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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 […]

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.

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? […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Breaking Up with the Hot Take

When it comes to romantic break-ups, the “clean break” is something of a unicorn — admired and sought after but seldom if ever attained. It might be even rarer than the “amicable split.” At least when it comes to genuine love affairs. There are any number of reasons why clean breaks are so hard to […]

Sticking Our Necks Out: Judgement in the Age of COVID Phases

Confessing Quarantine Sins and Looking to Hope beyond Sanitation

The High Cost of Change

Grappling with Change when the Problem with Humans Is the Human Heart

A Grave Burden

You Can Carry Your Memories, and God Can Carry You

Great Marriages Don’t Just Happen (And Other Threats Disguised as Sermons)

Unsettling Signs and Statues, and the Unnaturalness of Unlimited Grace

This Abundant Life

To Limit Oneself to Living: On Mundane Moments and an Abundant God