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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 […]

Corinthians

(Note: I preached this sermon on the second Sunday after Epiphany, January 15, 2012) Every week when we gather around the sacrament or when we dedicate our offerings of money and praise to God, we pray the Lord’s Prayer. And here we pray the traditional version, so every week we pray, “Lead us not into […]

Chicago Diarist: Leave the Kierkegaard. Take the Stereo

(Note: I wrote this in March, 2005. I repost it for Kierkegaard’s commemoration tomorrow) Last night a friend I hadn’t seen in some months happened to be in Hyde Park just as I was winding down from a long shift of paper-writing. Figuring that I could spare the time, we resolved to meet up for […]

Contrition

This season of late comeuppances for sexual misconduct has reached Leon Wieseltier, long-time literary editor of The New Republic. He was both loved and hated, exercising for a time a kind of influence in the media world that one could scarcely imagine someone who edits a back-of-the-book exercising today. He was also, by many reports […]

Ordination Anniversary, 2017

Here’s me at my ordination on this day in 2009. Back when I was preparing for ordination, I fancied myself a somewhat unlikely pastor. Then I learned that there really is no such thing as a likely pastor anymore, so I may as well get over that conceit and figure out how to do this job. […]