Mockingbird 2018 take-away

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Look at my face, (far left) clearly I am loving whatever I was listening to. 

It’s hard to go to a conference as monumental as Mockingbird and absorb all that is spoken to you. It is as if you’re drinking from the proverbial fire hydrant. 

Thankfully the good folks at Mbird share the bulk of their keynotes speakers and breakouts on their conference podcast The Talking Bird. Which means I am free to let the talks wash over me and cleanse my soul, instead of having to take notes and listening attentively as you might with a lecture you will be quizzed over.

This means that often small simple quips and quotes stick me me. Short but powerful phrases wedge themselfs in my mind and get stuck like a Sia song, repeating over and over until they are etched into my mind. 

I want to share two such quotables with you now. 

The first, a small one-liner from Sam Bush during his inspired talk about the use of biting humor in SNL. Sam is impersonating Paul Zahl, the godfather to all in attendance at Mockingbird. 

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“The gospel is 100% yes, and if there’s a hint of no, then it’s all no”

Robbie and I have found ourselves saying this, or variants of (usually in our best PZ voice), many times. After a recent watching of School of Rock and seeing this scene. While talking about some friends who are struggling with forgiving (and forgetting, the truly hard part) each other for past transgressions. 

Hear me, friends. If we believe in the Gospel, in it’s healing transformative nature, then we have to be 100% YES! 

Not 99% yes, but also remember when you did that thing, or hurt me in this way. 

It is either YES, (the Gospel) or No, (the law). 

If you are using any percent of no, or law, then you have not yet let the Gospel in. You are using the law and, and as they say, the law NEVER produces what it demands. 


The second, from David Zahl, closing out his 11th annual Mockingbird conference. 

“We have lost our sense of smell” 

What DZ means by this is that we are so quick to judge those whom we cannot smell; the people, avatars, caricatures of the people that reside on the internet. 

As someone who is very very very quick to judge. (I confess now that if you are reading this blog, if you know me at all, I have judged you for something, I am sorry) 

“You need to smell them” is what I have begun repeating to myself over and over again as I find myself so quickly jumping on my favorite thrill ride: judging people on Instagram from the comfort of my dirty house while wearing a stained crappy t-shirt watching garbage television. 

This is my magnus opus. I am fantastic at judging from afar. 

I am working on it, straying away from social media more often than not is helpful, but it’s more than that. It’s a sin of pride, and a sin of covetousness. I convince myself that I could do whatever you’re doing… but better. The truth is I am furious that I don’t have what you have, or didn’t do what you did. Keeping myself at arms length with social media is a good start, but it’s not the end of my sanctification. 


This is the tip of the iceberg for Mockingbird 2018, I am still chewing and mulling over these ideas, letting them work in me. 

Other highlights from this year would be:

Tim Blackmon, Charlotte Getz + Stephanie Phillps, and the conversation with Fleming Rutledge.

The latter being my new favorite Tweeter: @Flemingrut. The inspiration I garner from this woman is almost overwhelming. 


Thank you Mockingbird for all the work you put into making this a highlight of my year for the past three years. Each year getting sweeter and sweeter as we get to know more folks. 

Friends, listen to some of the talks from Mockingbird, and remember: smell your neighbor and the Gospel is 100% yes. 

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