Prophets so rarely speak words I actually want to hear.

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I huffed and puffed up this massive flight of stairs. I dripped sweat, my calves burned, but the exercise was physically good for me, and the view at the end of the journey was worth the difficulty. But, still, the process to get there was painful. I think examining our stories is somewhat like this hiking experience.

Perhaps the more accurate title for the post is “Best Books Read in 2017: Third Quarter Edition.” But, there’s a theme running through what struck me in each of these books: the role of stories in shaping the way we engage the world. Continue reading

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Love (not unquestioning obedience) is the goal

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Words are like rocks. We can build with them, or we can break things with them.

As I’ve said before, stories matter. And the stories shaping our perspectives on obedience and submission matter, too. These stories impact the way we communicate, and the baggage others carry with these words matters, too.

Reading news and social media the last few months, submission and obedience are trigger words for me — regardless of the position supported. Whether it is government or religion, I flinch. They are power words.

Too often, the act of obedience and submission dominates the conversation, while ignoring critical questions like obedience to whom and for what end. Continue reading

The more, the merrier.

Earlier this week I posted on the importance of stories for shaping the way we live. As an exercise in conscious storytelling, I’m sharing stories influencing my views on immigration, refugees and discipleship.

Essentially this post explores three questions:

  1. How do I understand myself as an American?
  2. How do I see refugees?
  3. What are the expectations of a disciple of Jesus?

As we explore together, my point is not converting you to my perspective, but the process of open and conscious storytelling. These stories frame the way I approach the world, and rather than having you agree or think I’m neat-o, I hope the stories encourage you to consider your own life, reactions, and core values.

Agreement is not required, but respect is. Continue reading

Rediscovering the importance of story

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When I challenged my home congregation to read Luke in the month of February, little did I know that challenge would leave me reading the whole book in the first three days of the month. I saturated myself in Jesus’ words the last couple of days.

I needed it.

The last couple of weeks, for me, feel like waking to some nightmarish alternate reality. Each day brings news reports that violate my core values.

I’m an INFP on the Myers-Briggs. The salient point about my personality: I delight in seeing the world through other people’s perspectives, and I hate conflict. Right up to the point where my core values are tripped, and then I am a rampaging tiger with roaring feelings and little logic.

I can handle disagreement and questions. I do not react well to shame, control or folks who bully or ridicule others, especially those who are marginalized or are weaker than them. I lose my mind. Poof. Out comes the tiger from normally placid me. Continue reading

Love, solidarity and hunger for justice

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Overwhelmed by the news?  Depressed by the irate rants on Twitter? Irked by the sensationalist posts on Facebook?

Me, too.

I am tired. And it’s still early on Inauguration Day.

Today, while some are celebrating a victory for “God-ordained” President Trump, others remain terrified about retaining basic human rights. Continue reading

God’s Anger Brings Hope? Reflections on the Book of Isaiah

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When I read my Bible, I tend to ignore the prophets. Well, except for Jonah. I come back to that gem again and again. Jonah is not a children’s story — its real target is curmudgeonly adults like me.

I steer away from the prophets because, well, God’s rage scared me. So, imagine my surprise when I felt nudged toward reading Isaiah this Advent. When I’ve read Isaiah before, I narrowed my focus to the happy and hopeful sections, while forgetting hope is made more substantial by the presence of God’s anger and justice. I looked for the love and light, while glossing over the gory.

But, not this time. Isaiah interrupted my world this Advent. Continue reading

In search of a bigger table: feminist reflections on sexism in the church (and in me)

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I’m a little salty today. I keep drafting and scribbling in my journal. Paragraph here. Sentence there. The topics popcorn all over the place.

Underlying all of the verbal confetti is a grumbling sense of injustice. An awareness of brokenness like a blister continually rubbing against my shoe. Twinge. Ping. Ouch. Continue reading