NYC Conference Breakout Previews

The Annual Mockingbird Conference, April 28-30 in NYC

Mockingbird / 4.7.22

We’re just three weeks away from the Annual Mockingbird Conference! To give you a bit of a preview for what to expect, here’s a peek at few of the fantastic breakout sessions we have planned.

Spaces are filling up fast, so if you’ve been on the fence about registering, now is the time. To do so, go to

Elizabeth Passarella — “Yelling Feels So Good: an Honest (and Hopeful) Conversation about Anger”

In my first book, I wrote about all kinds of things I was taught never to bring up in polite company—politics, Jesus, telling everyone I met in my first year in New York City that I was a virgin—but readers were mostly shocked by the fighting. I have no answers, only lots of embarrassing stories (which may make you feel better about yourself!). I hope to bring some comfort and humor to those of us who struggle, as well as the assurance that God’s mercies are new every morning, regardless of our moods.

Sam Bush — “The Hope of Humor”

Humor can be used in various capacities – as a defense mechanism, as a way to grieve – but it can also resemble hope.  Humor is often born out of recognizing the truth about oneself and the world without condemnation or bitterness. The very act of laughter involves a relinquishing of control, a lowering of the defenses. When enough time has passed, the old cliché of laughter being the best medicine turns out to be true more often than not. In this breakout session, we’ll be exploring how humor is often a means of grace. Come for the stand-up comedy clips and Saturday Night Live sketches, stay for the ways humor can offer real, effectual hope for the hopeless.

Daniel van Voorhis — “Loving My Dead Neighbors: Finding Grace in the Lives of Others”

Since May of 2019 I have been the writer and host of the Christian History Almanac at 1517. It is a daily 5 minute or so exploration of a figure or event in church history that has some implications for today. What I have been doing with the Almanac for the past 3 years, and professionally for the last 20 has been to look at the lives of others. The truth is, this project — documenting the “lives of others” in Church history has had a profound effect on how I understand the church and my faith today.  I’ll be sharing my favorite stories, expanding on them, asking you questions and hopefully will help guide us on our examination of others (famous, infamous or neither) through the lens of grace.

Ben Maddison — “F***ing Hope: the Best (and Worst) Part of the Christian Life”

Life is hard. We want and hope and pray that things will go the way we expect, and yet so often, we are left with dashed expectations and lingering resentments. St. Paul describes Christians as being a people “not without hope,” but that promise can be doubled-edged. In this talk, we’ll examine the flip side of hope — the moments in life when God breaks in and drags us, kicking and screaming, to something new. If you like to linger in hopelessness and resentment, this talk is for you. From the pandemic to child-rearing, and everything in-between, we’ll say the unsaid thing aloud and commiserate in hopelessness. But alas, even as much as we’d like to wallow, we’re left very little room to do so. Hope is an incredible thing, whether we want it or not.

Adam Morton — “We Will Bury You: the Law’s Modern Deathmatch, and the Only Way Out”

This talk assumes polarization is very real, and that for most of us, living as if it weren’t real isn’t much of an option. However, the explanations we’ve been offered fail to get to the theological heart of the matter. What makes the sides so different is that they are committed to opposing pictures of the Law, not just wanting different things, but at odds over what the Law is and how it works. These pictures of the Law are, for most modern people (religious and non-religious), actually more important than whether we purport to believe in God: more of our behavior is explained by how we think about Law than by whether and how we claim to worship. Our modern conflict is theological to the bone, and there is no escape for any of us. Unless, of course, God is not the Law … Join me to discuss history, truth, communism, obscure Russian philosophers, Batman, and more, as we attempt to see our way through the modern deathmatch over the Law

Jason Thompson — “Marriage: Soulmates, Roommates, Enemies, or Inmates?”

There are no guarantees in life … the least of which being your marriage and how it will turn out. While much of the conventional wisdom on this subject from both the religious and irreligious world majors on what you need to do to ensure a successful relationship with your significant other, the gospel has true hope to offer us … albeit not ‘answers’ per se. We will consider how C.S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and 90’s era comedians (my generational bias) can help us navigate one of the most tumultuous, yet also rewarding (at times) experiences this side of heaven. We might even discuss how English proto-goth band The Cure have something to say on this matter as well.


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