346 episodes

From "Telstar" to "Vault of Horror," from Rattigan to Kerouac, from the Village of Bray to the Village of Midwich, help PZ link old ancient news and pop culture. I think I can see him, "Crawling from the Wreckage." Will he find his way? This show is brought to you by Mockingbird! www.mbird.com

PZ's Podcast Mockingbird

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 4.8 • 64 Ratings

From "Telstar" to "Vault of Horror," from Rattigan to Kerouac, from the Village of Bray to the Village of Midwich, help PZ link old ancient news and pop culture. I think I can see him, "Crawling from the Wreckage." Will he find his way? This show is brought to you by Mockingbird! www.mbird.com

    Episode 385 - Jack, Be Nimble -- NOT!

    Episode 385 - Jack, Be Nimble -- NOT!

    I keep hearing the word "nimble" these days. It comes up in relation to declining and therefore merging church institutions, in which a press release declares that the sale of a church property or the merger of two diminished churches or dioceses will now enable the Church to be more "nimble" in relation to community outreach or the desire to build bridges to the world.

    What the word hides is institutional attrition. It is a way of putting a brave face on empirical defeat. (It's a little like the adjective "nuanced". Watch out.)

    I saw so clearly at the recent Mockingbird Conference that the renewal of the Christian Church is not tied to a horizontal strategy or even a quality of enterprise. The renewal of the Church consists in its re-affirmation of the One-Way Love of the Gospel of God. The pain of individual experience is so widespread that all it takes is a word -- a pastoral "position", we might say -- of empathetic attentive love for the person in pain to be helped beyond measure. Because the word of empathy and compassion is the Word of God's Grace.

    One saw this in almost innumerable one-to-one conversations at the Mockingbird Conference. (Didn't you?) Personally, I could not feel less "nimble" -- tho' you may remember that I was a total jock in PZ's school days!

    The fact is, helping is not about nimble. It's about One-Way Love and the Divine Compassion for sufferers in all shapes and sizes. That's the ticket.

    Oh, and even if Noel Coward was a committed agnostic, the scene between disconsolate mother and ghostly son in Scene Two of Coward's play "Post-Mortem" (1930) touches on the Greatest Thing in the World. I don't think he ever wrote a greater paragraph than the speech which the grieving mother makes to her ghostly son.

    LUV U. (And it's not "complicated".)

    • 21 min
    Episode 384 - Theme & Variations

    Episode 384 - Theme & Variations

    Mary Zahl was recently the guest on an episode of a podcast known as "The Brothers Zahl" (out this summer). The subject of the cast was parenting, and I can think of no better illustration of a good parent.

    Mary listed three core themes of enduring motherhood/fatherhood that feel utterly right to me. They are (1) complete dependability when your child is little; (2) no control or pressure when your child is growing -- let them or her pursue their own interests; and (3) try to detach from your grown child's life most of the time, tho' not always. Sometimes -- if very occasionally -- you may have to intervene.

    I was awed by my wife's reflections, the mother of our three grown sons.

    I also couldn't help theologizing a little, for each of her three themes has a direct relation to the Christian Gospel. (1) mirrors the One-Way Love of God's Grace. (2) suggests the continuing solution of Grace to the problem of Law. (3) connects the "Eastern"-sounding insight of non-attachment with the Christian fact of God's Incarnation -- God's personal intervention in this septic world.

    This cast is also a sort of pre-op moment for the Mockingbird Conference, which begins this Thursday in Manhattan. Do join us if you can. Mary and I will be there, and hundreds of others, too. I'll speak about parenting, tho' Mary (by my side) is the best authority on that front.

    This cast is dedicated to Larry Brudi and Bob Smith, and reverentially, to Dickey Betts.

    • 25 min
    Episode 383 - Do You Need a Receipt?

    Episode 383 - Do You Need a Receipt?

    I wonder if you are ever struck by the ubiquity of this phrase at the end of every checkout line in the known universe: "Do you need a receipt?". Or, in grocery stores, "Find everything you were looking for?". Or, again in every cell-phone (business) call on earth: "Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

    In an earlier day, it might have been: "Paper or plastic?"; or, even earlier, "VHS or Beta?"

    I believe these everyday reflexive questions are an expression of the World, the Flesh and the Devil's active desire to shut down anything that might resemble or enable a real exchange between persons.

    In this cast I tell some stories of interchanges at the 'cash point' in which the reflexive words of the cashier suddenly fell apart, and the real person came through. The truth was out!

    Now here's an either-or statement: Everybody all the time is sitting on a major inward issue.

