Duke Drama: A Lesson In Mission Focus

A guest post from my friend (and Duke Divinity School alum) Chris Furr. When I attended orientation as an incoming student at Duke Divinity School in January of 2003, Dr. Willie Jennings, then Dean of Academic Affairs in the Divinity School, entered the room holding a sculpture. The sculpture was of a woman, seated, holding her hands in her lap. She was holding them as if they were in pain, and her knuckles and hands were swollen. She wore an exhausted expression on her face. Dr. Jennings … [Read more...]

Prayer for Uncertain Times: Embracing Mystery as an Act of Resistance

Most of our human existential crises can be traced to a single source: our deep desire to KNOW.We may expect our friends to keep a lid on what happened in last night's episode of whatever, until we can get home and catch up on the DVR. But in real life? Forget it. Give us the spoiler alerts. We want to KNOW. We want to know when we'll find love, and if love will last; we want to know when we'll land that job, or make that move, or fall into that fortune; we want to know that our retirement is … [Read more...]

Your Church Does Not Need Volunteers

I was writing my weekly note to the congregation  (a few days late, because I took Monday off and it's all downhill from there). Usually in this note, I share a few words about the message for Sunday so that we can all be reflecting on the same topic throughout the week. It makes the sermon more of an ongoing conversation. I sometimes discuss something that's going on in the life of the church, as well. But this week, it was more of a thank you note. Because when I think about how much work my ch … [Read more...]

Stories Untold: Saving Sesame Street from the America First Budget

Guest post: Rev. Elizabeth GrashamI won’t bury the lede: I vehemently oppose President Trump’s “America First” budget for innumerable reasons.  But one of the big reasons I oppose it is because he’s threatening Sesame Street.Before my divorce was final, I took my son to see his incarcerated father on a once-a-month schedule.  Our visits were always the same: the car would be searched at the entrance gate, we would take a Ziploc bag of quarters, my keys and ID inside, we would go through a … [Read more...]

The False Idol of “Results:” The Sins of Our National Budget

If you want to know the heart of a nation, just look to its budget.Ours, at the moment, does not contain anything resembling a heart. Or a conscience. Or a brain, for that matter.The first draft of the proposed national budget, revealed this week, shows significant cuts to everything except security. Programs like Meals on Wheels, that serve the most vulnerable, have been eliminated completely. School lunches and after school nutrition programs are still on the chopping block. The … [Read more...]

The World All Around: How We Can and Can’t Shield Kids From Violence

I recently wrote a post about letting our kids have their privacy and not sharing every blessed part of their lives on the internet. I stand by it. That said--I'm going to share this thing, because it is important. And not just about my kid.Last week there was a terrible shooting in our neighborhood. In what is now (finally) being called a hate crime, a man in a local bar and grill shot two Indian natives, as well as another man who tried to stop it. One of the men has since … [Read more...]

The Fast I Choose: Lent, and What Consumes Us

Years past, I have rejected the notion of giving things up for Lent. I adhere more to the practice of adding a discipline TO my life, rather than the discipline of taking something away. The act of self-denial has always felt a little pious and inauthentic to me. Fine for other folks, if that works for them; but for me, nothing has ever felt meaningful enough to purge. I mean, in the grand scheme of the suffering of the world, what does it matter if I give up chocolate or t.v.?But I find … [Read more...]

Overshared Childhood: Parenting and Privacy in the Social Media Age

Friday night situation: everybody's home after Dad's been traveling all week, nobody has anyplace to be, the house is clean, and there's Chinese takeout for dinner. I'll add to this perfect tableau that my kids have mostly graduated from watching cartoons full of grating, whiny voices and now like to watch kids cooking shows on the Food Network.  All in all, a lovely evening--and if you've got a busy family, you know that these kinds of peaceful home nights don't happen often. Or at least, they … [Read more...]

Refugees are Not Political

I'm sure I'm the only pastor in the world who's been accused of "being too political."Lol. I'm kidding. Every minister who addresses justice issues will inevitably be accused of being political.Sometimes it's true. Sometimes the church IS political, and sometimes that's ok. Read Benjamin Corey's post about how Jesus was political; and maybe we should be too.At other times, we aren't being political at all. Rather, the person who's accusing us of "wading into a political issue" is … [Read more...]