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When People Tell Me It’s Hard to Find a Church

When People Tell Me It’s Hard to Find a Church

People often reach out to tell us that they lean on our podcasts, sermons, and articles in lieu of church. While there’s something undeniably encouraging about the gratitude being expressed, at the same time it always makes my heart ache. I worry about who will bring them a casserole when...
The Breakdown Is Just the Beginning: Reese and Payton's Rules for Life

The Breakdown Is Just the Beginning: Reese and Payton’s Rules for Life

Recently, I was bequeathed a second-hand copy of Reese Witherspoon’s book, Whiskey in a Teacup, by a friend who knows my fraught relationship with all things Witherspoon/Hello Sunshine/Draper James. When said friend handed over the tome on the school playground, my eyes rolled even as my breath caught: the hot-pink...
On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

God bless Portlandia. Their first season contained a skit that has proven to be more than a little prophetic. In case you missed it (ICYMI): On the surface, Fred and Carrie are emphasizing how people compete over being well informed, how prideful our relationship with information has become. They’re lampooning...
Christian Battle Lines and the Narcissism of Small Differences

Christian Battle Lines and the Narcissism of Small Differences

I became a Christian during summer camp at age eleven, and few experiences since then can compare to the bliss of that first night and the month or so following it. I still remember, though distantly, the thrill of morning devotionals and a general sense of wonder at the strange,...
Thank God for Philip Pullman: A Religious Reader’s Guide to <i>His Dark Materials</i>

Thank God for Philip Pullman: A Religious Reader’s Guide to His Dark Materials

Spoilers below. Halfway through His Dark Materials, I heard rumors. By the books’ end, people were saying, the characters would kill God (and He would not be resurrected). I was a kid. Like all kids, I wanted to be good. I wasn’t interested in killing God. The extent to which...
Partisan Narratives (and Cruel Choirmasters) in an Election Season

Partisan Narratives (and Cruel Choirmasters) in an Election Season

Slightly updated for context: Living in a “swing battleground state” (VA), I get the privilege of witnessing the escalation of hostilities from a front row seat every election season. And escalate they do! From the ads on TV to the volunteers at the door, the signs on the street to...
Blood on the Chalkboard: Faith, Fear, and Education

Blood on the Chalkboard: Faith, Fear, and Education

“Instead of the schools existing to educate, they exist to provide a safe space from education.” So a friend described the goals of a certain party within her church. In a panic that their colleges are “liberalizing” (which is to say, scattering weeds within a carefully tended garden of white...
Latest entries


We All Get to Go Home with Beth Moore (and Jesus)

This week across my newsfeed, clergy colleagues shared an article from 2018 entitled “Women Bishops Were Active in the Fifth Century.” Now of course, as an ordained woman utterly unqualified to be a bishop but with worldly ambitions, I eagerly clicked: The fifth century image of a woman named Cerula shows her surrounded by open, […]

Paul and the Person: An Interview with Susan Grove Eastman

Recently I had the privilege of sitting down to interview Susan Grove Eastman to talk about her recently published book, Paul and the Person. Dr. Eastman is the Associate Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, and her book is a fascinating read. Paul and the Person breaks new ground on the complex issue […]

Ancient Samaritans and 70s Seminarians

It was curious to me that the first Christians didn’t see the parable of the Good Samaritan as a purely ethical mandate. I’m talking about the oft maligned, rarely approved interpretation of the Good Samaritan parable that nearly every early church father embraced. If you dabble in the waters of church history, then you know […]

The Seculosity Creed

Thank you to 1517 for the opportunity to put this bit of sub-Nicene ridiculousness together and then have 400 people recite it in unison…! I’ve made a couple tiny tweaks since then. Probably goes without saying but this was written in a spirit of play and confession, not superiority. A big shoutout to Ben Maddison for his help:

 

On Comic Books: Our Commonly Felt Need and the Search for Hope – Kyle Tomlin

Right on time for the new Watchmen series, this video from our recent conference in NYC features commentary on the graphic novel, among other classics. Guided by “God and Comics” co-host Kyle Tomlin, we consider stories of superheroes and what they tell us about who we are, who we think we are, and what we are ultimately longing for. Characters include Superman, Billy Batson, Batman, the Joker, Doctor Manhattan, and others.

