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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Bio

Thoughts at the intersection of life and God from one saint and sinner for anyone "converted," "unconverted," or "under conversion."

Sunday Silliness and Mental Health Break- “Breathe”

It’s a beautiful spring day in Atlanta, Georgia and this song (see below Youtube clip) by Telepopmusik kept me moving on today’s morning jog. Other things that happened this week: – Fellow saint and sinner Paul (a.k.a. known as “hubby” […]

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The Kiss: from “The Love Dare” Series

Self-described “author, artist and everyday radical” Emily Wierenga is a new friend in the blogosphere. Her latest book debuts on Mother’s Day: Mom in the Mirror explores issues of beauty and body image after pregnancy, and as a survivor of […]

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“The Dating Game” Jesus and “Eligible Bachelors” Via Susan Patton

I agree with Princeton alum Susan Patton, whose advice to the daughters she “never had” is lighting up the blogosphere, about one thing: women should marry men at least as smart as they are. That’s where our agreement seems to […]

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The “Eucatastrophe” of Easter

Yesterday fellow saint and sinner Tammy shared this meditation on the meaning of Good Friday; but its use of J.R.R. Tolkien’s term, “eucatastrophe,” also makes it an Easter sermon for anyone anywhere who has sat, metaphorically speaking, outside a tomb […]

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Song of a Caged Bird: A Sermon for Good Friday

I’ll preach the following sermon in just a few hours at today’s “Women’s View of the Cross”: A Service for Good Friday. (I appreciate your prayers!) This sermon takes the perspective of the maidservant in the court of the high […]

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Why I Need a God Who Wears a Cross: A Meditation for Holy Week

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.  This final victory lap of the book; the last touches on a manuscript that I now a bit bashfully would let other eyes see for the very first time: they were supposed to […]

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Good Friday Humor, Part 2: Monty Python’s Dead Parrot Skit

Last year around this time I wrote a post that asked how appropriate humor is on Good Friday. A sermon written from the perspective of Pilate’s wife, Claudia, had sparked associations with Monty Python’s rendition of Pilate in the movie, “Life […]

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“Rambling”…Another Song for Restless Souls

Last week in church I heard a great tune by a brilliant (in an understated way) musician. (I know, those three things, “church,” “great tune,” and “brilliant musician” don’t always go together- especially if the music is “contemporary Christian.”) This […]

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The Inauguration of Pope Francis…and a Church’s Revival?

Yesterday’s inauguration of Pope Francis seems a fitting juncture at which to take stock of him- this in response to a reader’s recent note asking what I think about the man who reminds him of his Jewish rabbi grandfather. And, in […]

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God Makes Better Stories?

[Note: this post has been updated since yesterday when Beliefnet was experiencing technical issues and my brain was working less clearly.] This weekend I finally watched Life of Pi. The movie, directed by Ang Lee and inspired by the 2001 novel […]

An Invitation to All Half-Believers

Yesterday a kind friend said people would buy the book I’m writing for the same reason they show up at my blog: they don’t really “go to church” (my friend’s words) but something about the Christian faith and its world […]

Garbage Pail Priests?

Do you remember Garbage Pail Kids? I never collected them, but they were a hot item growing up.  Each card character suffers from some ridiculous abnormality or terrible fate.  Take “Adam Bomb,” or “Glandular Angela,” or “Half-Nelson,” for instance.  Or,  a […]

“Working on a Dream”

With another manic Monday before us, here are a couple of items some of you shared for the benefit of this motley crew of saints and sinners… Fellow saint and sinner Michael responded to a recent post about Saturday Night […]

Friday Fracas (a.k.a. Mental Health Break)

It’s been a while since a musical mental health break, hence this techno interlude from Kaskade.  While the video for “Don’t Stop Dancing” leaves something to be desired, I’m enjoying the lyrics this afternoon- and I must admit that the beat […]

“R” Rated Bible…for Kids?

Yesterday in making my rounds as a corporate chaplain, I ran into one man who volunteered that he and his family had recently seen the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” for the very first time. “How old are your kids?,” […]

“How Prayer is Transforming Nations”

Are you doing a program for the Lord or welcoming the presence of the Lord? That was the question put before an audience by a guest speaker at World Vision years ago, at a time when our family was living in […]

Centering Prayer and “Melodrama”

The other day I stopped by a centering prayer group for the first time in a very long while.  I wasn’t sure how I would find it, but I knew that centering is something I long for in the midst […]

Blessed Imperfection: A Girl Learns to Jump, and Her Mother, To Take Her First Steps

The following guest post ran yesterday on author Amy Julia Becker’s blog, “Thin Places,” as an installation in her ongoing series, “Perfectly Human.”  The reflections materialized after an afternoon spent teaching my now three-and-a-half-year-old daughter how to jump off a one-foot step.  […]

“The Word in this World”

One of the things I love about blogging is meeting new people. Kurt Johansen, who pastors a church in Dallas, Texas and teaches homiletics, recently wrote to say he had edited a book of two sermons by Karl Barth, and […]

Hearing God Speak

  Lately, God has been talking to me about what it means to hear God speak. First, there was Stanford anthropologist TM Luhrmann’s article, which begged my initial question in Friday’s post: what does it mean to hear God speak? Then […]

Evangelicals, God Talk and Hearing Voices

Stanford anthropologist TM Luhrmann, whose latest book is When God Talks Back, has been studying evangelicals and their approach to prayer.  Luhrmann recently described in an article for The Daily Beast how that field work experience in at least one sense signified […]

Does SNL Cross Line with “Djesus Uncrossed” Trailer?

Apparently, within hours of its airing, Saturday Night Live’s recent send-up of American film director Quentin Tarantino, in the form of a Jesus who takes revenge upon his Roman executioners when he rises from the dead, had its critics, some […]

From Scarcity to Abundance: Learning to Live in God’s Economy

Lent is about abundance, God’s abundance.  When we abstain from certain things, be they caffeine or sweets or a compulsion to fix or control things, we make ourselves open to God’s provision. That’s the counter-intuitive, take-home point of James Alison’s […]

Who Was St. Valentine?

