Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Grace Archives

Good Friday Is Like Hot Yoga…

Good Friday is like last night’s mindful hot yoga class. It was my first, so I had gone with some trepidation. I hadn’t known what to wear, for one thing, so I put on my only pair of light Spandex, […]


Lessons from the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Just over six months ago, a member of our congregation announced he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer: Steve Hayner, the outgoing president of Columbia Theological Seminary, and his wife Sharol, have come to be most associated in my mind […]


The Prodigal God—Inspirations from Tim Keller’s Book

I’ve missed you! The challenge of writing for a full-time job is that it can relegate recreational writing to a distant backseat. But I want to keep coming back to this intersection, because I find that when I’m away from […]


The Lie of Invulnerability

This last week has been insane. Family sickness, repairs, car issues, multiple calls from school nurses, including one in which the nurse expressed concern my 7-year-old son had been bitten by a brown recluse spider…and just when I thought it […]


Quotes of the Week

Fellow saints and sinners, I’m starting a (like most things here) irregular series called “Quotes of the Week.”  These are just various snippets of wit and charm I run across during the week, and that I’ve not had time to […]


“Admiral John”: A Granddaughter’s Remembrances

It feels a bit like Groundhog Day: wasn’t it just a couple months ago that I was sharing a granddaughter’s reflections upon the death of a grandparent?  This past Saturday, my granddad John slipped away suddenly to join his late […]


Free Grace Sticks Excerpt

Thanks for bearing with yesterday’s rant against gun rights legislation in Georgia. On another note, I was delighted to learn that Beliefnet has done a special promotion piece for my book Grace Sticks, featuring an extended excerpt from the first […]


“Mean Grace?” Via Flannery O’Connor

This week I’m making my way through Flannery O’Connor’s book of short stories Everything That Rises Must Converge.  (The book’s title comes from the first story that appears in this series of O’Connor’s stories.) Three stories in, I’m struck by […]


Wasn’t April Fool’s Day Last Week?—World Vision, Evangelicals and Gays

April Fool’s Day seems a fitting day to review what happened last week, when, within just two days of announcing its decision to hire gays in recognized same-sex marriages, World Vision reversed its decision. An official statement from World Vision […]


Talk Radio Interview Re: “Grace Sticks”

IRN USA Radio’s program “Chuck Morse Speaks” invited me back on Wednesday morning for a conversation with co-producer of the show Andre Traversa.This time the subject was my book. You can tune in to that one-hour discussion here. (Note: the […]

6 Tips For Rebounding from Rejection

Last week I got the news that I had been rejected: I had poured my all into one and only one application to a top-tier doctoral program only to learn that I hadn’t made the cut. Worse yet was the […]

For Limited Time, 40% Discount on Grace Sticks With Proceeds to Malala Fund

If you’re just tuning in here at this intersection between life and God, I’m glad you’ve come. And I hope you’ll come back. You may not know that my newly released book Grace Sticks is now available at a 40% discount […]

Author Q and A for Grace Sticks

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) is in Baltimore this year: at this time last year I was courting publishers for Grace Sticks; this time I’ll be working on a publicity plan for the book. In the meantime, here is […]

Holy Space: Meditations for Itinerant Souls

Starting today and continuing every Tuesday and Thursday through Advent, we’ll move through a series of photo meditations on “holy space.” Our guide is photographer and travel writer Katie Archibald-Woodward and her inspirational “visual words.” If you’re a restless soul […]

“Holy Space”: A Series of Visual Word Meditations

It used to be that church buildings were holy spaces. Sometimes they still are. But for many of us restless souls looking for more direction, truth and life, this question of what constitutes “holy space” transcends traditional religious symbols. What […]

Surprise! Grace Sticks Now Available for Purchase on Amazon

This is one of those rare moments when I’m flooding the blogosphere with two posts in one day and hoping you’ll forgive me….because yesterday publicist Caitlin McKenzie of Cascade—a shout-out to Caitlin, editor Rodney Clapp, and the wonderful people of […]

