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I Gotta Try Losing Sometime: Rivalry, Redemption, and Donkey Kong

I Gotta Try Losing Sometime: Rivalry, Redemption, and Donkey Kong

“I wanted to be the hero. I wanted to be the center of attention. I wanted the glory, I wanted the fame, I wanted the pretty girls coming up and saying, ‘Hi, I see you’re good at Centipede.’” – Walter Day

“When I have to watch that pile of eight tapes...

At Long Last...The Humor Issue!

At Long Last…The Humor Issue!

Ladies and gentlemen, wisecracks, cornballs, jesters, and twerps! After what has felt like eons of soliciting writers, fielding interviews, landing interviews, losing interviews, editing, copy editing, proofing, and an entire magazine REDESIGN, we have finally reached the best part. Childbirth. Out of the womb and into the world. After all,...

The Hope For Some Kind of Sinners Anonymous

The Hope For Some Kind of Sinners Anonymous

Better late than never: This past week I came across a remarkable (and remarkably witty) article by Helen Rittelmeyer Andrews, published last January, on the subject of “AA Envy” that seems almost ripped from the pages of Grace in Addiction. Andrews explores why Alcoholics Anonymous gets a free pass in...

Ted Bundy and Me: The Slow-Going Power of Love and the Myth of the Psychopath

Ted Bundy and Me: The Slow-Going Power of Love and the Myth of the Psychopath

Recently a friend told me I looked like a serial killer but “in a good way.”

I said there is no good way to look like a serial killer.

He said, “Oh but there is. Remember that one guy…? The one who didn’t look scary at all?”

He was referring to Ted Bundy....

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

David Grann has penned a gripping New Yorker profile on Arctic explorer Henry Worsley. If you don’t have time to read the whole lengthy piece (or even if you do), this 25 minute New Yorker Radio podcast is a fantastic supplement. A retired British army commando, he was obsessed with the...

Geno Auriemma and the Tyranny of…Wait, Didn’t We Just Do This?

Geno Auriemma and the Tyranny of…Wait, Didn’t We Just Do This?

Geno Auriemma is the high priest of women’s college basketball. His career record is 1027-136, which, I promise you, is not a typo. I checked it a bunch of times. His University of Connecticut basketball team is the unquestioned top dog (it’s a pun…they’re the Huskies) in the sport. They...

A Woman vs. Her Roomba: The Battle for Biblical Femininity

A Woman vs. Her Roomba: The Battle for Biblical Femininity

Several months ago, my husband Alex made a peculiar suggestion for his approaching birthday: he wanted a Roomba.

The notion was mildly annoying to me at the time (I wasn’t sure why), but I chose to brush it off as a disturbing lack of imagination on Alex’s part. You want a...

Finding God at Arby's: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

Finding God at Arby’s: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

This sermon was delivered this past Sunday in Charlottesville, by Sam Bush.

This is a very exciting time for the church. It’s one week after Easter. The lilies are still up, the altar is in full splendor. We are living in the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection. And today we see how...

NYC Conference Update (T-Minus 9 Days and Counting!)

NYC Conference Update (T-Minus 9 Days and Counting!)

Our 11th Annual Conference in NYC (4/26-28) is almost here, and we wanted to relay a few exciting details that have just come together:

The Pixie and the Scout sent us the final menu earlier this week and it looks scrumptious as can be. Click here to read. Reminder: registration for...
Latest entries

On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

Our first glimpse into the issue we’ve all been waiting for, this one comes from award-winning humorist Harrison Scott Key. Subscribers, orders should be hitting the mailbox this week! For the uninitiated, YAW! GIDDYUP! 

When your book wins the Thurber Prize in American Humor, our nation’s most important literary prize for a funny book, people have a lot to say, such as, “Oh, wow, I’ve never heard of that award!” or “You still have to pay for your food.”

Once, I was introduced at a book festival as, “Harrison Scott Key, winner of the largest and most important prize in…

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A Visit to Another World: Modern Fiction and Life After Death – A Conference Breakout Preview

Christians have long puzzled over whether literary fiction is of any use to the remnant of believers in the world. Of course, most of the Western canon is essentially Christian; you can’t get anywhere in a lit course without some basic familiarity with the Bible. But many of today’s stories seem postmodern, remaining thematically ambiguous and unresolved. Even so, stories remain one of our surest avenues for (something like) transcendence.