I wasn’t sure, so I checked. Apparently, Valentine (or “Valentinus”) was a third-century saint who was imprisoned and eventually martyred for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were being persecuted under […]

Of Lightning and Lenten Resignations

With Pope Benedict’s announcement of his resignation still ringing in the ears- apparently even the cupola on St. Peter’s Basilica was struck with lightening just hours after!- today we embark on forty days of Lent. The timing of Benedict’s announcement […]

“Don’t Let My Car Fool You. My Real Treasure Is In Heaven.”

I’ve missed you here at this intersection between life and God!  Last week’s scramble to meet a self-imposed deadline for Grace Sticks meant a cyber fast of sorts, but I’m grateful to be back. By way of an update to catch us […]

Writers’ Retreat

Last week we heard Lloyd Cole live at my favorite, local live music joint, Eddie’s Attic.  Lloyd even let us take a picture afterwards.  (Yes, you can say it: we’re groupies.) This week as I reluctantly peel away from blogging […]

Super Bowl Prayers: Will God Determine Winning Team?

More Americans than usual will probably be praying this Sunday- this by implication, according to a report this week by CNN, summarized by Religion Today. No, it’s not the National Day of Prayer or another Billy Graham crusade- it’s the […]

“There’s Power in the Pen”: An Interview with Author Amy Julia Becker, Part 2

We’re back with evangelical author Amy Julia Becker for the second and final installment of our conversation.  Becker was named last fall by Christianity Today as one of a handful of influential women writers whose writings are shaping the church […]

“There’s Power In the Pen”: An Interview with Author Amy Julia Becker, Part 1

  Last fall Christianity Today named writer Amy Julia Becker one of “Fifty Women You Should Know.”  Becker has authored four books on faith, family and disability, the latest of which made its debut last week: What Every Woman Needs to Know About […]

Finding One’s Voice and Why It’s Important

Yesterday I made my first visit to my daughter’s prospective new school.  Founded in 1938 by the formidable Katherine “Kitty” Cathcart Hamm, the embodiment of the best in Southern gentility and herself the mother of a deaf son, the Atlanta […]

Jesus the Vine: Jesus Epithets Continued

I promised you more Scriptural name calling, so this morning we continue with Jesus Epithets: All the Names Jesus Gets Called in Scripture. Today’s feature is for all of you botanists and green thumbs out there.  I, unfortunately, can’t count […]

Publication Here We Come and The Joy of Being Impractical

It’s official: I’m pregnant, with a book that is. This morning I signed a contract with CASCADE Books, a division of Wipf and Stock Publishers, for the publication of Grace Sticks: The Bumper Sticker Gospel for Restless Souls. Grace Sticks […]

Pinocchio’s Nose and The Truth That Frees

Yesterday’s post contained an untruth. Last night I went back and read a sentence that claimed a previous unfamiliarity with the reality that God can meet us everywhere, when in actuality I’ve always known intellectually that God can meet us anywhere and everywhere.  […]

Potty Prayers: How I Am Learning to Pray in the Bathroom

She almost hit me with the door as I was exiting the restroom of a company where I serve as a corporate chaplain. She’s the one in the front office who usually smiles when I come by. Not today. “How […]

“One Today”

Of all the pageantry in yesterday’s presidential inauguration ceremony, engineer-poet Richard Blanco’s contribution most moved me. The delicate interconnectedness of our lives and of all creation. Our shared “now” and the gravity of this moment for future generations. Hope that, […]

Sunday Silliness for Restless Souls

This tribute to the many “restless souls” out there among my generation and younger who are wandering from one relationship to the next in search of just the right person with whom to pair off, comes from fellow saint and […]

God of the Main: Beyond Reductionisms and “Waiting for Gospel”

  Walter Brueggemann’s review of Douglas John Hall’s latest book, Waiting for Gospel: An Appeal to the Dispirited Remnants of Protestant “Establishment” (Cascade), in the current issue of The Christian Century, sums up well the depressing state of the mainstream American church: […]

Happy Belated Birthday, Martin Luther King!

It’s because I’m black, isn’t it? I had just refused his request for money outside Barnes & Noble, my daughter in one arm, my son at my side, our arms laden with their new gift card purchases in the form […]

“Spiritual, Not Religious” No Recipe for Good Health?

If you’re “spiritual but not religious” be prepared for more affliction- or, at least this seems to be the take-home of a recent study by British researchers, according to a report by WORLD News Service summarized by Religion Today. Religion Professor Michael King […]

Unsung Heroes: A Lesson in Unconditional Love

I’m grateful to fellow saint and sinner Michael Mills for sending in some poignant reflections about his personal hero, in response to last week’s post on unsung heroes.  Michael, a pilot in the U.S. Army, agreed to have his story […]

Youthful Blogging = Narcissism?

A recent debate on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Dish, contends that youthful bloggers have the monopoly on narcissism- that in resorting to largely confessional prose and memoir, these younguns regale their readerships with every “tawdry twist and turn” of their […]

The Oscar for Best Neighbor

[Correction: a previous version of this post implied this year’s Oscars had already happened, when in fact the ceremony will take place on Feb. 24; apologies for the misinformation- but I am still rooting for the youngest actress in the […]

The Unsung Heros Among Us

“There are no ‘heroes’,” an old theology prof used to say. I disagree.  There are no superheroes, yes, despite what Nietsche might claim- but heroes?  They’re around. Some friends and I were discussing the movie, The Hobbit.  One friend said he […]

God’s Obedient Child: More Musings for Rebels

I’ve been stalling on the subject of obedience: just the term makes me a bit squeamish, and I’m not sure where this discomfort comes from. Maybe my squeamishness is the result of having grown up singing in church one too many […]

Brainstorming 2013 Together

The brainstorming for 2013 has begun.  Will you help, pretty please? I’m giving thought to possible blog series here at this intersection between God and life, and greatly appreciate your feedback.  For your input:  what from the below list most […]

