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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
    

    Another Week Ends: Contingent Self-Esteem, the Devil in the Mirror, the Perception Gap, Little League Brawling, Cain and Abel and Forgiveness

    1. Some fascinating links for your perusal this week, first of which is this, from Vice: The Pursuit of High Self-Esteem Is Making Us Miserable, by Shayla Love. What is here defined as “self-esteem” would be more accurately rendered “contingent self-esteem.” Notably the most popular of its kind, contingent self-esteem resembles flattery or affirmation and […]

    He Was Number One (or, Why Not Everyone Gets A’s, According to Alfie Kohn)

    Imagine a high school graduation. Family and friends proudly jostle for a view of their students turning tassels on stage. Imagine the students’ camaraderie, the collective sigh of relief: summer spans ahead, former identities fade. Outcasts, athletes, nerds all face the world, now wide with opportunity. Imagine, also, the salutatorian standing and speaking about her […]

    Miriam Toews Has Something to Say

    Miriam Toews (pronounced “taves”) first came to my attention in 2015 with her book All My Puny Sorrows, a moving novelization of her sister’s suicide. Her newest book, Women Talking, is a response to the real-life story of mass sexual assault in a remote Mennonite colony; its cover art (see below) is both elegant and […]

    What (Not) to Do When There Is a War on Everything

    Of all the noble feelings which fill the human heart in the exciting tumult of battle, none, we must admit, are so powerful and constant as the soul’s thirst for honor and renown. – Carl von Clausewitz In addition to the trade war and the culture wars and the war on drugs, you may have […]

    Another Week Ends: Nuns and Nones, Work-Work Balance, Lapidation / Outrage, Cures for Depression, A Downward Ascent, and Supernatural Secularism

    1. Whosoever is planning a summer vacation should note the following strategy from writer Olga Khazan: “I once made my boyfriend pay me for the hours I spent booking flights and hotels for our vacation.” That’s either evil or brilliant (or tragic); in any case, I’m very impressed! In context, Khazan is investigating “work-life balance” […]

    Experts and Engines: Ode to a ’99 Heep Cherokee

    An indulgent dive into “My Documents” brought me to the following essay, which I began writing several years ago. Some time-defying adjustments—minus a metaphor, plus a William Davies reference—made for something I’m happy to dredge out of obscurity. Glad I’m past all of this… Having attended 3-4 different churches in the last five years (not […]

    At the Bottom of Your Vanilla Life

    For me, this could not have come at a better time—the opportunity to sit down and read the newest publication by Chad Bird. Chad is a writer/speaker (and frequent Mockingbird contributor), and the book is the friendly-looking Upside-Down Spirituality: The 9 Essential Failures of a Faithful Life. What a title! Keep your eyes on this […]

    Another Week Ends: Breakfast of Lutherans, Celebrity Prayer Candles, Junkyard Playgrounds, All the Correct Opinions, and the X-Men Family

    1. On this week’s Killing Eve, the morally obscure mastermind Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) refused to eat breakfast, instead pulling from a water pipe and saying, “I can’t stand breakfast. It’s just constant eggs. Why? Who decided?” The woman has a point. Whether yogurt, cereal, waffles, or bacon, our breakfast items of choice reveal greater […]

    The Human Is Very Important Right Now

    At the soup kitchen where I accidentally volunteered for a couple of years, the following exchange happened more than once. Observing the guests at plastic fold-up tables, a volunteer would whisper what we’d all at some point wondered. “How do they afford it? Who pays for these phones?” Ostensibly low-income, possibly homeless, the guests were […]

    Another Week Ends: Good Friday, a Grand Miracle, Boomers’ Death Boom, Lazarus Is Dead, Meritocracy, Performance, [chill / lofi / jazzhop], and Oat Milk

    1. Today is Good Friday, which means, if ever there were a time to consider the brutal instrument of death at the center of a major world religion, that time may as well be now. Off-putting and oft-baffling, the cross carries a multifaceted meaning that can prove elusive for onlookers and skeptics (and, much of […]

    The Problem with Paradise (According to Toni Morrison)

    Toni Morrison’s Paradise (1997) begins with a startling act of violence, then, in a landscape of confounding spirituality, unfolds the stories of several different women. The book was, in part, one novelist’s answer to a question that will be familiar to anyone interested in the language of faith. How might religion be rendered in a […]

    Psychic Disintegration in Jordan Peele’s “Us”

    Unfortunately, there is no doubt about the fact that man is, as a whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. – Jung Nighttime: inside a secluded beach house, a family […]

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