Good fiction describes the reality of everyday life—describes, in the words of Flannery O’Conner, “what is.” But for many Christians this seems too earthly a goal. Where have the symbolic references to Calvary gone? How long do we wait for this character’s redemption? Good stories are not always innocent or sentimental, nor necessarily redemptive. O’Connor, a Catholic herself, seemed just fine with this: “We lost our innocence in the Fall,” she writes plainly, “and our return to it is through the Redemption which was brought about by Christ’s death and by our slow participation in it. Sentimentality is a skipping of this process in its concrete reality and an early arrival at a mock state of innocence, which strongly suggests its opposite.” Oof!

During this breakout session, we’ll spend some time looking at the work of 3 contemporary writers—Denis Johnson, George Saunders, and Ottessa Moshfegh—who I haven’t been able to get out of my head this year. Their stories relate, sometimes brutally, sometimes humorously, “what is.” These writers are not Christians (actually one of them is), but they nevertheless “reinforce our sense of the supernatural by grounding it in concrete, observable reality” (O’Connor). These stories poke fun at the absurdity of our everyday reality and illuminate our desperate need for a life after life. My hope is that their words will help us put some fresh “skin on the bones” of the Christian message (in the words of John Zahl). It should be fun and maybe a little weird! Hope to see ya there.

Click here to register for the upcoming Mockingbird conference in NYC! And check out the incredible line-up of speakers here.

Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie's Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie’s Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

This piece was written by Brad J. Gray.

It’s a turn of phrase that I’ve seen around the Internet and various other places in the past, but only recently has it been actually uttered to my face. I wouldn’t have thought much of it but it was said twice in a few short days and it got me to thinking about how prevalent the sentiment is despite its inherent falsehood and treachery. I am, of course, referring to the oft-quoted statement, “God helps those who help themselves.” No doubt you’ve heard this expression before, more than likely from a well-meaning person….

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Meme Lore 101: Lecture 1 - Course Overview

Meme Lore 101: Lecture 1 – Course Overview

Henlo class, and welcome to your introductory course on the dankest Internet trend since coolmath-games.com and Early Youtube. I’m sure that many of you have elected to take this course because of your confounding daily encounters with spicy fresh-baked memes. You’ve caught yourself thinking “what are these ‘may-mays’ my children are always talking about? Why do my friends sound like they’re talking in a completely different dialect, always referring to the ‘Top Five Strongest Anime Characters of ALL TIME’ and Neil Degrasse Tyson? What is the ‘Wednesday Frog’ and why is he so important? Have no fear, soon-to-be dank memers!…

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I Don’t Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God – A Conference Breakout Preview

This NYC 2018 Conference breakout preview comes from Adam Morton, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church and associate pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, both in Lancaster, PA.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You’ve heard that bit before. If not, purchase or steal a Bible (we can work on the ethics of acquisition later), and crack it open to the very first chapter. It’s a good read. This passage is one of the small set that might come out of the mouths of folks who have little or nothing to do with the church; nevertheless, they have heard that humanity is somehow the “image of God,” and this is surely important. But what does it mean?

Modern life is such that the definition of a human being seems to be daily renegotiated. The pet food commercials tell me that my pair of cats (let us never speak of them again) and my son are more or less equal objects of my care. I doubt this, but clearly not everyone does, else General Mills wouldn’t have offered $8 billion to acquire Blue Buffalo. Various experts and news stories have warned me, repeatedly, that if the robots don’t rise up to kill us, they’ll seduce us instead—and that this sort of thing is one day going to be perfectly normal. Silicon Valley appears awash in the notion that humanity can be—no, that’s too weak—will be transcended by way of the proper application of consumer electronics to the body. Sad as it is to say, neither are we anywhere near rid of the notion that certain colors or other configurations of the anthropoid form are markedly less than human.

Hear enough of this stuff and you might begin to suspect that we don’t yet really know what a human being is. This ancient notion of the image of God might be helpful in such a mess, if only we could pin it down. However, the thorny heart of the matter is that this image isn’t all that apparent in my daily life. I can’t see it, and while I could make several plausible suggestions as to its meaning, settling on which one (if any) is true is another matter—which means, strangely enough, that it has something in common with the God whose image it is supposed to be.

In this conference breakout we’ll try to talk about this image-of-God thing, what it means for it to be hidden from us, and how this confusion impacts us on a daily basis. Along the way we’ll enlist the help of Johann Georg Hamann, the greatest 18th century German writer you’ve never heard of (yes, I know, that’s hardly a selling point—but trust me, this guy is hilarious in a very un-German and un-18th century way).

You can sign up for the 11th annual Mockingbird conference here! No human beings will want to miss this!

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) - Part 2

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) – Part 2

This is the second in a 3-part series on Bruce Cockburn. To read the first part, go here. 

