Showing posts from July, 2018

Libraries and Churches

I've had a life-long appreciation for public libraries. I remember being pulled in a wagon down the sidewalk from our house to the library when I was probably 4 or 5 years old. One of my first jobs was at a library working as a page (as in, person who shelves books, not an actual book page). My dad's second career was as a reference librarian. And I enjoyed working at the library in high school so much that I worked at my seminary's library later on while a student there.

Since having kids, I've gained an entirely new love for libraries. My daughter and I make a trip every Monday to our own library, where she not only chooses a new batch of books to read, but she also takes time to play with the toys that they have set out for kids' enjoyment. Sometimes she plays with others, sometimes she prefers being by herself. But every week she asks if we're going, and every week I'm pleased to say that we are.

As always we took our weekly trip this past Monday. It wa…

Forms of Faith: Creed and Trust (book excerpt)

Below is an excerpt from Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band.

The song “Eh Hee” is a single that Matthews released on September 4, 2007. He played all the instruments for it, and an accompanying video was released the same day. One of the refrains is a chant based in the music of the San tribe of South Africa, which inspired Matthews to write the song.

After the opening chant, the first words in English seem to be an acknowledgement of the various religious traditions found all over the world, and the different ways they name and conceptualize God. However, there are also many ways that we either name or carry out evil, big and small, some of which we own ourselves but much more that we blame on other people or entities. These opening lines are not a judgment on religious practice or belief; rather, they are a reminder of the diversity of belief that people hold.

While this song does not seem to take issue with belief in general, it does zero in on …

Vintage CC: The Gift

I wrote this post back in February 2015, when I was thinking about a certain part of my personality that serves me well in life and ministry but just as frequently has been a burden that I've wanted to be rid of. I imagine that, while the specific "gift" may vary, many have a similar love-hate relationship with some part of themselves like this.

For as long as I can remember, I've been told that I'm good at empathizing with others; that it's one of my gifts.

One of my father's most treasured memories of when I was maybe 3 years old was a moment when he was seated as his desk, the burdens of the world weighing heavily on his shoulders, and I climbed into his lap and just cuddled with him. I apparently sensed what he needed, and I provided it as best as a toddler knew how to do.

I'm glad for that story, and I've mostly been glad for this gift that I've apparently been given. I don't really brag about it, because I don't think it's so…

A Prayer in Search of a Plan

based on Ephesians 1:3-14

Faithful God, so often we read or hear about your plan for us or for the world but wonder at what it could possibly be. We see around us the ways those who make up your creation injure one another physically, emotionally, or spiritually and ask what sort of plan could be in the midst of it. Or we wake up to a new day to face questions in our own lives—how we will make it, how we will cope, how we will be with those whose views or practices are hurtful or difficult, how we will manage those problems that seem to have no easy answers—and again we ask what sort of plan is behind it all.

Through Jesus, you show that you have not made plans to do active harm to us, but you do plan to never leave or forsake us. You instead plan to draw your embrace ever closer around us in times of struggle and uncertainty, to lead us onward through thorny paths and to help us see new light and new life through our tears, to claim us every day as your own and grant us the courage…

Five Hard Truths About Being an Author

As regular readers know by now, I just released my second book into the world, Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band. My third, Prayer in Motion: Connecting with God in Fidgety Times, is due out later this summer. All this means that I totally know all that being an author entails, right?

Not really. I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants every single day with this stuff. I learned some things after Coffeehouse Contemplative came out that I've been able to apply to Wonder and Whiskey's release, but I still don't think I've even scraped the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being an author.

Let me be clear: I know how to write a book. I can do that part. In fact, I'd call that the easiest part. It's everything that comes after that I've found more difficult. And I've learned some hard truths about the reality of authorship that others aspiring to publish a book should know going in.

Please understand th…

Looking for a Scapegoat

A few years ago, my pastoral colleagues passed around a picture on social media of a person crying with the caption, “When I was a kid, I thought everyone in the church got along.” Identifying the source of the conflict in a church can be tricky, because what people are really upset about isn’t necessarily what they say they’re upset about. Have you ever witnessed or been a part of a church argument that, after the fact, seemed strange? Fights over not having enough tablecloths to use during a dinner. What the pastor wears on Sunday morning. A stain on the youth room carpet. Seemingly small conflicts have real potential to divide a congregation, but may also not really be what the people involved are upset about. One of my favorite sayings in ministry is, “this is not about that.” That is, whatever the presenting issue is (such as a complaint about tablecloths), is really about something else that won’t be as apparent (worries over finances that have resulted in no tablecloths). People deci…

Book Review: Outside the Lines by Mihee Kim-Kort

Queerness transgresses boundaries and allows us to simply be, without label or category, specifically around gender and sexuality, Queer is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. It is particular and expansive. It's less definitive; it does not point to you or me and say, "You are queer,," but instead makes a wide-open space for all people to find footing in relation to one another and their own lives. - Mihee Kim-Kort, Outside the Lines

Like many who perhaps are of a certain generation and older, "queer" was not something that you wanted to be called. It was used as a playground insult at my elementary school; an insult rooted in homophobia meant to sting the person at whom it was hurled. Whether one actually identified as LGBTQ or not, kids (particularly boys) tried their best to avoid being called queer.

As a derogatory term, of course, the word has been used in much more harmful ways at those who do identify in non-hetero terms. It is a labe…

The Basement

Previously: The Taskmaster, The Meeting, The Sitdown

The hour is late. The rest of the family has tucked themselves away for the evening and a quiet has settled over the house after the usual rush of activity. Despite the beginning of summer break, nothing today felt less busy: we'd still both gone to work and taken kids to daycare or day camp, and the four of us after a quick dinner had shuffled off to an evening of karate classes.

But now all of that is finished, and I'm not quite ready to sleep. This will be my first moment to sit, and to write, so I will take advantage.

I pour a glass of pinot to assist me, reasoning that it may loosen me up enough to let the creativity flow. As I pour, I recall various articles I've read arguing against such a notion, and I chuckle as I admit to myself that this is more about relaxation than brainstorming.

I forego my usual spots in the living room or den, and open the basement door. One of the cats sneaks past as I descend the stairs…

Order my books!

Sign up for my author newsletter!

powered by TinyLetter