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Zora and Me

In the current Christian Century I review Zora Neale Hurston’s “new” book, Barracoon. It’s the record of her interviews with the last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade, a man whose English name was Cudjo Lewis and whose African name was Kossola. He tells Hurston about his ancestors, his abduction by the King of Dahomey […]

Restoration

There is an irony in the process of becoming a pastor. You start out with a heart full of simple faith, and you learn that most of what you think you know about the Bible or Christianity is different, or even just plain wrong. You start out wishing only to glorify God, and yet you learn gradually to take pride in your own gifts. Maybe you hardly thought about that sermon, but someone told you it was exactly what she needed to hear. Maybe it was a merely dutiful hospital visit to you, but you said something that made the old man weep tears of relief. You set out to be the least and the servant of all, and yet you end up comparing yourself with your colleagues, or demeaning the simple faith that brought you there.

Truth and Salt

I say all of this as someone who has been on every side of this very human struggle: offending, offended against, passive bystander, participant in a mob mentality. That’s human life. We are always being asked to hear, to judge, to act. And the way we do these things implicates us very deeply. It cuts to the heart of who we think we are. It is painful to cut off that part of us that cannot bear to be wrong. 

Sacred Signposts Events in Chicago

I’m excited to be visiting two Chicago churches in October to talk about Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance. First up will be Augustana Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry in Hyde Park, a place that’s very important to me. The Wednesday night services in Lent brought me to worship for good, […]

They Abide in Me, and I in Them

It’s an amazing thought to me, after so many Sundays and festivals of watching or making it happen:

God and humanity are joined in Jesus Christ;

Jesus Christ is joined to the bread and wine;

and then when we eat the bread and drink the wine, Jesus Christ is joined to us.

God comes down to earth, and we are lifted up to heaven.

God stoops to enter under our roof, and we are raised up to our full stature in the vast temple of God’s kingdom.

All so that we would not be left without comfort. So that we would not be left to worship an absent Christ.

Publication Day

I collect these comments for my own benefit as much as to persuade anyone else to buy and/or read my book (though you should–it’s good and I’m proud of it). Being a writer without any formal credentials, institutional affiliation, or prominent personal platform is a disorienting vocation. I’ve taken every opportunity that’s been given me by friends and colleagues, worked up a few of my own, and relied a great deal on friends for advice and counsel. But I’ve never been very intentional about any of it. Part of the reason I started this site was to pull together pieces that sprawl across the internet like sheep without a shepherd. For ten years (not counting the years of pointlessly prolific blogging before that) I’ve been sending them out and seeing what happens to them before moving on to the next story, review, exegetical essay, or argument. 

Review: Sacred Signposts

Originally posted on The Anarchy of the Ranters:
Cover of Sacred Signposts by Benjamin J. Dueholm THOMASINA: Oh, Septimus! — can you bear it? All the lost plays of the Athenians! Two hundred at least by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides — thousands of poems — Aristotle’s own library…. How can we sleep for grief? SEPTIMUS: By…

Sacred Signposts Event in New York City

On June 27 at 7 p.m. I’ll be at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church (178 Bennett Avenue, a short walk from the 1 and the A) to talk about Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance.

A Mediocre Pastor’s Catechism

At the beginning of Lent, I invited the participants in our new member/baptism preparation groups to ask any question they had about church or faith, and I would try to answer them as best I could over the course of our meetings. I didn’t get to all of them in the six weeks we spend together, but a commitment is a commitment and I emailed the answers to everyone. It made for the kind of long, burdensome email I almost never write anymore. But they were big, important questions that, I realized, I often spend very little time answering.

Chicago Diarist: On Burying the Dead

(Note: I wrote this in July 2010) On the first day of my first quarter of Divinity School, I was dispatched to preside at a burial. My pastor couldn’t get down to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery that day, so I made the trip–in a borrowed clergy shirt, borrowed black pants, borrowed car, carrying a borrowed liturgical manual […]