MLK’s “Single Garment of Destiny” & Slavery’s Legacy

My friend Kate was featured on NPR’s “Race Card” project last week, talking about her family’s history as slaveowners. Her grandmother upheld the “idea of the benevolent slave owner,” telling Kate proudly that their family’s slaves had been “trusted house servants,” rather than plantation laborers. Kate eventually realized, however, that such pride is sorely misplaced. Reading Kate’s [Read More...]

Painfully Aware of the Abyss: A Review of Holly Burkhalter’s “Good God, Lousy World, & Me”

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I once read a novel in which the protagonist divided humankind into two categories: those who are always aware of the “abyss,” and those who are not. “The abyss” referred to the darkness and suffering that pervade human life, the agony that screams from newspaper headlines and whimpers in lonely corners. I immediately recognized myself [Read More...]

Deep in a Place of Exile, Waiting for the Return

I don’t much like when people I care about are deep in the “exile” part and waiting for the return. But I have to believe that God will bring all of us who have times of exile to that promised place of abundance, community, and hope. [Read more...]

God with Us, Even When Christmas Stinks

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Many things can get in the way of the happy, sparkling Christmas celebrations to which we aspire. The Dollar family has perfected one such thing—the Christmas stomach bug that tears its way through the family, leading to days of extra laundry, interrupted nights, and general nastiness. (Three years in a row, people—2010, 2011, and 2012. [Read More...]

A Busy Advent Doesn’t Make You a Bad Christian

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When she was only two days old, my firstborn was the subject of an Advent sermon at our Episcopal church. Our rector, Bill, told about visiting me the day before Leah was born. He recalled the physical cues in our apartment indicating that a beloved baby was expected—the quilt handmade by my mom draped over [Read More...]

Broken Ribs, Crooked Backs, & Seeing Our Vulnerable Selves Reflected in Another

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Having a body that defies cultural norms as mine does (it is crooked, uneven, lumpy, and limpy) can be alienating. The regular absence of anyone who looks like me in my daily routine creates a space that can fill with either negative feelings (shame, frustration, grief) or positive (pride in the scars that testify to [Read More...]

On Grace, and Its Absence? One Year After Sandy Hook

It has been a year since I gathered with other parents in my children’s elementary school cafeteria, shocked, stricken, and aware that nothing would ever be the same again, after 20 first graders and several women were murdered by a troubled boy with a gun. My own youngest child was a first grader too. I [Read More...]

Stuck in the Middle with Bonhoeffer

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So, this arrived on my doorstep about two weeks ago. I agreed to read and write on The Bonhoeffer Reader for the Patheos Book Club because I’ve always wanted to know more about Bonhoeffer and his theology. But I didn’t know the book would be so big. (The photo doesn’t quite convey its heft. It’s really, really big.) [Read More...]


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