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Update on Conferences, Podcasts, Giveaways, and Grace in a Time of Corona

Update on Conferences, Podcasts, Giveaways, and Grace in a Time of Corona

So here’s the less-than-exciting news: After conferring with our hosts, we’ve made the painful decision to cancel this year’s NYC Conference. If you’ve been keeping track of the situation on the ground in New York, you know that hosting an international conference in late April has become simply untenable. Such...
I Take It Back

I Take It Back

I got what I asked for and I was wrong. (Isn’t that usually how it works?) Not long ago I wrote about wanting to skip church. Making every excuse I could to try to get out of it. Dreading Saturday nights before I’d have to go the next day. As...
Now Available: <i>The Elegy Beta</i>: And Other Poems, by Mischa Willett

Now Available: The Elegy Beta: And Other Poems, by Mischa Willett

Never before has Mockingbird published a book of poetry — but with The Elegy Beta, that changes. From critically acclaimed poet Mischa Willett, The Elegy Beta features impressionistic meditations on faith and everyday life. In concert with Rilke’s Duino Elegies, this collection simmers with luminous, transcendent language. It is elegant, sharp, and frequently...
Romans 7 for Everyone: Death by the Hands of the Law

Romans 7 for Everyone: Death by the Hands of the Law

Disclaimer: This post does not mention the Coronavirus pandemic, Zoom, Zinc supplements, or social distancing. For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but...
The Couple Who Quarantines Together

The Couple Who Quarantines Together

It was one of those corny marriage memes that make the rounds every couple weeks. This one said something like, “in every relationship there’s one person who turns the lights off and another who always leaves them on.” I can’t find it now. But maybe you’ve seen its like. They’re...
Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

One of the oldest words in the history of hospital care is the French term “triage”—meaning, the sorting of patients. The practice of triage keeps a hospital organized (Intensive Care Unit here, Emergency Room there), but it also provides a way of prioritizing the care of patients. This is especially...
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...
On Things I Thought I'd Never Say, like God Bless the Internet!

On Things I Thought I’d Never Say, like God Bless the Internet!

About two weeks ago, Tim Kreider penned a column for Medium entitled, “It’s Time To Admit that the Internet Is Bad For Us.” I read it and nodded along, vigorously. A quarter-century in, [the Internet] does seem to have revolutionized consciousness, in much the same way as did nickel slots...
Monsters of Hope: Parenting in a Pandemic

Monsters of Hope: Parenting in a Pandemic

We are entering week two of quarantinacation with our two young children, and it is hard. Initially I over-functioned. I spent an obscene amount of money on books and art kits. I set up a printer so we could have actual math worksheets. I yelled the “F” word while trying...
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Join Us for Palm Sunday!

This week we’re streaming the service from All Saints Winter Park FL, with Stuart Shelby presiding and Paul Zahl preaching:

Another Week Ends: Harvest Bells, Culpability Anxiety, Anti-Productivity Voices, Dad Lit, Celebrity Culture, Bonnie’s Lament, and RIP Schlesinger & Withers

1. I don’t know about you but while I enjoy its long-form profiles and cartoons, as a general rule I don’t look to The New Yorker for wisdom on churchgoing. But everything else is being turned on it’s head at the moment, so why not our reading proclivities? Cue the moving essay that Casey Cep […]

Alone Together In One Body and Spirit

Social distancing has reorganized our public life by sequestering us within the familiar spheres we tell ourselves we are comfortable with. But when self-quarantining excludes the normal distractions and opportunities that inhabit our everyday lives, we are forced to reckon with the compromises and loneliness we are usually able to ignore. Long before the pandemic […]

Eric Taylor Invites Us to Take a Knee

Yesterday Vulture polled a bunch of showrunners of TV series past and present to ask how their characters would be responding to the Coronavirus. They range from amusing to hilarious to, well, the speech Jason Katims wrote for his most beloved character, Dillon Pathers/Tigers coach Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights. Needless to say, it’s pitch perfect, and just what the doctor ordered. Here’s how it ends:

He looks at them. He knows now he’s got to say good-bye to them for a while. This is hard.

