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Money Is How We Keep Score

Media mogul Ted Turner allegedly once commented, “Life is a game. Money is how we keep score.” Whether Mr. Turner really said that or not, he raises a good point. More than a convenient way of conducting economic transactions, money also offers one of the few objective, countable measures for keeping track of our overall […]

The Gift of Being Like Everyone Else

Following the wisdom of Alan Jacobs’ recent book, perhaps the best way to understand the present moment (whatever that may be) is to read older books. Which is at least a partial explanation for posting this fantastic quote by the atheist philosopher Alain de Botton, from his book Status Anxiety. Published in 2004, this probably […]

New Year, Same Us. Again.

I used to love New Year’s resolutions. Are you kidding me? I grew up in a Southern church! I’d compose a list of them the week after Christmas and shove it into whichever version of the Evangelical Teen Guided Quiet Time Devotional Notebook was popular in my youth group that year, certain that within days […]

Confessions of a Former Youth Minister

At one point, I wrote a goodbye scene to show how my hard-drinking, cowboy daddy had bailed out on me when I hit puberty. When I actually searched for the teenage reminiscences to prove this, the facts told a different story: my daddy had continued to pick me up on time and make me breakfast, […]

Envying the “Other Me”

I’m still thinking about last week’s New Yorker essay by Joshua Rothman on the “uncanny allure of our unlived lives.” Reviewing Andrew H. Miller’s On Not Being Someone Else: Tales of our Unled Lives, Rothman relates his own almost-career as a college-aged tech founder in the dot com era. When that bubble burst, Rothman recounts […]

Confirmation Bias and the Wisdom of Humility

In “Working Class Hero” (which, profanity notwithstanding, is a much better song than its A-side, “Imagine”), John Lennon complains that “they” keep blue-collar people “doped with religion and sex and TV.” As a result of this triple-acting sedation, the working class doesn’t think to rise up and overthrow oppressive economic and social conditions. “They” continue […]

Work is All We Have

Last week I felt justified. I did things for my career, I raked and mowed out both home and office for the winter, made three leftover dinners from Thanksgiving, figured out our Christmas Tree, salvaged a piece of cedar, sorted out coffee cups, and had our 40th Wedding Anniversary Dinner (comped by the restaurant!) — […]

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 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 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

“Ninety Percent of What’s Wrong with You Could Be Cured with a Hot Bath.”

On the Cusp of Humility

“It is Crock Pot Time in America. The Main Ingredient is COVID-19, Seasoned with Fear, Anger, and Unfollowed Wisdom.”