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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:

The Mockingcast Goes to the Future (By Way of the Past)!

Hard to believe we’re closing in on two months out from our annual conference in New York City (4/23-25)! The details are coming together beautifully – the lineup is pretty much set (not including a couple surprises we can’t disclose until the event itself), and the menus should be up in the next few weeks.

Anyone who’s curious about why we asked author-not-actor Tom Holland to keynote this year should run not walk to the interview we got to do with him for the special new episode of The Mockingcast, devoted to The Future Issue of our magazine. You’re in for quite a treat! I’m not sure we’ve ever gotten so much feedback on a podcast so quickly, especially of the it-made-me-genuinely-excited-to-be-a-Christian variety. Oh and while you’re at it, grab a copy of his book Dominion.

Also on the episode, Ethan speaks with NY Times tech columnist Nellie Bowles, and once-and-future Mbird authority Will McDavid mines the fertile ground at the intersection of Marcel Proust and the Left Behind series. A goldmine!

You can listen to the episode here, and pre-register for the conference here.

Mockingbird Festival – Tyler, TX – Pre-Registration NOW OPEN

Pre-Registration is NOW OPEN for “Take it Easy: Mockingbird Festival 2020”! Celebrating the God of grace and comfort in Tyler, TX, April 3-5.

It’s our 6th annual gathering, and our contributors list is growing! Our keynote speaker will be Will Willimon, and he’ll be joined by Carrie Willard, Jacob Smith, David Zahl, Leigh Hickman, and Jason Micheli among others, with more music guests and a mini-market this year.

Thank you to Brad Wofford with BW Design for another year of beautiful graphics!

Register by March 15 for the “EarlyBird” discount at and receive 15% off.

Shooting Blanks: Baby-Making in an Age of Anxiety – Ben Maddison

From our Spring conference in NYC, the following video features Mockingbird contributor Ben Maddison, in a talk about fatherhood and fertility in the 21st century. For more, see his previous work The Weight of Masculinity and Mary Definitely Knew.

Shooting Blanks: Baby-Making in an Age of Anxiety – Ben Maddison from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Devotion # 4 – Larry Parlsey (Colossians 1:21-23)

The next video from our gathering in NYC features conference chaplain Larry Parsley. Here Larry addresses shame and the curation of blemishes — and from where we draw our ultimate hope:

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Colossians 1:21-23 NIV)

Devotion 4 – Larry Parsley from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

On Comic Books: Our Commonly Felt Need and the Search for Hope – Kyle Tomlin

Right on time for the new Watchmen series, this video from our recent conference in NYC features commentary on the graphic novel, among other classics. Guided by “God and Comics” co-host Kyle Tomlin, we consider stories of superheroes and what they tell us about who we are, who we think we are, and what we are ultimately longing for. Characters include Superman, Billy Batson, Batman, the Joker, Doctor Manhattan, and others.

On Comic Books: Our Commonly Felt Need and the Search for Hope – Kyle Tomlin

Life, Love and Other Impossibilities: Your Savior is Not You – Nick Lannon

In our next video, Nick Lannon, author of Life Is Impossible (And That’s Good News), speaks at our annual conference. Topics include: asking out a crush, turning your frown upside-down, Saving Private Ryan, the Sermon on the Mount, a tyrannosaur, and a double quarter-pounder with cheese. Bombs away!

Life, Love and Other Impossibilities: Your Savior is Not You – Nick Lannon

Seculosity and the Future of Guilt Management – David Zahl

From this year’s annual Mockingbird conference in NYC, here is David Zahl speaking about and reading from his new book Seculosity. Topics include Soylent, anxiety, toxic religions, and snow days:

Seculosity and the Future of Guilt Management – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Be Your Worst Self – Stephanie Phillips

From our recent conference in NYC, Mockingbird contributor Stephanie Phillips shares wisdom on how to live your best life—psych! Topics include: anarchical deodorant, firemonster babies, the expectations of our best selves, Catastrophe, grief, and the presence of God.

Be Your Worst Self – Stephanie Phillips from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Judgment, Grace, and Rest in Flannery O’Connor – Will McDavid

Next up in our series of conference videos, Will McDavid discusses the lesser known short story, “A Circle in the Fire,” by Flannery O’Connor. A thorough take on a story that blazes…

Judgment, Grace, and Rest in Flannery O’Connor – Will McDavid

Devotion #3 – Larry Parsley (Colossians 4:2-6)

This morning’s video, from our conference in NYC, features pastor and author Larry Parsley, speaking on Colossians 4:2-6. In this one, Larry discusses what it means to season your speech with graciousness and…garlic. Yum:

Devotion #3 – Larry Parsley from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Why Me Lord: A Brief Look at the Scoundrels, Buffoons and Ne’er Do Well’s Whom God Pursues in the Parables – Erick Sorensen

Next in our series of conference videos, Erick Sorensen discusses a God who couldn’t care less about our lists of accomplishments, as illustrated by the parables of Jesus. Press play for a fresh take on familiar tales, which Sorenson re-casts in light of real-life stories featuring scoundrels, sinners, and nobodies…like us.

Why Me Lord: A Brief Look at the Scoundrels, Buffoons and Ne’er Do Well’s Whom God Pursues in the Parables – Erick Sorensen