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

Songs as Sanctuary: Eve Alexandra on Depeche Mode’s “Blasphemous Rumours”

I was raised without music or book censorship, for the most part.  My parents were not church goers. The first time I encountered the music police was when I was 17.  My friend turned off Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” and said, “I can’t listen to this one.  It’s against my religion.” Two years later I converted to Christianity, and I was surrounded by music police.  I stopped listening to Depeche Mode, too.  Which is kind of a bummer.  I missed out… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Kristen Allen on Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”

I love music. I love all kinds of music. My mind uses music like a label on a file folder. Like so many of you, different songs or artists or sometimes genres will help me recall a specific person, event, or period of my life. The Beach Boys will never fail to remind me of my late father, and  “Walking on Sunshine” always transports me to a morning at summer camp, right after I got a letter from the boy… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Michael Delp on Bob Dylan’s “Ain’t Talkin”

Once, decades ago, Dylan went nuts, jumped from one universe into another and called himself a  Christian. Get this: I believe Bob is a prophet, and for proof, all you have to do is ask yourself what kind of mind writes as if he is channeling a Ouija voice, and is dipping his pen in an electrified ink well? He moves so easily between mysticism and sarcasm, dancing the edge of irony. But, Bob lost me for a time, back then,… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Sarah Margaret Babbs on Tupac’s “Changes”

  A few months ago, I went back to Chicago with my daughter, now 6. We were visiting her godmother, my best friend, for the weekend. Driving north from Indiana on the Dan Ryan, we drove beneath the south side overpass I travelled across every weekday from my apartment in Hyde Park to the under-resourced Marquette Park elementary school where I taught 6th grade – one of a handful of white teachers in a Black and Latino school. Growing up in… Read more

Songs as Sanctuary: Cameron Dezen Hammon on Springsteen’s Thunder Road

Once not long ago, at my lowest point of faith, of faithlessness really, after my father died and I was deep in the trenches of “nothing matters,” I listened to a podcast. This podcast in particular talked about putting things that inspired wonder or awe in you, into a “God box” in your mind. Like a sunset, or the sound of birds singing, or whatever. Put it into the “God box.” The guy on the podcast said it helped him… Read more

Songs As Sanctuary: Justin Hopper on Steely Dan and Dive Bar Gothic

This was not what you might expect for the kind of place that had people get stabbed over a game of pool: Lou Rawls and Teddy Pendergrass, the J Geils Band and Styx. Read more

Dark Devotional: D’Angelo and the Thief Who Stole Heaven

Original art by Brian C. Jocks Four thoughts on this Sunday’s lectionary: ON THE PRESENCE OF GOD When I doubt God’s presence in the world or in my life, I can always find him, there, in the cacophony of my doubt. When I suspect that prayer is superstitious, when I am almost certain that I’m just too weak and fucked up to live without this idea of “God,” when my faith is an oppressive family heirloom, when my belief thickens… Read more

Approaching Mystery: Playing Dead by Catherine Wiley

I’ve decided it must be possible to find out what death feels like. Read more

Wind River and The Death of the “Godly Man.”

(Spoilers Ahead) A few nights ago, I returned from dropping off my kids and decided I didn’t want to go home right away. It’s always a bit lonely after they leave for their mom’s place. The house is a bit too empty and quiet. I decided dinner and a good movie would help me ease into being kidless for the next two weeks. I decided to see Wind River, an indie film which has earned a significant amount of buzz… Read more

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