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About Larry Parsley

Husband, father, Texan, and a Baptist pastor of all things. Works at vrbc.net and blogs at lonesomepulpit.com. Enjoys long walks on the sidewalk and dinners by fluorescent light.

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Author Archive
    
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    The Pastor in the Batter’s Box

    Get your elbows up! Watch the ball! Bend your knees! Be a hitter! Keep your elbows down! Choke up on the bat! Jump on that fastball! Wait for your pitch!

    I remember standing in that little league batter’s box, with coaches and random parents and teammates all yelling their well-meaning directives to me at the same time. And I wanted to please them all. I wanted with all my 9 year old body to actualize all their shouted instructions simultaneously — even when they contradicted one another. But most of the time, I felt practically paralyzed by their imperatives. The…

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    Hopelessly Devoted: Colossians Chapter Two Verse Fourteen

    Hopelessly Devoted: Colossians Chapter Two Verse Fourteen

    I love the doctrine of justification, but to be honest, I don’t always feel it. I am sure part of the reason is my lack of easy familiarity with the dense theological terms which buttress it. And so, while I sit in the loan officer’s office, experts works out all the details (using jargon like expiation or propitiation or imputation and other such terms that don’t exactly roll off the tongue). I believe it all, to be sure. Just show me where to sign and initial and I will enthusiastically do so. But at times, my deep soul engagement…

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    The Cruelty of Age in “The Crown”

    The Cruelty of Age in “The Crown”

    Carrie Willard’s recent assessment is dead-on — “The Crown” deserves to be savored instead of binged. In the ninth episode, one of the more interesting subplots had the artist Graham Sutherland being commissioned to paint Winston Churchill’s portrait for his 80th birthday [spoilers follow]. Churchill (John Lithgow) is anything but a willing subject, nor is he excited about the unveiling of the finished product before an audience at Westminster Abbey. And while the audience applauds politely at the unveiling, Churchill’s initial disgust is barely masked by a forced smile. “A fine patriotic piece of modern art,” he manages.

    After hearing that Churchill has…

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    A Gift Discarded in Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”

    A Gift Discarded in Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”

    Somehow, all these years later, that “dark speck” has stuck with me.

    I first spotted it over 30 years ago, when I discovered John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” (available online here) in a short story class in college. I knew then that there was much more much going on in that beautiful story than I would  ever be able to divine. But I did know that I would not easily move past that “dark speck.”

    Elisa Allen lives in the beautiful but cloistered Salinas Valley. As the story opens, she wears a man’s black hat pulled down low and her…

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    The Unbearable Rightness of Forgiveness

    The Unbearable Rightness of Forgiveness

    I have a shelf filled with books on the art of writing — it is a great distraction from actually writing. But seriously, if you share my vice, you may want to check out Ann Patchett’s “The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life.”

    Patchett was blessed with accomplished writing mentors at Sarah Lawrence College, including the poet Jane Cooper, novelists Allan Gurganus and Russell Banks, and short story virtuoso Grace Paley. Then, it was off to the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop. But upon leaving, her budding career took a detour, as she left her husband and her newly…

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    Bringing You the Gospel (Pt 45)

    My wife and I have been admiring the interesting English translations we’ve read in Indonesia this last week. Not that we’re judging — most people we meet speak 2+ languages, and we’re barely making it with one. But this sign in a Bali gift shop was too perfect not to post, an unintentionally profound take on “You Break It, You Buy It.”

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    The Magnetic Power of a Proxy Marriage

    The Magnetic Power of a Proxy Marriage

    My late father-in-law, a pastor, used to say he would rather officiate a funeral than a wedding. It shocked my young ears at the time, but after I became a pastor I could see his reasoning. Weddings, at their worst, have a kind of dramatic tension that completely overwhelms its sacramental significance. Not all brides and their mothers live up to their stereotypes, but some do. In those cases, give me a simple funeral of a God-fearin’ woman or man.

    But weddings at their best are animated by a sweetness and beauty that are hard to find anywhere else on a…

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    Surprised by Love, Appalled by Grace: Richard Bausch’s “The Fireman’s Wife”

    Surprised by Love, Appalled by Grace: Richard Bausch’s “The Fireman’s Wife”

    Nothing prepared me for the ending of Richard Bausch’s short story, “The Fireman’s Wife.”[1] Just a couple of years into the marriage, Jane is experiencing deep regret over her decision to marry her firefighter husband. When Martin is not working long shifts with buddies Wally and Teddy, he is likely playing cards with them, drinking or doing drugs with them, or working on their shared passion of building and flying model airplanes.

    Jane and Martin fight too much, and he comes off as remarkably immature, demanding, and self-absorbed. Her frequent headaches mirror the relational burdens she carries. Milly, Wally’s wife, tries…

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