03 Jun 2020

Crisis Calls Us to Continue Community

This article is an adaptation of a sermon delivered on Mother’s Day as part of a “COVID Christianity” series at Rooftop Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Even when life is normal, mom-ing is hard—it calls for spending all day with tiny people who are cute, yes, but who are also demanding and exhausting. Moms need time with fellow adults, moms need time with friends: moms need community. Of course, what’s true in normal life is

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18 Oct 2019

How to Become a Friend of God

The Scriptures are clear: “Abraham was called the friend of God” (James 2:23) … A Sunday School teacher told me once that we should read the Bible every day, and I was an intense, introverted child: I followed her advice, opening my third-grade presentation edition after my evening shower, my hair dripping dimples onto the onionskin pages. Jesus, on the cusp of his crucifixion, called the disciples friends, not servants (John 15:15). I was raised

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16 Aug 2019

Welcoming The Stranger

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. . . Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:13, 21, NIV). I was looking for a good devotional last year over Christmas and found a hidden gem in a used bookstore. It’s called You Are The Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living, a compilation of Henri Nouwen’s writings by Gabrielle Earnshaw (Convergent Books, 2017). Nouwen has some timely words

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08 May 2019

Broken Silence: A Lament for Rachel Held Evans

God of the margins, We encounter you in the ostracized, in the liminal, on the outskirts of town. We encounter you in the pariah, the reject, the apostate. Sometimes we are the pariah, plagued by the ghosts of failed expectations. Of merciless accusations. With no consolation but your deafening silence. Sometimes we find you again. In a fellow outcast whose words spark hope. Whose vulnerability is magnetic. Whose inspiration is contagious. Their voice reverberates with

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01 Apr 2019

Thomas Merton and Why I Quit Facebook

About five years ago, I sat in a coffee shop reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. During the preceding weeks and months, I considered deleting my Facebook account on several occasions but never found the courage to follow through on my thoughts. I graduated from college in 2005. Somewhere around the second semester of my junior year, Facebook made its first appearance on my college campus. At that time, only users with a valid

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13 Mar 2019

A Place of Love and Community: Some Reflections on Taizé

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Taizé, an international, Christian ecumenical community in central France that is known for its meditative prayers and chants. It was a powerful experience, to say the least. Before visiting, I knew that Taizé was an international destination for pilgrimage, but it wasn’t until actually visiting that I understood why. Taizé was founded by Brother Roger, who came upon the village of Taizé

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29 Aug 2018

On Beginning

Everyone experiences new things. By nature of who we are and the world in which we live, no one lives a completely sedentary life. From new jobs to new cars, from getting married to buying a house, from having kids to moving across town, we all encounter newness. This is especially true at this time of year, when college freshman move onto campus for the first time and neighborhoods suddenly become more quiet as children

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24 Aug 2018

The Unity of Justice

As most of you are aware, there has been a recent sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. To say that it is devastating, for both those inside and outside the Church, would be an understatement. The Catholic Church serves as one of the stronger authoritative voices for Christianity in American culture, which means that this scandal not only undermines the Catholic Church’s internal authority, but also impacts the credibility of the Church as

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18 Jul 2018

Why Is Christian Liturgy So Repetitive? An Insight from Derrida

Christian liturgy involves cycles of repetition. We have recurring liturgical calendars, weekly gatherings of worship, the Eucharist, and the recitation of important prayers. The repetitive nature of Christian worship is, in my experience, one of its greatest strengths. It is through such liturgical repetition that we engage in disciplined spiritual formation, remind ourselves of the gospel, and actively engage in historic practices of the Church. But what is happening when we engage in these repetitive

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02 May 2018

Miracles and Modernity

Signs. Wonders. Inbreakings of the divine into the mundane. Transcendence foisting itself upon the natural order of things. Is this what Christians are talking about when we describe miracles? People often think of miracles and magic as synonymous. From this standpoint, miracles rupture the fabric of reality—poking holes in a static backdrop of predictable causes and effects. But reality is not as static or predictable as we assume. In his book Historical Consciousness, John Lukacs

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21 Mar 2018

The Mystery of Honesty and Truth

“I hate going to Confession,” I told my father-confessor recently. “As long as you keep on going,” he responded. Then he added, “Of course you do. It’s not easy admitting to failure.” I grew up in a dysfunctional household where disapproval reigned. Expecting chastisement or even condemnation is a hard habit to unlearn. I’d been anxious enough about making my first Confession that I had postponed my Chrismation and entry into the Orthodox Church for

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28 Feb 2018

Thoughts, Prayers, and Platitudes

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action,

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19 Feb 2018

The Importance of Solitude

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed (Mark 1:35). The opening chapter of Mark’s gospel is a whirlwind of activity (Mk 1:14-45). After John’s arrest, Jesus launches his itinerant preaching ministry and calls his first disciples. In typical Markan fashion, a breathless series of events ensues in Capernaum. First, Jesus visits the synagogue where he amazes the people with

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16 Feb 2018

Mourning with Those Who Mourn

In what may be his most practical stretches of writing, Paul admonished the Roman church to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” in Romans 12:15.1 Modern Christians, as a whole, do a pretty good job with the first part of this verse. In just the past year I’ve celebrated birthdays, marriages, weddings, births, anniversaries, job promotions, home purchases, sports victories, and a whole host of other events with my Christian sisters

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17 Jan 2018

Sermon-less Church: A Thought Experiment

“If you took away the sermon from your worship service, what sort of theology could you construct from what remains?” Sometime back, a Facebook friend shared this quote from Pastor Mark Jones and it got me thinking. What would a sermon-less church service look like? What messages and theology would it convey? Would we attend? Just how central is the sermon to Christian worship? In order to really consider this question, consider the state of

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24 Nov 2017

Cleansing Fire

 What if prayer is a furnace?      When we confess, every sin and every evil thing         is burnt away into ashes.            But every prayer in line with Life and Love             —stemming from God’s Spirit—                  is refined like gold and silver.                     What if that? 

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11 Oct 2017

Purgatory and the Playboy: Remembering Hugh Hefner

Purgatory and the Playboy: Remembering Hugh Hefner Two weeks ago today, Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91. Almost immediately, writers rallied to denounce (or acclaim) the fraudulent idea of his “legacy.” What he left behind him can be called a legacy only in the same sense as the aftermath of a disaster. My hope is that his life’s work, like that of the Marquis de Sade, will fade to the point that while

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27 Sep 2017

The Holy Names

The Holy Names I overheard a man who burnt his fingers, blew a tire, tripped a wire in the undergrowth and called upon the worst things he could think to say: Jesus, Mary, Joseph! The holy ones spoke to my heart too, their names leapt up gently as benediction. How good, I praised, that you are with us, Holy Family! How good that you become the curse of many! How good that they are shorting

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18 Sep 2017

Assembling Day by Day

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46 NRSV). This article continues a series of articles on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Previous articles in the series are available in the author’s archives. As discussed in the previous article in this series, the early Christian church was marked by a spirit

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13 Sep 2017

Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church

Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church Given that yesterday the Church celebrated the memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought that this week instead of my usual poem I would share a prayer, a traditional litany in honor of her beautiful Name. As I prepared this piece, I couldn’t help thinking that much of the prayer’s language will be unfamiliar to my Protestant brothers and sisters. It

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