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Religion


The Most Lost of Them All: Madness and Rescue from Kafka’s Prison

Whether Franz Kafka was a religious writer has been considered an open question. For many people, of course, anything too dark, too weird, smacks of faithlessness. Edwin Berry Burgum once described Kafka as “the most lost of them all”; his “personal deterioration paralleled the degeneration of the society that produced him” (that is, Germany in […]

Overcoming Unbelief: John Updike on Feathers and Faith

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6–7) In John Updike’s 1961 short story “Pigeon Feathers,” forces conspire to kill a 13-year-old’s faith, but […]

Grace at a Funeral: A Father’s Day Reflection

When it was his turn to speak, I didn’t even recognize him. I hadn’t seen him in 30 years. Making his way to the podium, he paused and genuflected before my father’s casket before sharing his reflections of having known my dad. His name is Ryan Sattler and he and his family had lived directly […]

Why Richard Rodriguez and I Keep Taking Our “Inner Atheists” to Church

“I believe in Jesus Christ, the Christ who was a loser in human history—destroyed by this world—whose life reveals in its generosity and tragedy the most complete and challenging version of theism I know. What the New Atheists do not comprehend is that the crucifix cannot be mocked. It is itself mockery.”

A Splendid Failure: A Preacher’s Guide to the Pulpit

This article by Paul Walker was featured in Issue 7 of The Mockingbird: The Church Issue. The sixteenth installment: “The Sports Issue” is in the works! My hat is off to every preacher of every stripe and persuasion, regardless of the depth, insight or content of the sermon. Every sermon exacts a spectacular cost from […]

God Never Left, We Just Didn’t Know He Was There

Forty-five years ago, a small band of 20-something’s were empowered by Cornell University to guide and grow a “Residential College for the Creative and Performing Arts.” It was an interesting choice. The 5 of us — 4 Resident Advisers and a Head Resident — took it very seriously, and, well, it was 1975. Our dorm […]

A Grave Burden

Blessed are those who carry / for they shall be raised. – Anna Kamienska Several years ago, during Christmas vacation, my dad and I were discussing funerals. This is not as weird as it sounds. We were two pastors talking our trade. The conversation turned to my own grandfather’s service, which had taken place twenty-five […]

Under Robert E. Lee’s Shadow: Growing Up in The Lost Cause

It was announced last Thursday that the six story tall statue of Robert E. Lee on Richmond Virginia’s Monument Avenue is going to be removed. It is a response to the murder of George Floyd and the following week of protests and riots in the city. The news says that the rest of the Confederate […]

Pentecost Plans (near Minneapolis)

A couple of weeks ago (which now feels like years ago), my husband Ryan contemplated the familiar yet still mysterious story in Acts 2 and tried to prepare his Pentecost sermon. He was also working to coordinate with the other pastor of our Oromo brothers and sisters from Ethiopia who meet in the church building weekly. […]

Curiosity in Science — and Faith

The following is an excerpt from from Why Science and Faith Need Each Other by Elaine Howard Ecklund. The author is a sociologist at Rice University, with a focus on religion and public life. This passage can be found in Chapter 4, “Curiosity.” You remember some conversations for the rest of your life. When I […]

A Citizenship of Nothing but Belief

Once, in college, I attended an inter-denominational Christian event. Students were asked to introduce themselves and the church tradition they represented. One girl laughed and said, “I’m a Christian,” and left it at that. (She was probably a 4.) This left an impression on me, as parsing the nuances between traditions had become something of […]

11 Beautiful Lesser-Known Hymns for Ordinary Time

The Devotional Art I Need Right Now