Mental Health Break: “Skindeep”

For all of us who tire of glib superficiality in many of our churches, and by way of keeping it real here at this intersection between life and God, this morning’s testimony to my love of 80’s music comes from […]

The Dover Principle- and What I Learned When I Didn’t Apply It

I’ve coined “the Dover Principle” by way of our recent visit to my in-laws in Boston. The Dover Principle states this: a three-day limit to visits with extended family is good for everybody.  Visits exceeding three days overstay the welcome […]

“A Brief for the Defense”

  My favorite poem from the recent series by Andrew Sullivan (The Dish), Poems from the Year, contains refrains from the Old Testament, especially Ecclesiastes.  Even today’s reading from Nehemiah 8, where “the joy of the Lord is my strength,” […]

Obeying God…and Lima Beans

How do you describe a smell? Surely, Hemingway or Faulkner or another of the real literary greats could help here. For the time being, imagine oregano on steroids. That’s what happened when I emerged from Whole Foods the other day […]

The Year in Review

It has been a very full year here at this intersection between God and life, for anyone converted, unconverted or under conversion- and, I might add, the very first full year here!  Here are the highlights, looking back: In January: […]

Royalty in God’s Warehouse: A Christmas Story

Every year the president of a large, nationwide trucking company makes a visit to every affiliate in cities across America. It’s always a couple weeks before Christmas. One of the men who works in the warehouse told me.  He’s always […]

Christmas Card Craziness

My procrastination has finally lost the battle: this morning I’m sorting through a couple hundred mailing addresses as part of an approximately biannual routine- the Dover family Christmas card. The Dover family Christmas card is always fun to write and […]

Visio Divina (The Visual Word): Advent Meditation 8

In the Aftermath of Newtown Massacre…A Holy Improvization

I love reading the obituaries in The Economist.  They’re often such clever and insightful portraits of human nature in its myriad of expressions. The most recent issue features legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck, for whom jazz improv was in the […]

Visio Divina (The Visual Word): Advent Meditation 7

“Openness to Grace,” a.k.a. “The Suspension of Disbelief”?

“A suspension of disbelief is…what links literature and religion, both of which require a leap of faith as the first step.” So goes yesterday’s post from Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish.”  Its focus is the writer Madeleine L’Engle, author of the work […]

“O Holy Night”

We sang this hymn in church today.  In the wake of Friday morning’s massacre of a first-grade class of school children, the meaning of “O Holy Night” made me cry like a baby.  (Never mind my husband’s running joke that […]

A Child’s Prayer of Lament

We were driving home from school yesterday when the NPR reports came on.  Another horrific mass killing.  This time at a school.  28 dead, 20 of them children. The sound of gun shots on the school’s loudspeakers were in the […]

The Power of Memory and Commitment

I’m a sucker for great stories, and usually I don’t look for them on ESPN. When I can’t sleep, I’ll turn on sports radio.  There’s something about the endless buzz of the commentary that helps me drop off. But when […]

Visio Divina (The Visual Word): Advent Meditation 6

A Case of Holiday Extremes

“Everything in moderation,” I like to remind myself, when reaching for the egg nog and the sugar cookies at this time of year. If truth be told, I can tend to take the same approach with religion.  Extremes scare me. […]

Visio Divina: Advent Meditation 5

“This Isn’t The Way It Was Supposed To Be”

Several days of listlessly lying around with the rest of the family, all of us having succumbed to the flu, has not produced any great mystical visions or deep thoughts.  In the absence of these, I’m grateful for a resource […]

The Ripped, Bikini-Clad Preacher Earns Another Win

Fellow saint and sinner Amy Richter has drawn my attention to an article that appeared in The Huffington Post a few days ago, and has thanked the Fellowship for its early coverage.  Apparently, Amy’s story, “The Ripped, Bikini-Clad Reverend,” which originally […]

Visio Divina: Advent Meditation 4 (Matthew 11)

An Advent GPS System for Restless Souls

My husband would be the first to tell you I have the directional sense of a squirrel. There is an advantage to this handicap: if my intuition tells me to travel in one direction, I can safely assume that I […]

Visio Divina: Advent Meditation 3 (Hosea 6)

Embracing the Hope of Advent

Yesterday on the first Sunday of Advent the preacher talked about hope. We all were asked to write down something from our personal lives that makes us hopeless, and then bring those scraps of paper up during Communion; they would […]

Remembering the Driftwood Artist

Almost one year ago, in the week leading up to Christmas, I met “the driftwood artist.” I wonder if he is still there peddling his art on that part of coastal highway that runs through St. Petersburg, Florida. And,  I […]

Visio Divina: Meditation 2 (Ephesians 3)

Of Hate Mail and “Oxford Commas”

I got my very first piece of borderline hate mail recently. Since it has been said by writers far more seasoned than I that you haven’t really “arrived” in the blogging world until the hate mail starts accruing, I’m actually feeling […]

Visio Divina: Advent Meditation 1 (Psalm 119)

 

Visio Divina (The Visual Word): An Advent Series

Starting tomorrow we’re in for a treat.  That’s when we’ll begin a special Advent series featuring the photography of the very talented, fellow saint and sinner Katie Archibald-Woodward.  (Just think: we’ll get to say that we knew Katie before she […]

Why Our Restless Souls Matter

We writers try to find ways to remind ourselves that what we are writing really matters.  One way I do this is to remember who I’m writing for. Some of you know by now that Grace Sticks is a book for […]

Thankful Lists: How To Go Cold Turkey With Complaining

This Thanksgiving, I’m reminded again of Helen at the assisted living center who regularly tells me she hates her life and wants to die. From a pragmatic standpoint, it doesn’t really help that Helen doesn’t believe in a God who […]

Wacky Wednesday: Villainy and Veneration

First, villainy… By way of an addendum to my recent review of the new James Bond flick, fellow saint and sinner Michael Frost has shared a wonderful resource: The Ultimate James Bond Fansite.  If you’ve ever entertained the notion of being […]

“When Death Comes”

