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Posts tagged "LAW"


From The Atlantic: Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?

Apple’s magazine and news service, Apple News+, served me up another parable of the little-L law from The Atlantic last week as I perused my News app. It’s a classic, keeping-up-with-the-Joneses type report about how we Americans are building bigger homes than everand yet our happiness tends to be inversely proportionate to the square footage of our new real estate. As usual, the dynamics of comparison, judgment, and self-salvation (AKA self-justification) are at play. A couple of takeaway quotes (emphasis mine):

To be clear, having more space does generally lead to people saying they’re more pleased with their home. The problem is that the satisfaction often doesn’t last if even bigger homes pop up nearby. “If I bought a house to feel like I’m ‘the king of my neighborhood,’ but a new king arises, it makes me feel very bad about my house,” Bellet wrote to me in an email. […]

Bellet sketches out an unfulfilling cycle of one-upmanship, in which the owners of the biggest homes are most satisfied if their home remains among the biggest, and those who rank right below them grow less satisfied as their dwelling looks ever more measly by comparison.

From The Onion: New Parenting Trend Involves Just Handing Children Bulleted List Of Things To Accomplish By 30

An inspiring new report from America’s Finest News Source. Visit here to read the entire thing…

NEW YORK—Several family experts confirmed Friday that the latest parenting trend involves just handing children a bulleted list of things they need to accomplish by the age of 30. “An increasing number of moms and dads are taking a more direct style of parenting that involves simply printing out a list of life achievements, handing it to their child, and telling them to get it all done before they turn 30 years old,” said Parents magazine editor Mallory Schneider, adding that the new technique encourages independence and has a built-in flexibility, as parents can customize their lists according to whatever specific expectations they have for their child. “These lists often span multiple pages and contain a variety of personal and career benchmarks… It really puts the power in the hands of the child—typically around the age of 10 or 11, when they receive the list—by allowing them to figure out how to achieve all the goals in the allotted time.” Experts also confirmed that many parents are giving their children a supplementary list of less-preferred, but still suitable, backup plans should they fail to complete the original set of accomplishments.

The Tyranny of Summer Expectations

The Tyranny of Summer Expectations

For the first time in recent memory, my kids are at loose ends this summer. As a parent who works full-time, with children who aren’t ready to stay home all day by themselves, I’ve relied on a complex network of expensive day camps and summer activities to keep them supervised and occupied. My parents moved […]

The (Step)Ladder to Glory

The (Step)Ladder to Glory

This reflection comes from Rev. Will Ryan. I never thought I had outsized expectations of how my career would go, but I certainly did have expectations. Once I got through the first year of seminary—which admittedly was an eye-opener to this guy who thought he could turn in rough drafts and get A’s (spoiler alert: […]

I Love You Without All Your Accomplishments

I Love You Without All Your Accomplishments

This week, I read an article in the New York Times about an Olympic medalist who recently died from suicide. Kelly Catlin was a lot of things in her short life. Beyond Olympic cycling, she was also a horse enthusiast, a triplet, a mathematician, and someone who lived by her own “personal code,” which she […]

Another Week Ends: Shameful Leggings, Artificial Intimacy, Gangs of Ecuador, Obituaries for the Cancelled, and Why We Procrastinate

Another Week Ends: Shameful Leggings, Artificial Intimacy, Gangs of Ecuador, Obituaries for the Cancelled, and Why We Procrastinate

It’s been #Seculosity Week if you’ve been following us on social media, with interviews and op-eds popping up all over the place. Check out DZ’s interviews with Mbird friend Scott Jones over on the Give and Take podcast, and the 1517 crew’s Banned Books podcast. And in the ICYMI category, #Seculosity made the Washington Post last […]

The Living Christ and the Principle of Grace

The Living Christ and the Principle of Grace

An astute reflection by Jared Jones: There is a bustling market for “principles” in the world today. “Timeless truths to live your life by.” “7 Principles of Health.” “376 Different Things to Try in Bed that You’ll Try to Remember for the Next Time You’re in a Relationship Because the Only People Who Pick Up […]

Announcing: Life Is Impossible (And That's Good News), by Nick Lannon!

Well, no one ever said life would be easy…

Pleased to announce our latest book publication, by longtime Mockingbird contributor Nick Lannon. Available next FRIDAY MARCH 15, 2019. You can pre-order TODAY through our online bookstore and Amazon.

Many of us will admit that, at times, life is hard. We buckle down, put our noses to the grindstone…and all too often wind up exhausted or burned out. But the problem isn’t that life is hard. The problem is that life is impossible! Fortunately, 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.

“A short, accessible classic.” – Paul F. M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice

“Masterfully clear and imminently practical, this book puts flesh on theology, roots it in daily life, and demonstrates over and over that when we run into the brick wall of the impossible, we are actually at the very door that opens to Christ’s saving work.” – Chad Bird, author of Night Driving and Your God Is Too Glorious

…a real, earthy, honest book that will set you free to admit that you can’t do it. But he doesn’t leave you there. Nick points beautifully and creatively to the One who did it for you.” – Tullian Tchividjian, author of One Way Love

“Good news, told and illustrated well.” – Zac Hicks, author of The Worship Pastor

“…like the finger of John the Baptist, [Life Is Impossible] points away from our life as it points to the lamb, the saviour who takes away the sins of the world.” – Dr. Jonathan A. Linebaugh, editor of God’s Two Words

PRE-ORDER LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE TODAY!

