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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 […]

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. […]

11 Beautiful Lesser-Known Hymns for Ordinary Time

The Devotional Art I Need Right Now

Enjoy Your Forgiveness

A few years ago an interesting phrase began popping into my head, and it began to have a big impact on me and my thinking. That phrase is Enjoy Your Forgiveness. I want to share a few thoughts about that phrase, along with its origin in my thought process. It was during an Easter season […]

Tolkien’s Advice for Preachers

I don’t pretend to be a Tolkienologist or any sort of expert in Tolkien’s literary oeuvre. I’m more like a wannabe in that regard. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and I’ve read through the Middle Earth quests several times. But also: Peter Jackson’s adaptation is the best […]

Grandmommy’s Grace

This one comes to us from Will Ryan. My birthday, May 14th, has always been a source of pride for me. It’s not a particularly momentous day in the grand scheme of things, but in the particular year I was born, that day happened to be Mother’s Day. I’ve always reveled in being able to […]

Amateurs in a Time of Crisis

Reflections on My Conversation with Middle-Aged Ministers at a Hotel Bar

Beyond Fear: How Religious Organizations Respond to COVID-19

Creative Love in the Midst of Crisis