6 Simple Ways to Annoy Non-Christians

Sometimes we Christians get a little confused on best practices for alienating those who don't agree with us. The Bible is clear: sometimes it is just our faith itself that's the offensive bit. But we don't need to leave it at that. Here are six simple moves that help ensure that the non-Christian people around you find your Christianity thoroughly annoying.1. The bait-and-switchIn this move, you invite unsuspecting non-Christians to an event that is actually some kind of church service … [Read more...]

The terrifying possibility of being raptured before our wedding nights


Like other children raised in dispensationalist circles, if I couldn’t locate my parents — our parsonage home was large and sprawling — my paranoid ideation included the possibility that not only had God cosmically arranged for my orphanhood but had also simultaneously damned me to suffer seven years, or possibly an eternity, of torment.Consequently, I prayed the “sinner’s prayer” many, many times over just to make sure I was really and truly “saved.”As scary as the doctrine of the raptur … [Read more...]

The beauty of the ordinary and what makes an artist: Spark + Tumble Photography


The connections we make in this life, across continents and across oceans, are nothing less than astounding, I think.A year ago I read a book review by the incomparable Lisa Ann Cockrel; a review that closes by noting that the book in question left Cockrel "craving latkes with spiced applesauce." As I was in Malawi at the time, and craving ALL the things I couldn't get there, especially food things, I found myself craving the very same thing. So I wrote to Lisa -- whom I'd written to before … [Read more...]

For the first time in (almost) forever…


Regular readers may have noticed that I appear to have, well, disappeared.(Apart, of course, from my new blog at Religion News Service.)It's been a very, very long couple of months. The 100-calorie, snack-size version is that we're back in the States now.And here is some of the emotional truth of the whole story; the story of our long and winding road to this particular point, a guest post at Cara Strickland's blog.I cried while unpacking plates yesterday.My son, who is … [Read more...]

How I learned to stop worrying and just eat the darn cupcake


Food wasn't a good gift from God to be received and eaten with pleasure and gratitude. It was something to fear, and fear it I did. The original sin, I believed, was a kind of gluttony: a deadly sin. It was better, according to Proverbs, to put a knife to my throat than to indulge in that sin. And in a distorted attempt to please God, I came to regard almost every meal as potentially gluttonous. One day when I was 16, my mother came home from work to find me sobbing on the front stoop, unable to … [Read more...]

Why I hope there will be more cartoon characters like Hiccup


My sons are small and skinny. They are nothing like the heavily muscled superheroes they admire.That's just one reason we love How to Train Your Dragon: because while we're used to hearing about girls' toys being relentlessly slimmed-down, sexed-up, and princess-ified, we tend to talk less about the vision of 'masculinity' presented for our boys' consumption.Hiccup is skinny and small and brilliant. He breaks the rules and breaks new ground. He is an inventor and a creator. He is a … [Read more...]

Can reading help us to become better people?


I have a confession: sometimes when I’ve finished a really good novel, I miss the characters badly. I worry about what’s going to happen to those whose fates are left mysterious; I grieve for those who have suffered or died, I rejoice over marriages and babies and feel and think all sorts of things about people who don’t actually exist.But of course, there’s nothing unusual in that confession; it’s the thing that keeps us turning pages -- immersing ourselves in an imaginary world and caring d … [Read more...]

About that bill in Arizona…and what other implications it might have had


I grew up in a Baptist church that didn’t condone the use of alcohol. But it was also located in an area where tourism was a key industry, which meant that a lot of young (and not-so-young) people were employed in restaurants. Restaurants that served alcohol.Different people in my religious circles had different opinions on the subject, but I can remember more than one conversation ending with the acknowledgement that almost anything could be construed to violate certain Christian b … [Read more...]

Clothing sizes are arbitrary. Stop fretting over them.

The dress was too small, so I wouldn't buy it. It came in a larger size, but I wasn't about to wear that size—in my mind, it was "too big."We've all been there, inordinately focused on the size number on the label. Women have fretted about their sizes—and how sizes differ from brand to brand and garment to garment—since standardized sizing was created. One reason the current sizing system exists is to prevent women from having to admit their objective measurements and weight to sales … [Read more...]

Why does animal suffering hurts so much?

 I've encountered a lot of sad animal stories -- in books, on the web, and in real life -- recently, and I've mused over why I find them so distressing in a recent post for Religion News Service.A friend, commenting there, noted that one of the reasons animal suffering may break our hearts so much is because animals are so very innocent; so very dependent. It reminded me of This American Life host Ira Glass's rationale for why he cares for his incredibly high-maintenance dog, … [Read more...]