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The Role of Art (Or, the Limitations of Self-Help) in Life and Work

The Role of Art (Or, the Limitations of Self-Help) in Life and Work

This one comes to us from Mark Casper.

Recently I came across an article in The New Yorker that nearly bowled me over. It’s called Improving Ourselves to Death by Alexandra Schwartz, and it thoroughly outlines the negative consequences of living in a “self-improvement culture.” You may remember the post that appeared on Mockingbird...

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

I operated as if there’d be a verdict. An easy answer. A story. I operated as if we were setting the tone for the rest of our lives. It did not occur to me that we could simply muddle through. Change things later. Forgive ourselves.

I was a freshman in college...

Message in a Bottle - An Excerpt from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt 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.
The First Chapter of Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage 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...

Parables and the Difficulty of Direct Communication

Parables and the Difficulty of Direct Communication

When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that

“they may indeed...

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...

Seeds of Renewal (According to Alan Jacobs)

Seeds of Renewal (According to Alan Jacobs)

We were so honored to have Alan Jacobs, esteemed author of How To Think (and many other books), speak at our 2018 New York Conference and are doubly grateful that he’s allowed us to post an excerpt from his second talk, delivered on Saturday, April 28th.

The world really does seem different...

Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on the Suicide Epidemic

Penn Faces and Campus Tragedies: More Notes on the Suicide Epidemic

Here’s why I didn’t want to write about Julie Scelfo’s recent article “Campus Suicide and the Pressure of Perfection” in The NY Times:

It is not because we’ve written about the phenomenon too many times already–though we have. It is because writing about it again only serves to underline how futile-seeming...

Six Times Seinfeld Illustrated Theological Dynamics

Six Times Seinfeld Illustrated Theological Dynamics

Another peek at our recent Humor Issue (which we’re starting to run low on — grab yours before it sells out…!):

We all have a list of our favorite Seinfeld episodes. Mine are mainly clustered around seasons five and six (The Puffy Shirt, The Lip Reader, The Marine Biologist), with a special...

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The Things We Think And Do Not Say

The Things We Think And Do Not Say

I operated as if there’d be a verdict. An easy answer. A story. I operated as if we were setting the tone for the rest of our lives. It did not occur to me that we could simply muddle through. Change things later. Forgive ourselves.

I was a freshman in college when Jerry Maguire came out, and I remember watching through my fingers the scene in which he wrote his explosive mission statement (NOT memo) and wondering why he was getting so excited about interrupting the status quo. What’s wrong with just doing your job and flying under the radar? I thought….

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Let Not Conscience Make You Linger: H.F. Kohlbrugge’s Comma – Tim Blackmon

What does Snoop Dogg have in common with the Netherlands’ best little-known theologian? Find out here, in this wonderful talk from our recent conference in NYC, featuring guest speaker Tim Blackmon.

Let Not Conscience Make You Linger: H.F. Kohlbrugge’s Comma – Tim Blackmon from Mockingbird on Vimeo

J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

This is the first in an ongoing series of original short stories featuring the Rev. J.B. Roane.

Thornton bought me a cup of coffee at the same Dairy Queen where he found my business card the previous day, pinned up a little crooked on a bulletin board next to the men’s room.

J.B. Roane – Pastor for Hire.

Available for odd jobs of a spiritual nature.

Thornton’s coveralls looked like they’d seen more than a few errant drips of coffee and splashes of ketchup. The small talk we tried to make was awkward. He struck me as a direct man, momentarily at a…

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June Playlist

Another Week Ends: Theistic 'Nones', Fleming on Faith, Ideological Is-es and Oughts, Urban Kenosis, and the New Meritocratic Aristocracy

Another Week Ends: Theistic ‘Nones’, Fleming on Faith, Ideological Is-es and Oughts, Urban Kenosis, and the New Meritocratic Aristocracy

1. First up, Pew released the results of a recent survey on a religious beliefs, glossed this week by The Atlantic:

The third finding reported in the study is by far the most striking. As it turns out, “American ‘nones’ are as religious as—or even more religious than—Christians in several European countries, including France, Germany, and the U.K.”

