Approaching Mystery: Seeing Ghosts with Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

I have come for the quiet and the solitude. For two weeks, I’ll live in this old school building with four other writers. My bedroom here was once a classroom, our shared dining room a cafeteria. Each day, I pass through the empty gym to shower in the locker room, and it’s not hard to picture its blond-wood bleachers populated by the gangly, awkward bodies of teenagers. When my flip-flops squeak on the waxed gym floor, I jitter at my… Read more

Songs As Sanctuary: Jenn Morson on Johnny Cash

Ever since I can remember, when I saw Johnny Cash, I saw my dad. Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Maren Grossman on Lady Gaga

Pope Francis has spoken of “credible witness,” the kind of witness that makes Christianity seem believable. I’m not sure that it’s opposite has a name, but I’m sure I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the kind of witness that makes Christianity seem like a cruel joke and a broken promise. I’ve seen it writ large, and I’ve seen it up close.                     “You’re giving me a million reasons to let me go, you’re giving me a million reasons to quit… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Cassidy Hall on Alanis Morissette’s “Head Over Feet”

  In middle school I had no idea who I was. I was mostly known for wearing adidas track suits and writing notes to all my friends and their boyfriends. Looking back, I can see the inner workings of a late bloomer — always uncomfortable, usually awkward, curious about everything without really knowing how I felt. From confusing crushes on other girls to strange obsessions with female musicians, middle school was a constant brush with the mystery of myself.  … Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Rob Saler on REM’s “E-Bow the Letter”

  When you grow up in a small town, it’s easy to assume that the world more or less mirrors the hierarchies and values of that microcosm, just at a larger scale. As a kid who didn’t hunt, play sports, or drink (although one of those would change dramatically in a few short years), the social and symbolic economies of my hometown did not really have much of a place for me. One thing I remember vividly is how the… Read more

Dark Devotional: That’s the Wrong Baby

How do I forgive someone from my heart, when my heart still stings and I find it hard to respect them? Read more

Approaching Mystery: Brian Doyle Attends “The Viewing”

Walked into the chapel at dusk last night, and there she was, in the casket off to the left, with her son standing sentinel. He is a priest and he was smiling a little in welcome as people walked up to him and hugged him, if they were young, or shook his hand, if they were older men. The older men who shook his hand would take his right hand with their right hands and then cover the two clasped… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: John Robinson on Project 86

I’m not a cheery feel-good person. In fact I’m quite misanthropic and struggle with fitting into positive-smiley-handshaking-company. I have frequently found myself a reject of mainstream Christian circles.   86’ed. Thrown out, gotten rid of, banned. In food service, it refers mostly to an item no longer being on the menu, but can also mean to deny someone service. In church, I’ve been that guy.   It’s no coincidence that shortly after becoming a Christian in 1995, I discovered a… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Jonathan Ryan on Matisyahu’s Crossroads

Matisyahu came into my life when I was as a Presbyterian minister at THE Ohio State University. I had just been elected to be the president of the Inter-Faith counsel and through that position, made friends with a woman who was a Jewish rabbi. We attended each other’s student groups and would often discuss various theological viewpoints. We were talking music one day and she said, “I think you should check out Matisyahu, you’ll dig him.” I don’t think that… Read more

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