It’s good to be back at this intersection between life and God- I’ve missed you all! Yesterday’s traveling companion home was the last chapter of Parker Palmer’s gem of a book, A Hidden Wholeness.  (It has convinced me that in another […]

Writing Your Life’s One-Sentence Summary

If you don’t hear from me for the next few days, it’s because I’ll be in Chicago, Illinois for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.  If you’re not familiar with AAR, it’s a very large gathering of […]

The Skeleton at the Beauty Parlor Retires

The skeleton at the beauty parlor is retiring. I heard the news just the other day. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that the neighbors who every year at Halloween brush off that funny, old ensemble, positioning it strategically near […]

“The Whisper Test”

Theologian Jürgen Moltmann calls the church a story-telling fellowship, as Tom Long notes in The Witness of Preaching.  The church does not tell just any old story.   The church tells “the story of Christ, and its own story with that story, because […]

Sunday Silliness: Louis CK as Abe Lincoln

Louis CK once again has me laughing, this time with his rendition of Abe Lincoln on last week’s “Saturday Night Live.”  If you missed the clip, here it is again.  (Be forewarned: in typical Louis CK fashion, there is a good […]

James Bond Does Theology, Too?

Last night’s premiere of the new James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” was a sensation. The grand narrative of good versus evil unfolded in a quick-paced, suspense-filled string of high-speed car chases, jaw-dropping stunts, and gratuitous destruction. And, all the traditional eye […]

Sermon on the Mount Family Planning

Here at the intersection between life and God, author Sandy Ralya recently wrote a kind response to my original review of her book, The Beautiful Wife.  (Thank you, Sandy!) Where I question Ralya’s challenge to Christian couples to have more […]

The Happy Marriage of Evangelicals and Republicans Endures

My suspicions, per yesterday’s post, appear correct: evangelicals remain by and large much in love with the Republican party.  In fact, they voted for a Mormon candidate, Romney, at the same, high levels of enthusiastic support that they showed in […]

How Evangelicals Voted- Survey Results to Debut Today

After last night’s election victory by Barack Obama, the survey results regarding Christian voting trends are almost in- this according to one of today’s headlines from Religion Today, citing as its source the The Christian Post. Apparently, the post-election survey […]

Democrat or Republican: How Would Jesus Vote?

Maybe some of you have asked that question.  Maybe you’re asking it today as we head to the polls to elect America’s next president. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint, because I don’t have an answer.  The truth is, I’m suspicious […]

Mental Health Break: “Redemption Song”

Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” seems fitting today as tomorrow we Americans head for the polls to elect our next president. I fell in love with this version of the song, compliments of the group, “Playing for Change.”  Enjoy!

New and Improved “About Me,” Thanks To Bigtime Blogger Michael Hyatt

New York Times best-selling author Michael Hyatt knows a thing or two about blogging.  More than 272,000 people subscribe to his blog on “intentional leadership.” Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed In a Busy World, contains all sorts of helpful tips […]

Augustine Tweets for Restless Souls

I’m convinced that if he lived today, the early church father, Augustine, would like Twitter and I would be one of his followers. Augustine once said of the God he worshiped: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” I love […]

The Uncomfortable Evangelist

Author Jana Riess, whose book, Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor, is on my list of must-reads- you can find her regularly blogging for the Religion News Service at “Flunking […]

The Blessing Attendant: A Lesson in Gratitude

Every week, as I pull out of the parking garage at one of the client companies I serve as a corporate chaplain, she is there in the little booth at the exit taking tickets, dispensing change, smiling and engaging in […]

Zombie Batman and The Divided Self

My son’s request to be a “zombie batman” tonight qualifies as most creative Halloween aspiration thus far- not to mention a tough act to carry off.  Somehow the two identities seem galaxies apart.  I mean, an animated corpse in a Batman […]

Christian Meteorology: A New Series

The other day in class, someone made the following declaration: “That’s not theology.  That’s meteorology!,” he said.  I love it- hence the inspiration for a new series here at the intersection between life and God, titled “Christian Meteorology.”  We’ll feature […]

Knowing My Audience: “Nones” On the Rise

As an aspiring author I’ve been getting better acquainted with my audience, and it’s an audience I find it easy to self-identify with (Christian ministerial credentials aside).  A poll recently released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life […]

Reading, Writing and…Reviewing Books

“Doing what you’re doing- writing a book- is like running naked through the town square,” a friend of mine recently remarked. Thankfully, we don’t have much of a “town square” where I live in downtown Atlanta; and, besides, in the […]

Joel Osteen as Stand-Up Comedian?

NPR’s Teri Gross recently interviewed the comedian, Chris Rock, on “Fresh Air.”  A friend and fellow T.A. in Intro to Homiletics with Tom Long mentioned the exchange yesterday for its application to preaching (we preacher types are interested in these […]

“The Beautiful Wife”: How One Woman Is Crusading to Save Christian Marriages

Reading the book, The Beautiful Wife, by author and speaker Sandy Ralya, whose agenda to save so-called “biblical marriage” seems a bit dubious from the start, feels like the times I’ve been asked to buckle up during a spate of turbulence […]

“Hope of the Earth”?

