15 Words and Phrases that Deserve to Die

 "What did you say?"  With spring cleaning behind us, it's time to reexamine the language we use and the real meaning of some of the expressions that have found their way into our vocabulary.  Here are 15 words and phrases that deserve to die.  Feel free to add your own nominees in the comments selection below and strike a blow for cleaner, direct communication! "In my humble opinion" (IMHO)I am about to say something that I don’t want to prove and I don’t want you to c … [Read more...]

12 Things Clergy Spouses Want You to Know

I'm an Episcopal priest and my wife is a "parish" priest, which means that her "day job" -- if there were such a thing in a church (not) -- is shaped by the rhythm and demand of caring for the spiritual needs of a congregation.So, I have experience as a clergy person and as the spouse of a clergy person.  The spouses don't often get a chance to tell their own story, but if they could, here are twelve things I think they would want you to know:One: We are thrilled to be here.  This isn't j … [Read more...]

7 Reasons Why the Church Should Learn to Disagree

According to experts great and small, we’ve lost our ability to disagree.  Rather than discuss our differences and stay in conversation with one another, we go on the attack.  We belittle, judge, and demonize one another.  And, when all else fails, we walk away.That’s a loss, not just because we are divided into ever smaller tribes of what we imagine are like-minded groups of people, but because there are important reasons to learn how to disagree.What should be troubling to us as Christ … [Read more...]

6 things people need to hear from churches (but are rarely said)

The recent Pew study on the grown of “Nones” and the “Spiritual But Not Religious” has roiled the church.  But we really shouldn’t be surprised.  We’ve known for a long time now that the apparent “churchiness” of the fifties and sixties was an exception, not the rule.Frankly, I’m not convinced that the statistics charted by Pew are even “a trend.”  It could be argued that Americans are just getting honest about how disenchanted they are with church.Trend or not, the disenchantment can be … [Read more...]

What do you do with doubt?

What do you do with doubt?The answers to that question are as varied as the history of doubt itself.Some people celebrate the contribution that doubt makes and consider it the hallmark of intellectual maturity.  Halfway through a hefty volume on the history of doubt, Jennifer Hecht cites an old Zen maxim: "Great Doubt: great awakening. Little Doubt: little awakening. No Doubt: no awakening."  On that reading of things, doubt is the engine of enlightenment and insight.At the other end … [Read more...]

10 things your clergy should tell you before you get married

Behind closed doors clergy often ruefully observe that they would rather officiate at a funeral than preside at a wedding.That sounds harsh, but I’m convinced that it’s because most of us watch in frustration as weddings, as well as marriages, get off on the wrong foot.Here’s what your clergy wants you to know:1. Don't wait for the movie. Save the moment. Snap the pictures. But remember: there’s no substitute for being in the moment…making vows, exchanging rings, and looking one anoth … [Read more...]

12 Things that your Pastor, Priest, or Minister Wishes You Knew

“Church Pew with Worshippers” | Vincent van Gogh | 1882  1. YOU are a source of encouragement to us. All too often the people in our pews imagine that clergy are islands of devotion – except, of course, when we fail spectacularly and publicly. We aren’t. Like everyone else we draw encouragement from others who are faithful and courageous. You shouldn’t be that way for our sake, of course, but don’t forget, there are days when we draw renewed strength from your example.2. Don’t forge … [Read more...]

7 Life-Changing Reasons You Should Take a Vacation This Summer

As the semester ends, perhaps this is as good a time as any to reflect -- looking back and looking forward -- to the benefits of both education and travel.  Although they are hardly the same, both should do a number of things:1.  Education and travel should broaden us -- alerting us to the complexity, wonder, and struggle that marks human life. When we go home they should sensitize us to both the shortcomings and the gifts of the places where we live.2.  Education and travel should ch … [Read more...]

PB & J

We’ll be getting the names of the people nominated for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church in a few hours and people have already named the demands of the task.But I have a sinking feeling that – just as with the election of other national leaders – some of us will fall into the trap of thinking that this election will change everything. There will be conversations about the particular camps into which the candidates fall; their capacity for leadership; and the likely shape of their time … [Read more...]

Dear “Rev”

We sit there Sunday after Sunday.We do our own faith-work, coming to conclusions about what matters and doesn’t, about what we believe and about what we don’t believe.Help us to understand you and help yourself to communicate the Gospel.Please consider the following advice:One: Lose the stained glass language.It’s important to connect our faith to the historical language of the church and we know that much of the vocabulary that you use is a form of shorthand. Clergy, just lik … [Read more...]