Another Week Ends: Silicon Valley #Seculosity, Airborne Absolution, Big Law Kills, Maslow's Smartphone, Stan Lee's Humor, and True Detective Pikachu

Another Week Ends: Silicon Valley #Seculosity, Airborne Absolution, Big Law Kills, Maslow's Smartphone, Stan Lee's Humor, and True Detective Pikachu

Wrapping up the latest from the week, we’d be remiss not to recap the biggest news, which is that DZ’s new book Seculosity is now available for your pre-ordering pleasure! For a preview of the content, go here, and to get in your pre-order, go here. (According to those ‘in the know,’ pre-orders are actually what make […]

On Naked Trust: Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, Revisited

This weekend our friends in San Diego, at the Here We Still Stand conference, are commemorating the 500th anniversary of Luther’s landmark disputation wherein he drew a distinction between a “theology of glory” and a “theology of the cross.” With this in mind, we’ve selected the following excerpts (doozies, really!) from one of Mockingbird’s favorite and most frequently referenced texts—Gerhard Forde’s On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518. (Note the language may at first blush seem lofty or abstract, but the gist, when you get to it, yields major implications for everyday life.) This, on our relationship to God:

It is a sheer gift to be received only by faith, by being called into relationship as an entirely passive receiver. God, that is, insists on being related to us as the giver of the gift. What God “demands” is, as Luther will put it a bit later, “naked trust,” pure receivers. To be a receiver, to believe that the gift is complete, is to be “right with God.”

This means there are two ways we can miss the mark of righteousness before God, two ways the relationship can be destroyed. One is more or less obvious: outright sinfulness, unrighteousness, lawlessness, self-indulgence, what the Bible would call “worldliness” or, perhaps in more modern dress, carelessness or heedlessness. In other words, we can just say to God, “No thanks, I don’t want it, I’ll take my own chances.” The other is much less obvious and more subtle, one that morally earnest people have much more trouble with: turning our back on the gift and saying in effect, “I do agree with what you demand, but I don’t want charity. That’s too demeaning. So I prefer to do it myself. What you are offering is ‘too cheap.’ I prefer the law, thank you very much. That seems safer to me.” What this means, of course, is that secretly we find doing it ourselves more flattering to our self-esteem — the current circumlocution for pride. The law, that is, even the law of God, ‘the most salutary doctrine of life,’ is used as a defense against the gift. Thus, the more we “succeed,” the worse off we are. The relationship to the giver of the gift is broken. To borrow the language of addiction again, it is the addiction that destroys the relationship. The alcoholic can be either a drunk or a “dry drunk.” While the latter is socially preferable, there is little to choose between them in a broader religious view. One can be addicted to what is base or to what is high, either to lawlessness or to lawfulness. Theologically there is not any difference since both break the relationship to God, the giver. (26-27)

…preaching against our own ability…does not give cause for despair because it seeks to prevent the ultimate despair that will inevitably result if we rely on those abilities. At the same time it is true that such preaching brings about the final surrender of faith in self, the “utter despair of our own ability” that is inspired by and prepares to receive the grace of Christ. Ultimate despair is due to the temptation to believe that there is no hope beyond our own abilities. Despair itself then becomes ultimate and so leads to death. Utter despair of our own ability, however, looks to the grace of Christ and so leads to life. (66-67)

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Seven Verses One Through Three

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-3, NIV)

I find obedience to this command to be very elusive in my life. It’s tricky, and I can never quite get the hang of it. Sin truly lies waiting to ambush us…and the worst assault is our blindness to what we’re indulging. So often, I find myself judging people before I even realize what I’m doing. In the moment, it just seems like normal assessment and observation. I think I’m seeing the real, flesh-and-blood, image-bearing person…but I’m really viewing a perverted caricature I have created in my mind. For me, that individual’s faults have literally become who they finally are. It’s so unconscious most of the time… Yet sometimes I know what I’m doing but can’t stop…

I’ve heard it said that unbelief is the sin beneath all sins/sinning. I want to argue then that self-justification is the pleasure beneath all pleasures. There is something intoxicating and pacifying about that moment when I look at my neighbor and feel in my heart, ‘I’m glad I’m not like that…’ It’s pacifying, but not satisfying. The only satisfaction we can find is the satisfaction of the law which Jesus accomplished for us.

How do I resolve this tension? I don’t want to judge, but I do. I want to see the real person in front of me, but I can’t. Thanks be to God: Christ incarnate literally embodied and fulfilled ‘judge not’ (see John 8:11). Christ crucified was judged with a harsher measure than we judge one another. You were crucified with Him. You are hidden in Him. You were judged and found innocent…therefore the record of not judging your brother is perpetually and eternally yours. Even while you secretly thank God you are not like others…the Spirit graciously reminds you, you are like His Son.

You Must Be This Tall (To Receive Grace)

You Must Be This Tall (To Receive Grace)

(Note: This was written with help, insight, and revision from my wife… Thank you, Angela.) “Wait a minute, Ma’am… does she have a disability?” The question cut through both of us like a word of law, judgment, and accusation. What was she getting at? What was she implying? Where are we going with this? Sigh. […]