanced equation in this family story, for all of the Queen’s desire to forgive.

As Fleming Rutledge so aptly highlights in The Crucifixion, any reconciliation we might realize in this life is a temporary one. So why should we bother? With clips from Grumpy Old Men and Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, we’ll talk about asking God’s forgiveness for our own failings, and how we get in our own way of reconciliation.

Don’t forget to register for the 11th Annual New York Conference! You won’t want to miss it!

PZ's Podcast: Soul-Tie

PZ’s Podcast: Soul-Tie

Please note: PZ’s Podcast is now on Spotify!

EPISODE 244

This cast is a kind of summation of my thinking about romantic love in its relation to one’s soul’s salvation.

I have thought about the compelling nature of romance — between two people, I mean — in both its positive, inspiring importance and also its possible negative and undermining impact. In fact, one has long searched for a key, the ‘haft’ that actually opens the door and heals one of scarring memories and long-carried-over inward losses.

Not only has this theme of romantic love’s long-term vicissitudes been with me for awhile, but I’ve often…

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Grace for Those with Father Issues (AKA, Grace for Those with a Pulse): A Conference Breakout Preview

Here’s another NYC conference breakout preview. This one is from Dave Johnson, rector of Christ Church in Valdosta, GA and author of Grace Upon Grace.

Our breakout session “Grace for Those with Father Issues (aka, Grace for Those with a Pulse)” will be touchy-feely and warm-fuzzy because when it comes to this heavy topic, God’s grace is exactly that. Whether your father is your hero or someone you cannot stand to be around for more than twenty seconds or so—whether your father is someone whose approval you crave or someone whose disapproval you incite (and actually enjoy doing so in a twisted way)—whether your father is one of your best friends or someone you have never met (and are not sure if you want to)—or whether you are all of the above, none of the above, or a combination thereof, you may find this session helpful (or at least not boring). For some people, their father issues are front and center; for others, it is an episodic struggle that often rears its head when least expected.

We’ll connect this topic with literature, movies, television, rock ‘n roll, and personal stories. We are not offering any cut and dry “answers” for this issue because it runs too deep and defies such “answers.” Instead, we’ll look at it through the lens of God’s grace, because God’s grace connects with our lives (and our father issues) as they actually are, not as they “should be.”  Even though it can be a heavy topic, we’ll have fun with it, hopefully in a non-creepy way—but no guarantees. In the words from the promotional poster of one Hollywood’s greatest masterpieces, Wayne’s World (1992): “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl” (hurling is optional). We’ll also have time for Q and A, and offer healing prayer from The Book of Common Prayer for those who would like that.  Hope you will consider joining us—if not, send your father.

If you haven’t yet registered for the 11th annual Mockingbird conference, you can do so here! It’s comin’ up fast. We hope to see you there!

Bottoming Out and Finding Grace in Uncle Buck

Bottoming Out and Finding Grace in Uncle Buck

This morning’s post comes to us from Kyle Dupic.

Have you ever watched a movie from your childhood only to notice things you missed for years? It is almost like watching a new movie altogether. I remember hearing a pastor tell the story of finally watching his favorite childhood movie with his son for the first time. They got about 30 minutes into Top Gun before turning it off. He had totally forgot some of the things he did not want his 10 year old to experience! That can be the bad side.

But there is also a good side, which I…

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Lonely People and Lonelier Communities

Lonely People and Lonelier Communities

Lately, the social science data, human interest stories, and public policy initiatives all seem to point every step of the way to one panacea: connection. It explains why Her Majesty’s Government has recently appointed the minister for loneliness. It explains why truck commercials are snagging MLK speech snippets, and why Elon Musk wants a girlfriend so badly. Human loneliness is the problem that precedes many others, as we’ve said so many times here on Mockingbird, and for much of the world, togetherness is the answer: If we can just be neighbors to one another, and get past our differences and…

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