• Who Needs Shakespeare? Hamnet Surely Doesn’t

    Who Needs Shakespeare? Hamnet Surely Doesn’t

    The buzz over Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet: A Novel of the Plague has been wildly positive. The New York Times declared it one of its 10 best of 2020. The National Book Critics Circle named it the best work of fiction of the year. I’m not here to say they’re wrong about the quality of the […]

  • Why We Should Continue Treating the Pandemic as a Crisis (and an Opportunity)

    Why We Should Continue Treating the Pandemic as a Crisis (and an Opportunity)

    With the reappearance of so many familiar faces following the Great Unmasking of the vaccinated, there’s a great temptation for people in the church to breathe a sigh of relief and try to pick up where we left off in March 2020. Kay Kotan has other ideas. “Reality check: Life will never be the same,” […]

  • Meaning of Life Thankfully Still Not Answered

    Meaning of Life Thankfully Still Not Answered

    What does it mean to be alive? Think about the question for more than a minute and you find a definition nearly impossible. We know it when we see it, we believe, but perhaps the best we can say about life is what the eighteen century French doctor Xavier Bichat said about it: “Life consists […]

  • Touching Snakes in Stanley Kunitz’s Garden

    Touching Snakes in Stanley Kunitz’s Garden

    Stanley Kunitz was well into his nineties when Genine Lentine collaborated with him on a luminous book about poetry and gardening. The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden came out in 2005 and it includes interviews Lentine did with Kunitz, mostly about his long-tended garden in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It’s a […]

  • Putting Colossians in the Mix

    Putting Colossians in the Mix

    Reading Colossians Remixed:Subverting the Empire by Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat, published in 2004, is a reminder of a time when postmodernity was in its ascendency. It’s not clear where we live now, but less than two decades later you feel that we are somewhere very different than the environment Walsh and Keesmaat […]

  • Joy Harjo Reclaims America

    Joy Harjo Reclaims America

    Joy Harjo wants to reclaim America. That’s what I imagine as I read through the wide variety of poems in her most recent book. An American Sunrise plays with form and time, pulling together strands to weave a picture of the land, particularly the land traced by the journey of Harjo’s ancestors, the Muscogee (Mvskoke), […]

  • Overhearing Women’s Prayer

    Overhearing Women’s Prayer

    The pioneering Christian feminist theologian Letty Russell once described a litmus test for theological statements. With my books packed away for an upcoming move, I won’t be able to track it down, but it went something like this: Any interpretation or statement about God that does not affirm the full humanity of women cannot be […]

  • The Women Beyond Wesley

    This review by Alex Joyner was published on the great Englewood Review of Books site and is republished here with permission. Even today, if you visit the website for Cokesbury, United Methodism’s venerable bookseller, you’ll see an image that has shaped Methodist perceptions of their heritage. It’s a circuit riding preacher on horseback reading a […]

  • Standing at the Threshold of a Post-Pandemic Church

    Standing at the Threshold of a Post-Pandemic Church

    Here’s a bit of trivia for you: In ancient Roman construction, there was often a stone placed at the threshold of a door that one would have to traverse in order to enter or exit a building. That stone was called a limen. I tell you that because the word lies behind this year’s trendiest […]

  • Rediscovering the Enchanted World

    Rediscovering the Enchanted World

    Allow me some magic. Some dark, mammalian creature moves swiftly across the field outside my window at middle distance between the treeline and me. It traces a smooth, straight line across my field of vision, just far enough away in the early dawn light to be indistinct. Could Maxwell, the neighbor cat, be that far […]

  • For the Love of Dolly Parton

    For the Love of Dolly Parton

    When I took a part-time job as a disc jockey for a country music station in 1984, there were some hard and fast rules. You always time your hour to get in the ads and mark them in the log. Songs in heavy rotation had to cycle through at least once during your shift. And […]

  • How to Build Your Online Church Campus

    How to Build Your Online Church Campus

    If you’re a leader in a typical church struggling with the challenges of pandemic and shrinking resources, you may pick up Nona Jones’s new book in hope and set it down halfway through in despair. The first half of her title From Social Media to Social Ministry:A Guide to Digital Discipleship catches the eye of […]