Festival of Faith & Writing: Ten Quick Observations

Every two years, readers and writers flock to the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI for the Festival of Faith & Writing. The campus buildings bear names like Huizenga, Vanderwerp and Hiemenga, reflecting the deep Dutch roots of the Christian Reformed Church with which the school is affiliated. True story: When I attended the Festival four years ago, in fact, I had a very tall blonde woman with a Dutch surname bend to read my name tag, take a step back so she could eye me up and … [Read more...]

Whose gifts are they?

I grabbed a paper cup and pumped hot coffee into it just as I did each week before the Sunday morning worship service began. The coffee table in the lobby of the church was a hive of pre-service Sunday morning activity. As I reached for a lid to cover my cup of brew, I noticed a small, gift-wrapped box tucked just behind the trio of sugar containers. I picked it up and noticed my name penned neatly on a tiny gift tag. I glanced around me at the crowd filling their cups and greeting one another. … [Read more...]

(Let’s go to the) Blog Hop!

Today, I am participating in the "Best Thing Blog Hop," an event hosted by writer and blogger Ellen Painter Dollar. The blogosphere is a fast-paced place, and what bloggers write—even when it's good quality and receives positive responses—is quickly left behind, eclipsed by more recent content. Ellen wanted to give bloggers a chance to shine a new light on older blog posts that we consider to be among our best work. I am one of several bloggers participating in this event. Please visit Ellen's bl … [Read more...]

Review, sort of: Still

I read Katelyn Beaty's excellent review of Lauren Winner's new book Still: Notes On A Mid-Faith Crisis (HarperOne, 2012) when the book released, and it immediately shot to the top of my "must read" list. I've been a Winner fan since I read her wonderful Girl Meets God in 2002. Still is the story of what happens after the rosy first-love glow of new faith fades.She writes, "In the American Church, we have a long tradition of telling spiritual stories that culminate in conversion, in the … [Read more...]

Falling Upward, Chapter 7

I’m blogging through Father Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: A Spirituality Through The Two Halves Of Life. Even if you haven’t read the book, please stick around and join the conversation here if you’re facing a mid-life transition. Father Rohr offers us all some meaty food for thought.Here are links to my previous posts in the series:  Intro — Chapter 1 — Chapter 2 — Chapter 3 —Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 * * * * * * * This chapter is entitled "Home and Homesickness", and talks about the … [Read more...]

All In The Family?

Yesterday, the Out of Ur blog ran a post about one of the key reasons for the demise of Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral. The author of the post wrote, "A former Crystal Cathedral board member believes family dynamics led, in part, to the decline of the ministry." After summarizing the low points of the long, messy decline of this particular megachurch, the writer asks readers to offer their responses to questions including Would you want to be part of a church that's essentially a family … [Read more...]

Graduating from my own writing “school”

"Mrs. Van Loon, I couldn't do my assignment for you because I was too busy doing my work for Mrs. Stewart's class.Three or four other kids sang back-up to that excuse: "Me either...Too busy....Mrs. Stewart."I was teaching a writing class for a home school co-op, and had asked the middle-school group to pull out the short writing assignment I'd given them the week before so we could work on them together. A third of the kids in the group were also enrolled in an expensive public speaking … [Read more...]