About Michelle Van Loon

Lent: One thing to try, one thing to taste

The first year I attended a school where Gentiles were the over- whelming majority, I noticed a classmate with a strange smudge of black in the center of her forehead.“Hey, you’ve got dirt on your face,” I said. I thought I was doing her a favor when I reached up to wipe it away.She recoiled in horror. “It’s Ash Wednesday. That dirt is supposed to be there,” she insisted.I soon noticed many of my classmates were sporting dirty foreheads. I had no idea what this strange ritual wa … [Read more...]

Protips: How To Be Ill While Adulting

For some, a marker they've reached adulthood can come in the form of signing a lease, buying a household appliance, or sitting on hold with the insurance company after filing a claim. One defining moment for me came when I was a young mom caring for my infant daughter and I became very ill. I did my best to take care of her (it wasn't pretty, but I muddled through), all the while wondering who was going to take care of me. I was grateful for my husband's presence, but since he couldn't … [Read more...]

Adult Baptism & Instruction

Is instruction in order to prepare for baptism a requirement in your church? If so, who is the focus on that process?If I’d been required to take a series of prep classes or undergo a formal catechism, I wouldn’t have been able to undergo baptism until I was an adult. I became a follower of Jesus as a teen, and my Jewish parents forbade me to attend church as long as I lived under their roof.However, I was presented with an opportunity to undergo baptism by immersion just months after I f … [Read more...]

Living The Jesus Creed This February

Hear O Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Readers familiar to this blog will recognize the words of the Jesus Creed. The last few months have stretched my understanding of the challenge and necessity of living these words. Not that I ever thought they were easy words. They’re dying t … [Read more...]

Why Your Deflated Retirement Dream Might Be God’s Open Door

Some of my favorite Seinfeld episodes feature Jerry’s visits to see his parents in Del Boca Vista, a fictional south Florida retirement community. In one scene, Jerry reacts to the petty politics and middle-school social dynamics among residents by saying, “These people work and wait their whole lives to move down here, sit in the heat, pretend it's not hot, and enforce these rules."Before they passed away, my parents lived in a retirement community near Ft. Lauderdale. My visits there con … [Read more...]

Sykes, Eliason, And the Hard Work Of Regret

This past weekend, I heard an expression of regret from a man who had shaped the faith and politics of thousands of of people over the last two decades. The chastened accounting of some of the damage he'd done was a rare and welcome admission. Though it has come so late in the game, I am a firm believer in the old adage that it is never too late to do the right thing. If that's the case, his admission came right on time.I have spent of time pondering the subject of regret. In fact, I even … [Read more...]

Evangelicalism’s Uneasy Relationship With Qohelet

The world-weary author(s) of Ecclesiastes seems to have been well-acquainted with privilege and power. This voice is named only by title (Qohelet*, often translated as "preacher", he's a sage who knows what's what) and a "son of David" (a ruler in his own right and an heir of the king; some suggest Solomon, but Bible scholars have lots of other ideas about the identity - or identities - of the author[s] of this book).  I thought about the "been there, done that" way in which the book o … [Read more...]