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Testimony


Super-Moms, Über-Dads, and Other People Who Don’t Exist

Another peek into the Family Issue, which is available now. If you’d like more to sample, there’s Ethan’s Opener here, and the special episode of The Mockingcast, here.  This article was adapted from Chad Bird’s newest book, Upside-Down Spirituality, available wherever books are sold.  Gathering dust in the far western portion of Texas is a […]

Fr. Walter Ciszek Did Not Mind Talking About Himself

“The man who is truly humble and very close to God does not mind talking about himself. And so I’m going to talk about myself.” – Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.[1] The speaker of the above words survived twenty-three years in the Soviet Gulag. He was tortured, sentenced to fifteen years of heavy labor, and all […]

Boys, Please, No Ties on a Thursday

I’ve always considered myself a little too proud to read autobiography. Which person writing an entire book about themself really has that much to teach me? Well, one answer is Will Willimon. Willimon’s captivating and exuberant testimony (which comes out today!) is replete with grace, from the preacher’s childhood in Jim Crow South Carolina to his discovery […]

Notes on Beauty

I am getting older. If you believe in science, which I do, then I guess we’re all getting older. The aging process for me has been underway for 35 years now, but I’ve only really become aware of it recently. My hands are starting to look like my mom’s. Things that were once firm and […]

The One Kind of Prosperity Gospel Kate Bowler Believes In

This is one for the ages, from the author of Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved. Watch with tissues nearby. You’ve been warned:

I Once Was Blind but Now I Rock: Nine Conversions Put to Music

The following list was compiled and annotated by David Zahl, and published in the latest issue of The Mockingbird magazine on Faith & Doubt. Best enjoyed with the volume up: The Road to Damascus has been well traveled in pop music. Perhaps not enough to make “conversion songs” a legitimate subgenre, but enough for a pretty […]

Swimming with Killer Whales, and Cars that Go Up, Up, Up

It is a scientific fact that there exists a space in the human gut that functions purely to process stories. We’ll call it the Story Organ. You hear a particular story and at once there begins this churning and grinding, like one of those plastic rock polishers you get from the nerd stores. Said Organ […]

Ten Resources For Those On The Fence

Another glimpse into the Faith & Doubt Issue of our magazine, which you can order here. What resources would you add? Leave them in the comments below.  Usually the last thing any of us need when we’re in the midst of a genuine crisis of faith is a recommended book or sermon. However laudable the […]

I Have No Gift to Bring: Me and the Little Drummer Boy

Ever since I can remember, “The Little Drummer Boy” has been a Christmas favorite. When I was a kid, the fantasy of a cute boy drumming for Jesus made my pre-teen heart go rum-pum-pum-pum. I’ve always had a thing for musicians and he was just the sort of heartthrob Tiger Beat would have covered and […]

Forty, Finitude, and Me

A lovely personal reflection from Katy Attanasi: This is a story about the tension that exists between Christian triumph and human frailty, between the ideal and the real, and between the myth of unlimited potential and the reality of constrained choices. Once upon a time, my 21-year-old self was on top of a world that […]

Many Good Things Start With a Grave

It seems like just about everyone I know right now is either grieving, infertile, or both. As a country and a global community, we’ve also had a lot of bad news. Our hurricanes are getting worse. There’s abuse. Addiction. “Politics” (I’ll let you unpack that one, reader). There’s prejudice. International affairs. Extramarital affairs. A TV […]

How to Deploy Survival Mode: Some Notes on Mental Health from the Ladies of Unmapped — Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips

This excerpt comes from Mockingbird’s latest publication, Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home, by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. One of the many zingers from this spiritual memoir duet, the following passage finds the authors wrestling with anxiety and mental health issues…as related to the gospel:

The gospel gets a bad rap sometimes because it says you have to die before you can live. Which is a hard pill to swallow when you didn’t even want to take a pill in the first place.

Here’s how it goes: girl has anxiety. Girl gets tools to deal with it. Tools help. (Occasionally.) But girl ends up in a situation (usually involving failure, humiliation, menstruation, her children, all of these things, or NONE OF THEM) in which she ends up feeling totally defeated by her anxiety; we mean, crushed. All hope appears lost. She thinks she will never get better. She can’t bear to think about the looks she will get when everyone sees she’s STILL a mess. She thinks she will actually die. None of the techniques help. She is drowning, and she cannot breathe. She is sinking, sinking, sinking…and everything goes dark.

Awful, right? Like, Shakespearean tragedy-awful. Except there’s this other thing—death—and it relies not at all on the sinking girl, but on her being miraculously and improbably revived by something [Someone] entirely separate from herself. No strategy, no implementation, just plain being lifted up out of the depth of despair and placed atop some blessed rock. Death, but then…resurrection. See what we’re getting at here?

We know it’s not as simple as a granted wish. We know there’s a whole lot of fist shaking, swearing into the sky, and despair. But it took Jesus himself three days, people. Settle in: this may take a while. Chances are, we’re probably going to be staring that bastard (mental dysfunction) in the face off-and-on our whole lives until we arrive at that beautiful buffet in the sky, where there’s endless white bread and the bill is already paid. But God is right with us. The ultimate hope—for us, for our kids when we fail them, for our friends when we hurt them, for our marriages when we flounder, for our jobs when we blow it—is in the throes of death that transform into the pangs of new life.

Drown, resuscitate, repeat. Fail, get forgiven, go again. Despair, hope, defeat, redemption, over and over, until one day you wake up and you realize you’re still anxious, but you see it more clearly, for the cloudy lens it is, and you know—even though you’re not there yet, because TODAY IS A DOOZY—you know that you’re going to be okay. Ultimately, you will be whole. And you’re headed there. So you breathe, and you put one foot in front of the other while recognizing that you’re actually being carried. And your anxiety hasn’t disappeared; nope, it’s still following you around like a hot, wet rag someone keeps chucking at your face, but you’re no longer a table for two. You’ve got company, and it looks strangely like a lifeboat with all the provisions onboard (see what we did there?). You settle in, and soon other passengers come aboard your lifeboat, so you open a bottle of wine and hold hands and breathe together, everyone facing the same direction.