On Comic Books: Our Commonly Felt Need and the Search for Hope – Kyle Tomlin

Frederick Buechner’s Bad News

A choice reflection from Frederick Buechner’s Quote of the Day (h/t KW):

The Gospel is bad news before it is good news. It is the news that man is a sinner, to use the old word, that he is evil in the imagination of his heart, that when he looks in the mirror all in a lather what he sees is at least eight parts chicken, phony, slob. That is the tragedy. But it is also the news that he is loved anyway, cherished, forgiven, bleeding to be sure, but also bled for. That is the comedy. And yet, so what? So what if even in his sin the slob is loved and forgiven when the very mark and substance of his sin and of his slobbery is that he keeps turning down the love and forgiveness because he either doesn’t believe them or doesn’t want them or just doesn’t give a damn? In answer, the news of the Gospel is that extraordinary things happen to him just as in fairy tales extraordinary things happen. Henry Ward Beecher cheats on his wife, his God, himself, but manages to keep on bringing the Gospel to life for people anyway, maybe even for himself. Lear goes berserk on a heath but comes out of it for a few brief hours every inch a king. Zaccheus climbs up a sycamore tree a crook and climbs down a saint. Paul sets out a hatchet man for the Pharisees and comes back a fool for Christ. It is impossible for anybody to leave behind the darkness of the world he carries on his back like a snail, but for God all things are possible. That is the fairy tale. All together they are the truth.

– Originally published in Telling the Truth

Another Week Ends: Cursed Energy, Leaning Out, #ChillTimes, Nick Cave, Squadparenting, His Dark Materials, and Gerard Manley Hopkins

1. First up, the viral op-ed in the New York Times about “leaning out.” Author Ruth Whipmann responds to popular imperatives for people—especially women—to be more assertive, aggressive, what-have-you. Beneath these may be a motive to empower, but they’re coming, after all, in the form of demand. You know, the law. More expectations to be…more. […]

Emily Dickinson in Autumn

Besides the Autumn poets sing
A few prosaic days
A little this side of the snow
And that side of the Haze –

A few incisive mornings –
A few Ascetic eves –
Gone – Mr Bryant’s “Golden Rod” –
And Mr Thomson’s “sheaves.”

Still, is the bustle in the Brook –
Sealed are the spicy valves –
Mesmeric fingers softly touch
The eyes of many Elves –

Perhaps a squirrel may remain –
My sentiments to share –
Grant me, Oh Lord, a sunny mind –
Thy windy will to bear!

(123B, Franklin Variorum 1998)

Image credit: Deng Yingyu

The Convenient Battlefield of Language, or, “This Zadie Smith Is Everything”

On the Internet, a word that will always get attention is “Actually.” You can bet it will be followed by such-and-such a reason why so-and-so is wrong, and what could be more interesting? Especially among wordy or academic types, language is so prolific that drawing lines of what should and shouldn’t be said seems imperative, […]

“Out of Nowhere…I Can Imagine Good Things Happening”: Justice and Unbelievable

Recently I barreled through the Netflix mini-series Unbelievable. It covers the true story of a woman who is charged with lying about being raped, and the two detectives who (unknowingly? accidentally? by design?) solve her case years later. The first episode is, yes, “hard to watch.” Marie’s suffering, as she is asked to tell and […]

Life, Love and Other Impossibilities: Your Savior is Not You – Nick Lannon

In our next video, Nick Lannon, author of Life Is Impossible (And That’s Good News), speaks at our annual conference. Topics include: asking out a crush, turning your frown upside-down, Saving Private Ryan, the Sermon on the Mount, a tyrannosaur, and a double quarter-pounder with cheese. Bombs away!

Life, Love and Other Impossibilities: Your Savior is Not You – Nick Lannon

Text Message for the Otherworld

When I was in school, Facebook was young. One evening, I saw a dead classmate’s profile, his picture featured on the sidebar, a recommended friend. I spent the next hours perusing the status updates he had posted when he did not realize his days were numbered. For anyone wondering, now Facebook has an answer for […]