2019 NYC Conference Book Table

Many thanks to all who attended and helped pull off the 12th annual Mockingbird conference […]

Mockingbird / 5.14.19

Many thanks to all who attended and helped pull off the 12th annual Mockingbird conference in NYC! For all who couldn’t make it, and also those who could, each year we like to put together a virtual book table, with the various recommended readings and resources written by our speakers and guests. (Last week we posted the recordings of talks and breakouts on our Talkingbird podcast: head here for more, with pictures!) In the following list you’ll find lots of shared content with the “Recommended Reading” list on our I’m New Here page plus QUITE A FEW fresh additions. (Previous years’ lists can be found here.) ALSO of note: At this year’s conference, StoryMakers—the new grace-focused children’s ministry—launched their first adventure, “Creation,” an interactive magazine with prompts and inspirations that illuminate the story of grace for kids. Visit the links below for more on each item. In alphabetical order:

Books books books. Image courtesy of Stellate Photography.


White Picket Fences: Turning toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege by Amy Julia Becker. The notion that some might have it better than others, for no good reason, offends our sensibilities. Yet, until we talk about privilege, we’ll never fully understand it or find our way forward.

Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert F. Capon. An enduring, rambunctious counsel on marriage and family life—woven through with the message of grace that never changes.

Exit 36: A Fictional Chronicle by Robert F. Capon. Part novel, part experimental theology, this is an off-the-wall investigation of death, judgment, Hell, and Heaven.

The Man Who Met God in a Bar: The Gospel According to Marvin (a novel) by Robert F. Capon. A weird and wonderfully inspired account of the Gospel story. Takes place in 1990s…Cleveland!

More Theology & Less Heavy Cream: The Domestic Life of Pietro and Madeleine by Robert F. Capon. A never-before-published collection of essays featuring Robert and his wife’s lovable alter-egos, in discussions about theology and food.

The Youngest Day: Shelter Island’s Seasons in the Light of Grace by Robert F. Capon. A series of reflections on the seasons and the nature of God’s divine love. Originally published in 1983, this slim, poetic volume offers some of the sweetest, most evergreen musings in the Capon canon.

Churchy: The Real Life Adventures of a Wife, Mom, and Priest by Sarah Condon. One woman’s hilarious and deeply touching dispatch from the trenches of contemporary life, Churchy traces the fingerprints of grace from hospital hallways to community swimming pools to church nurseries and back again. Unflinchingly honest yet unfailingly hopeful, Rev. Sarah is a genre unto herself. 

With My Own Eyes by Bo Giertz, trans. Bror Erickson. “Bo Giertz wrote this book drawing upon the exegetical insights that he received from his mentor Anton Fridrichsen before, during and after his trip to Palestine in the early 1930s. It’s both a harmonization of the gospels, and a commentary on them.”

Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips (in paperback and hardcover!) The tale of two long-distance friends who found home—together and apart—in unexpected exile. A spiritual memoir duet unlike anything you’ve ever read.

Mockingbird at the Movies. A collection of essays from a wide range of contributors, exploring the films that have touched us most. Some are beautiful, some confrontational, some silly, some sad, some all of the above; taken together, they bear witness to the power of film to move the heart and lift the spirit.

The Very Persistent Pirate: A Story of Grace for Children (and Grown-Ups) by CJ & Maddy Green. The story of what happens when a little boy and his monkey steal booty from a snoozing pirate. A beautifully illustrated adventure about the stubbornness of grace and forgiveness, this is good news for sinners and saints ages 3-7.

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, this collection of essays examines personal loss, “phantom diseases,” and the urgent question of how we close the gap between ourselves and others.

The Recovering by Leslie Jamison. “A deeply personal and seamless blend of memoir, cultural history, literary criticism, and reportage, The Recovering turns our understanding of the traditional addiction narrative on its head, demonstrating that the story of recovery can be every bit as electrifying as the train wreck itself.”

Being Dad: Father as a Picture of God’s Grace, by Scott Keith. “This book deals with the way fathers, and the subject of fatherhood, are treated in modern culture. Dr. Keith brings his experience with family, students, great mentors, and friends to bear on a subject that is crying out for attention.” 

Comfortable Words ed. John D. Koch and Todd H. W. Brewer. These essays reflect Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl’s emphasis on the relationship between theology as an academic discipline and the pastoral impact of “one-way love.”

Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn. A wonderfully researched untangling of the child-adult relationship and the shortcomings of transactional quid-pro-quo, this-for-that elements within that relationship. For illustrations of the law in everyday life, look no further.

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. “A groundbreaking approach to parenting that gives parents ‘powerful alternatives to help children become their most caring, responsible selves’ (Adele Faber) by switching the dynamic from doing things to children to working with them in order to understand their needs and how to meet them.”

Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News by Nick Lannon. What sounds like bad news is merely the beginning of the Good News in this concise, gospel-centered book about God’s abundant mercy and love. With wisdom, humor, and compassion, Nick Lannon casts life’s painful realities in the light of Jesus, the One who achieves the unachievable.