“This nation is the hope of the earth,” Republican candidate Mitt Romney said in passionate closing remarks at last night’s third and final presidential debate. The statement for a moment filled me with great pride, and maybe I’m not alone. […]

Mental Health Break: “Beautiful Things”

We sang this song by the band, Gungor, in worship yesterday.  Here is this week’s musical feature, “Beautiful Things,” with the hope that your day will be beautiful, regardless of what you carry into it:   

Grace at the Farmer’s Market

King of Pops Grace The little girl has her popsicle. Strawberry lemonade. She won’t share. Can’t I have a taste?, Mommy whines; her wallet is now empty. A young man is selling hot dogs. They’ve never met, but he has […]

Georgia’s First Female Catholic Priest To Be Ordained Today

It wasn’t supposed to be this way…but then again, nothing worth doing usually ever is.  Today longtime Catholic nun Diane Dougherty is being ordained just miles from my home in Atlanta’s First Metropolitan Community Church.  Doughterty’s ordination will not be […]

Safe Houses

Yesterday Christians for Biblical Equality produced a list of various ways that churches can proactively address the problem of domestic violence both within congregations and the greater community. Rev. Anne O. Weatherholt, who is rector of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Maryland, […]

The Beauty of Irrelevance

Every so often I become afraid that what I am doing with my life is totally irrelevant. It happened yesterday.  I had shown up on the doorstep of the home of a hospice patient for a previously scheduled appointment.  Only […]

A Lesson on Human Nature at the Vet

Yesterday we took our new puppy, Roosevelt, to be neutered.  (Now, with both a Carter and a Roosevelt for pets, we have a truly bipartisan household.) Our five-year-old son, after hearing our attempt at an explanation for why Roosevelt had […]

“What Do I Desire?”

The below video appeared on Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish“- another of Alan Watts’ transformative lectures set to pictures.  It’s worth your two minutes watching it. Watts begins by posing this question to his students:  “What if money was no object?” […]

Cheeky Forgiveness

The night Paul LaRuffa was shot five times in cold blood would have been like any other.  He had closed up the restaurant and gotten into his car.  That’s when “before I could start the car or do anything, the window […]

Square Halos

In his book, The Road to Missional, Michael Frost describes the experience of wandering through the Vatican Museum in Rome to stumble upon an eighth-century mosaic fragment that depicted Pope John VII wearing not a shiny, gold halo but a […]

Love and Marriage When You’re Saving the World

Have any of you been following the news around the recent discovery of a fourth-century papyrus fragment that mentions Jesus’  wife?  The veracity of the papyrus is apparently dubious at best; but this hasn’t stopped Harvard professor Karen King from […]

Musical Feature: Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait”

Once again, in the spirit of an Andrew Sullivan “mental health break,” today’s musical feature is Mumford & Sons’ cover song for their newly released album, Babel:  like many of the band’s songs, “I Will Wait” has, I suspect, deeply […]

The End of Biblical Womanhood?

And, finally, my review of Rachel Held-Evans’ latest book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which aired on Sermons That Work two days ago and is reprinted here with the permission of The Episcopal Digital Network: If “biblical womanhood” were a rutabaga, then Rachel Held-Evans, […]

Top Five Least Favorite “Christian” Code Words

The other day a pastor friend asked if I’d like to help her preach on Stewardship Sunday.  A kind but dubious invitation which I agreed to with a level of trepidation.  That’s because anyone who has been around the church […]

The Importance of Form

The form of sermons has become this week’s focus with students in Preaching 501 with preacher and teacher Tom Long.  I’ll soon be listening to my students preach, some for the first time; and when they preach, their sermons will […]

31 Days of Community

The Nester’s “31 Day Challenge” has inspired fellow saint and sinner Tammy Perlmutter to blog thirty-one days straight about the laughter, surprise and heartbreak of living in intentional Christian community.  Jesus People USA seeks to live out the kind of New Testament […]

A Dangerous Communion

(Note: “Flora” and “Sue” are aliases.) “Flora” is lying in a dark room, the blinds drawn much like her pale face.  Two tired eyes wander in the direction of the voice at the door before coming to rest on the […]

God’s Mission: An Invitation to Party On?

Tomorrow I head for Kansas City, Missouri to join a gathering of other pilgrims on the missional journey. Which makes it especially timely that Michael Frost’s book, The Road to Missional, arrived in the mail this week.  Frost has written […]

Our Golden Calves: A Correction to “More Thoughts on Disappearing Mothers”

Fellow saints and sinners, none of you pointed this out (rather surprisingly), but it occurred to me this morning that I had originally written this: “The Bible and my Reformed tradition have taught me that we human beings are capable […]

Til’ We Have Faces

In the last 72 hours since the airing of my post, Facebook’s “Disappearing Mothers”: The New Form of Women’s Self-Effacement?, I’ve heard a lot, learned a lot, and, been surprised and even flabbergasted, thanks to those of you who weighed in with your […]

More Thoughts on “Disappearing Mothers”

My last post and popular blogger and author Rachel Held-Evans’ subsequent shout-out in her Sunday Superlatives (for “Best Conversation Starter in the Blogosphere”) have generated a throng of readers and a string of interesting comments, most of which seem to be […]

Facebook’s “Disappearing Mothers”: The New Form of Women’s Self Effacement?

Last week Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast and Newsweek, dished out her latest “must-reads” for NPR, this time on the subject of “The Modern Woman.”  Financial Times writer Katie Roiphe’s article, “Disappearing mothers,” was on Brown’s short list, […]

“Stubborn Love”

Today’s musical feature comes much in the same spirit of Andrew Sullivan’s “Mental Health Breaks.” Chalk it up to the Scottish side of my family, but I guess I have a weakness for folk rock bands that magically blend some […]

Love and Loss, Dating and Ordination: One Priest’s Travails

The other day I was sitting at lunch next to a still lively, 90-year-old woman at a plush, assisted living center.  (Funny thing is, even in plush surroundings like these, the food still tastes like your average, garden-variety, “institutionalized” grub.) […]

Why “Church, Inc” Has Failed Us and Why Jesus Won’t: An Interview

And now, finally, what a number of you have been waiting for…Today’s guest is missional church thinker and activist Lance Ford, who is organizing the upcoming Sentralized gathering in Kansas City, Missouri (September 27-29), in which I’ll be taking part.  He […]

“Gracefull”

Fellow saint and sinner Tammy gives below another honest, raw examination of her life through the lens of God’s grace.  God’s grace, not our own often clumsy efforts to achieve goodness or live right or follow our own hearts or […]

True Love, Compliments of “Louie”

For those of us who still believe in true love, and for all my single friends traversing the landmines of today’s crazy dating world, this recent clip from Louis CK’s new comedy television series, “Louie,” shared by fellow saint and […]

“Bringing Jesus”

