The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Holy Week Clergy Burnout

There's this story we clergy tell religiously around this time every year.Not the thing about the Last Supper. Not the cross, and the empty tomb. I mean, those are good too, but we have this other one that is really our favorite. It's this story about how BUSY we are; how long the list of details, how impossible the expectations, and how exhausted we are just thinking about it.Stop me if you've heard it.Where did we learn that story? I believed for a long time that it was in one of … [Read more...]

From a Small Circle

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out … [Read more...]

Coal is Not Coming Back: And Nostalgia May Kill Us

I could hear the trains from my bedroom. All hours of the day or night. The sound was such a part of the backdrop of my childhood, I feel a little disoriented now if I find myself too far from the tracks.Any tracks will do. Luckily, in America, trains are everywhere.My dad worked for the coal company for the better part of my first 20 years. He worked in the office, not underground, so I won't try to pretend I'm Loretta Lynn. But I do watch that movie whenever I'm homesick... because she … [Read more...]

The Growing Voice of Progressive Faith

Progressive Christian voices are gaining power on the political scene. And lately, I'm seeing reports to that effect from some unlikely secular sources. LikeHigh Noon for the Religious Left, from the Bloomberg News;and "Religious Left" Emerging as Political Force in Trump Era, from Reuters.On the one hand... like we been sayin'. In many ways, this is old news. These stories cite the influence of leaders like William Barber II and the Moral Mondays movement; Jim Wallis and the So … [Read more...]

My Belated Love Affair with Pawnee, Indiana

I'm inexcusably late to the party. I'm the first to admit that. But now, I am in. I am so, so in. I am in love with Pawnee, and I don't care who knows it. Leslie Knope is my spirit animal--as any Enneagram Type 7 will attest, a hilarious and sometimes painful window to my own soul. I can't get enough of Ron Swanson's off-beat brand of Libertarian feminism; and Chris Traeger is LIT-erally the best thing that ever happened to my Netflix queue.Also, I'm pretty sure I talked to the real life … [Read more...]

A Traveling Musician’s America

Happy to share this great guest post with you today...by my little brother!As a touring musician, I’m abundantly fortunate to get the opportunity to see so much of this wonderful country. Red states, blue states, liberal bastions, “flyover” country - every bit of it. For 18 years, I was a staunch progressive raised in a small Kentucky town, and now I’ve ended up in the liberal enclave of Nashville, Tennessee - a progressive island in an extremely red state.Division, marked by geographic b … [Read more...]

Conversion Therapy is Exactly Why We Need Affirming Churches

It is horrific. It is abusive. It is inhumane. And it is happening with more frequency than we realize.In the last week, both Newsweek and ABC's 20/20 featured shocking exposés of Christian "conversion" therapy for LGBT youth. It will make you sick.Which is precisely why you should watch.And--precisely why more churches need to be more intentional about telling our LGBT kids that God loves them. As they are. Period. No ifs, ands, or "once you've completed this great program." Because … [Read more...]

Good Samaritans, Good Immigrants, and Bystander Problems: Sermon for Lent 1

Maybe they were feeling a little disgruntled… After all, the Samaritans in the neighboring village had just been terribly inhospitable to them. Maybe that’s why the Samaritan, transformed by the narrative powers of Jesus, becomes the unlikely hero of this story. But “unlikely” is the operative word here. Even though "Good Samaritan” has become a blanket term for generic do-gooder in our modern day, secular culture, we cannot understate the inherent ‘bad guy’ implication that the term Samaritan c … [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...]