A bit of a truncated weekender today, as we recover from a flurry of activity here in Cville, most notably the relaunch of The Mockingcast and the sending of our year-end newsletter and appeal. If you’d like to find out more about what we’ve got planned for 2018 (#mbirdtwopointoh!) and how you can help, we’d love to put a copy in the mail to you. Just be sure we have you on our physical mailing list. And as a reminder, anyone who signs up for any amount of regular monthly giving receives an automatic subscription to The Mockingbird. We rely on your generosity!

1. Speaking of The Mockingcast, on this week’s episode we spend quite a bit of time discussing harassment, sex and gender, so I commend that recording to anyone who wants to hear Mockingbird-specific commentary—which I’m not going to repeat here. But a couple more articles to add to the list would be CNN’s “Reconciling Love and Admiration for Men Who Behave Badly,” which gets at forgiveness, splitting, and transference without dismissing the core concerns. Susan Sarandon’s contrarian take—or simply wizened insider perspective?—was certainly not what I was expecting. And I also appreciated the column Amber Tamblyn penned for The New York Times this AM, “I’m Not Ready for the Redemption of Men,” which, translated into theological language, basically counsels against pole-vaulting over Good Friday into Easter.

2. Renowned Civil Rights activist Ruby Sales visited Charlottesville this week and shared some bold wisdom about recent goings-on. Of course, while her words were given in reference to racism rather than assault, I dare say they apply more widely—at least, they will:

When asked about the possibility of future white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, she discouraged violent confrontation as the means to stop racism… Sales said justice should not be confused with revenge. “Any call for justice that does not offer a pathway for redemption is revenge and not justice,” she said. “I know it’s not popular, but any movement that says that people are trapped by their history and cannot change is not a hopeful movement — that’s called moral nihilism.”

3. Further on the redemption tip, Tiger Woods is in the midst of another comeback attempt, and based on how he played yesterday, it looks like this time might be more than hype. As part of their coverage, Golf magazine reflected on “Why Golf Fans Can’t Let Go of the Promise of Tiger Woods,” which contained the following doozie of a reminder, ht BE:

When Woods won Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill on March 25, 2013, Nike, Woods’s primary sponsor, had a catchphrase ready to celebrate both the victory and Woods’s return as the No. 1 ranked player in the world: “Winning takes care of everything.” The company put the five words in quotes, as if the words belonged to the golfer. Maybe they did. It is unlikely that the Dalai Lama or any other wise elder saw a deep truth in that sentence then. By May 29 of this year, the disingenuousness—the offensiveness—of those five assembled word was plain for all to see… [W]hether [Tiger] wins tournaments again or doesn’t, we know and he knows that there is nothing that takes care of everything. Not good health, not love, not winning.

4. In music, Thriller turns 35 this week(!) and to honor the occasion, Rolling Stone put together a wonderful article. And if you’re not listening to Night Vales’ “I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats” podcast, do yourself a favor. The latest episode features Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn talking to lead goat John Danielle (and host Joseph Fink), in which they discuss church and hymnody, among other subjects. Theology of the Cross Song of the Week is definitely Margo Price’s “Learning to Lose.” Good God! Too soon to say much about the U2 record which came out today, apart from the fact that it has some stunning moments (my favorites thus far being “Love Is All We Have Left,” “The Little Things That Give You Away” and “The Showman”). Would love to hear what others think. While we give ourselves a moment to digest, it’s worth pointing back to David Dark’s excellent “Why Does U2 Irk So Many People?” Also, I not only dig the new Morrissey single, “Jackie’s Only Happy When She’s Up on the Stage”, but the video (above) cracked me up, especially Boz “the unsinkable” Boorer’s dance moves.

5. Those in need of a soul-deep devotion this weekend–and who isn’t?–Brad Fruhauff’s The Optics of Illusion over at Image blew me away, ht RS. A short, poetic testimony to God’s presence in (and beyond) his absence, which is too rich to try to excerpt here. It’s one I’ll go back to.

6. Humor: Types of Churches over at McSweeney’s yields a few chuckles–and maybe a couple winces. My favorite entry in the list was no. 11 (“There’s no rules here! God is whatever you feel it is! Do you want a cookie? We’re all Aunts!”). The Babylon Bee went for it with “Researchers Now Believe Good Christian Movie Attainable Within Our Lifetime”. But most excitingly of all, Alan Partridge is poised to return to the small screen, and boy do we need him now. The first teaser of the new series dropped a couple weeks ago, and it does not disappoint:

7. Elsewhere, The NY Times dug into a subject that gets far too little airtime imho, especially given how radioactive it can be, “Navigating the Financial Side of a Relationship.” While my experience doing pre-marital counseling isn’t extensive, it’s certainly been enough to tell me what other clergy have confirmed over the years, that the wallet is often the final stronghold against intimacy in a relationship. Makes sense, given what the article mentions below, i.e. it’s tied to both judgment and autonomy (law and sin?):

Researchers have shown there’s a direct relationship between the number of times a couple has argued about their budget per month and their divorce rate… Money is an intimate subject, and we’re coached from an early age to be secretive about it. It’s hard to break that habit and let someone else in, and inviting another person into your pocketbook can mean risking judgment. (“You spend how much on avocado toast?!”)

Revealing your finances also means losing some autonomy. Many of us see our bank balance as the ultimate achievement of independence. Mr. Seaman acknowledges this and sums up those feelings as: “Finally! I get to do what I want. I don’t have my parents telling me what to do anymore.” It’s the freedom of impulse purchases and ice cream for dinner when no one else is watching. But while sharing this information may make you vulnerable and accountable, you’ll also gain a new openness in your relationship.

8. Last but not least, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share an excerpt from Fleming Rutledge’s short 2011 devotion on Advent:

Advent begins in the dark. And these are dark times… “Religion” is not the answer. Religion is essentially man-made: it is projected out of our wishes, our longings, our “spiritual” capacities. Advent reminds us: human incapacity is the condition in which we find ourselves—our inability to gain any lasting victory of light over darkness. It is from beyond human capacity that the announcement comes: “Behold, I am doing a new thing” Isaiah 43:19). The Light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5) is not the light of religion, not even the light of religious faith. It is the uncreated Light, not part of this darkened sphere at all, not bound by it, not contiguous with it, not limited by it, not projected from it, not coexistent with it but rather, God from God, Light from Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not created. Therefore the New Thing is not just generalized religious comfort, but the Incarnation itself—the invasion of “this present evil age” (Gal 1:4) by the Deliverer who arrives from a sphere of power entirely independent of and qualitatively greater than the powers that dominate and ravage this world.