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Bottoming Out on Prediction Addiction

Bottoming Out on Prediction Addiction

One of the more memorable bits of Zahl family shorthand was introduced when I was a kid of eight or nine. We were visiting my grandparents in Florida one summer. A new library had just been built in their town, so we decided to seek it out on the first...
Sticking Our Necks Out: Judgement in the Age of COVID Phases

Sticking Our Necks Out: Judgement in the Age of COVID Phases

Life is judged with all the blindness of life itself. – Santayana My friend recently admitted that he and his wife had invited people over for dinner. Plenty of qualifiers were set in place—not only did everyone eat outside on their porch, but their guests were mindful enough to bring...
If Our Sins Were Embroidered on Our Hats

If Our Sins Were Embroidered on Our Hats

Recently, a friend texted me and another friend saying that she saw a couple at Trader Joe’s wearing hats embroidered with a provocative statement with which she disagreed. She politely walked up to them and engaged them in conversation (this friend is much braver than me), but they were unfortunately...
God Has Made a Decision About You

God Has Made a Decision About You

Once upon a time in the 1970s, a midwestern theology professor and his former student sat down to write a guide to Luther’s Small Catechism for teenagers, which sounds the most thankless task ever conceived by mortal mind. Breathtaking beauty is rarely associated with confirmation curriculum. However, these two were...
Under Robert E. Lee's Shadow: Growing Up in The Lost Cause

Under Robert E. Lee’s Shadow: Growing Up in The Lost Cause

It was announced last Thursday that the six story tall statue of Robert E. Lee on Richmond Virginia’s Monument Avenue is going to be removed. It is a response to the murder of George Floyd and the following week of protests and riots in the city. The news says that...
Lay Down Your Weary Smartphone

Lay Down Your Weary Smartphone

Before there was Seinfeld, there was Cheers—a 1980s comedy about the lives of bartenders and regular patrons of a local pub. The show is famous for its lovable and deeply flawed cast of characters that spanned over 11 seasons. Now almost 30 years later, the jokes mostly hold up. But...
God of Our (Lonely) Fathers

God of Our (Lonely) Fathers

A few months ago, standup comedian John Mulaney had a brilliant opening monologue on Saturday Night Live in which he dove headfirst into the modern plights of fatherhood. Mulaney’s technique, unlike Emily Dickinson, is to tell the truth so bluntly that you really just have to laugh at the fact...
You are The One (and Not the Ninety-Nine)

You are The One (and Not the Ninety-Nine)

In Twelve Step recovery groups, newcomers are advised to resist the temptation to “identify out.” Many newcomers have the tendency to find all the reasons they don’t fit with the group or can’t possibly become a part of the recovery fellowship. When I was new in recovery I fell victim...
The New Mockingbird Digest!

The New Mockingbird Digest!

Dear everyone, We invite you to subscribe to our new e-newsletter, delivered conveniently to your inbox fortnightly (once every two weeks-ish). It will be a compendium of fresh posts, pertinent archived material, and other grace-filled goodies. Think of it, maybe, as your good-news news. Note: If you are already subscribed...
ANNOUNCING! <i>Peace in the Last Third of Life: A Handbook of Hope for Boomers</i> by Paul Zahl

ANNOUNCING! Peace in the Last Third of Life: A Handbook of Hope for Boomers by Paul Zahl

SURPRISE!! We’ve dropped hints here and there that Paul Zahl has been working on a new book. The hardcover will be out this summer, but given our present circumstances (and the urgency of the book’s message), we wanted to get it into your hands as soon as possible. So we’ve...
Latest entries


Another Week Ends: Jim Carrey’s Revelation, COVID Judgment, a New PZ Interview, Political Idolatry, the Curated Authenticity of Rachel Hollis, and the Great Awokening in Fiction

1. If you’ve ever seen an interview with Jim Carrey, you quickly realize that he is incredibly weird and awkwardly introspective. At times he seems to either be the lunatic of The Mask or a shaman-mystic, or both at the same time. Carrey is always fascinating, and judging from this LA Times article, his upcoming […]

