September 23, 2020

My first look into the eyes of racism was in 1977 when I was a freshman in college. I attended Bob Jones University—an institution I now know was built, both historically and theologically, on a foundation of racism.[1] My student job was an administrative assistant to the university president’s executive assistant. One of my assignments was a memo to the staff asking them to clean up after themselves in the faculty bathroom, because it looked like a bunch of n***s... Read more

September 15, 2020

It happens from time to time—often unexpectedly. I call it “The Phil Situation.” You’re at a neighborhood Labor Day barbeque, or a company Holiday party, or a family reunion with distant kin from Enid you didn’t know you had—when, all at once, Phil sidles up to you. Phil the Pill from Apartment A12. Phil the accountant from Purchasing. Second Uncle Phil from Enid. Drink in hand, Phil offers a random, unsolicited comment about Antifa anarchists inciting violence in Portland, or... Read more

June 29, 2020

Racism and its ugly root system of white supremacy is being exposed and called out and named and known in a way that could liberate us all from its evil grip if we embrace this moment and this good news. And it’s such good news. One catalytic moment sparked a fire that has set America ablaze, and the world is catching its flame. A cell phone captured graphic footage of the tragic and brutal murder of George Floyd. That moment... Read more

June 10, 2020

The day after the weekend of protests in response to the summary and public police execution of George Floyd, a thoughtful, Christian Republican friend wrote on Facebook: Quick question to some of my fellow conservative friends: Have you ever taken the time and read anything on systematic oppression/racism? If not, perhaps take some time in the next couple of days and get familiar with the literature. I’m sure it will create more understanding and more productive conversations. I have long... Read more

May 22, 2020

With Memorial Day just a few days away, I’ve been reflecting on a conversation I had with a now-deceased parishioner who, along with more than 150,000 other soldiers, had stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.  While he lived to tell about it, he often jokingly acknowledged that he might have been killed had it not been for his short stature.  “The bullets flew right over my head,” he confessed.  “It was the only time in my life... Read more

May 19, 2020

When I was a little boy, in the early 60s, my father directed The Community School at Lincoln Elementary School in Kalamazoo. Lincoln School was in Kalamazoo’s predominantly black north side, literally just over the tracks from Kalamazoo’s predominantly white south side. My brother and I spent a lot of time at Lincoln school—every weekday in the summer and, during the school year, at least one evening a week and most Saturdays. We played basketball, raced around, took swimming lessons,... Read more

May 14, 2020

The prophet Isaiah depicts the dreadful and startling condition of humanity in chapter 59, verses nine to sixteen. Although he wrote this over 700 hundred years ago, its an accurate portrayal of our current society. “No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but... Read more

March 5, 2020

When I shared with friends and colleagues, two years ago, that I would be matriculating to Yale Divinity School, I received mixed reactions, to put it mildly. “What?? Why?! Do you want to be a priest?!” One colleague asked, on four separate occasions, “Wait, are you really religious? It’s religious studies??” It was as though she was testing me to see if I’d give the same answers with a glass of wine in hand as I would under the harsh... Read more

March 2, 2020

This Lent, the 40-day period of reflection and preparation that precedes Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, is like no other in recent memory. It comes on the heels of an impeachment process which further emboldened an already shameless president; news that Russia is continuing to meddle in U.S. presidential elections; and early presidential primaries and caucuses that may well signal who will vie for the presidency in November. At the denominational level, United Methodists are preparing to meet for General Conference... Read more

June 15, 2019

The morning sun was bright, and I couldn’t decide whether to keep the warmth on my face or, if overheated, I’d need to retreat to a swath of shade a few feet away. I sat in a weather-beaten, Adirondack chair on my front lawn in South Jersey—across the street from a small river. I wished it were more visible, but spring’s green growth blocks my view. I was left longing for the aliveness of what I knew was just beyond the thick hedge. I was nearing the end of an amazing book—"Brain on Fire". I had no idea it existed on a shelf in my 21-year-old daughter’s room, but when she made a pile for Goodwill I found myself attracted to the title, the subtitle maybe most especially: "My Month of Madness." Read more

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