The Magazine

The Mockingbird is a nonprofit print magazine that seeks to connect the message of God’s grace with the concerns of everyday life. By our definition, grace is dynamic, unmerited, and expansive; we hope the range of voices in this journal reflects that understanding. We welcome writing from all perspectives in an effort to express, in surprising and down-to-earth ways, the freedom that is central to our belief. Our pages have featured award-winning illustration, poetry, and writing from novelists, priests, theologians, psychologists, armchair experts, and beyond.



“I felt as if I failed myself and society,” one San Francisco resident told their local news station after finally contracting COVID this past year. To the same reporter, a physician confessed that getting “coronated” “felt like a moral failing on some level,” while even those testing negative expressed shame and anxiety related to any minor sniffle. A study from 2022 reported that around 30% of participants felt guilt or shame about contracting the virus, as it indicated they had neglected to take the right preventative measures.

This isn’t a rona-specific quandary. Catching the seasonal flu, RSV, or any number of “things going around” could mean you didn’t wear your mask properly, or you went to a party with the wrong kind of people, or you didn’t drink enough elderberry syrup to safeguard your immune system. You made some miscalculation worthy of your punishment. Even cancer is, for some, attended by stigma. In her book No Cure for Being Human, church historian Kate Bowler tells story after story about the bizarre advice and off-the-wall home remedies she received following her stage-IV diagnosis. Strangers — WebMD experts that they were — believed she was to blame for the tumors in her colon, and that if only she “fought harder,” she would be cured.

As for wellness, the same basic theory prevails. You can be healthy, it is thought, as long as you imbibe the right elixirs and cultivate proper lifestyle practices. Though the specifics of this observation are modern, its general shape is timeless — what theologians call “the law,” wherein literal cleanliness equates to holiness and transgression invites disease.

In this issue of The Mockingbird, our contributors balk at feeling shame for their sickness by writing boldly of their own. Our magazine has often leaned toward the personal essay form, but never more so than with Sickness and Health, a topic that cuts so close to the bone it could never not be, well, personal.

From doctors and patients alike, we’ve collected essays on late-stage cancer, intergenerational illness, vexing autoimmune disorders, miscarriage — and on faith in the supernatural that endures it all. In interviews, Ross Douthat recounts his experience of chronic Lyme disease, while Daniel Harris challenges popular notions about disability. We consult journalist Rina Raphael about the multibillion-dollar wellness industry and where its marketing claims lead desperate American consumers astray. Physician Lydia Dugdale explains how art can influence the way we live and die, and theologian Simeon Zahl lays out how the Church might offer ordinary people a cure for soul-sickness — and why it often fails to.

The gospels are clear that while Jesus miraculously healed peoples’ bodies beyond their expectations and in spite of their deserving, his foremost concern was their inner maladies, in particular the forgiveness of their sins. In arranging this magazine, we prioritized a similar concern. We reckoned directly with the limitations of the body, while paying close attention to whatever lay submerged beneath what the eye can see. Under the skin of this issue there pulses a steady understanding that, whether in sickness or in health, our most abiding needs require abiding tonics: unconditional love, mercy, and grace. — The Editors


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A four-issue subscription is $60. As our emphasis on grace might indicate, we’re terrible at hitting deadlines, but you can expect about 3 issues per year. To subscribe to The Mockingbird, sign up here or become a monthly giver. All monthly donors to Mockingbird receive a complimentary subscription.


To send us submissions, promotional copies, or interview requests, write to us via email at For our upcoming issues, we are currently seeking quality writing on the topics of “Mercy” and “Mystery.”

You can also send mail directly to our office at:

100 West Jefferson Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902