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Grace in Practice

Elevator Encounters

I have been in two heated race-related situations in the past six months. Both of them have happened at elevators. Several months ago I was leaving a doctor’s office and looking for the restroom in the corridor. A black man walked out behind me with a name tag and a clip board and I assumed […]

Learning to Love the Job I Can’t Get

Certainly work is not always required of a man. There is such a thing as a sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected. – George Macdonald, Wilfrid Cumbermede During my second-to-last semester of college, I had to take a senior seminar class to finish up my major’s curriculum. Each session covered various […]

Robert Farrar Capon on Self-Knowledge and Atonement

This excellent piece by Will McDavid was originally published on Mbird in November of 2013: Our pride drives us to establish our own righteousness. We strive all our life to see ourselves as keepers of rules we cannot keep, as loyal subjects of laws under which we can only be judged outlaws. Yet so deep […]

No Mercy: The Bittersweet Victory of Cobra Kai

I’m as surprised as you are that my favorite summer show turned out to be a sequel to an 80s karate flick styled as prestige TV. Formerly hidden away on YouTube’s premium subscription video service, Cobra Kai dropped on Netflix this weekend, bringing the world of The Karate Kid franchise to the small screen. It’s […]

Running with Scissors: on Polarization and God’s Love for Sinners

Amazon Prime is currently streaming the bulk of the Star Trek canon, so I’ve been nostalgically revisiting some of my favorite episodes from The Next Generation and also working my way through Deep Space Nine for the first time. Besides a cast of characters who have become household names, Star Trek is famously rich with […]

The Tragic Symmetry of Star Wars and the Grace of Failure

To imbibe the words of a certain space wizard, “from a certain point of view” George Lucas’s Skywalker Saga is a poetic space opera that disseminates a uniquely hopeful story of victory through failure. Some might find that articulation of a tale about spaceships and laser-swords a bit too flowery and pretentious, especially considering how […]

Exorcising Regrets By Divine Amnesia

Failure and sports go hand-in-hand. As much as we might hold up elite athletes as gods, perfection is never their goal. The best batters strike out 60% of the time. The best quarterbacks have 40% of their passes hit the ground. All-star athletes have to have remarkably short memories. They can’t dwell on their mistakes. […]

Torn Ligaments, Broken Dreams, and Abundant Grace

Lately, I have felt more fatigued than normal. Perhaps that’s a consequence of “sedentary coronavirus syndrome.” Or laziness. Or old age. In all likelihood it’s some amalgamation of the three. Father Time is still undefeated. Despite the best efforts and innovations we can muster, old age afflicts everyone. As time marches on, so does our […]

Forty-Eight Years After John Lewis Was Attacked

A stop-you-in-your-tracks story of (and reflection upon) sin, repentance, reconciliation, and hope from the late congressman John Lewis’ final book, Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, which we discuss on the forthcoming episode of The Mockingcast. Even if you’ve heard about the incident elsewhere, it’s worth reading Lewis’ own […]

Auden’s Missing Mercy

The constant background of stress caused by a brand-spanking-new kind of plague, combined with widespread social unrest and a particularly contentious election year, have all conspired to put a serious crimp in my attention span. This has become particularly noticeable in my reading habits; it has to be good, like brake-squealing good, for me to […]

The Reproachful Lectures of a Father: People-Watching in Gilead

If mid-twentieth-century Gilead were a real place, I would certainly buy a bus ticket there. This fictional Iowa town of Marilynne Robinson’s soon-to-be four novels has captured my imagination from the beginning, with Gilead (2004), followed by Home (2008), and Lila (2014). I can’t wait for the release of Jack (2020), but in the meantime, […]

John Lewis on Redemptive Suffering, Grace in Practice

Famously called “the conscience of the House,” the late congressman John Lewis began his career of activism at the American Baptist Theological Seminary. The following is an excerpt from his memoir, where he describes what he learned from his seminary professors: We talked a lot about the idea of “redemptive suffering,” which from the first […]