    I used to think that was an overstatement, and should be diluted to something like: Most people at some point in their lives find themselves sitting on an engrossing inward concern that they are reluctant to share with anyone else. But experience has taught me the further truth:

    Everybody all the time is sitting on a major inward issue.

    You the Listener will need to decide what you think about that. But one thing I do know and for absolute sure: The answer to life is not bound up with the question of whether I need a receipt.

    LUV U!

    • 22 min
    Episode 382 - We Interrupt This Program

    Episode 382 - We Interrupt This Program

    You can't help noticing, if you study Soviet-Era Iron-Curtain sci fi illustrations and posters -- an activity which I feel sure governs your every waking minute -- that there are ZERO aliens or extra-terrestrial forms of life to be seen. The Soviets and the East Germans, who did in fact excel in graphics concerning space exploration, never ever bring UFOs or alien inhabitants of other planets into the narrative, either visually or narratively. Yes, maybe Tarkovsky "un tout peit peu" once, but he was exiled pronto from his homeland.

    There is a connection between the mandatory and aggressive atheism of Communism and the definite exile of any trace of openness to extra-terrestrial life. It's just an observable fact.

    So while you may enjoy Iron Curtain sci-fi for its pragmatism and occasional heroism, it is also totally un-cool, un-fun and un-hopeful.

    Where would you and I be without the possibility of answers that come from outside ourselves?

    As I say in the cast, relevant to a recent movie review of an old (but now Blu-Rayed) "film noir", nihilism, whether New or old, is ultimately suicidal. It is also self-sufficient in principle and therefore a crash-landing in real life -- with no survivors, by the way.

    So, hey, keep your mind open. Keep your heart open. And moreover, as Holy Week really teaches, God is Good; We Are Not Alone; and everything has a Purpose. LUV U.

    • 20 min
    Episode 381 - Up the Down Staircase

    Episode 381 - Up the Down Staircase

    I'm trying to put into words the core principles of accessible Christian theology.

    Not mentally or intellectually accessible, but feeling-accessible -- heart-accessible -- and therefore actually and experientially accessible!

    Karl Barth promulgated what was called a "theology from the top down". He saw himself as opposing theologies "from the bottom up". But it was a false dichotomy. We start from where we are -- and in base-level terms, where our hearts live (and die, sometimes daily); and then we are in a position to listen to Hope that travels from the top down. Theology, in other words, is neither from the top down (solely), i.e., entirely vertical; nor is it from the bottom up (solely), i.e., entirely horizontal. Christian theology is Up the Down Staircase!

    Oh, and I hope you like ABBA. "SOS" is one of the great songs of the Glacial Age. Not to mention Ash's track at the end of the cast, which is moving straight from the top end.

    • 19 min
    Episode 380 - It Only Takes a Minute, Girl (Pt 2)

    Episode 380 - It Only Takes a Minute, Girl (Pt 2)

    I don't tire of quoting Thomas Cranmer's 'meme' that goes like this: "What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies." That is so true to life.

    Now note its difference with the sentence quoted in part one of this cast by my old episcopal acquaintance in Australia: "Nothing can be loved at speed" (M. Leunig).

    But the heart always loves at speed!

    Perseverance and steady, thoughtful loving exists, yes, but as a fruit of heart-love: Its fruit -- its consequence -- its effect.

    And the heart, I say again, always loves at speed.

    You could almost say this is the secret of life. Cranmer certainly said it. You and I know it from experience. Almost all our core decisions were made "at speed". We didn't think them through before making them. Our heart was "caught", and so it went and "So It Goes" (B. Joel, 1990).

    When we said 'yes' to God, or when we first said a real prayer, it "Only Took a Minute, Lord'.

    We didn't "count the cost". We probably should have, but we didn't in fact. By the Grace of God, our hearts were so "warmed" (John Wesley on May the 24th) that the warm lasted. The warm kept heating us as long as life went on. "Listen to the Warm" (Rod McK., 1967).

    So, um, well, OK, I, ... Listen to your Heart. LUV U.

    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
64 Ratings

64 Ratings

Bil10923874 ,

I love This Podcast

Very thankful for years and years of PZ.

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My favorite

I can’t think of anyone who’s been more influential in my theological/life outlook than PZ over the last few years. He’s so funny, so insightful, so interesting, and he’s been so kind, gracious, and encouraging to me. He’s wonderful, and so is his podcast.

idestella ,

Ep. 304

Thank you for a very encouraging podcast from someone who has had at least one speed bump per decade!

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