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Negative Grace: Eliot's Dark Gospel

Negative Grace: Eliot’s Dark Gospel

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the...

What I Didn't Do On My Summer Vacation

What I Didn’t Do On My Summer Vacation

It’s official: leisure has gone the way of the leisure suit. At least according to an excellent “long read” by Jenny Diski in The New Statesman, “Learning How to Live”, which explores the question of why we find free time so terrifying. If it sounds like an essay-length rumination on...

A Preview of (Funny) Things to Come

A Preview of (Funny) Things to Come

“Do You Think There's a Slight Possibility That The Hepworths Might Be Slowing Us Down, Sir?" Queried McCormick
Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

I know that there’s already been quite a bit said about suicide on this site, but I’d like to add my own two cents, and this from the standpoint of an ordained pastor who is called to step into these situations as a representative of Jesus Christ—to actually try my...

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to...

We Are All One Bad Day from Derailing a City Zoning Meeting

We Are All One Bad Day from Derailing a City Zoning Meeting

Meet Lisa. She just moved here. Nobody is helping her, and she has had enough of that.

Btw, this was at a zoning meeting for Portillos in Davenport, Iowa. pic.twitter.com/9yYbvcZyr8

— Collin Strajack (@collinstrajack) July 10, 2018

Her “testimony,” for lack of a better term, is misguided at best. She is...

Feeling Pretty, Feeling Loved

Feeling Pretty, Feeling Loved

Most of the time, I do not feel anything close to “pretty.” On some rare days, I feel like a bombshell the likes of Margot Robbie or Lauryn Hill. But most days, I feel a little ashamed when I look in the mirror. My eyes are too puffy. The skin...

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.
Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in "My Year of Rest and Relaxation"

Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”

When asked about her favorite holiday, writer Ottessa Moshfegh says, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on holiday…?” And then laughs.

On the one hand, I suppose she could be speaking literally. But I take the above response as an invitation, a question: Do human beings ever really relax? After...

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Not Weak on Sanctification: Christians Grow in Reverse – Nick Lannon

In this most prestigious breakout session from the 11th annual Mockingbird conference, Nick Lannon discusses the paradox of sanctification. Subtopics include: dentistry mishaps, good deeds, Han Solo, and the caverns of the heart.

Not Weak on Sanctification: Christians Grow in Reverse – Nick Lannon from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in "My Year of Rest and Relaxation"

Sleeping the Pain Away: A Young Woman Takes a Chill Pill in “My Year of Rest and Relaxation”

When asked about her favorite holiday, writer Ottessa Moshfegh says, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on holiday…?” And then laughs.

On the one hand, I suppose she could be speaking literally. But I take the above response as an invitation, a question: Do human beings ever really relax? After all, we never catch a break from the predominant source of our exhaustion: us.

This points to the central conflict in Moshfegh’s haunting (and darkly funny) new book My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which reviewers have called “the finest existential novel not written by a French author.” (It’s already been optioned…

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The Apostles' Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism

The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism

I always judge books by their covers. In part, this habit is a terrible prejudice, but I also think it’s a useful way of deciding how to use limited time on an unlimited supply of books. Thankfully, Lexham Press crafted a beautiful design for their recent book The Apostles’ Creed: A Guide to the Ancient Catechism. It’s the first in their “Christian Essentials” series, set to cover the Ten Commandments, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Prayer, and corporate worship.

In this book, form and content match beautifully. The design, which merges traditional iconography and contemporary minimalism, reflects the…

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Bedside and the Lord’s Prayer

Bedside and the Lord’s Prayer

Those who had a chaotic childhood often have vivid memories of going to bed. There was relief from the confusion and fear of an out-of-control parent but also the silent terror that the combustive anger would continue past being tucked in. For my poor mother, this ritual of bedtime meant that she could legitimately absent herself from the dinner din of my raging and drunken father. For me, it meant feeling her push the sheet and blanket under my mattress, lightly swaddling my tiny form.

