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To Die or Not to Die? by Robert Farrar Capon

To Die or Not to Die? by Robert Farrar Capon

This is an excerpt from from the recently released collection of shorts, More Theology and Less Heavy Cream: The Domestic Life of Pietro & Madeleine, by the inimitable Robert Farrar Capon. Below, the protagonists (Robert and his wife’s alter-egos) discuss church gossip and infidelity.

Madeleine hung up the phone and put her head on the kitchen counter. “People!” she groaned as she pounded the surface with her fists.

Pietro was dicing celery with a Chinese cleaver. “I have a trusty blade here in my hand,” he said. “Perhaps I could sally forth and avenge these wrongs you feel compelled to communicate to the Formica.”

“Thanks a…

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But Now Let's Have a Surprise

But Now Let’s Have a Surprise

I love church mishaps. Once, at a Baptist service, I spilled my little cup of communion Welch’s on a neighbor’s new white pants. He was so kind about it but also probably mad, and I was so embarrassed. There was a soft piano playing in the background while the preacher, up front, invited the congregation to commune with the Lord and, when we were ready, to go ahead and drink. I tried mopping up the spill with my sleeve, until parishioners from all sides descended upon me and told me to stop: “It’s okay,” they said, “it’s okay.” It didn’t…

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Snow Blowers Are Of The Devil (Blue Jeans Too)

Snow Blowers Are Of The Devil (Blue Jeans Too)

We live in a time of raging technology. Everything is changing as the microprocessors are taking everything over. A couple of centuries ago a group called the Luddites simply rejected technology beyond what they knew back when the microprocessor was called the steam engine. Luddites smashed machines to retain control. It didn’t work. Technology won. Everything changed.

In a similar way, I think technology has become a public crisis once again. Not since the advent of The Machines has our culture convulsed as it is now with the advent of the pervasive robot. I know this personally because I…

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Let's Not Talk About Money (With PZ)

Let’s Not Talk About Money (With PZ)

I’ve got stories, good ones, I mean, good ones. Working behind the scenes in church ministry for over a decade, even as a layperson, you build up a huge archive of unbelievable things you’ve seen. I’ve often thought they would make for a good book. Here are a few sample chapter titles:

I’m 99% sure the tech volunteer is in the witness relocation program.

Household idol trafficking in the church parking lot.

At this point, fewer guns in the sanctuary would be a win.

And many, many more. The thing is — I can’t tell these stories, because, honestly, I don’t want to tell…

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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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Robert Barnes and 500 Years of Justification by Grace Alone – Jacob Smith

A wonderful, engaging talk on some of the key players in the Reformation (with a little help from Carl Jr.) by the Rev. Jacob Smith:

Robert Barnes and 500 Years of Justification by Grace Alone – Jacob Smith from Mockingbird on Vimeo

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer

This poem was originally published in the Food & Drink issue of The Mockingbird.

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split
by Joy Roulier Sawyer

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split,
we stopped phoning Donna
for her recipe for sugared baked beans;
forgot Lorraine crocheted the soft blue blankets
for our newborn sons.

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split,
we dodged one another in the poultry department,
years of picnics—glazed ham & fried chicken—
packed away carefully on ice.

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split,
we wept alone over miscarriages, divorce;
our needles moving soundlessly through linen,
cross-stitching unbroken threads.

This…

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THE Game

THE Game

Football is in High Season right now. It’s become enmeshed in headlines: kneeling, concussions, NFL attendance are all loudly flamed. But it’s also the time of championships, pro playoff debates and season-ending “rivalry games.”

I find an odd connection with the sport of football and faith in religion. Quite personally, for me, there is an intimate connection to the sport. I played, coached, and one son played all the way through college. The scale and hype of Big Time Football leaves me cold. But similarly, for this Cradle Episcopalian “Churchman,” church and churchiness leaves me cold, too.

However, the love I feel…

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Suitcases of Evil

Suitcases of Evil

Editor’s note: the following post touches on disturbing topics such as child abuse and should be read with discretion. It is a follow-up to Richard’s recent piece, “Praying Twice.”

Grace on a Gravel Road

Grace on a Gravel Road

By Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

One lazy afternoon when the light oozed in the air like honey, this old farmer told me that the school bus would come all the way down the gravel road to the driveway of the manse. He had stopped by to drop off Tommy Toe tomatoes from his wife’s garden. My wife and I had no children at the time. Six years later, our firstborn is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. But first we are moving away. I am about to begin a new call to another church.

***

The church I have served is…

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Book Smart and Gospel Stupid

Book Smart and Gospel Stupid

This one comes to us from Chad Bird.

If you can tell me all about the Almighty’s mind-blowing power to fashion ladybugs, the Milky Way, and titanium from absolutely zilch, but don’t get around to talking about our re-creation in Christ…

If you can marshal vast arrays of evidence to fight tooth-and-nail with those who deny the days of creation were seven twenty-four hour periods, but never take the time to talk about the hours our Lord hung upon the cross…

If you can untangle the genealogies of Kings and Chronicles; synthesize the competing accounts of the regnal years of Israelite royalties; and…

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"He Reads Well"

“He Reads Well”

I was both thrilled and intimidated when my church asked me — then a 29 year old college minister — to become their interim pastor. While I loved to preach, I was nervous about having to prepare practically every Sunday. I treated those sermon manuscripts like so many of the doctoral seminar papers I was producing during that crazed period of life — composed on an Apple Macintosh and printed out on a dot-matrix printer mere minutes before the sermon was “due.” I would step gingerly toward the pulpit with my Bible and still-warm sheaf of 8.5 x 11 pages,…

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