The subversive, confrontational & emboldening stories of Christmas

  Among global literature, few narratives are as a baldly subversive and anti-imperial as the Christmas stories, while at the same time so neutralized. The gospel writers of Matthew and Luke (the only canonical gospels with birth narratives) each in their own unique way set up a stark confrontation between Jesus and the Roman Caesars,…

Balancing effort and “trying too hard”

                    I have conflicted feelings about effort. As a young adult, effort was my mantra. And effort, coupled with an adolescent zest to save the world, was perilous. In my early 20s, I stumbled my way through so many “good deeds,” it is painful to look…

Tax policy and a man named Zacchaeus

  Economists be damned, the GOP tax plan constructed on the debunked scaffolding of trickle-down economics, keeps plodding forward. We are to believe that giving a massive tax cut to corporations and business owners will put needed cash in the pockets of poor and middle-class families because the corporations will uncharacteristically choose to invest their…

The reconciling power of believing you are loved

As I often do, I turned for inspiration for this essay to the lectionary readings of the day. Among them: two vengeance Psalms, a grisly murder narrative from Esther, and a fire-and-brimstone ditty from the Gospel of Matthew, with its characteristic presaging of weeping and the oddly outmoded gnashing of teeth. Among them, not one…

Love is our destiny

“The purpose of life is to be continually defeated by ever greater things.” ~Rainier Maria Rilke Fall arrives and my walk takes me past Foley Creek, the stream quickened after a week of heavy rain. The loud splash of a salmon stops me in my tracks.  At several points around my neighborhood, roadway meets creek, but at this…

We Go Together

In the intriguing book Sapiens, Yuval Harari makes the case that homo sapiens dominated all other species and left behind other early-humans because we were able to pass on shared mythologies, or sacred stories. Prior to the ability to build group cohesion in this way, through shared concepts and values, groups tended to reach a…

Who you trust determines what you believe

Lately I’ve stumbled upon articles, books, and interviews about the origin of belief, about why we believe what we believe. It seems to be a conversation in the air these days at a time marked by denial of human-caused climate-change, or the apparently widespread belief that mass shootings have nothing to do with gun access. Many…

The Surprising Gift of Failure

1 Corinthians 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools that you may become wise. In American culture, success is defined by money. Now can we just agree that the success = money paradigm has serious flaws? For have you noticed that the most…

We are Already There

Throughout his ministry, Jesus challenged every boundary people used to define and separate themselves—ethnic boundaries, geographical boundaries, purity boundaries, moral-legal boundaries, relational boundaries, boundaries between humans and animals, adults and children, men and women. Jesus didn’t stop at material boundaries, but went on to demonstrate with his life that everything is spiritual—there is no boundary…