Sexy: The Quest for Erotic Virtue in Perplexing Times by Jeff Mallinson. “Instead of focusing on taboos, boundaries, and rules of sexual engagement, what if we were to let unconditional love seduce people back to erotic virtue? What if we stopped asking how close we can get to the ethical boundaries and started asking, who do we truly want to be and, more important, who do we want to be toward those we love?”

Eden & Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis by William McDavid. The iconic accounts of shepherds and nomads, apple-eaters and ark-builders, sharpen our view of human life and the God who works in the midst of it. With empathy and imagination, Eden and Afterward traces the first notes of the song of grace which plays throughout the entire Bible.

Law & Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints) by William McDavid, Ethan Richardson, and David Zahl. There’s a big difference between judgment and love, obligation and freedom, a wage and a gift… Written with the non-theologian in mind, this short volume unpacks the good news of God’s grace with practicality, humor, and a whole lot of heart.

Cancer Is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo by Jason Micheli. “A funny, no-holds-barred, irreverent-yet-faithful take on a disease that touches every family. Micheli’s story teaches us all how to stay human in a dehumanizing situation; how to keep living in the face of death.”

An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark by Larry Parsley. This devotional guides us through the shortest official take on the biggest life ever lived — the story of Jesus played out in the Gospel of Mark. The journey is relatively quick, but the vistas you’ll see along the way can linger for a lifetime.

Scandalous Stories: A Sort of Commentary on the Parables by Daniel Emery Price & Erick Sorensen. “Parables are some of the most familiar stories in the Bible, yet their interpretations and applications are anything but uniform. Scandalous Stories is a ‘sort’ of commentary on these familiar stories that are steeped in God’s offensive grace and loving mercy for sinners and saints alike.”

The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day) ed. Ethan Richardson, Sean Norris (in paperback and hardcover). With humor and heart (and a surprising number of disco and B-movie references) the 365 short devotions in The Mockingbird Devotional carry the good news of God’s mercy and forgiveness to the inner-rooms of human reality.

A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll by David Zahl. Arranged like an album, A Mess of Help surveys some of pop’s most eccentric icons in hopes of finding answers to both the small questions (“Who am I?”) and the big ones (“What about Michael Jackson?”) — unearthing timeless wisdom even as it entertains. 

Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics and Romance Became Our New Religion and What To Do about It by David Zahl. At the heart of our current moment lies a universal yearning, writes David Zahl, not to be happy or respected so much as enough — what religions call “righteous.” To fill the void left by religion, we look to all sorts of everyday activities — from eating and parenting to dating and voting — for the identity, purpose, and meaning once provided on Sunday morning.

Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody by John Z. Recommended for anyone who has struggled with addiction, knows someone who has struggled with addiction, or spent any time living and/or breathing.

Sermons of Grace by John Zahl. With the help of pop-culture, humor, and plenty of personal illustrations, John leads readers through the church calendar year with reflections on the counter-intuitive reality of God in the midst of everyday life. Each short sermon offers a helpful point of re-orientation, bridging head with heart, and heart with the good news. 

Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life by Paul Zahl. “An expansive view of grace in everything, extending the good news of grace to all creation. Conversationally written and filled with fascinating insights, Grace in Practice will reward any Christian who seeks to understand the full measure of God’s grace and the total freedom it offers.”

PZ’s Panopticon: An Off-the-Wall Guide to World Religion by Paul Zahl. Imagine you have ten minutes to live. You’re the patient who’s being operated on and suddenly finds himself looking down on the action as the doctors try to save his life. What do you need to know? What is there to know? What can this religion or that religion say to you when you really need some light?


The Mockingbird, single issues. Issues 1-13 are available, and the latest is Faith & Doubt which includes words from writer-apologist Francis Spufford, children’s author Sally Lloyd-Jones, and philosopher-boxer Gordon Marino. We talk existentialism, the Flat Earth Movement, and anger at God.

4-Issue Subscription.

10-Issue Subscription.

StoryMakers Zine. Image courtesy of Stellate Photography.


Adventure One: Creation – the Zine. Explores a story of the Bible over 12 weeks and includes art, fun facts, interactive play, and thoughts to ponder. Every chapter includes a 6-page spread, so there is plenty of detail to dig deep.

Adventure One: Creation – the Teacher’s Guide. Helps grown-ups use the kidzine with their children and students. Sometimes it is hard for adults even to know where to begin teaching the old stories with our little ones. Our Creation guide is available to support our StoryMakers along the way. It includes: Fun Facts, Deeper Thoughts, and Activity Instruction. The guide is perfect for any grown-up hoping to connect and discover God’s love and mercy alongside children.

Adventure One: Creation – the Playbook. Tailored to help children enjoy Creation by playing all the characters in the story. You can use your puppets, or jump into costumes and play all the parts, to get to know Genesis in a new way.

Adventure One: Creation – Memory Cards. Visual prompts turn memorization into a fun game. Order this set of memory cards and get to know Creation and God’s words of hope in the midst of the Fall. Each card is visually compelling with cues to help your StoryMaker internalize God’s story.

Adventure One: Creation – Posters. Downloadable, and taken from the beautiful zine illustrations.

Adventure One: Creation – the Set (Zine, Guide, Playbook, Memory Cards). Every piece enhances the StoryMaker experience and will bring Creation to life.


T-shirt (yellow, gray, green). Tote bag.

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