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Pretentious Believers and the Law of Authenticity

Pretentious Believers and the Law of Authenticity

There was a period of time, and I’m not proud of it, when the worst insult my friends and I could lob at a person/place/thing was that they were ‘pretentious’. It connoted everything we didn’t like: phoniness, humorlessness, and haughtiness. At least, in theory it did. Over time, the word...
Preaching Politically in Turbulent Times

Preaching Politically in Turbulent Times

Was Rudolf Bultmann a Nazi sympathizer? Short answer—no. And yet…the accusation is commonplace within some sectors of scholarship. In his recent Gifford lectures, the New Testament scholar N.T. Wright said as much, accusing Bultmann of Lutheran “quietism” in the face of the Third Reich because he was a “friend and philosophical...
"But I Need Those!" What Happens When A Pastor Flushes A Congregation's Religion Pills

“But I Need Those!” What Happens When A Pastor Flushes A Congregation’s Religion Pills

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a pastor, convinced of the truth of grace, actually tried what Robert Farrar Capon suggested here in The Foolishness of Preaching? I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations,...
When the World Calls Them Otherwise, God Calls Them Good

When the World Calls Them Otherwise, God Calls Them Good

It is a scary time to be raising children. But boys come with their own narrative of misbehaviors. Boys are deemed too intense, too loud, too active. They misbehave earlier and more demonstrably than most girls. They have a much higher rate of diagnosis for challenges like ADHD and mood...
Help Kids Hear the Story: With StoryMakers

Help Kids Hear the Story: With StoryMakers

Like a lot of children raised in a denomination, I remember my Sunday school classes teaching me about my denomination. There were the seasonal colors, things about the liturgical calendar, and something to do with sheep. To be honest, I was never sure if the goal was to make me...
Latest entries


All I Want is a Wink from the Cross: Arcade Fire’s Everything Now

In Arcade Fire’s 2017 album, Everything Now, the pop rock crew provides a sweeping commentary on loneliness, relationships, and (the search for) rest in a digital age. While Arcade Fire stays true to its anthemic tracks, soaring vocals, and visceral sound, the heavy doses of loneliness leave me incrementally sadder with every listen. The album […]

Bayesian Theology or: How I Learned to Loosen a Doctrinal Death Grip and Love Statistical Thinking

This one comes to us from Rob Munk. Halfway through 2017, I met the woman I plan to marry. We bonded over pancakes at a greasy-spoon diner on our first date. She was Anglican; I was Lutheran. It was a match in high-church Protestant heaven. But like many Christian couples, we had our share of […]

October Playlist

Click here to listen to (a smaller portion of the playlist than usual) on Spotify. Also, be sure to check out Jenny Anne Mannan’s terrific, Mbird-influenced(!) new record Carnies & Cowboys.

G.K. Minds His P’s and Q’s: Why Human Happiness Depends on Good Doctrine

I hate to admit it, but I am not a DIY person. In an age where there are countless instructional videos online to walk me through any number of household tasks, I, for the most part, tragically remain a get-someone-else-to-do-it person. Call it what you will — apathy, entitlement, laziness — but it is a […]

What We’re Watching and Listening To: October Edition

Kicking off a new monthly column, surveying various members of the Mockingbird community on what they’re watching and listening to. We start this month with recommendations from a couple of the ‘HQ’ staff: Ethan Richardson Chernobyl. In preparation for the Future Issue of our magazine, this one had been on my list for a while, […]

NOW AVAILABLE! StoryMakers – Advent

Thrilled to announce that StoryMakers’ next kidzine has arrived and is available through the online shop! In addition to Creation and the Flood, children can now journey through Advent with comics, striking visuals, plays, and more. Activities are recommended for ages 6-12.

Advent Comic Series: Joy to the world…! Advent is here and so is our Comic Series. Order one Comic per child and discover the true meaning of the season. This 4-week series takes you through the epic arrival of Jesus. Kids will discover the incredible events that led up to the birth of our Savior. This illustrated comic brings the season of Advent to life.

Advent Pageant: Dive right into the story of Jesus’s birth. The StoryMaker pageant tells the story from the perspective of two shepherds. The story is simple and easy for any group of children to engage. There is plenty of room to add barn animals, angels, and stars as non-speaking roles. Remember to delve in, use your imagination, and have fun!

Advent Guide: The Christmas story can be a little tricky to teach little ones. There are many dramatic elements, miracles, and the appearance of angels, which leaves plenty of room for questions. Our Guide for Grown-Ups does the heavy lifting and will help any teacher or parent navigate the depth of the Christmas story. All you need is one per class or parent.

Advent Starter Kit: Includes all of the above: our seasonal Comic series, a Christmas Pageant, and a Guide for Grown-Ups. The Advent Starter kit has everything you need to share the greatest story shared every year.

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Preaching Politically in Turbulent Times

Was Rudolf Bultmann a Nazi sympathizer? Short answer—no. And yet…the accusation is commonplace within some sectors of scholarship. In his recent Gifford lectures, the New Testament scholar N.T. Wright said as much, accusing Bultmann of Lutheran “quietism” in the face of the Third Reich because he was a “friend and philosophical disciple” of the infamous Nazi, […]

Seculosity and the Future of Guilt Management – David Zahl

From this year’s annual Mockingbird conference in NYC, here is David Zahl speaking about and reading from his new book Seculosity. Topics include Soylent, anxiety, toxic religions, and snow days:

Seculosity and the Future of Guilt Management – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

Hopelessly Devoted: First Corinthians Chapter Four Verses Three Through Four

This entry comes from Paul Walker’s “Almost Daily Devotional”:

It’s been said that life is like a courtroom. We find we need to defend ourselves against the judgment and accusation of others. Sometimes that judgment is real; more often, it is imagined. Another person’s “success,” or what appears to be success to us, will cause us to judge ourselves. You know the saying: “you are your own worst critic.” So many of our prison sentences are self-imposed.

St. Paul knew this universal proclivity but also knew the way to commute the sentence. “I care very little, however, if I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not vindicate me. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). What Paul is saying is the lens by which we perceive judgment — whether from ourselves or others — is so warped and faulty that it is better to disregard the accusations altogether.

And in any case, the only person fit for the job of judgment is the Lord. And if that is the case, then go ahead and walk scot-free out of that courtroom door. And while you’re at it, put your hand in the hand of the man who said, “I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47). For He is our only Mediator and Advocate.

“Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”  (Proper 22 – Book of Common Prayer p. 234)

Another Week Ends: Lost Dog, Greta Thunberg, a Trip to the Future, Dubious Evangelicalism, David Powlison, Ken Burns and Lil Nas X

1. Jesus’s parable of the lost sheep is one of the great stories in the Bible, and also ever. A shepherd leaves behind everything in search of one lost sheep — and of course, it’s about more than that. It’s about humankind’s wandering nature and the tirelessness of God. But if you’ve heard the story […]

PZ’s Podcast: Susan, Downhill Racer, and Under a Cloud

EPISODE 280: Susan Human nature is extremely vulnerable. I’m thinking of one’s inwardness, and the way a seemingly small rejection, loss or blow of some kind can be enough to unravel a person’s entire equilibrium. You can compare yourself, even if you’re basically a coper — many people aren’t — to the seemingly impregnable ‘Death […]

All the Life We Cannot See (and All the Death We Should Be Doing)

Recently my four-year-old son has become obsessed with all things Hamilton: the musical, the person, the coffee table book I bought my husband and repurposed as a spontaneous gift for my boy, who flips through it daily and asks me to sing him the songs. He’s turned his older brother onto the soundtrack, which means […]