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The Difference Between Despair and Dependence

The Difference Between Despair and Dependence

Regular readers know the high esteem in which we hold Orthodox priest Fr. Stephen Freeman, and how much inspiration we’ve drawn from his writing, especially over the past couple of years. If it’s true that God often speaks to us through unexpected vessels and out of our blindspots, then he represents something of that for […]

The Worry of Being Killed in Church and the Safety We Are Promised

The Worry of Being Killed in Church and the Safety We Are Promised

The first time I remember thinking about what it would mean to die with my church, I was in a cabin in the piney woods of Texas. Our family was attending the annual retreat, and the weather was horrible. My husband and I both got texts sent to our phones that basically said, “There’s a […]

Fear and the Reality of Horror, Part 3

Fear and the Reality of Horror, Part 3

Find the other installments in “Fear and the Reality of Horror” here: Part 1 and Part 2. The perpetual complication that hinders the attempt to understand evil is that of isolating what exactly evil is in its being. In many ways it seems as plain as the meaning of time: immediately intuited as a resource […]

Hopelessly Devoted: On Muscular Christianity

Hopelessly Devoted: On Muscular Christianity

Grateful to start the week with this reflection from Alex Chapota: Like many people in ministry, I receive a lot of Christian-related forwards via Facebook and WhatsApp messenger. Friends usually expect me to comment or even forward these messages onward. Plenty of them are insightful and even inspirational. Other times they kick off a debate, […]

Another Week Ends: Loving Pets, Eight Year Plans, Liberal Arts, Good Places, Academic Hoaxes, and Private Life

Another Week Ends: Loving Pets, Eight Year Plans, Liberal Arts, Good Places, Academic Hoaxes, and Private Life

1. With the exception of a month-long garter snake residency, I grew up in a pet-free house. Allergies was the official reason behind the prohibition, but I suspect the fact that my brothers and I were more than enough for my folks to handle also had something to do with it. As I’ve gotten older […]

From The Onion: Casual Christian Accepts Christ As His Lord But Not His Savior

America’s Finest News Source beating The Bee at its own game…

CALHOUN, GA—Admitting that he certainly likes the son of God but “doesn’t exactly love the guy, per se,” self-described casual Christian Brian Neely disclosed Monday that he accepts Jesus Christ as his lord but not his savior. “Listen, I know Jesus is the King of Kings, but I’m pretty sure I can deliver my own soul from eternal peril and reconcile myself with God the Father just fine on my own,” said Neely, 35… “Don’t get me wrong, Christ’s undying love and eternal wisdom guide me in my never-ending quest to lead an honest life, a life that reflects His values and teachings, but rescue us from the wages of all sin? I don’t care who your dad is, that’s a lot to ask from anyone.” Neely added that, while he finds God to be good, he is personally still on the fence as to whether He is, in fact, great.

Where the Sinners and the Sinned Against Are Reconciled

Where the Sinners and the Sinned Against Are Reconciled

There is a complicated tension that we deal with in a theology of boundless grace, undeserved mercy, and unearned forgiveness. As Christians, in our rush to affirm the hope of God’s grace for sinners, we can inadvertently (or intentionally) silence the victims in the room. We want to move past the transgression and into the […]

T-Minus 2 Weeks ’til OKC: Talk Titles (and Darwin’s Appeal)

In two short weeks, we’ll be gathering in Oklahoma City for our Fall Conference (10/11-13)! Our theme is “Grace in an Age of Distraction” and the details are coming together beautifully. The finalized talk titles are as follows:

  • Grace in an Age of Distraction I&II – Steven Paulson
  • In Praise of Distraction – Curt Benham
  • Marriage-Salvation Events – Ellis and Debbie Brazeal
  • Instagram Scrolling and Twitter Rants: Today’s Solutions to Luther’s Anfechtung – Kelsi Klembara
  • Grace in Distracted Parenting – Nathan Carr
  • Walker Percy on Distraction and Selfhood – Scott Johnson
  • The Distraction of Our Lives – Jady Koch
  • I’m So Worried: How God Loves Me Through Anxiety – Carrie Willard
  • Sinners in the Hands of—SQUIRREL! – David Zahl (ht AJ)

Keep your eyes peeled to the conference site for further details as they develop, including the menus from The Kitchen at Commonplace. And to whet your appetite even more, here’s one more passage from Steven Paulson, this time via his essay “Life Without a Preacher: Darwin’s Origin of Species,” ht AD:

“Is it any wonder why a person would prefer the law’s death to the gospel? Darwin did not reject the beginning of Genesis as a preached God because its science is faulty, but because its divine election is appalling. God elects humans over plants for no legal reasons. God elects Jews who had become idolaters and were taken away to Babylon, only to be freed by Cyrus, the strangest of all Messiahs… Yet, as Darwin traveled around the world he naturally asked, what about all these people who have never had a preacher? What about the unnamed animals of Galápagos? There must be a more rational way God operates than that. Why not make God into a silent pigeon breeder? So Darwin bravely went about discovering life without a preacher. Indeed, that life seems to be a much better arrangement than the election by baptism in opposition to the law—unless, of course, you are the weak.”

Click Here to Pre-Register

When Obligation Freezes the Feelings: Sensing God with C.S. Lewis

When Obligation Freezes the Feelings: Sensing God with C.S. Lewis

This one comes to us from Scott Dalton. I thought I saw how stories of this kind [fairy tales] could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the […]

On Our Bookshelf: From the Déjà Vu Issue

On Our Bookshelf: From the Déjà Vu Issue

If you get déjà vu scanning this list, it would be no surprise…you may have encountered some (but perhaps not all!) of these titles on this site. As compiled for the latest issue of The Mockingbird, these are the books we’ve been reading and re-reading this summer: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison: […]

Jonathan Myrick Daniels: A Martyr with Mixed Motives

Jonathan Myrick Daniels was an Episcopal seminarian and a Civil Rights worker. He was martyred in 1965 when he shielded 17-year-old Civil Rights worker Ruby Sales from being shot in Hayneville, Alabama. He was 26 years old.

For those of us who work in ministry and are prone to messianic complexes, trying to save people ourselves, and who long to be the most righteous (or most moral or most prophetic or plain old loudest) ones in the room, we would honor this martyr for the Gospel by heeding his words:

I lost fear in the black belt when I began to know in my bones and sinews that I had been truly baptized into the Lord’s death and Resurrection, that in the only sense that really matters I am already dead, and my life is hid with Christ in God.

I began to lose self-righteousness when I discovered the extent to which my behavior was motivated by worldly desires and by the self-seeking messianism of Yankee deliverance! The point is simply, of course, that one’s motives are usually mixed, and one had better know it.

Requiescat in Pace: The Naming Power of HBO's <i>The Leftovers</i>

Requiescat in Pace: The Naming Power of HBO’s The Leftovers

Last week, the Earth made a seismic shift, though mostly unnoticed. A gentle giant among us in terms of Anglican church music, John Bradford Bohl, died unexpectedly at the young age of 37. I had the joy of serving with him at Saint Paul’s K Street in Washington, D.C., and when I took over the venerable […]