COACH TAYLOR
There’s a reason why we got a football team and that’s not just to win games. It’s so in difficult times we have each other. Well, this is about as difficult of a time as any of us could imagine. I want you to use each other. Stay in touch as a community. Be there for each other on your phones, on Twitter, on FaceTime or whatever other kind of crap you use. And you all got my number. Call me. I know I usually tell you knuckleheads not to call me on my cell unless it’s an emergency, but right now everything is an emergency. You feeling a little sick, call me. Feeling a little down, call me. Is that understood?

TEAM
Yes, sir.

COACH TAYLOR
We may not be on the field together right now, but we are all in this together. Together, we are going to stay strong. We are going to stay united. We are going to stay healthy. And anyone who thinks that we’re not going to beat this, they don’t know this town, they don’t know this nation, and they sure as hell don’t know this team. I’ll miss you all. Tell your families that Tami and I are thinking of them. Tell them you’re all in our prayers. Stay healthy. Stay safe. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

Dear Pastor, How Is Your Soul?

Dear Pastor, How is your soul? I only ask because things are a bit wild right now. The ground feels a bit shaky; the future uncertain. You have become a new kind of pastor to meet a new kind of world. You are rising to meet an unprecedented challenge. You are live-streaming, prerecording, checking-in, and […]

April Playlist: Quarantine Edition

Spent a little extra time on this one and dug pretty deep for resonant tunes. I hope it’s a comfort. Very, very sad to hear about Adam Schlesinger’s deathI love pretty much everything he did.

You can listen to most of it (with a couple substitutions) on Spotify here.

Compassion, Connection, and the Singular “With” of the Gospel

“Now we have the privilege of seeing what only God can do.” – Ray Ortlund, quoting his friend Alfred Dickson Our eight-year-old woke up the other morning beside me, because that is our life right now, and in his half-asleep haze murmured, “This is the best time.” He was talking about that moment, which is […]

Offensive: On War Crimes and Forgiveness

Thankful for this one from Grant Wishard. Im Chaem, a delicate woman in her mid-70s, lives peacefully in the tiny village of Anlong Veng in northwest Cambodia. She raises cucumbers, tends to several cows, enjoys Thai soap operas, and is content to pass the time away with her loving children and grandchildren. Im Chaem is […]

Remembering Sy Sperling — and Your Pastor, Minister, or Priest

A timely suggestion from a pastor friend of Mbird. Pour one out (pluck one out?) for our man Sy Sperling, the greatest theologian of late-night TV ads from the early 90s and late 80s. He died in February at age 78. Don’t remember Sy Sperling? What are you, Gen Z? He was everywhere on TV […]

For God So Pitied the Fool: Humor and Hope in this Present Age

“Neither man nor woman can be worth anything until they have discovered that they are fools. This is the first step toward becoming either estimable or agreeable; and until it is taken there is no hope.” – William Lamb (British Prime Minister from 1834-1841) Whenever I read the Book of Proverbs, I get uncomfortable when “the […]

Daniel Defoe on Preaching During a Pandemic

A resonant passage from A Journal of the Plague Year 1665, in which the author of Robinson Crusoe describes some of the preaching in London during that catastrophe, ht WDR:

Neither can I acquit those ministers that in their sermons rather sank than lifted up the hearts of their hearers. Many of them no doubt did it for the strengthening the resolution of the people, and especially for quickening them to repentance, but it certainly answered not their end, at least not in proportion to the injury it did another way; and indeed, as God Himself through the whole Scriptures rather draws to Him by invitations and calls to turn to Him and live, than drives us by terror and amazement, so I must confess I thought the ministers should have done also, imitating our blessed Lord and Master in this, that His whole Gospel is full of declarations from heaven of God’s mercy, and His readiness to receive penitents and forgive them, complaining, ‘Ye will not come unto Me that ye may have life’, and that therefore His Gospel is called the Gospel of Peace and the Gospel of Grace.

But we had some good men, and that of all persuasions and opinions, whose discourses were full of terror, who spoke nothing but dismal things; and as they brought the people together with a kind of horror, sent them away in tears, prophesying nothing but evil tidings, terrifying the people with the apprehensions of being utterly destroyed, not guiding them, at least not enough, to cry to heaven for mercy.

The Book of Sarah: On Eczema and Existential Despair

About a week-and-a-half ago, my body decided to have an a-cute eczema flare-up. Having only previously ever experienced mild eczema, I could tell you about how this was far from a delight. I could tell you about how I have changed my routines to accommodate it, abandoning showers and walks, as if eczema were a […]