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Thou Shalt Be Needed but Never Needy: Sad Clowns, Lonely Husbands, and COVID Friendships

Sad clowns. That’s the term used to describe me and my peers. It’s not flattering. As far as I know, it was coined in a Boston Globe article a few years ago about middle-aged male loneliness. A sad clown is a man of a certain age whose default agreeableness and readymade dad jokes mask his […]

#GivingTuesday on Mockingbird

Today, as you likely know, is Giving Tuesday, and we would so love for you to consider Mockingbird in that regard. To make a one-time gift, or sign up for monthly donations (*which includes a complimentary subscription to our print magazine), please visit www.mbird.com/support. We need your help to keep this bird in the air! […]

Introducing “Dear Gracie”: The Mockingbird‘s Advice Column

Where in your life do you need help giving, receiving, or understanding grace?

In plain English, grace can be understood as a gift with no strings attached. When it arrives, it can be the most powerful surprise in a person’s life. But giving grace to others is harder than it sounds. During our most complicated moments — moments of grief, or a fight with a difficult roommate, or a confrontation with a philandering lover — grace can seem confusing at best. Especially for religious people. Of course we want to be kind, loving, and patient, but truthfully we also want to lay down the law when appropriate.

In the weeds of life, sometimes we all need a little guidance.

The Mockingbird is here to help. In our upcoming issue, we will introduce our first advice column featuring readers’ real-life quagmires. Behind the keyboard is Gracie — that is, Sarah Condon — with an opinion or two.

Send questions, with a pseudonym and general location, to magazine@mbird.com. While we can’t promise a response for everything, all emails will be kept confidential. We will only reprint your question, pseudonym, and general location. But no matter your circumstances, the word of Gracie is for everyone.

Ninety-Nine Problems (and an Actual Solution): The Holy Spirit’s Advice Column

If you’re not aware of James Parker’s mini-column “An Ode to …”, found in every issue of The Atlantic, you might want to add it to your list of regular delights. Each 500-word piece — An Ode to Small Talk, An Ode to Fallibility, An Ode to Cold Showers — is a playful, astute look […]

On the Cusp of Humility

If you are feeling fully outraged, you are full of yourself. If you are deeply hurt, you are a victim. If you are loudly righteous, you are with a greater good — and you just know it. We are, mostly, hanging ten on the surfboards of our egos. Where is the humility in all of […]

Halloween: A Recess for the Buffered Self

Many things separate us in the twenty-first century from our ancestors. Some of them are obvious — cars, cell phones, flush toilets — and others less keenly understood, but nevertheless intuited. We all sense a vast gulf between the present and half a millennium ago, but in what does it primarily consist? Philosopher Charles Taylor […]

Mixed Drinks and God’s Word: The Ordering of Law and Gospel

What if I told you that I had some news, but that there was both good news and bad news? Which would you choose first? Would you lead with the bad news to get it over with, or would you lead with the good news to help you brace for the other shoe to drop? […]

Confessions From Social Media’s Dr. Frankenstein

Netflix’s recent documentary, The Social Dilemma, gathers the voices of psychologists, software engineers, and tech innovators in a collective plea for social media reform. The film’s urge for humanity to reconsider social media habits is nothing new, as the last decade or so has been stuffed to the brim with books, TED Talks, and films […]

“Remembered by Love”: On Isolation and Christian Community

Conservative columnist George Will is famous for combining dry wit with a “get off my lawn” libertarianism. It was thus somewhat out of character when he penned a 2018 column addressing not government overreach or fiscal irresponsibility, but loneliness. Will writes, Loneliness in “epidemic proportions” is producing a “loneliness literature” of sociological and medical findings […]

Google’s Search to Know Me: Social Media Algorithms and Being Known by God

I got a Facebook account in 2008. It was before the age of selfies and smartphones, Snapchat and Instagram. Then, it truly was a social network — simply a tool for connecting, and everything was fairly innocuous. I was in eighth grade, and my friends and I posted albums containing way too many pictures of […]

A Pandemic of Shame: Seeking Refuge From Online Anger

With studies showing a dramatic increase in social-media use during the pandemic, people have taken to the virtual streets, but it’s not exactly what you’d call a block party. Such is the focus of D. T. Max’s recent article in the New Yorker, “The Public-Shaming Pandemic,” about how people who have accidentally spread the coronavirus […]

We Are All Sociopaths (for Love)

Do the names Jesse and Celine mean anything to you? Right now they mean a lot to me. After years of putting it off, I finally binged Richard Linklater’s much-loved Before trilogy: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight. The movies trace a single relationship between an American man and a French woman over three […]