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Grace in Practice

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 3

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 3

Here is the final installment of a three-part series about my recent retreat at Gethsemani Abbey in rural Kentucky. A tiny shrew was clinging to the inside of the novitiate screen doors, trapped in the house! I took her up and she ran a little onto my sleeve and then stayed fixed, trembling. I put […]

PZ's Podcast: T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)

PZ’s Podcast: T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia)

EPISODE 257 Mrs. Zahl recently used the word “periphery” to describe our attitude, mine and hers, to increasing numbers of institutions, groups, and schools of thought to which we have been attached and for which we have been engaged for a long time. It’s not that one has changed one’s mind, or believes differently. Rather, […]

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 […]

Special Deja Vu Podcast Up Now!

Super excited to announce that over the weekend we dropped a special new episode of The Mockingcast, devoted to The Deja Vu Issue of the magazine. I love these magazine casts, not just cause I enjoy so hearing from Ethan and the various contributors, but because it gives us a chance to slow down the process and utilize some extra production flourishes–and give listeners a bit more.

This time around, Ethan takes us on a tour of issue, interviewing all-stars Jacob Smith, Nancy Hanna, and Simeon Zahl. Together they talk subjectivity, wedding dresses, lost doctrines, and where grace touches down in everyday life. Listeners also find out about an exclusive promotion! Very much worth your time (and worth sharing with others).

Listen on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or Fireside.

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Seven Verses One Through Three

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-3, NIV)

I find obedience to this command to be very elusive in my life. It’s tricky, and I can never quite get the hang of it. Sin truly lies waiting to ambush us…and the worst assault is our blindness to what we’re indulging. So often, I find myself judging people before I even realize what I’m doing. In the moment, it just seems like normal assessment and observation. I think I’m seeing the real, flesh-and-blood, image-bearing person…but I’m really viewing a perverted caricature I have created in my mind. For me, that individual’s faults have literally become who they finally are. It’s so unconscious most of the time… Yet sometimes I know what I’m doing but can’t stop…

I’ve heard it said that unbelief is the sin beneath all sins/sinning. I want to argue then that self-justification is the pleasure beneath all pleasures. There is something intoxicating and pacifying about that moment when I look at my neighbor and feel in my heart, ‘I’m glad I’m not like that…’ It’s pacifying, but not satisfying. The only satisfaction we can find is the satisfaction of the law which Jesus accomplished for us.

How do I resolve this tension? I don’t want to judge, but I do. I want to see the real person in front of me, but I can’t. Thanks be to God: Christ incarnate literally embodied and fulfilled ‘judge not’ (see John 8:11). Christ crucified was judged with a harsher measure than we judge one another. You were crucified with Him. You are hidden in Him. You were judged and found innocent…therefore the record of not judging your brother is perpetually and eternally yours. Even while you secretly thank God you are not like others…the Spirit graciously reminds you, you are like His Son.

Failure

Failure

It is inevitable: some things sometimes do not work out. Who loves control more than an architect? I have been one of those for 40 years, with 800 things built. But we’ve started over 1,000. We, I, failed over 200 times to build what we were designing. Today, I lost the chance to work with […]

We Once Were Lost

We Once Were Lost

This reflection comes to us from Andreas Thiel. Two afternoons every week, I take a short drive to our local Long Term Care facility. On these occasions, I put my day-to-day parish responsibilities aside, for the purpose of serving as Chaplain to this community of (mostly) senior citizens. Now into my fourth month on the job, […]

You Must Be This Tall (To Receive Grace)

You Must Be This Tall (To Receive Grace)

(Note: This was written with help, insight, and revision from my wife… Thank you, Angela.) “Wait a minute, Ma’am… does she have a disability?” The question cut through both of us like a word of law, judgment, and accusation. What was she getting at? What was she implying? Where are we going with this? Sigh. […]

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 2

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 2

Here is Part 2 of a three-part series about my recent retreat at Gethsemani Abbey in rural Kentucky. The moon was beautiful, dimly red, like a globe of almost transparent amber, with a shapeless fetus of darkness curled in the midst of it. — Thomas Merton, The Other Side of the Mountain: The End of […]

Grace for Those With Father Issues (AKA Those With a Pulse) – Dave Johnson

Our next breakout video is one that really seemed to hit those in attendance right between the eyes. We’ve got our fingers crossed that Dave will turn it into a book:

Grace for Those with Father Issues (AKA, Grace for Those with a Pulse) – Dave Johnson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

"Mercy Goes First": An Address to Seminary Graduates

“Mercy Goes First”: An Address to Seminary Graduates

[What follows is an edited version of remarks I delivered to Truett Seminary’s Fall 2017 Graduates. My talk was heavily influenced by Mockingbird, and with gratitude I post this here.] It has been about 30 years ago now that I waited to hold my seminary diploma in my hands, and I was saddened this week […]

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 1

At the Edge of Civilization, Part 1

In this wilderness I have learned how to sleep again. I am not alien… I close my eyes and instantly sink into the whole rainy world of which I am a part, and the world goes on with me in it. — Thomas Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable The Abbey of Gethsemani (alt. spelling) is […]