The other day I heard something that I often hear in various Christian circles. “My husband and I have a heart for bringing Jesus to people,” someone said. And, I can appreciate the sentiment behind the remark. But, bringing Jesus […]

The Venezuelan Poodle Moth

This “Venezuelan poodle moth” was the “face of the day” several days ago on Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Dish.  Apparently the image had been buzzing around the Internet for a while, its authenticity confirmed by zoologist Dr. Karl Shuker, according to […]

Sleepless in Atlanta

Every so often my demons- they know me well- stop by. Early this morning, not wanting to wake my husband who lay snoring next to me, I found myself crouched in silent tears next to the kitchen door, seeking some […]

Underwear God: The Scandal of The Incarnation

It is frankly absurd to believe that God came into this world as, of all things, a human being.  Fully divine, yes, but fully human, too. Yet the whole crux of Christianity, I believe, hangs on this one great, scandalous […]

“Change”

In the last several years, fellow saint and sinner Tammy Perlmutter has, like many of us, witnessed a whole lot of change, much of it just downright sad, hard and disenchanting.  Tammy posted this wonderful little entry on change in […]

“Confessio”

It’s amazing how throwing Latin at a subject can imbue it with more solemnity.   That’s what Brian Doyle did in laying out his life’s confession in the August 22 issue of The Christian Century.  “I, Brian, a sinner,” began […]

Hurricane Isaac Spares God’s “Chosen People”

Yesterday morning, when tropical storm Isaac was gathering speed and looked ready to hit this year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, conservative Christian talk show host Pat Robertson was, oddly, silent.  The coincidence of a second hurricane in four […]

Of Dating, Backgammon and Patience: A Sermon

Fellow saint and sinner Jake Dell preached this sermon yesterday, and has agreed to share it with us.  (Thank you, Jake!)  You can find more of Jake’s reflections at his blog: How many times have you left someone or something […]

A Year of Kingdom-of-God Living

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 It’s rare that I remember my dreams, but the other night I did.  In the […]

“Reading the Bible For All It’s Worth”

Some people really know their Bibles.  One of them is Steve Hayner.  Steve is the president of Columbia Theological Seminary, in Atlanta, Georgia, and has taught missiology, pastored churches, and worked at the helm of the student ministries organization, InterVarsity. […]

From War to Peace: A Story of Reconciliation in Burundi, Take 2

Those of you who caught last week’s post and have been waiting for a working link at which to view the ten-minute video I mentioned, don’t need to wait any longer.  The video, compliments of the World Prayer Assembly, tells […]

Is Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan An Exercise in “Selfish” Bible Reading?

Lately, as I make my way through Rachel Held-Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood- (stay tuned for my upcoming review in the online ecumenical publication, Sermons That Work)– I’ve been obliged to reflect on the nature of “biblical authority.”  This […]

Recovering the Lost Language of God’s Mission

Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” featured a piece yesterday on how radio programming initiatives are keeping alive the dying minority languages of New Zealand’s Maori peoples:  “In the Maori community of New Zealand, for example, the combination of 21 radio stations […]

5 Ways to Put Coveting To Rest

I appreciate the sentiment of Emily Dickinson:  “Consider the lilies- is the only commandment I ever obeyed,” she once quipped (as quoted in the intro to Rachel Held-Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood). Because while I used to think that […]

A Toddler Meets the White Witch

A shorter, storybook version of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for younger children comprised last night’s bedtime reading ritual.  A five-year-old boy and three-year-old girl snuggled up next to their mother to hear with bated breath […]

The Parasite Conundrum and Other News

It’s that time again: we’re getting up to speed on the “mish mash,” and then highlighting some of the future treats in store for us. First, my apologies to those of you who caught two critical mistakes in yesterday’s post, […]

From War to Peace: A Powerful, True Story of Reconciliation

The east African nation of Burundi has witnessed a long, bloody, and tragic history of civil war.  The same ugly tribalism and brutality between Hutus and Tutsis that have swept neighboring Rwanda- (resulting in 1994 in a genocide of more […]

A Spiritual Inventory for iPhone Users

This week with the start of another school year and a few more things added to our family’s schedule, I’ve found myself even more glued to my iPhone- so glued, in fact, that just the other day I found myself […]

The Quality Difference: “Habit” Versus “Act”

“Quality is not an act but a habit.” So reads the banner which hangs in the warehouse of a trucking company where I serve as a corporate chaplain.  The mantra, I’m discovering, holds equally true whether we’re talking about marriage […]

The Problem of Athlete’s Foot

Yesterday’s pool excursion with my son, Cameron, may have been a big divine hint that I need to do more preparation for Sunday’s small group discussion on the nature of evil.  My son, afterall, unlike me or my esteemed cohorts, […]

“Did God Help Gabrielle Douglas Win?”

Did God help Gabrielle Douglas win?  That was the question posed by Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams in a recent piece penned for the magazine and forwarded by fellow saint and sinner Irene Lin.  It’s an interesting question, one that […]

A Riot in the Cathedral

Have you been following the story of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot and their so-called “punk prayer protest” against Russian President Vladimir Putin? The band, whose highest-profile members are three young women now facing a three-year prison sentence, has […]

The Spirituality of Vacation

It’s good to be home! I’ve missed you all, and I’m glad to be back at this intersection between life and God for anyone converted, unconverted or under conversion. Ten serene days of vacation have inspired some reflections this morning […]

Mark Twain’s Midrash on the Creation Story

Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve has been a fun and easy read here at a friend’s ranch in Calistoga, California, where I’m enjoying a few more days of vacation.  Twain wrote it in his later years, and it is a […]

The Resurrection and The Life: A Sermon

This past Sunday I had the joy and privilege of joining in worship with the people of Old First Presbyterian in downtown San Francisco.  The following sermon belongs to our ongoing series, Jesus Epithets:  All the Names Jesus Gets Called […]

The Discipline of Vacation

If you hear less from me over the next ten days, it is because I’ll be mostly vacationing with family and friends first in Albuquerque and San Francisco, and then, sans children, in Napa Valley.  I’m still trying to figure […]

