LIBERATE 2013 Profile: David Zahl


Our final speaker profile is David Zahl, who is Director of Mockingbird Ministries and  editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. On Friday morning David will offer a breakout session, entitled “Grace & Media.” Born in New York City, David graduated from Georgetown University in 2001 and then served as an itinerant youth minister with FOCUS (Fellowship Of Christians in Universities and Schools) in their New England Boarding Schools region. David and his wife Cate currently reside in Charlottesville, VA with their two boys, Charlie and Cabell, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church.

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Here is what David has to say about his talk:

A friend recently confided that one of his chief anxieties in his new relationship had to do with confusing how he’s presented himself online with the truth of who he ‘actually’ is. A 21st Century problem if ever there was one! When The Onion joked that “90% of Waking Hours Now Spent Staring at Glowing Rectangles”, they were commenting on just how much our lives are mediated by computers and the Internet. Yet as much as technology and social media have made communication easier, it often seems that we are more alone than ever.

A study published last year in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking found that the more time people spent on Facebook, the happier they perceived their friends to be and the sadder they felt as a consequence. In other words, while some of us look at our friends’ vacation photos and see joyful memories, most of us see Who We Are Not or Who We Should Be. Of course, Facebook isn’t the problem, nor is Twitter or Instagram or smartphones, or the endless stream of information we send and receive about ourselves every day. Human beings have always felt the need to justify themselves–to each other, to themselves, and, ultimately, to God. The only difference these days is that we have more-or-less nonstop opportunity to do so. The parade of works righteousness–both in the “secular” realm of beauty and money and experience or the religious one of personal piety and devotion–never ends. It’s exhausting to say the least!

Fortunately, the Gospel directly addresses those whose browser histories don’t match their status updates: Jesus brings good news to those who are stuck in the whirlpool of human identity–which is all of us, analog or digital, Mac or PC. So join us on Friday morning as we explore what Rest for the Restless might look like in a wired and tired world, maybe even the freedom and hope “Our Only Mediator and Advocate” extends to media-saturated men and women. Only requirement is a sense of humor about yourself.


If you’re interested in some examples of David’s work, here are a few of our favorites:



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