July 4th, Sufjan, and the Wake-up Call of Death

Thankful for this post from Grace Leuenberger: This week, Sufjan Stevens announced a new, forthcoming solo album titled The Ascension, his first since Carrie and Lowell debuted in March 2015. I remember listening to the album on that frigid March morning, sitting with my legs cramped underneath my dorm room desk. Tears sprung up in […]

The Emotional Plausibility of Faith vs. Doubt

When many think about Christian doubt, they tend to imagine it as a kind of midpoint between faith and unbelief, existing in hues of grey. Matters of faith in a transcendent God are rarely so black and white, it is said, and the stance of faithful doubt is perhaps the appropriate stance all Christians should […]

Scared and Sacred, Faith and Fear

During the quarantine, I’ve spent many afternoons sitting quietly on the trunk of a tree that had fallen across the neighborhood creek—a small body of water that meanders through the woods behind my home. One recent afternoon, as my three young children splashed, I watched the sunlight in the treetops render the green leaves almost […]

Optimizing Life, Profaning the Sabbath

Delighted to have this post from Derrick Bledsoe: There are few things more stressful to me than the sudden realization that I have forgotten something meaningful. If a special meeting, a sensitive phone call, or a research paper submission were an iceberg, then I am absolutely not going to make a tasteless Titanic joke (but […]

Come Get Your Manna: Feasting on the Mysteries of God’s Justice

Trying to understand someone else’s predicament lies at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian. – Fleming Rutledge, The Crucifixion My younger son’s kindergarten class is doing a unit on farms this term and they’ve been learning about chickens and cows and pigs and the like. The other day he came […]

Commandos For Christ Stockpile Grace Like it’s World War FREE!

Of the many disappointments we weathered in having to cancel this year’s NYC conference, none was more painful than missing out on hosting a surprise early screening of the upcoming film Electric Jesus. The director Chris White is an avid Mbird reader and approached us with the opportunity after wrapping production last year, on the condition that we weren’t allowed to advertise. So we were going to spring the opportunity on attendees after they arrived. Those who’ve been following the film’s FB pagethe destination these days for top-drawer Christian kitsch (presented with affection rather than disdain!)–know the glory of what could have been. The promo for the movie describes it this way:

ELECTRIC JESUS is a wistful coming-of-age music-comedy reminiscent of THE COMMITMENTS, THAT THING YOU DO, and SING STREET—a rock-and-roll movie about a band that never quite goes all the way. While the screen band’s music is a weird mash-up of 80’s hair metal and vacation Bible school, ELECTRIC JESUS wears its teenage protagonists’ hearts on its sleeve, à la THE BREAKFAST CLUB, LADY BIRD, and ALMOST FAMOUS.

As if that weren’t enough, the original songs and score were provided by no less than indie rock god Daniel Smith (Danielson Famile, Sufjan Stevens, Jad Fair, et al). Can I get an amen?! White assures me that Mbird will have another shot at a pre-release viewing, but in the meantime, the first music video has arrived and it is … a revelation. I’ve posted the lyrics in the comments. Share and share alike my friends:

From The New Yorker

Justification, Work, and Me: A Parable of River Jack Stones

One is not justified by works, but through faith. Saul of Tarsus may have been the best press agent ever. In several letters he wrote the above words, but I somehow find that talk difficult to walk. Paul murderously pursued the small collective of Jewish believers in the Messiah. They blasphemed against God, and Paul […]

Giving In to Screens and Finding Home

Screens feel unavoidable these days. Sure, there are the walks and the socially distanced conversations. But the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and care taking feel like an endless parenting treadmill that just hit the incline button. And so, for better or worse, our rest from this weary world is happening on screens. Lately, we have watched […]

“You Meant It for Evil”: The Gift of Unintended Consequences

Thankful for this post by David Clay: In his 1956 essay, “On Being Conservative,” British philosopher Michael Oakeshott speaks not so much of a conservative ideology but rather of a conservative disposition, which is that of preserving what is good about one’s present circumstances in the face of inevitable change. According to Oakeshott, to be […]

The Most Lost of Them All: Madness and Rescue from Kafka’s Prison

Whether Franz Kafka was a religious writer has been considered an open question. For many people, of course, anything too dark, too weird, smacks of faithlessness. Edwin Berry Burgum once described Kafka as “the most lost of them all”; his “personal deterioration paralleled the degeneration of the society that produced him” (that is, Germany in […]