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The (Step)Ladder to Glory

This reflection comes from Rev. Will Ryan. I never thought I had outsized expectations of how my career would go, but I certainly did have expectations. Once I got through the first year of seminary—which admittedly was an eye-opener to this guy who thought he could turn in rough drafts and get A’s (spoiler alert: […]

Sixty to Zero

In Lyndal Roper’s Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet, the author narrates the moment when Martin, a newly minted Augustinian monk, participated in his first mass as priest (1507). What made this moment especially charged was that his father Hans was present. Hans, you may remember, sacrificed to send his boy to college so that Martin […]

I Love You, But I’m Not Gonna Wash Your Feet

Sometimes I’m asked after our Maundy Thursday service why we don’t hold a foot washing like some other churches do on that night. They’re never quite prepared for my answer. The reason I don’t do foot washings is that I’m not sure about the theology communicated in that act, namely that we are at all […]

Rebuilding What We Never Made: Notre Dame

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. (Matthew 17:4) Those tabernacles were the best way that St. Peter could fully express his love of Jesus. But […]

The Sermon in Stone at Notre Dame

Notre Dame has burned. The cathedral had — “had,” how terrible to write — one of the oldest surviving wood frames in Paris’ history, comprising 52 acres of trees. Workers cut those trees down in the 12th century and made the beams. Each beam required the wood of a whole tree. The intricate lattice of […]

Preachers in Sneakers: A Merciful Mirror

When a friend sent me the Instagram account @preachersnsneakers, I was dumbfounded. A guy who goes by the name “Tyler” posts photographs of nondenominational mega-church pastors sporting sneakers alongside a cost analysis. It is funny and staggering. I had no idea that sneakers can cost hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. I mean, I feel […]

The Top Ten Reasons the Lectionary Sucks and Five Half-Assed Solutions

This one comes to us from Sarah Hinlicky Wilson: A lectionary is a collection of readings for Sunday worship, ordered according to the seasons of the church year. The version most widely used by mainline Protestants is the Revised Common Lectionary, though others such as the earlier Common Lectionary and the Roman Catholic Lectionary for […]

Botched Convocation for the Handsome Boy Modeling School of Ministry

“Why is everyone scowling at me?” I had a week(s) where every time I made eye contact with someone, invariably, they would have this pained look on their face. I had to look into a mirror, like Boris Karloff in Targets, before realizing what was causing it: my face. Every time a certain subject came up, […]

I Have Decided to Go to Church

Grateful for this reflection by Sarah Gates: I have decided to go to church. It’s a good idea. It’s at least a better idea than not going. I’ll probably feel bad if I don’t go. Specifically, I’ll feel bad about myself. I should go. I don’t want to go anywhere lately, but I will go. […]

Things We Cannot Say

There are things we cannot say. This is a fundamental truth about life. It is not a lesson we learn explicitly, but early in our childhoods we learn that some things are not to be spoken. Social pressure or the desire for social status cause us to keep our mouths shut. We learn that we […]

One Year Later: Still Processing the Willow Creek Crash

The first time I went to Willow Creek Community Church, circa 1994, I didn’t want to be there. My new pastor and boss was a fan of Pastor Bill Hybels, and our church staff flew to Chicago to attend a conference together. I feared that any church that large must be suspect. Still, as I […]

“Have a Token Lent” and Other Seasonal Suggestions from a Weary Jesuit

John L’Heureux was a Jesuit for 17 years before he quit in ’71 and got married. He’s also written an insane amount of fiction and poetry which I am slowly working through, and loving. I first encountered his work with The Rise and Rise of Annie Clark from a New Yorker issue last autumn and am […]