It's not much of a secret I'm skeptical of the way spiritual practices are emphasized in much of the modern day (American) church.  I'm not at issue with the practices themselves (necessarily), but I am not a fan of the way they are trumpeted as markers of true faith or a road to somehow "better" spirituality.  I don't believe God mandates daily scripted devotions or quiet times or even prayer, and I certainly don't believe there is a right or wrong way to "do" them. I wrote a piece well over [ continue reading ... ]

Friendships are incredible.  The deepest ones can be passionate, comforting, painful, heartbreaking, and fulfilling.  Yet, we don't have many words to describe the depth and complexity of friendship.  We use words like, "best friend."  While there's nothing wrong with that label per say, it sounds a little bit like a toddler pointing out his favorite stuffed animal.  So, there are two new terms I want you to consider: "covenant" and "soul mate." Covenant is a "church-y" word, and if you [ continue reading ... ]

Apparently Jesse Tyler Ferguson--one of the actors on TV Show Modern Family--is notorious for getting the giggles.  (I recently learned this watching a random panel interview on hulu).  Sometimes, he'll just start laughing in the middle of a scene, recognizing the absurdity of it all... meaning, the fact they they're all pretending to be other people. I love that phrase: "the absurdity of it all."  Because so much of life is truly absurd.  Being able to see that can be hilarious.   We [ continue reading ... ]

Whenever a Christian comes out with a new critique of the way other Christians approach Christianity, there is one reaction you can almost guarantee.  Some one or some group will chide the person who speaks out, saying that offering criticism of the Church (in its various forms) is counter-productive to the spread of the Gospel.  Even C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, wrote, “Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there [ continue reading ... ]

My birthday is this Friday, January 9th.  Some of you may remember that last year, I "donated" my birthday to One Day's Wages education fund (see Doing Birthday Differently).  With the help of family and friends, I raised $1,100.75 to support education for children living in areas of extreme global poverty.  I am starting a bit late this year, and who knows what will happen... but believing that every little bits helps and knowing that the second most important commandment is to love my neighbor [ continue reading ... ]

I’m not sure why I decided to write this. Maybe I wanted to take a stab at a more honest holiday update, one that mentions many sides of reality, from the exciting and joyful to the stressful and painful to the mundane and boring. It has actually been awhile since I’ve read a Christmas card newsletter, though, and of those I’ve read, I will say I have read several that give a fair portrayal of life (rather than the stereotypical look-how-great-my-life-and-kids-are). Or, maybe I wanted [ continue reading ... ]

"How is Santa at so many places at once?  We saw him at the mall, but then he was in the toy store, too... and he didn't look the same." "Those are Santa's helpers.  You tell them what you want, and then they go and tell the real Santa at the North Pole." "Why didn't my Elf on the Shelf move last night?" "He really likes that spot.  He decided to just come right back to it!" "How can Santa's sleigh fly?" "It's a special magic.  And probably some really amazing technology." ______________________________________________________ There [ continue reading ... ]

It is difficult for me to be comfortable in polished situations anymore.  When you walk in and everything looks just right.  Where the "How are you?s" are answered vaguely and you can talk to someone for several minutes and not know them any better than before you started talking.  Trials and pain are hidden or ignored.  People's mouths move and sound comes out, but the words start blurring together without meaning. In contrast, it is a relief to walk into a situation that is not so [ continue reading ... ]

Scars are strange.  I mean, think about it.  Regardless of how much time passes, they remain a physical mark in our constantly regenerating skin.  For example, it's strange that I have a scar all because I was too embarrassed to tell my high school P.E. teacher that, despite her constant, emphatic reminders, I had forgotten to lower my index finger and the fletching on my arrow cut me when I released my bow string.  It was forever ago and it happened in a moment, but I still have the thinnest [ continue reading ... ]

"Yeah, it's pretty clear/I ain't no size 2..."  These lyrics introduce "All About That Bass," Meghan Trainor's incredibly catchy--and equally controversial--hit song.  The song is meant to be something of a solidarity-inspiring encouragement to women whose bodies don't fit the slenderized ideal ("Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top").  In the process, the lyrics run into some major flaws (insulting slender women and communicating that the worth of a woman's body is connected [ continue reading ... ]