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A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

A Circle of Uncertainty and the Blessed (Interruption of) Assurance

I almost called this post “The Cage of Anxiety,” but that seemed a little hokey. Still—playing off Auden’s poem is as good a place as any to start a discussion on anxiety, which was what Nitsuh Abebe does in the recent First Words essay for the New York Times Magazine:

In 1947, W.H. Auden published a very long poem that, despite winning a Pulitzer Prize, is now remembered less for its contents than for its title: “The Age of Anxiety.” Something about the idea that an age can be anxious must resonate deep in America’s cultural bones, because the phrase has been…

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You, Too, Might Find God in a Jar of Queso

You, Too, Might Find God in a Jar of Queso

This reflection comes to us from Mimi Montgomery.

“When I want to take God at his word exactly, I take a peep out the window at Creation. Because that, darling, He makes fresh for us every day, without a lot of dubious middle managers.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“Father Sullivan hoped to elevate the present to a state of divine. It seemed from this moment of repose that God may well have been life itself. God may have been the baseball games, the beautiful cigarette he smoked alone after checking to see that all the bats had been put back behind the closet door…How…

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An Un-Earnable Love and the Tragic Death of Performance: “Emotional Stuff” on 3 Mics

An Un-Earnable Love and the Tragic Death of Performance: “Emotional Stuff” on 3 Mics

This reflection comes from Julian Brooks.

Lately I’ve been on a standup comedy binge thanks to the power of Netflix, and I recently stumbled upon Neal Brennan’s special, 3 Mics. For those of you that don’t know, Neal Brennan was the co-writer of Chappelle’s Show oh too many years ago and has since been quietly writing behind the scenes for several other comedy shows.

The special is fantastic in its own right. As the title suggests, there are three mics set up on stage for Neal when the show opens. Each mic represents a different part of the show. One mic for witty one-liners…

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Blazes of Selfish Glory and Scary Clowns

Blazes of Selfish Glory and Scary Clowns

I once told a couple of friends while having a dark moment, and only half-jokingly, that my dream was to move to India, volunteer at the Sisters of Charity and die of the inevitable dysentery that would swiftly follow. I mean, my first world immune system would have all the resilience of wet tissue paper. That’d give me about, let’s say, over/under, two months of usefulness, but at least I would go out in a useful blaze of glory. It would certainly be good filler for my eulogy.

What’s that about? Simply, my desire to control my own narrative. We feel…

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The Law, the Gospel, and Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

The Law, the Gospel, and Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)

I probably heard the gospel many times during my childhood, but it didn’t register until I was a junior in college. When it finally grabbed my attention one fall night outside Gorin’s ice cream shop in the Five Points South neighborhood of Birmingham, Alabama, I saw my need to be rescued from my sin. I was with a friend who was a Christian when all of the puzzle pieces fit together. She prayed for me and with me after I acknowledged the fact that my efforts to perform and get my act together would never meet God’s expectations of holiness….

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Retreat, Not Advance (or How I Made It to New York Without a Wallet)

Retreat, Not Advance (or How I Made It to New York Without a Wallet)

A wonderful post from Connor Gwin:

“It is called a ‘retreat,’ not an ‘advance.’”

That was the advice given to me by a Brother from the Society of St. John the Evangelist before my first week-long retreat.

This is not what I wanted to hear.

Think of all the books I could read with a week of silence. Think of all the writing I could do.

You should know that I am big on plans. I make plans in my head for pretty much everything. I plan how my day will go. I plan how phone conversations will turn out. I plan the shape of…

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Easter is God’s Great Yes to Earth

Easter is God’s Great Yes to Earth

This Easter Monday reflection comes to us from our friend Chad Bird.

This is the annual time of year some Christians roll their eyes as they tsk-tsk over eggs and bunnies smothering the real meaning of Easter.

I beg to differ. If anyone needs to roll his eyes, it’s God as he sees some of his followers more interested in heaven than he is.

Easter is God’s great affirmation of the earth and all it contains. The day when God says Yes to chocolate eggs and white bunnies, little girls’ pretty dresses and elaborate family dinners, trumpeting lilies and bodies of flesh and blood.

Easter…

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MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Monumental Grace of Sleep

MLK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Monumental Grace of Sleep

This wonderful reflection was written by Benjamin Self.

I.

The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be from the want of assiduity or perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock…and fish all day without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble.

— Washington Irving, “Rip Van Winkle”, 1819

Between 1959 and 1968—the year he was assassinated—Martin Luther King, Jr., gave at least five speeches in which he referenced the early 19th-century American short story, “Rip Van Winkle”. These speeches included a commencement address…

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Sin + Grace + Sin + Grace = Holiness?

Sin + Grace + Sin + Grace = Holiness?

Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist and Out of Sorts, recently published this article about her conviction to give up wine cold turkey. When I read it, I immediately experienced two conflicting emotions:

Glad it’s her who gave up the hooch and not me.
It is possible I should give this article a second read.

Bessey reveals in So I Quit Drinking that she had been a lover and consumer of wine throughout adulthood, and it “never bothered [her] in the least,” until it did.

…when it comes to conviction, I have found the Spirit to be gentle but relentless.

Change and transformation is an ongoing…

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Mama Holy Spotted At SeaWorld

Mama Holy Spotted At SeaWorld

This week, along with millions of other blue blooded, medium-hard-working Americans, my family went on Spring Break. And it was all pretty hard. This is a travel log of sorts. Loads of complaining. Some bright spots. And some dark spots when Jesus showed up.

Our kids are 2 and 6 years old. So we began every morning by ripping them away from the clutches of Disney Jr. so we could all head for the great tourist sites of San Antonio, Texas. 

We stood in line for tickets for the Tower of the Americas. Twice. The first time they…

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A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

A Free Lunch: The Spiritual Economics of the Church’s Most Cliché Ministry

Another taste of our recent issue on Food & Drink! Order your copy here! 

The soup kitchen at my church is currently in the midst of a cold war among its volunteers. On one side we have the pro-oil-and-vinegar contingency, armed with organic produce and health concerns; on the other side, the crusaders of ranch dressing are stuck in their ways. You’ll find me standing unapologetically behind oil-and-vinegar lines, and I don’t mean to brag, but, as one of the soup kitchen’s head cooks, I make a bitchin’ salad. Fresh greens (often from a local garden), walnuts, cukes, strawberries if they’re in…

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Lenten Soup Supper in the Church Basement

Lenten Soup Supper in the Church Basement

A wonderful piece by Rebecca Florence Miller. More of her writing can be found here. 

The Lenten soup supper in the church basement. A staple of the Lutheran tradition of which I am a part—and because we are Lutheran (grace!), rather than being meager, fast-like meals, we sustain ourselves for the hard truths of Lent with hardy chili, seafood chowder, tomato bisque with mozzarella, five varieties of bread, and seven choices of dessert. Just for starters: brownies with whipped cream, carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting and shredded coconut, a nutmeg Bundt with a brown-sugar caramel frosting. Ah, free in…

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