Originally from North Carolina, Aaron graduated from Harvard in 1999 with a degree in History and Science. Before entering parish ministry, he taught English in Kazakhstan, wrote case studies at Harvard Business School, and worked as an analyst at H.J. Heinz Co. After receiving his M.Div. from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in 2008, he served at St. Stephen's Church in Sewickley, PA, and St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas. He is currently Rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Waco, Texas.
I have a love/hate relationship with The New Yorker. Each week, the magazine arrives. First: I admire it’s glossy cover. Then, the cartoons (“Hey, honey, look at this one. We’re not like that at all.”) Next: the always funny “Shouts and Murmurs.” Then a survey of the table of contents. Another food essay. Pass. (I will never eat there anyway.) In depth political journalism? Maaaaayyybee. The obligatory high-brow look at low-brow culture? Yes, please. (Recent examples: a super-aggressive female MMA fighter and a luchador in drag.)
But then there’s the fiction piece. And I’m torn. I know it will be good….
I was honored a few months ago to be asked to review Alan Jacobs’ new biography of The Book of Common Prayer for Modern Reformation magazine, one of my/our favorite periodicals. Seeing as the issue in which it appears just hit stands (May-June), here’s a generous portion of the article. Be sure to head over to Mod Ref and subscribe to read the whole thing:
To borrow a phrase from faux fashion icon Mugatu in Ben Stiller’s film Zoolander, liturgy is so hot right now. A minister at an evangelical Congregational church in Massachusetts uses The Book of Common Prayer at every…
Thus says the LORD: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the LORD. 6 They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. 7 Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay…
One of the best things about moving to Houston, Texas, a year ago (other than the Mexican food and Blue Bell ice cream) is that I now live in the same town as Brené Brown. As such, I’ve been able to hear her twice: once as a speaker at the church where I work and just recently at a gathering of clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Many of you have watched her 2010 TEDx talk on vulnerability (which went viral Gangnam style). And she’s been on this here blog here, here, and here. In May, she gave a…
Gordon’s MacDonald’s thoughts on “Vigorous Repentance”:
I once thought that repentance simply meant that when you do something bad, you mention it, say that you’re sorry, and move on. But a revisiting of the Bible on this subject has moved me to understand that repentance is, first and foremost, an acknowledgement of that deeper pool of evil that lies resident in every one of us and which is ready to explode at any moment.
If you know anything about MacDonald, you know that he knows about glory, failure, and grace. I’m thankful for men and women like him who recognize with clear…
When I’m 94, I hope I’m half as wise and cut-to-the-bone honest as the Rev. Dr. Gardner Taylor, known as “the dean of American preaching.” In a 2011 interview on “Preaching When Parched,” Dr. Taylor was asked how one can preach and minister during the “arid” times in life. His answer comes across with the bracing honesty we at Mockingbird try to encourage, the gut-level truth-telling which was a focus of our recent too-hot-to-handle-too-cold-to-hold (Vanilla Ice) NYC conference. (He also echoes some of PZ’s past thoughts on Kerouac and the task of preaching). Listen up, preachers:
Q: How do you preach from aridity without betraying…
Slate recently interviewed Vincent Kartheiser (aka Pete Campbell on Mad Men). In case we needed any reminders that human beings need love, not love-based-on-achievement, there’s this:
Slate: [Your character's] a man of ambition, but he seems to get more unhappy the more he achieves. He’s achieved many of his goals—Trudy had the baby, he got a bigger office, he’s dominating Roger—but he seems to get crabbier by the week. Do you understand why he’s so unhappy?
Kartheiser: With success comes a level of sadness. You think, “I’ll reach this goal, and then I’ll feel a sense of completeness, of wholeness. I’ll feel…
This morning I hit snooze four or five times. And so began a day of making non-optimal self-defeating choices. So often—and I mean All The Time—we do things that we know will cause ourselves pain, suffering, regret, guilt, and unhappiness. And then we do it again. Yet so often, the advice we get is to make better choices. We appeal to our rational minds, our wills. It never works. But that fact doesn’t seem to bother any one. The sermons, advice columns, pep talks, and self-help books just keep coming.
For those who still believe people are rational and able to…
The Lord woke me in the middle of the night,
and there stood Jesus with a huge tray,
and the tray was heaped with cookies,
and He said, Stephen, have a cookie,
and that’s when I knew for sure the Lord
is the real deal, the Man of all men,
because at that very moment
I was thinking of cookies, Vanilla Wafers
to be exact, and there were two
Vanilla Wafers in among the chocolate
chips and the lemon ices, and one
had a big S on it, and I knew it was for me,
and Jesus took it off the tray and put it
in my mouth, as if He were give me
communication, or whatever they call it.
Then He said, Have another,
and I tell you I thought a long time before I
refused, because I knew it was a test
to see if I was a Christian, which means
a man like Christ, and not a big ole hog.
Are you insecure? Hate your body? Fear the sheer unknown-ness of your future? Lay awake wondering if you’ll end up alone?
Would it help if your father was a famous race-car driver? And if you’d been married to the bassist for one of the biggest bands of the 1980s and were now married to the guitarist for a big indie rock band? What if you turned a career as an actor into a career as a sought-after photographer? And you had three attractive kids. And you were rich and beautiful?
Not enough? Let’s try another route. What if you were not only…
Tony Perkins’ recent CNN.com column is a “Who Would Jesus Support?” look at the Occupy movement. (He’s not the first to this fight.) His title says it all: “Jesus was a free-marketer, not an Occupier.” As the piece has made the obligatory rounds on the Interweb lately, it has elicited the predictable outrage from the left and approval from the right. Perkins’ argument—that Jesus affirmed the free market and “rejected collectivism”—is not new or surprising. Just as it is not surprising that many have come to the opposite view (here for example) that Jesus would align with the Occupiers. Everybody…
In Michael Specter’s recent New Yorker piece (Full article only available to subscribers or on the iPad app, sadly. But a great read.), he traces the history of Portugal’s attempts to deal with rampant drug addiction. After a 1974 coup ended an authoritarian rule, Portugal opened up to the world. A side effect was a massive influx in drugs and a rise in drug trafficking. By the 1980s, drug addiction in Portugal exploded. By 1999, 1% of the population was addicted to heroin alone. HIV spread rapidly; eventually, Portugal had the highest rate of drug-related AIDS deaths in the EU….
In The Dharma Bums, Ray Smith (Jack Kerouac’s autobiographical character) describes his parting with his dear friend Japhy Ryder:
The next day I figured to give Japhy some kind of strange little going-away gift and didn’t have much money or any ideas particularly so I took a little piece of paper about as big as a thumbnail and carefully printed on it: MAY YOU USE THE DIAMONDCUTTER OF MERCY and when I said goodbye to him at the pier I handed it to him, and he read it, put it in his pocket, and said nothing.
Martin Luther said the Gospel was…