Saving Atticus

One day, all is right with the literary world... And then suddenly, one of the most significant characters of all time has transformed into someone we scarcely recognize. How does this happen? And what does it mean?First, a word about narrative sequence: Go Set a Watchman is not the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Nor is it an intentional prequel. As legend has it (b/c any word spoken in reference to Nell Harper Lee smacks of legend) the author penned these pages first. They amount to what A … [Read more...]

Cloud By Day: Living With Ambiguity and Measuring Ministry

In every generation, people of faith journey across the hazy plains of “What does this mean,” and “why are we here?” Right about the time one band of believers establishes a clear sense of purpose and identity for their time and place…well, they die. It is time for them to step aside and let the kids figure out what’s next, with nothing but "a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night" to guide them. And is that ever a painful hand-off, every single time.We can wax poetic and … [Read more...]

Thin Pink Line: Teaching My Daughter About a Woman’s Place

The poorly applied fuchsia lipstick. The nervous stage mothers pounding Starbucks. (The GLITTER SPRAY. God as my witness, there will still be glitter spray eons after the apocalypse. It will outlive the cockroaches and Ted Cruz...) The piles and piles of bobby pins. Strains of Katy Perry lurking around every corner…It must be recital season. Mercy.I used to be a dancer. Then I was a dance teacher. Making the leap from performer/choreographer to dance mom has been a stretch for me. No … [Read more...]

Self-Evident Truths: 7 Ways the Constitution is Not the Bible

When it comes to guns, religion and the display of hateful symbols on public property, we hear much talk of “rights” and “freedom.”  The arguments amount to blindly sentimental patriotism at best, and toxic entitlement at worst. At the same time—and from many of the same quarters—equal rights for LGBT folks are met with language of “values” and “tradition” and “what God and/or our forefathers intended for all people.” This marks a tragic disconnect among those who embrace the Bible with one hand … [Read more...]

Holy Edges: 10 Things to Preach if Your Church is Divided on Gay Marriage

It’s going to be a great day at my church tomorrow. My congregation has been open and affirming since before that was a thing. So at our place, the news of the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage will be met with rejoicing. There will be a special prayer. There will probably be cheering. We might haul the kids’ noisemakers out of the closet. I know, and it’s not even Christmas!But in other congregations, there will be a sharp, icy chill in the air. I’m not talking about the churches where everyone— … [Read more...]

A Good Week For Progress, and the Power of “What’s Next”

Can we just take a moment and count the ways in which this has been a week of good news?Especially since it followed a week of such heartbreak and tragedy...  Sometimes the good news wins the newsfeed, and you just want to savor it. So let's talk about how the Supreme Court said "Yes" to Affordable Care . After years of legislators acting like 2-year-olds in a fight over the last cookie, the right to access medical care when you are sick, without having to sell your house and declare … [Read more...]

Good Call: 10 Ways to Nail that Pastoral Search Interview

It's that time again. All over the country, exhausted pastoral search committees plow through another pile of profiles, fumble with the technology for another round of Skype interviews, and miss another week of family dinner times to make a series of reference-check phone calls. Meanwhile, pastors sit anxiously by the phone, like they are waiting for the daggone quarterback to call on a Friday night, just hoping for that next small sign of hope: "we are moving ahead in our selection process, and … [Read more...]

Prisoners, Nuns and Mockingbirds: a Summer Reading List

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Summer is for slackers. And non-fiction is for suckers. I stick by that, and in that vein, my summer reading list is usually ALL fiction. But this year, I’m going to diverge from that just a little bit. Like many white people in America, I’m realizing more every day that I don’t know the first thing about race, or racism, as it lives and breathes in the soil of my own country.  I heard a challenge recently: to make a commitment to read only books by peo … [Read more...]

Signs, Symbols, and Things that Hurt Us

After last week’s mass shooting at a Charleston AME church, predictable threads of dialogue emerged in the media. People talking about gun control. People talking about mental illness (note: racism is not a mental illness). People continuing dialogue about racism. People raising flags, and people taking them down.Is it just me… or do arguments for keeping the Confederate flag on display sound a lot like the arguments that pro-gun advocates use for zero-restriction laws?It’s not just me. T … [Read more...]