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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 (christchurchcville.org).

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Author Archive
    

    May Playlist

    Sort of a Quarantine: Mach II… Click here to listen on Spotify.

    Another Week Ends: Productive Epiphanies, Withers’ Stutter, Emotion Police, Parking Lot Worship, Parental Distress, Swedish Covers and Corona Commercials

    1. Nothing like a global pandemic to expose the limitations of the cult of productivity, eh? At least, that seems to be one of the more universally agreed upon lessons to emerge thus far from our corona-ordeal. Hardly a day has gone by without some fresh high profile confession about the psycho-spiritual burden of not […]

    The Ministry of Weirdness, Courtesy of The Rev. Alfred Yankovic

    Or, the Gospel According to Weird Al

    The True Churches on Adjustment Day

    If, in these tenuous times, you’re the sort of person who’d enjoy a whale of a tale about societal collapse, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more inventive entry than Chuck Palahniuk’s Adjustment Day. Equal parts screwball satire and thinly veiled prophecy, the writer of Fight Club sends up our contentious culture with a riotous story of revolt and reorganization. Not for the faint of heart but in the right hands it could make a terrific cult TV series. The class revolution that culminates on ‘Adjustment Day’ begins in the basements of churches, which the demagogue at the center of the plot, Talbott, describes in vivid terms (while duct-taped to a chair):

    “His tongue crowded with food, Talbott had cited the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s. Prior to it the dispossessed and powerless had gone to churches for comfort, and in those the disenfranchised had discovered they weren’t alone in their misery…

    Choking and sputtering, Talbott had said, ‘Those groups… recovery and support groups are the new churches.’ He’d said that traditional places of worship had been reduced to crass theaters where people went to signal their status and virtues. A true church had to serve as the place where people went in safety to risk confessing their worst selves. Not to boast and display their pride. Those who attended recovery groups, they arrived defeated. They told the story of their failure. Their sins and shortcomings. To admit their culpability, and in doing so they receive a communion with their flawed peers.”

    The Utter Strangeness of Easter

    A beautiful summation of this glorious day from the man who would have been addressing us in New York this year (😢), Tom Holland, via an article published on UnHerd, “When Christ Conquered Caesar”:

    The utter strangeness of Easter does not lie in the notion that a mortal might become divine. As Nero well knew, the border between the heavenly and the earthly had always been viewed as permeable. Divinity in the Roman world, however, was understood to be for the very greatest of the great: for victors, and heroes, and Caesars. Its measure was the power to torture one’s enemies, not to suffer it oneself; to have a person stabbed in the womb, or gelded and made to live forever as a member of the opposite sex, or smeared in pitch and set to serve as a human torch.

    That a man who had himself been crucified might be hailed as a god could not help but be seen by people everywhere across the Roman world as scandalous, obscene, grotesque. Nero, charging the Christians with arson and hatred of humanity, seems not to have undertaken any detailed interrogation of their beliefs — but doubtless, had he done so, he would have been revolted and bewildered.

    Radically though Nero had sought to demonstrate to the world that the divine might be interfused with the human, the Christians he had tortured to death believed in something infinitely more radical. There was but the one God, and His Son, by becoming mortal and dying the death of a slave, had redeemed all of humanity. Not as an emperor but as a victim he had come. The message was novel beyond the wildest dreams even of a Nero; and was destined to endure long after all his works, and the works of the Caesars, had crumbled into dust.

    This Sunday, when billions of people around the globe celebrate the triumph over death of a man laid in a tomb in a garden, the triumph they celebrate will not be that of an emperor. “For God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

    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.

    COACH TAYLOR
    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?

    TEAM
    Yes, sir.

    COACH TAYLOR
    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!

    Glorious Memes and Online Blessings

    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.

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