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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 (


Author Archive
    The Difference Between Despair and Dependence

    The Difference Between Despair and Dependence

    Regular readers know the high esteem in which we hold Orthodox priest Fr. Stephen Freeman, and how much inspiration we’ve drawn from his writing, especially over the past couple of years. If it’s true that God often speaks to us through unexpected vessels and out of our blindspots, then he represents something of that for […]

    November Playlist

    Once again with no small thanks to The Well of Sound, the seventh and most ridiculous episode of which dropped this week. You can listen to (most of) the playlist below on Spotify, too.

    P.S. New Liturgical Folk record out this week, Crumbs, and it’s fantastic. A must for anyone interested in BCP-derived indie gorgeousness. Tracks coming soon.

    P.P.S. Counting the days til the release of the new Beware the Images EP, Burst Transmission, one track of which we have the privilege of previewing above.

    Another Week Ends: Consumer Churches, 30 Year Takeaways, the Other Side, Bull Head Coaches, iPad Tipping and Japanese KitKats

    Another Week Ends: Consumer Churches, 30 Year Takeaways, the Other Side, Bull Head Coaches, iPad Tipping and Japanese KitKats

    1. Fresh on the heels of hosting a truly, er, glorious theology-of-the-cross-themed conference last weekend in San Diego, our friends at 1517 Legacy posted a brilliantly contrarian reflection from Joel Hess, responding to a critique that’s fairly common among confessional Christians in this country. I’m referring to the criticism that the church, especially in its […]

    What If Millennials Were Enough?

    What If Millennials Were Enough?

    The list of safe topics to bring up at a dinner party is, as we all know, shrinking. It used to be just politics and religion that were outlawed from “polite society.” But then everything became political — and politics itself became an object of widespread religious faith (#seculosity) — and to get along, you […]

    New Religions, Fresh Heretics, and the Beyoncé-KISS Continuum

    New Religions, Fresh Heretics, and the Beyoncé-KISS Continuum

    The big 4-0 passed us by with hardly a whimper. It was just a couple weeks ago, but no one made a fuss, not even the band, who seldom pass up a chance at a cash grab. Perhaps it’s not all that surprising; on the list of Pop Culture Disasters, this one ranks pretty low–somewhere […]

    Another Week Ends: Loving Pets, Eight Year Plans, Liberal Arts, Good Places, Academic Hoaxes, and Private Life

    Another Week Ends: Loving Pets, Eight Year Plans, Liberal Arts, Good Places, Academic Hoaxes, and Private Life

    1. With the exception of a month-long garter snake residency, I grew up in a pet-free house. Allergies was the official reason behind the prohibition, but I suspect the fact that my brothers and I were more than enough for my folks to handle also had something to do with it. As I’ve gotten older […]

    From The Onion: Casual Christian Accepts Christ As His Lord But Not His Savior

    America’s Finest News Source beating The Bee at its own game…

    CALHOUN, GA—Admitting that he certainly likes the son of God but “doesn’t exactly love the guy, per se,” self-described casual Christian Brian Neely disclosed Monday that he accepts Jesus Christ as his lord but not his savior. “Listen, I know Jesus is the King of Kings, but I’m pretty sure I can deliver my own soul from eternal peril and reconcile myself with God the Father just fine on my own,” said Neely, 35… “Don’t get me wrong, Christ’s undying love and eternal wisdom guide me in my never-ending quest to lead an honest life, a life that reflects His values and teachings, but rescue us from the wages of all sin? I don’t care who your dad is, that’s a lot to ask from anyone.” Neely added that, while he finds God to be good, he is personally still on the fence as to whether He is, in fact, great.

    October Playlist

    Leaning heavily on some upcoming episodes of The Well of Sound this time, along with our recent Christian Rock convo on The Mockingcast. Click here to listen on Spotify (minus two tracks).