Why the Dearth of Women Emerging Evangelists? An Interview with Matt Brown of Thinke

Some of you probably recall that not long ago the Facebook page “Emerging Evangelists” gallery of exclusively male blogging evangelists (excepting a couple brave, smiling wives) elicited an outburst.  What was so “emerging” about an all-male club of evangelists in […]

Lessons from the Colorado Tragedy

The massacre at a movie cinema late Thursday night was a tragedy. It can be a lesson, too.  The question is, a lesson about what exactly?  As usual, the devil is in the details. In the days following a deranged […]

Prayers in Wake of Colorado Tragedy

I’m struck this morning by the prescience of yesterday’s poem, coming as it did (without my knowledge at the time of posting it) in the wake of the tragedy that struck  late Thursday night at a movie theater in Aurora, […]

The Poetics of Faith

Fellow saint and sinner Molly Nicholson has shared this wonderful, little piece by the poet Robert Francis, which comes untitled: Life the hound Equivocal Comes at a bound Either to rend me Or to befriend me. I cannot tell The hound’s […]

The Meaning of Tradition and Why Church Families Do Such Weird Stuff

This week some of my now very large, sprawling extended family took part in its annual “Robb Regatta” off of Shelter Island, an island off the eastern tip of Long Island, New York.  I regrettably couldn’t make it, but got […]

“Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?” Is the Wrong Question

In an op-ed piece for The New York Times, titled “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?,” Ross Douthat makes the observation that last week, as the Episcopal Church was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for […]

Family unValues: Weird Jesus Sayings

“If any of you come to me…and don’t hate your father and your mother, your wife and your children, your brothers and your sisters- yes, and even your own life!- you can’t be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26 So much […]

Chicken Living Versus Freedom?

This weekend our family’s Friday movie night featured Chicken Run, an animated comedy directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park which tells the story of one group of cooped-up chickens and their relentless thirst for freedom from their soulless, money-grubbing overlords, […]

“Is There a Case for Foreign Missions?”

“Is There A Case for Foreign Missions?”  That was the title of a speech delivered by the writer, Pearl Buck, for a packed gathering organized by the Presbyterian Church in November 1932.  Buck, in summarizing four decades of experience as […]

“The Man Who Gave the World His Number”

My hubby and fellow saint and sinner Paul Dover ran across this article from the BBC which brought tears to my eyes.  It’s about a guy named Jeff Ragsdale who, finding himself alone in the aftermath of a devastating break-up, […]

Awkward Church Moments

I was practically lizzing yesterday (to borrow Elizabeth Lemon’s term in “30 Rockefeller”) when I heard this story from someone I ran into the other day.  Apparently he had not set foot in a church for years when he visited […]

Apostolic Movements: A Permanent Revolution?

Alan Hirsch’s latest book, The Permanent Revolution: Apostolic Imagination and Practice for the 21st Century Church, co-authored with Tim Catchim, is on my must-read list. Apparently, Hirsch’s main point, according to Hirsch’s Books and Culture reviewer, Gregory Metzger, is this: the five-fold model […]

Prepositional Faith: A Sermon by Guest Preacher Saskia de Vries

Fellow saint and sinner Saskia de Vries, whom we recently spoke with about neuroscience and theology (see our four-part interview, The Brain on Faith) is also a preacher.  She preached the below sermon to her congregation yesterday, and kindly agreed to […]

Resurrection, Keane-Style

Resurrection is on my mind this week as I prepare to preach tomorrow on the passage from John 11, where Jesus in raising Lazarus from the dead describes Himself as “The Resurrection and The Life.” Maybe this is why the […]

“Hell Is Hotter”

“1.4 million lack power amidst relentless heat,” or so go the headlines these days. Here in Atlanta over the past weekend, the heat index was upwards of 110 degrees.  It was so hot that simply stepping out to get the […]

Anger Management 101

Two days ago someone I know who I would prefer not to know made me very angry. I was so angry that when I went grocery shopping, I left all of my purchased bags of groceries in my shopping cart […]

Happy Fourth of July!

Hope you’re having a fun Fourth! I’m struck by how holidays like these, during which we celebrate some aspect of what it means to belong to a particular nation, can be much like religious rituals, insofar as they give a […]

Independence Week

Last night I was reading an excerpt from Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiography, The Prime of Life, in which she describes in almost ecstatic tones the wonder of working and living on her own as a writer and philosopher.  She was […]

The Uniqueness of Jesus Christ

I’ve recently begun a three month experiment in co-leading a small group of self-described cynics, skeptics and religious misfits engaging our questions at the intersection of life and God.  Tonight we’ll be revisiting what it means that Jesus is “the […]

“Rightness” Versus Truth

Barbara Brown Taylor spoke at First Baptist Decatur yesterday six years following the publication of her memoir, Leaving Church.  She is one of my role models for her authenticity (an over-used word, I know, but for lack of a better […]

Observations on Grief

I’m learning more about the nature of grief as I make my way through Hilary Spurling’s fascinating biography of Pearl Buck.  Pearl’s only child, Carol, was born with a rare, degenerative condition that left her mentally disabled for the rest […]

“Flirt to Convert”: The Promise and Peril of Missionary Dating

Apparently Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church is doing a whole series on dating and relationships: “You Make Me Crazy” offers “survival skills for relationships.”  I guess “Christian dating” is just one of those perennially hot topics. When I was dating, the […]

“Ask Sister Gramick Anything: How Would You Reform the Church?”

