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Grace in Practice

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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I Think We're Alone Now

I Think We’re Alone Now

We live in an age of loneliness.

As David Zahl pointed out at the recent NYC Mockingbird Conference, the age of anxiety has given way to an age of loneliness, the effects of which can be felt by everyone.

The U.K. has appointed a Minister of Loneliness.

We are divided from each other in myriad ways. We have built silos inside our silos and now we are all standing alone wondering where everybody else went.

The problem of loneliness is not a simple one and it does not have a simple solution. While some are quick to blame social media and technology, I…

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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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Why Is Jesus Slumming with That Denomination?

Why Is Jesus Slumming with That Denomination?

This one comes to us from Chad Bird.

Let’s start with the obvious: Christianity is an outwardly fractured religion. You’d think Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world and bloody each other’s noses over, like, Every. Single. Thing.” Just for perspective, note that there are far more denominations than there are languages spoken around the globe. We’ve out-Babelled Babel.

Even the most unrealistic optimist doesn’t believe this will improve. After all, we’ve been on this kick for 965 years. Humpty Dumpty has been on the ground for a long, long time. And all the king’s councils and all the king’s ecumenists,…

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The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board 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

I.

ABSURDITY

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

EPISODE 247

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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2018 NYC CONFERENCE RECORDINGS

2018 NYC CONFERENCE RECORDINGS

Thank you to everyone who helped put on this year’s conference in NYC, especially our invaluable friends at Calvary St. George’s and The Pixie and the Scout! What a wonderful time it was.

Click on the image to subscribe

For the recordings this time around, we’ve decided to launch a brand-new podcast, TALKINGBIRD, which will be your destination for talks given at Mockingbird events–past, present and future.

After each conference, we’ll upload everything we have to that feed. In between events, we’ll pull a fresh talk from our archives each week and post it there as well. From here on out, The…

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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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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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Mountaintop Experiences Are For The Birds

Mountaintop Experiences Are For The Birds

In my work with youth and young adults, I hear a lot about mountaintop experiences. These experiences are moments when the daily grind of life comes to a halt, the busy world is hushed, and you can experience God and community to the fullest.

I often hear about mountaintop experiences at summer camps or youth retreats. The final talk will generally feature this line from the fauxhawked youth pastor, “As you go back into the world, how will you take what you have experienced here with you?” The implication is that the time away is unique and different, both figuratively…

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Touching Kevin’s Heart with Dirty Hands

Touching Kevin’s Heart with Dirty Hands

This one comes to us from Blake Nail. 

Our culture is obviously in the middle of some division: some think it’s necessary, and others think it’s harmful. It seems people, especially on the internet, are on the hunt to shame, ridicule, or in some cases, completely ruin people’s lives and careers. Albeit sometimes over reasonable issues, not to negate real offense and wrongdoing. Often, though, people are being shamed for having different views, thoughts, and sometimes even associations. It can even be for unintentional offense, for which the mob has no mercy. When the Law comes down on you, it doesn’t…

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