At #Thanksgiving, A Wish for Freedoms

I lost one of my cousins this week. (As a hillbilly, I have lots of cousins.) In lieu of flowers, his wife is asking for donations for his burial—open casket of course, because that’s the only way Christians of their ilk can do it. The expensive way. My cousin worked two jobs and died of a massive heart attack at age 54, leaving behind a wife, three kids, and debt. Lots of debt. Unlike my own counterintuitive and elusive theology,… Read more

Now What?

Help me think this through, people. On the one hand, there are folks—good, honorable folks—who are saying that we need to pay attention to the result of this election, to get serious about addressing the needs and concerns of people who feel abandoned by the system. That we need to really hear the perspective of white, rural Christians who feel like they are discounted or even made fun of by the liberal elite. And, you know, I am all about… Read more

Kick the Dog, Pet the Dog—Off-Loading Anxiety

There’s two things we can do with suffering: we can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. That’s really as complicated as it gets. We can kick the dog; or we can pet the dog. Or the cat. Or the parakeet. Or our partners or kids or co-workers or fellow citizens. Because, as Franciscan priest Richard Rohr points out, suffering will be either transmitted or transformed. We transmit suffering in negative ways: depression, anxiety, anger, sleep loss, appetite… Read more

Be about that loving and justice-making

Dear friends, I wrote the post below on the 10 year commemoration of Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood of 2005.  I think it bears repeating at this point in American history, as we bear witness to unapologetically hate-filled White Supremacist Nationalists preparing to take up residence in the White House. We breathe in and out together, breathe in and out together, breathe in and out together… From September 2015: The poet Mark Nepo writes that when “we find ourselves in… Read more

You Are Not Wrong

You are not wrong if you are grieving. You are not wrong if you are full of rage. You are not wrong if you are terrified. You are not wrong if your heart overflows in joy at the sight of the full moon or a running child. You are not wrong if you want to be at home with your music and your cats. You are not wrong if you want to be out in the streets in protest. You… Read more

A Republic If You Can Keep It

I’ve long been a member of PEN America, a writers group dedicated to freedom of expression. One year, at an international convention in a capital city better left unnamed, I remember realizing that being “hosted” by a government could also mean being controlled by a government. We authors were wined and dined at the president’s palace, but the building was surrounded by police in riot gear sporting automatic weapons. So was the conference hotel. Whether we were being protected or… Read more

After the Election

Dear Ones, I expect, like me, you feel as if you had gotten the news that a member of your family died suddenly in some bizarre accident. It feels unreal, and frightening and impossibly wrong. You wonder what you could have done to keep it from happening. You are furious at your loved one for doing something so reckless and stupid. You feel like the world as you knew it has turned upside down. You aren’t wrong. You weren’t wrong… Read more

Social Gospel 2.0: Public Theology and #StandingWithStandingRock 

#MoralMonday, #MoralRevival, and #StandingWithStandingRock have ushered in a new day for public theology. Religions can easily lead to navel gazing—all about me and my issues and problems. Public theology is about directing our attention outward into such areas as politics and economics. Public theology necessarily takes into account sociology, anthropology, psychology, and on and on. The currant iteration of #Moralrevival is recreating the Social Gospel movement of a century and more ago and might bring mainline Protestantism back into the… Read more

Mulligan Stew, Truth, and Worldviews 

In the early twentieth century the activist Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “The most revolutionary act is a clear view of the world as it really is.” As a Humanist, this is the idea I hold most dear. I don’t want placebos or half-truths, even if they feel warm and fuzzy. Nope. I want the truth. Even if it’s harsh, dark, and cold. Fact is, everyone has a worldview. It might be like Mulligan Stew—made up of whatever happens by; or it… Read more

how we spend our lives…

Back before we became adult adults, my younger sister and I would call each other whenever we were overwhelmed with life  and one of us would remind the other: Breathe in. Breathe out. If you forget this Nothing else matters. Friends, let us take a moment to be grateful for this essential element of life: Breathe in Breathe out Pay attention Breathe in Breathe out Pay attention I was reminded to pay attention not long ago, when I was participating… Read more