“That was a surprise,” Neha Sahgal, the lead researcher on the study, told me. “That’s the comparison that’s fascinating to me.” She highlighted the fact that whereas only 23 percent of European Christians say they believe in God with absolute certainty, 27 percent of American nones say this. ….

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On Deserts: What Sexual Assault, Star Wars, and Salvation Have in Common

On Deserts: What Sexual Assault, Star Wars, and Salvation Have in Common

We’re very grateful to share this powerful piece by C. Marcus Odden.

Editor’s note: the following recounts a story of child abuse and should be read with discretion.

A Great Insight

A Great Insight

I imagine it’s a common experience: Whether in Bible studies, or from the pulpit, or in one-on-one “discipling” relationships, Christian ministers often feel pressured to come up with something genius, something that will knock the spiritual socks off whoever it is they’re ministering to. If you say just the right thing, maybe you can save or convert or help this person.

And I have to admit, on this website, the quandary’s similar. When we begin writing, often our first (or ever-present) concern has to do with saying something new and brilliant. “But has someone already said this?” With eleven years under…

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Alone Together In Our Third Places

Alone Together In Our Third Places

The following was written by Rachel Gaffin.

It’s 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night. Breezy pop-punk spills out of the speaker system of the coffee shop I share with thirteen other people. All but two sit in front of laptops; most are plugged into headphones. The man across from me reads a purple tome titled Theories of Truth. We avoid eye contact.

In this silent yet soundtracked space, people politely vie for real estate near the outlets, getting up only to go to the bathroom or maybe to order a second latte. In short, the perfect place for me to write. And…

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Let Us Now Praise Lebron James

Let Us Now Praise Lebron James

It is difficult to imagine now, but there was a time when he could not be counted on when it mattered.

Vividly I remember June 2011, when my Mavericks were made the agent of God’s moral retribution, which he spares us in life but applies in the world of sport. Those Mavericks pre-figured many of the teams Lebron James had dragged to the NBA Finals before and would drag in later years, including this year: led by one transcendent star, Dirk Notwitzki, a Swiss Army Knife of a player from neighboring Germany, the Mavs were otherwise a thrown-together group of single-dimensional…

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PZ's Podcast: Dead Reckoning

PZ’s Podcast: Dead Reckoning

EPISODE 248

Pastoral experience in hospital pre-op units provides abundant evidence for the existence of the soul. I first saw this evidence in Birmingham years ago, when someone we knew and loved was having to go into the operating room twice the same day, because the first “pass” that morning had failed. The situation was in fact do-or-die, and I had never before seen the look of fear which had come over the patient’s face as she was being prepared for her second procedure.

Then another time, in Washington, as the gurney was being wheeled out to surgery, a kind of fluttering…

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Lessons on Prayer from the Cast of Jane the Virgin

Lessons on Prayer from the Cast of Jane the Virgin

When I found out that Netflix added the most recent season of Jane the Virgin to its streaming repertoire, I knew exactly how I would spend my weekend. I may or may not have watched all seventeen forty-minute episodes in about 72 hours, complete with a rollercoaster of emotions as I walked alongside these characters, whose rich development made me think I actually knew and loved them, as they experienced the joys and sorrows of life. But mostly I cried. A lot.

(Some spoilers lie ahead.)

Jane the Virgin, set in Miami, is The CW’s adaptation of a Venezuelan telenovela about a…

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Depth of Fields: Stewarding the Stewards of a Movement

Depth of Fields: Stewarding the Stewards of a Movement

Mike Spackman’s voice broke a little as he described the experience of being awarded 2017’s Cook of the Year at the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards. He said when The Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver, announced his name, it was like that scene from Babe, where Farmer Hoggett says, “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.” His Britishness made those tears somehow even more poignant. Shelia Dillon, the host of BBC 4’s The Food Programme, and one of the judges, described the Awards like this:

This, we believe, is the one moment in the year when Britain comes together to celebrate the country’s unheralded heroes. People…

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