    T-Minus 2 Weeks ’til OKC: Talk Titles (and Darwin’s Appeal)

    In two short weeks, we’ll be gathering in Oklahoma City for our Fall Conference (10/11-13)! Our theme is “Grace in an Age of Distraction” and the details are coming together beautifully. The finalized talk titles are as follows:

    • Grace in an Age of Distraction I&II – Steven Paulson
    • In Praise of Distraction – Curt Benham
    • Marriage-Salvation Events – Ellis and Debbie Brazeal
    • Instagram Scrolling and Twitter Rants: Today’s Solutions to Luther’s Anfechtung – Kelsi Klembara
    • Grace in Distracted Parenting – Nathan Carr
    • Walker Percy on Distraction and Selfhood – Scott Johnson
    • The Distraction of Our Lives – Jady Koch
    • I’m So Worried: How God Loves Me Through Anxiety – Carrie Willard
    • Sinners in the Hands of—SQUIRREL! – David Zahl (ht AJ)

    Keep your eyes peeled to the conference site for further details as they develop, including the menus from The Kitchen at Commonplace. And to whet your appetite even more, here’s one more passage from Steven Paulson, this time via his essay “Life Without a Preacher: Darwin’s Origin of Species,” ht AD:

    “Is it any wonder why a person would prefer the law’s death to the gospel? Darwin did not reject the beginning of Genesis as a preached God because its science is faulty, but because its divine election is appalling. God elects humans over plants for no legal reasons. God elects Jews who had become idolaters and were taken away to Babylon, only to be freed by Cyrus, the strangest of all Messiahs… Yet, as Darwin traveled around the world he naturally asked, what about all these people who have never had a preacher? What about the unnamed animals of Galápagos? There must be a more rational way God operates than that. Why not make God into a silent pigeon breeder? So Darwin bravely went about discovering life without a preacher. Indeed, that life seems to be a much better arrangement than the election by baptism in opposition to the law—unless, of course, you are the weak.”

    Click Here to Pre-Register

    Another Week Ends: Embellishers, Marital Branding, Christian Rock, Anxiety Economy, Reagan's Letter, and InstaBlues

    Another Week Ends: Embellishers, Marital Branding, Christian Rock, Anxiety Economy, Reagan’s Letter, and InstaBlues

    1. First up, a searing column from Eve Fairbanks on BuzzfeedNews, claiming that “Well-Off Millennials Are All Julia Salazar.” Not being much of a political junkie, I had to look Salazar up. She just won the Democratic primary for State Senate in Brooklyn, and was roundly criticized for misrepresenting her upbringing, making it sound inaccurately arduous […]

    Fear of the Gospel (According to Steven Paulson)

    Can’t believe we’re less than four weeks away from our conference in Oklahoma City (10/11-13)! What better way to prime the pump than reproducing a quote from keynoter Steven Paulson’s latest book, Luther’s Outlaw God? Dr. Paulson is speaking here in reference to the great 16th Century epistolary debate between Martin Luther and Erasmus:

    “For Erasmus, freedom… is precisely the problem–it means freedom even from the law, which he will not abide as a good Christian man. Erasmus’s fear is the same held by Paul’s congregations in Galatia. Will people who are freely forgiven abuse their freedom once they realize the law does not save? If excessive gospel causes tumult and loss of concord in the church and society, shouldn’t the gospel be curtailed? No, said Paul, and Luther followed suit. That temptation to truncate the gospel for its possible ill effects is the ‘temporal leprosy’ that must be endured. Such abusers of the gospel, if they arise, are not worth suppressing the gushing public fountain of God’s word. Erasmus backed himself into a terrible corner by defending God’s law as the means of electing the righteous. In the end, all he could do was blame the gospel itself for the evil of the world. This fear of gospel is the nadir of unfaith–the prison of the will.”

    For more info or to pre-register, click here!

    Special Deja Vu Podcast Up Now!

    Super excited to announce that over the weekend we dropped a special new episode of The Mockingcast, devoted to The Deja Vu Issue of the magazine. I love these magazine casts, not just cause I enjoy so hearing from Ethan and the various contributors, but because it gives us a chance to slow down the process and utilize some extra production flourishes–and give listeners a bit more.

    This time around, Ethan takes us on a tour of issue, interviewing all-stars Jacob Smith, Nancy Hanna, and Simeon Zahl. Together they talk subjectivity, wedding dresses, lost doctrines, and where grace touches down in everyday life. Listeners also find out about an exclusive promotion! Very much worth your time (and worth sharing with others).

    Listen on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher or Fireside.