The room was already dark when she arrived, and sometimes an older sibling came…

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Feeling Pretty, Feeling Loved

Feeling Pretty, Feeling Loved

Most of the time, I do not feel anything close to “pretty.” On some rare days, I feel like a bombshell the likes of Margot Robbie or Lauryn Hill. But most days, I feel a little ashamed when I look in the mirror. My eyes are too puffy. The skin under my chin is starting to descend down my neck. I look tired, all of the time. My upper arms are too jiggly and I pretty consistently appear to be at least several weeks pregnant. Most days, I put on a light layer of make-up and resignedly think to myself,…

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Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

Suicide, Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, and the Irresistible Father

I know that there’s already been quite a bit said about suicide on this site, but I’d like to add my own two cents, and this from the standpoint of an ordained pastor who is called to step into these situations as a representative of Jesus Christ—to actually try my best not to make the situation worse.

During my summer of clinical pastoral education (something required of most seminarians), on my second night of rounds as a newly minted hospital chaplain, I was summoned to the critical care unit. A young man had been brought in with a terminal gunshot wound…

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On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none of them are explicitly prescriptive. Instead, Jamison ends up talking a lot about her experience with alcoholism, and gently exploits the memoir genre to create a case which is so intimate with her own reality that it will not leave its readers alone after they…

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Lord, I Was Faithless – Mary Karr

Another wonderful poem from Mary Karr’s newest collection Tropic of Squalor:

Lord, I Was Faithless

I murdered you early, Father
My disbelief was an ice pick plunged
In mine own third eye

Like damned Oedipus
Whose sight could not stand
What his hand had done

And I—whose chief grumble
Was my kidhood (whose torments
Did fill many profitable volumes)

Refused your pedigree
I revised myself into a bastard
Orphan rather than serve

Like a poppet at your caprice
One among many numbered
To live size extra small

Whole years I lost in the kingdom
Of mine own skull
With my scepter the remote

I sat enthroned in a La-Z-Boy
Watching dramas I controlled
Only the volume on

I was a poor death’s head then
In my hook-rug empire
With snowflakes of paper

My favorite button is power

Another Week Ends: Washed, Teshuvah, Soul Salons, Medieval Peasants, Cranach and Sammy Hagar

Another Week Ends: Washed, Teshuvah, Soul Salons, Medieval Peasants, Cranach and Sammy Hagar

1. This first one hit close to home. I’m referring to Zach Baron’s column in GQ, In Praise of Being Washed. Not washed out, or washed in the blood of the lamb, but simply “washed”. To be “washed,” he tells us, is to have arrived at the point in life where horizons have begun to recede, where your best is behind you but you’re still far from ready to throw in the towel–basically a fresh euphemism for what we used to call “over the hill.” But what sounds like a putdown at best, and a verdict to struggle against with…

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PZ's Podcast: The Spider and the Fly

PZ’s Podcast: The Spider and the Fly

EPISODE 251

Benjamin Britten’s ‘Spider and the Fly’ number from his Suite for “Johnson over Jordan”, by J.B. Priestley, takes you by surprise. It sounds like Gershwin at the start, then becomes a kind of danse, and is ultimately sinister. The composer meant it like that, for he was drawn to Priestley’s play because it concerns life after death; and Britten was interested in life after death during this period of his career.

Priestley broke an English taboo, you might say — but it’s a taboo in our country, also, in practice — in his 1939 reflection on purgatory, and salvation, which…

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Transgressors, Transgression, and the Perilous Bridge of Forgiveness – Ethan Richardson

This packed-out session from MockingbirdNYC was all about the nitty-gritties of forgiveness in real life, the psychology of it, the messiness…and the risk. From editor-in-chief of The Mockingbird, and featuring clips from Three Billboards and This is 40 — you’ll laugh and cry:

Transgressors, Transgression, and the Perilous Bridge of Forgiveness – Ethan Richardson from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The Road Beaten Hard

The Road Beaten Hard

This one was written by Maddy Green. 

By the time I’ve finished breakfast, I’ve planned out the whole day, to the half-hour, for both myself and my spouse. I’ve mapped out the car schedule to be most fuel-efficient and to maximize ride-sharing to and from work; I’ve squeezed in a grocery shop and several other not-so-pressing errands I’ve decided “must be done today.” And I’ve already read my devotional (duh), so I know technically that the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus pointing out that even striving towards a full and total adherence to the Law of the Hebrew Bible will…

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