New Here?
     
About CJ

Managing editor of the Mockingbird website and head of Mockingbird Publications (store.mbird.com). His favorite books are for ages 7-12.

Contact CJ

Author Archive
    

    God of Progress, Slow Us Down

    In his essay “After the Storm,” author Ben Ehrenreich investigates the concept of progress. It’s in the air, he argues, so elemental we don’t always know we’re breathing it. “We are in thrall,” he writes, “to the fetish of progress: the belief that history has a direction and a purpose, the faith that humankind is […]

    Thank God for Philip Pullman: A Religious Reader’s Guide to His Dark Materials

    Spoilers below. Halfway through His Dark Materials, I heard rumors. By the books’ end, people were saying, the characters would kill God (and He would not be resurrected). I was a kid. Like all kids, I wanted to be good. I wasn’t interested in killing God. The extent to which I had been harmed by […]

    Another Week Ends: Cursed Energy, Leaning Out, #ChillTimes, Nick Cave, Squadparenting, His Dark Materials, and Gerard Manley Hopkins

    1. First up, the viral op-ed in the New York Times about “leaning out.” Author Ruth Whipmann responds to popular imperatives for people—especially women—to be more assertive, aggressive, what-have-you. Beneath these may be a motive to empower, but they’re coming, after all, in the form of demand. You know, the law. More expectations to be…more. […]

    The Convenient Battlefield of Language, or, “This Zadie Smith Is Everything”

    On the Internet, a word that will always get attention is “Actually.” You can bet it will be followed by such-and-such a reason why so-and-so is wrong, and what could be more interesting? Especially among wordy or academic types, language is so prolific that drawing lines of what should and shouldn’t be said seems imperative, […]

    Text Message for the Otherworld

    When I was in school, Facebook was young. One evening, I saw a dead classmate’s profile, his picture featured on the sidebar, a recommended friend. I spent the next hours perusing the status updates he had posted when he did not realize his days were numbered. For anyone wondering, now Facebook has an answer for […]

    Another Week Ends: Lost Dog, Greta Thunberg, a Trip to the Future, Dubious Evangelicalism, David Powlison, Ken Burns and Lil Nas X

    1. Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep is one of the great stories in the Bible, and also ever. A shepherd leaves behind everything in search of one lost sheep — and of course, it’s about more than that. It’s about humankind’s wandering nature and the tirelessness of God. But if you’ve heard the story […]

    Alice McDermott on the Comfort Faith Provides

    From her fresh “Art of Fiction” interview, Alice McDermott discusses religion and writing, and her reluctance to be labeled a “Catholic writer.” She also reveals the origins of her most recent novel, The Ninth Hour (2017), which follows the Little Sisters of the Sick Poor, a group of nuns with all sorts of personalities, in […]

    Muriel Spark: On the Demands of the Christian Religion (Or, On Chewing While Reading the Scriptures)

    A choice excerpt from Muriel Spark’s first novel “The Comforters,” which was written after her conversion to Catholicism: “She always insisted that the book could not have been written without her conversion”; religion “had enabled her to write.” The book follows a fresh convert, Caroline, who here responds to a memory of the hoggish Mrs. […]

    Salvation by Transaction: On Institutional Decline

    Economists, look alive. Transaction Man, the new book from Nicholas Lemann, details the recent history of big ideas, the “master organizing principles for society.” Heady at first blush, the book becomes a keen survey of anthropology and how actual people live and work. Lemann employs “Transaction Man” as a catchall denoting some or all of […]

    Taylor Swift and the Ministry of Retribution

    True fans of Taylor Swift will smell something fishy about the New York Times headline, “Taylor Swift, Philosopher of Forgiveness.” Because when it comes to Taylor’s philosophy of forgiveness, what songs come to mind? Maybe her early hit “Picture to Burn”? Or its music video in which she fantasizes about breaking into an ex’s house […]

    Ruh Ro… Fifty Years of Faith in Accidents

    What brought you here was your insatiable appetite for a juicy mystery. – Emile Mondavarious Imagine a cool, moonlit night. Skeletal trees line a narrow gravel road, and headlights are glowing in the distance. A vehicle is coming: an old, sputtering pick-up steered by some middle-aged mustachioed man. A groovy, slightly haunting tune plays as, […]

    On (Not) Talking about Religion in College, or Ever

    Michael S. Roth, president of Wesleyan University, made some pertinent observations in a recent piece for The Atlantic, “When Faith Comes Up, Students Avert Their Eyes.” Roth says that in the classroom students can talk about nearly anything — identity, sexuality, politics — but not faith. It doesn’t mean it’s not there. In unwelcome environments, […]

    Contact