My Favorite Things, 2012 version

For some reason, my annual "Favorite Things" lists (2010 and 2011) get far less press than those of a certain former daytime talk show personality whose first name rhymes with Bophrah. I don't understand it.And though, as Art Buchwald (whose first name rhymes with both tart and fart) once noted, the best things in life aren't things, I do want to offer you my list...just in case you're in the market for some inspirational ideas of your own.If it is above 60 degrees outside, my thoughts … [Read more...]

The sound of red in your head

When you read those red letter words in your Bible, the ones Jesus spoke, what sort of inflection and emotion do you hear speaking those words to you as you "listen" to the red in your head? In your soul? What tone of voice do you imagine Jesus is using in any given situation?I daresay many of us imagine that his tone is calm, nearly flatline, like an FM broadcaster at 3:00 a.m., whether he is speaking to a single outcast woman at midday, or a herd of angry religious experts. In some sort of … [Read more...]

I was wrong about you, Beth Moore

Beth Moore, you surprised me.When I worked at a seminary bookstore, various women's ministry leaders from the local church community would call or come in to order curriculum for their study groups. It seemed as though about 90% of them ordered Beth Moore's materials. The Moore-orderers tended to be older, conservative women from churches that sponsored women's events titled with words like "tea", "spa", "scrapbook" and "chocolate" (sometimes in especially-trying-too-hard combinations like " … [Read more...]

Buh-buy, Siloed Spirituality

Though the suburban Chicago landscape is cluttered with far more strip malls than silos, it was the image of those tall, self-contained round storage units that seemed the best image to describe the problem. Get out of the city, drive through this region's farmland, and you'll see one or two silos marking most every agricultural property. Each self-contained silo holds similar contents, but none have any visual connection with the others around them.The Evangelical churches in our area were … [Read more...]

Praying for our friends

Bill and I were supposed to be in Jerusalem this week for a Caspari board meeting, but finances kept us here in the U.S. (He Skyped in to the meeting instead.)The headlines coming out of that region are stunning and sobering. The opining unending.The only thing I can do is pray. The words of my prayer feel like fragments, ephemeral mortar tucked with thousands of other last-ditch pleas between ancient stones. But standing in Jerusalem, it is easy to feel that the stones themselves, witnesses … [Read more...]

Review: Silence And Other Surprising Invitations Of Advent

I have yet to meet anyone who likes to wait. I usually stink at it, to tell you the truth.But within the rhythm of the Christian year, Advent is the block of time leading up to Christmas given over to waiting. The practice is as countercultural as it comes. December's secular Festivus frenzy, with its shoppingholidaypartiescookieexchangesconcertsdecoratingwrapping is an exhausting runup to December 25. Though some count down through their December with Santa-themed "Advent" calendars, a nod to … [Read more...]

Leavin’…on a Sunday mornin’

"I want to leave my church, but I feel as though I've committed to them for life," my friend K. said to me recently.She went on to explain that her congregational leaders taught that membership was a covenant between the member and the church. There was no exit clause unless a person moved out of the area. "That isn't to say that people don't leave the church anyway. But when they do, everyone acts as though there's been a bad divorce in the family."When a church invokes words like covenant … [Read more...]


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