Month: February 2018

  • Why Churches Can’t Be Normal Again

    Why Churches Can’t Be Normal Again

    Sometimes I have a fantasy that March 2019 will come, the special General Conference of the United Methodist Church designed to heal our rifts will have passed with a grand reaffirmation of our union, and we’ll all go back to normal.  That’s the funny thing about normal in the church, though—there’s no going back there. […]

  • The Dream-bent Farmer: Poetry

    ‘What is this world but a seed of desire some dream-bent farmer sowed in a field waiting for the end of winter, waiting to be getting on with business of timothy and clover?’ —Abigail Carroll, ‘Spring Forward’ God is a dream-bent farmer sowing the seed of desire.  Time leaves us this task.  It is time’s […]

  • Squinting Through This Latent, Bleak Obscurity with Scott Cairns

    Squinting Through This Latent, Bleak Obscurity with Scott Cairns

    “Just now, we squint to see the Image through this latent, bleak obscurity.  One day, we’ll see the Image— as Himself—gleaming from each face. Just now, I puzzle through a range of incoherencies; but on that day, the scattered fragments will cohere.” If you don’t recognize 1 Corinthians 13 in this translation, perhaps that good.  […]

  • How to Part Ways With Gadites: A Review of Olu Brown’s New Book

    How to Part Ways With Gadites: A Review of Olu Brown’s New Book

    When Olu Brown imagines the conversation between Moses and the leaders of the tribes of Reuben and Gad, it’s a poignant scene.  These two tribes, who had traveled through the wilderness on the promise of a new land, were stopping short of the goal, requesting to remain behind as Israel moved on across the Jordan. […]

  • Shmoop on Huck Finn: Guest Blogger Jeanne Torrence Finley

    Shmoop on Huck Finn: Guest Blogger Jeanne Torrence Finley

    My colleague Jeanne Torrence Finley has been writing about art and justice on her new blog Tell It Slant, (which you should definitely check out).  Today she joins my defense of Huck Finn by discovering an oddly-named defender of satire in literature: When Alex wrote on February 18  (“In Praise of Uncomfortable Books:  Huck and […]

  • Observing Carson McCullers Day

    Observing Carson McCullers Day

    February 19 – the 101st birthday of Carson McCullers, author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and other Southern Gothic masterpieces.  Followers of this blog will know of my fascination with McCullers, one of the great writers about longing.  Or what the poet Nick Norwood has called “spiritual isolation.”  But there are moments when […]

  • In Praise of Uncomfortable Books: Huck & Harper Revisited

    In Praise of Uncomfortable Books: Huck & Harper Revisited

    Huck and Harper are on the block again and I’m not comfortable with that.  Then again, I think it’s high time we all got uncomfortable. In late 2016, as I was beginning Heartlands, I reflected on the controversy that was roiling Accomack County, Virginia where I live.  Only that’s not strictly accurate.  The decision by […]

  • Lay Minister Expels Ghosts, Sees Two Rural Churches Turnaround

    Lay Minister Expels Ghosts, Sees Two Rural Churches Turnaround

    “I look around my church and all I see are ghosts.”  It was time for a pastoral change and I was meeting with the Pastor-Parish Relations Committee in my role as the District Superintendent, preparing the church and myself as we looked toward the appointment of a new pastor.  The woman speaking was a longtime […]

  • Teenager Abuses Hand Sanitizer, Finds Self: The Beauty in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down

    Teenager Abuses Hand Sanitizer, Finds Self: The Beauty in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down

    Aza has a hard time getting out of her head.  Worse yet, she’s beginning to wonder if she’s really here at all.  For all the choice she feels she has, she might as well be fictional.  “Your life is a story told about you,” she muses at the beginning of John Green’s Turtles All the […]

  • How to Get Out of the Inner Circle: Ministry with the Poor

    How to Get Out of the Inner Circle: Ministry with the Poor

    “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” [Philippians 2:5-6, NRSV]  This, I believe, is one of […]