Act II: The Struggle Against the Darkness of the World (1980-1986)

Three dramatic changes occurred in Cockburn’s life around 1980: (1) his 10-year marriage to Kitty—which had included the birth of their daughter Jenny in 1976—ended in divorce, (2) his music caught fire in the U.S. and brought him fame he’d never had and was ill-prepared for, and (3) he moved from his 1970s home in rural Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario, to downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Perhaps as an effect of these changes, it was…

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Grace for Those with Father Issues (AKA, Grace for Those with a Pulse): A Conference Breakout Preview

Here’s another NYC conference breakout preview. This one is from Dave Johnson, rector of Christ Church in Valdosta, GA and author of Grace Upon Grace.

Our breakout session “Grace for Those with Father Issues (aka, Grace for Those with a Pulse)” will be touchy-feely and warm-fuzzy because when it comes to this heavy topic, God’s grace is exactly that. Whether your father is your hero or someone you cannot stand to be around for more than twenty seconds or so—whether your father is someone whose approval you crave or someone whose disapproval you incite (and actually enjoy doing so in a twisted way)—whether your father is one of your best friends or someone you have never met (and are not sure if you want to)—or whether you are all of the above, none of the above, or a combination thereof, you may find this session helpful (or at least not boring). For some people, their father issues are front and center; for others, it is an episodic struggle that often rears its head when least expected.

We’ll connect this topic with literature, movies, television, rock ‘n roll, and personal stories. We are not offering any cut and dry “answers” for this issue because it runs too deep and defies such “answers.” Instead, we’ll look at it through the lens of God’s grace, because God’s grace connects with our lives (and our father issues) as they actually are, not as they “should be.”  Even though it can be a heavy topic, we’ll have fun with it, hopefully in a non-creepy way—but no guarantees. In the words from the promotional poster of one Hollywood’s greatest masterpieces, Wayne’s World (1992): “You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll hurl” (hurling is optional). We’ll also have time for Q and A, and offer healing prayer from The Book of Common Prayer for those who would like that.  Hope you will consider joining us—if not, send your father.

If you haven’t yet registered for the 11th annual Mockingbird conference, you can do so here! It’s comin’ up fast. We hope to see you there!

April Playlist

What to Wear at Easter: A Sermon on the Resurrection

What to Wear at Easter: A Sermon on the Resurrection

This sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville. Happy Easter, everyone!

Welcome to Easter Day at Christ Church! Whether you are here every week or just once a year, Easter is THE day to come to church. The news we have to tell just doesn’t get any better than this.

Which is why the church is adorned with lilies and the choir is dressed up with brass. It’s also why you probably spent at least a little extra time thinking about what to wear on Easter Day. Easter stokes the urge, or remnant of the…

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Another Week Ends: French Police, Long Hours, Divine Pranks, Self-Aware Addicts, Oldham's Charms, and Wild Country

Another Week Ends: French Police, Long Hours, Divine Pranks, Self-Aware Addicts, Oldham’s Charms, and Wild Country

1. First, if you didn’t catch the headlines about French policeman Arnaud Beltrame, they’re tailormade for today, e.g., “French officer who swapped places with a hostage in terror attack dies.” The story is really something:

The Daily Mail ran an interview with the Catholic monk who gave Beltrame last rites and was in the midst of preparing the gendarme to be married. It would appear that faith was not a minor part of the fallen man’s life.

2. Elsewhere, Elizabeth Bruenig penned the brief yet moving “It Will Happen Again and Again” on the long hour that passes between Peter’s second and third…

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For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

My all-time favorite YouTube comment has to be this one, left underneath a clip of the penultimate scene from 1982’s film, Blade Runner. Taking place immediately after an epic battle between Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, we are witness to a self-delivered eulogy:

boxerking1000
Best…Death…EVER!!! I sometimes sit down in the shower naked and quote this line as the water falls down my face…I’m not allowed at 24 hour fitness anymore…sigh.

Legos make everything better, don’t they?

Comedian Jimmy Pardo is fond of saying, “You know me, I’m an open book — but, I have secrets.” I’ve kept something from you, dear readers;…

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When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

Of all the questions I get in the ministry, “Why aren’t there miracles anymore?” is one that has dumbfounded me for a long time. We read the Gospels and see Jesus enacting one miracle after another. A banquet of food is made from a lunch pail. Healings come one after another. People are raised from the dead. To be honest, I have not really had an adequate answer for the why-don’t-we-get-miracles-anymore question.

Not until Fred Rogers entered the zeitgeist (again).

I have been struck by revisiting his old shows and remembering how remarkable he felt to me as a child. He explained…

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