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About CJ

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

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Author Archive
    

    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, […]

    Another Week Ends: Poultrygeist, White Claw, Andrew Luck, Addictive Toughness, Self-Criticism, David and Goliath, Goop, Ex-Vegans, and Not Being Nice

    1. Much of life can seem like a reaction to childhood. What our parents allowed us to do, what they themselves did, often leaves us wanting the opposite. Classic examples include the small-town teen who longs for the big city, or Nietzsche, son of a pastor, who grew up to declare in the most boisterous […]

    Walter Ciszek Did Not Mind Talking About Himself

    “The man who is truly humble and very close to God does not mind talking about himself. And so I’m going to talk about myself.” – Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.[1] The speaker of the above words survived twenty-three years in the Soviet Gulag. He was tortured, sentenced to fifteen years of heavy labor, and all […]

    The Literature Is Instagram: On Self-Care, Not Self-Help

    Sayonara self-help, hello self-care. From The New York Times Kate Carraway traces the evolution of the more rules-based improvement movement into the newer, more feelings-based one. Whereas self-help “sought to categorize and instruct,” self-care now aims to “to soothe and calm.” Overall, the shift is positive: When you’re agitated, angry, or anxious, instead of imposing expectations, […]

    Another Week Ends: Divine Accidents, Sunday Scaries, Workism, Artificial Obligations, Drama-Free Romance, and StoryMakers

    1. So you’re trying to sleep, and it’s well after bedtime, but you’re tossing and turning and unable to get comfy, and you notice you’re replaying the same scenario in your head: some vision of tomorrow, of what might happen, how a hope could be dashed. If you’ve had this experience, you’re far from alone […]

    Moral Ground Must Be Shored Up By Mercy: In Memory of Toni Morrison

    “She is a friend of my mind… The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” So wrote the famed novelist Toni Morrison in Beloved, in a passage describing a love that goes deeper than the physical, engendering self-worth. Such love runs throughout many of the […]

    Death by Numbers

    Numbers can seem inescapable. We don’t have to talk bills, debt, or taxes to understand that much of our lives are metrics-fixated: think performance reviews, social media followers, baseball stats, political polls, the number of unread emails or text messages you have (or don’t have) waiting to be opened. Then there are more personal metrics […]

    Can You Love Your Enemies?

    Tread lightly is a phrase I have been hearing (and using) a lot lately, especially when it comes to discussing what does and does not get published on this site. Tread lightly: not because the mission at Mockingbird is apolitical, necessarily, and not because our writers are all above the fray. I have my opinions […]

    Another Week Ends: The Space Race (and Grace), Professional Christian Burnout, Screen Addictions and Abstinence, Truth and Martyrdom, the Holies of Hollywood, and the Modern Leper

    1. Appropriately timed for tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of the moon landing, our first link this week is “First Men and Original Sins,” from the latest issue of Image (ht EKR). British sci-fi novelist Adam Roberts asks to what extent a religious impulse was involved in the space race as well as in the subsequent rise […]

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