I’ve just made the virtual acquaintance of Sister Jeanine Gramick, thanks to yesterday’s installment of Andrew Sullivan’s series, “Ask Sister Gramick Anything.”  Sr. Gramick may be best known for her work at the helm of an organization that she started […]

Evil in “High Places”- Why This Week’s Convictions Belong to a Long Struggle for Justice

                  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Ephesians 6:12 (King James […]

The Missionary As Barefoot Nature Preservationist

Hillary Spurling’s Pearl Buck in China: Journey to The Good Earth is my current bedtime companion these days, and I’m probably reading it as a way to better understand myself. You may know Pearl Buck from her seminal, best-selling work, The […]

The Skimp on Recent Developments

Fellow saints and sinners who weighed in on a popular post from last year, “The Minister and the Little, Black Dress,” will be mildly amused to learn that I finally did it: on Monday evening on the occasion of my […]

The “Signs and Wonders” of the Kingdom of God

The  “2012 Kingdom Culture” conference hosted annually by Bethel Church, in Redding, California, starts today- and I’m intrigued.  (Are any of you participating? I’d be curious to hear more about what you know or have experienced here.) I’m most intrigued […]

Can a High Christology Accommodate Genuine Interfaith Dialogue?

Is it possible to take seriously the unique, “once and for all” saving work and person of Jesus Christ, while also respecting the views of friends from other faith traditions and engaging in genuine interfaith dialogue?  Is it feasible to […]

What I Learn From Comedian Russell Brand

If British comedian Russell Brand (of the movie “Get Him to the Greek”) can be crude, he can also be downright hilarious, as evidenced by the below videos.  “We’ve Got To Do Something” and “African Child” are ridiculously funny caricatures […]

Happy Father’s Day!

When I was fifteen, my dad took me to Russia and Europe to fulfill a promise he had made to each of us kids: we could each have one trip of our choice to anywhere in the world. At the […]

Shaking the Dust

“[Jesus] said to the apostles, ‘If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’” – Luke 9:3-5 The chaplain was making her usual rounds at one of the […]

Vatican “Nunsense”: Why Old “Habits” Die Hard

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…” – Genesis 3:15 “But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.” – Luke 24:11 I’ve been following with […]

It Takes an Imagination to Raise a Faith

I wonder if we tire of or become bored by the life of faith because we have stopped using our imaginations.  Maybe we’ve never learned how to use them in the first place. Just imagine that you and I are […]

Mutuality in Ministry

Yesterday marked the end of a week-long “Mutuality” series with Rachel Held-Evans.  For technical luddites like myself, it was also an introduction to “syncroblogging”: Held-Evans invited bloggers everywhere to reflect on the theme of mutuality between men and women in […]

What Does It Mean To Pray Boldly?

“And this is the boldness we have in [Christ], that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the […]

Stand-Up Comedian Tim Hawkins Waxes on Church Culture

I’ve just discovered church stand-up comedian Tim Hawkins.  His below routine- especially the part about the church’s obsession in recent years with hand sanitizer- will make you chuckle.  Tomorrow, some thoughts sparked by 1 John on what it means to […]

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

I watched Werner Herzog’s documentary, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” the other night.  The film tells the story of the recently discovered Chauvet cave in southern France that houses the world’s oldest paintings- paintings of a prehistoric people whose life and […]

A Response to Psalm 23

Fellow saint and sinner Jake Dell (@jakedell73) has written a response to Psalm 23 and yesterday’s post which I have posted in full below.  It captures in a beautiful, C.S. Lewis sort of way, the nature of faith in God’s dawning […]

Why I Don’t Believe Psalm 23

The nineteenth century philosopher and theologian Sören Kierkegaard recognized that every individual must wrestle with the implications of God’s Word for herself.  The “collective,” or, in this case, churches and religious institutions, do violence to this necessarily subjective, deeply personal […]

Runway or Runaway Religion? Thoughts on “Christian Fashion”

Some of you have heard about mega-church pastor Ed Young’s latest initiative to coach the church on what to wear and what not to wear.  I was made aware of it through a post by saint and sinner Lance Ford, […]

“What Is a Third Place?”

“Third place.”  If it’s not my position in a race to the ice cream running neck and neck with a five-year-old and a two-year-old, what is it? Fellow saint and sinner Lance Ford has posted an enlightening article (credit: Sentralized) […]

“The Way, The Truth, and The Life”: Jesus Epithets Continued

“I am the way and the truth and the life!  Nobody comes to the father except through me.” – John 14:6 It may be hard to believe, but we’re actually doing a series on all the names given to Jesus […]

“Your Story, Your Witness”

If you could think of one example in your life of how God was real to you, what would it be? Co-founder and co-pastor of Kairos Church Thomas Daniel begins last week’s sermon with this question.  What follows is an […]

Vulnerability and Glory: What the Olympics Teach Me

I’ve been asked to contribute to Beliefnet’s forthcoming series on the Olympics.  I’ll keep you posted on when that series airs, but in the meantime, here are some reflections on what the Olympics teach me about the marriage of vulnerability […]

The World of Biblical Literalism: Men With Short Hair and Women Without Jewelry or Leadership Skills

Fellow saints and sinners have left some interesting comments during the last few days!  Someone with the online name of “Roodness” writes the following in response to my “Coffee with Jesus” lampoon of manliness pastor and cage fighter Mark Driscoll’s […]

The Brain on Faith: Part 4 in a Four-Part Series

Some of my regular readers may be amused to learn that I actually got the eighth grade science award.  (I guess I took extra good care of my egg baby or something.)  Somewhere in high school, I, like many other […]

The Brain on Faith: Part 3 of a Four-Part Interview

We’re back with Stanford neuroscientist Saskia de Vries in a conversation about neuroscience and faith… I’m curious about how you read Scripture these days, and want to spend some time here.  How do you read the creation story, for instance?  […]

The Brain on Faith: Part 2 of a Four-Part Interview

If you’re just tuning in, we’re continuing our conversation with Stanford neuroscientist Dr. Saskia de Vries, as part of a four-part exploration of the intersection between neuroscience and theology.  Are human beings hard-wired to believe in something, God, etc? This […]

From Boobs to Brains: A Four-Part Interview with a Stanford Neuroscientist

If all this boobie talk is becoming tiresome- incidentally just the other day NPR’s Terry Gross was interviewing someone who has written a whole book on breasts- we’re on to a subject I find frankly far more scintillating.  It’s one […]

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The Recovery-Minded Church Available for Pre-Order—and a Peek at the Cover!
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