New Here?
About David Zahl

David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their three sons, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church (

Contact David Zahl

Author Archive

    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 […]

    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.

    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?

    Yes, sir.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 or crack. Studies have empirically […]

    Grace in a Time of Corona Reminder

    We hope you’ve been enjoying our daily video devotional series, posted every morning on our Instagram and Facebook pages. If you don’t have an account at either of those places (we salute you!), you should still be able to watch via the links provided. Or on our Vimeo page. We’ve also decided to upload the audio of each devotional to our Talkingbird podcast feed. So if you’re subscribed there (or access Mbird primarily through The Mockingapp), you won’t miss a thing!

    Join Us for Morning Prayer

    We at Christ Church in Charlottesville again taped today’s planned Morning Prayer service, which you can follow along with by downloading the service bulletin here. Paul Walker presided and preached, Sam Bush did the music, Amanda McMillen did the readings, and Christie Walker said the prayers.

    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 all over the place, usually […]

    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 a bummer! Our administrator, Deanna Roche, will be in touch with all those who have pre-registered to see how you’d like to handle the situation. We’ll be happy to refund anyone who’s already paid but do urge you to consider:
      • Rolling over your registration to next year! Our 2021 NYC Conference happens April 22-24 and will be all the sweeter for the wait.
      • OR … Making your registration fee a tax-free donation to Mockingbird. Needless to say, we’re taking quite a financial hit and every penny helps, especially during this crazy time.
    • The Tyler Festival is still happening this year, but it’s postponed til Sept 18-19.

    We so appreciate your understanding and support. It’s uncharted territory for all of us! In considerably more positive news:

    • The Mockingcast is moving to weekly from now until the summer! A new episode, “Coronacation Survival Kit,” is up this morning in fact. We talk viral realities, compassion shortages, and Martin Luther’s advice for pandemic survivors–before giving our quarantine recommendations.
    • We’ve started a series of daily video devotionals on our Facebook and Instagram pages. These will be 4-6 minute videos, posted every morning, from rotating contributors around the Mockingsphere. We’re calling it “Grace in a Time of Corona” and the first one, via yours truly, is up as we speak. Sarah’s up tomorrow, then Jacob, and so on. Again, you’ll need to like our Facebook or Instagram page in order to get those updates.
    • We’ll also be upping the frequency of fresh installment of the Talkingbird and Mockingpulpit podcasts.
    • For those stuck at home with kids, Storymakers is GIVING away electronic copies of their Lenten and Easter zines. Just email to take advantage.

    We’ve got a few other fresh things in the mix but will wait to announce until more details are set. For now, know that we’re leaning in to our online presence (no “pivot” necessary, thank God!) and hope you’ll join in the fun. Speaking of which, when in doubt, let Alan Partridge be your guide:

    Join Us for Morning Prayer

    For those whose churches aren’t meeting for worship this morning, we at Christ Church in Charlottesville taped our planned Morning Prayer service, which you can follow along with by downloading the service bulletin here. Paul Walker presided, I preached, Sam Bush did the music, and Amanda McMillen did the readings.

    Christ Episcopal Church Sunday Prayer Service March 15th 2020 from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

    A Few Key Takeaways from the Church of Workism (Plus One Gamechanger)

    Several years ago we posted a short tongue-in-cheek guide to current colloquialisms, guessing at the emotional content behind ten phrases that had come into common usage. For example the tautology “It is what it is” translates more or less to “I can’t stand this particular situation I’m in. Actually, I hate it and don’t want […]

    Another Week Ends: Coronapanic, Gamer Grind, Proxy Forgiveness, Hidden Lives, Disappointed Dowsing Rods, and #NoRegrets

    1. Straight to the matters at hand, cue upcoming NYC Conference speaker Tara Isabella Burton hitting the nail on the head in a piece for RNS on “Fleeing coronavirus and finding our mortality.” Indeed, it’s hard not to see the current panic as tremendously revealing–and not in a good way. Then again, perhaps the timing […]