New Here?
     
Prayer


All the Life We Cannot See (and All the Death We Should Be Doing)

Recently my four-year-old son has become obsessed with all things Hamilton: the musical, the person, the coffee table book I bought my husband and repurposed as a spontaneous gift for my boy, who flips through it daily and asks me to sing him the songs. He’s turned his older brother onto the soundtrack, which means […]

Welcome to Your Foxhole

I listen to a lot of sad music.  As an Enneagram Four, I am drawn to what Ian Morgan Cron calls “delicious melancholy”. I have several playlists on my Spotify dedicated to songs that are guaranteed to make me cry or at least fit the gray mood I often find myself in. This proclivity towards […]

A Litany for the DMV

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works doth proceed, come, we pray, to the DMV. Make your presence known and lead us away from all temptation. For the supervisor of the waiting room who repeats the same instructions all day every day, vainly hoping for a preponderance of […]

One Year Later: Still Processing the Willow Creek Crash

The first time I went to Willow Creek Community Church, circa 1994, I didn’t want to be there. My new pastor and boss was a fan of Pastor Bill Hybels, and our church staff flew to Chicago to attend a conference together. I feared that any church that large must be suspect. Still, as I […]

Glad, Sad, Bad, and Mad: Anger at God in Christian Life

Here is Bonnie Zahl’s piece from the Faith & Doubt Issue. Pick one up here before they’re gone!  There’s an episode in the second season of Ally McBeal where the main character Ally goes to the hospital to see her boyfriend, who is a doctor, and ends up meeting his eight-year-old patient, Eric. Life hasn’t […]

Sobriety as More Than Deprivation

Incredibly pleased to announce that the final addition to the speaker line-up at our upcoming NYC Conference (4/25-27)–our ‘mystery guest’–is none other than Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath. Needless to say, her work has served as a mighty source of inspiration these past few years, and it is a rare privilege to host her. She’ll be joining us on Saturday morning, April 27th, and to celebrate, here’s a favorite passage from The Recovering, a book which details, among (many) other things, her relationship with addiction:

Leslie Jamison by Beowulf Sheehan

For a long time, I’d believed that sincerity was all about actions lining up with belief: knowing myself and acting accordingly. But when it came to drinking, I’d parsed my motivations in a thousand sincere conversations–with friends, with therapists, with my mother, with my boyfriends–and all my self-understanding hadn’t granted me any release from compulsion…

I didn’t know what I believed, and prayed anyway. I called my sponsor even when I didn’t want to, showed up to meetings even when I didn’t want to. I sat in the circle and held hands with everyone, opened myself up to cliches I felt ashamed to be described by, got down on my knees to pray even though I wasn’t sure what I was praying to, only what I was praying for: don’t drink, don’t drink, don’t drink. The desire to believe that there was something out there, something that wasn’t me, that could make not-drinking seem like anything other than punishment–this desire was strong enough to dissolve the rigid border I’d drawn between faith and its absence. When I looked back on my early days in church, I started to realize how silly it had been to think that I’d had a monopoly on doubt, or that wanting faith was so categorically different from having it.

When people in the program talked about a Higher Power, they sometimes simply said “H.P.,” which seemed expansive and open, a pair of letters you could fill with whatever you needed: the sky, other people in meetings, an old woman who wore loose flowing skirts like my grandmother had worn. Whatever it was, I needed to believe in something stronger than my willpower. This willpower was a fine-tuned machine, fierce and humming, and it had done plenty of things–gotten me straight A’s, gotten my papers written, gotten me through cross-country training runs–but when I’d applied it to drinking, the only thing I felt was that I was turning my life into a small, joyless clenched fist. The Higher Power that turned sobriety into more than deprivation was simply not me. That was all I knew. It was a force animating the world in all of its particular glories: jellyfish, the clean turn of line breaks, pineapple upside-down cake, my friend Rachel’s laughter. Perhaps I’d been looking for it–for whatever it was–for years, bent over the toilet on all those other nights, retching and heaving. (pgs 303-4)

Click here to pre-register for our NYC Conference!

Now Available! An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley

We could not be more pleased to announce the latest Mockingbird publication, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley.

This accessible, down-to-earth devotional walks verse-by-verse through the shortest official take on the biggest life ever lived — the story of Jesus played out in the Gospel of Mark. You’ll follow in the footsteps of Jesus as he performs healings and preaches to crowds. Mockingbird writer Larry Parsley brings the story to life, offering approachable, personal, and insightful commentary along the way.

You can purchase An Easy Stroll through our newly redesigned bookstore (store.mbird.com) where you can also find all of Mockingbird’s other publications, along with seminars for purchase and a selection of merchandise…! Major thank-you to Brian M for the redesign.

As with all of our books, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel is also available through Amazon—and all positive reviews help promote the cause!

“This is a short, meditative work that you will want to read slowly and repeatedly as you walk through the shortest and oldest canonical Gospel. As you do, significant—sometimes startling—insights await, as Larry Parsley gently, thoughtfully, and ably guides you through Mark. As it happens, Dr. Parsley has written his first book on the first Gospel. My hope is that this work is but the first fruits of future harvests from this gifted interpreter, storyteller, and teacher.” — Todd D. Still, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Scriptures in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University

A gentle journey… Larry’s wisdom and eye for beauty might readily serve as inspiration for daily spiritual exercises.” ― Dr. Paul Scott Wilson, Professor of Homiletics at Emmanuel College, Toronto, and author of The Four Pages of the Sermon

Wonderfully refreshing…compelling [and] down-to-earth…  It truly is ‘an easy stroll’ and a disarmingly profound one simultaneously. All I know is that I will never teach from Mark’s Gospel again without first consulting this book.” — Andy McQuitty, author of Notes from the Valley: A Spiritual Travelogue Through Cancer and The Way to Brave: Shaping a David Faith for a Goliath World

Find An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel in Mockingbird’s new online bookstore and on Amazon.

How a Comedian Helped Me Pray the Ghosts Away

The first time I remember being terrified of ghosts, my mother had taken me on a well-meaning bonding trip to Natchez, Mississippi. There, on the plantation home tours, the guide would allude to all of the Victorian-era blonde girls who kept making ghoulish appearances on the grand stairwell. Even as an 8-year-old I remember thinking, […]

Bedside and the Lord’s Prayer

Those who had a chaotic childhood often have vivid memories of going to bed. There was relief from the confusion and fear of an out-of-control parent but also the silent terror that the combustive anger would continue past being tucked in. For my poor mother, this ritual of bedtime meant that she could legitimately absent […]

On Praying in the Bathroom, and Giving Up on Self-Control

Leslie Jamison’s book The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath uses a broad scope of material to construct the experience of addiction and attempts at recovery: through personal memoir, research into historical figures, and reflection on the methods and theories associated with treating substance abuse. There are many, many reasons to read this book, and none […]

On Having Faith When You Have No Faith

Sometimes you think you have things figured out, but you quickly see that you don’t when you find yourself in a men’s shower room, enveloped in a gust of steam and inches away from a half-naked Tunisian man because you walked past the shower room you were supposed to use and missed the memo that […]

Lessons on Prayer from the Cast of Jane the Virgin

When I found out that Netflix added the most recent season of Jane the Virgin to its streaming repertoire, I knew exactly how I would spend my weekend. I may or may not have watched all seventeen forty-minute episodes in about 72 hours, complete with a rollercoaster of emotions as I walked alongside these characters, […]