Super Tuesday News Flash: Grace Sticks To Release This Fall

That pretty much says it all. Thanks to the deft and efficient contributions of my editor Rodney Clapp and the hard-working souls of Wipf & Stock, Grace Sticks:The Bumper Sticker Gospel for Restless Souls (Cascade), with a foreword by Michael Frost, […]

Grace in a Dementia Unit

I spend part of Friday morning in the dementia unit at a local assisted living center. (Some mornings getting the kids off to school—barely— I wonder if I belong there.) This past Friday Tom was there as usual, motionless and […]

23 Minutes in Hell?

I’m slowly making my way through Dante’s Inferno after our time in Tuscany. Right now that means dawdling in the seventh circle of hell with avaricious money lenders—look out, Wall Street—and, not surprisingly, Dante’s hell is hot and very unpleasant. […]

6 Tips for Letting Go in Loss

The older I get the more I’m convinced a whole lot of life is about letting go. The only problem is I’m not very good at it. Maybe you can identify. Here’s a short list that helps me let go […]

The Mystery of the Miralax Deviled Eggs, a.k.a. Telling Our Secrets

Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, [Jesus] began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will […]

Giving Thanks for Restless Soul Brennan Manning

Author of The Ragamuffin Gospel Brennan Manning passed away early Saturday morning. Like most of us, he lived a life of mistakes, U-turns, detours, tumbles and face plants. What made his life shine with meaning and purpose were his radical […]

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” […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

Visio Divina: Advent Meditation 4 (Matthew 11)

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

The Truman Show Effect

This afternoon we visited “Seaside,” a rather surreally concocted residential community that sits perched on scenic highway A30 along Florida’s Gulf coast.  The square plots with their perfectly manicured lawns backing up to cookie cutter houses and a speed limit […]

Nature and Grace

If you read yesterday’s sermon, you may have caught some refrains on this theme. The picture I mentioned of the leopard snuggling with a baby antelope might almost pass as a Hallmark card, were it not for the fact that […]

The White Chip

  “The White Chip” He said she’d not make a good poker player. She only played once, now one’s for the taking. The white chips— for the lowest wager— and she’s still gambling on a turnaround. No more conceit.  No […]

Disorganized Religion

We preachers have our most embarrassing moments.  I imagine it’s true for musicians, too.  The other night I witnessed one. Mumford & Sons’ lead singer Marcus Mumford, performing for a full house at Ryman Theater, in Nashville, Tennessee, first forgot […]

The Gospel According to Joe

The other day the blog, “Real People, Real Lives, Real Spirituality,” asked where I feel most “spiritually connected.”  (You can find the interview and others of ordinary people trying to make sense of life at the intersection with God here: […]

Move Over, “Cosmo.”

  “Love me passionately, love me often, and love me long.”  The appeal might grace the cover of Cosmopolitan.  The one, big exception?  That it is addressed to God…in the thirteenth century…by a “virginal” nun named Mechthild de Magdeburg. These days […]

Telling Secrets, a.k.a. “Confession”

Almost ten years ago, I, at the time a seminary student preparing for ministry in the Presbyterian church, confessed my sins to a Catholic priest and received the sacrament of reconciliation:  I cried tears of repentance, received absolution for my […]

You Know It’s a Bad Day When You’re Giving a Blow Job to a Stranger for $5

Fellow saints and sinners, today was to feature a weird Jesus saying, but something profound happened yesterday that I have to tell you about. Because it is not every day that I get propositioned by a prostitute.  In fact, yesterday […]

Stylito Heels: Weird Jesus Sayings Continued

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a […]

The Difference Between Grace and a Sears Appliance Warranty

The $400 Kenmore Inteli-Clean vacuum cleaner I bought last year as part of a crusade on dog hair and allergens is on the fritz.  Again.  When I turn it on, it squeaks, moans, whirs, shakes and does nothing. If Jesus […]

Jesus Walks On Water

Remember the crazy story about Peter and Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-33)?  To refresh our memories…Peter and the disciples are out in a boat in the middle of the night when Jesus appears, taking a little stroll on the […]

The Gift of Failing

Garrison Keillor read this poem by Wendell Berry on yesterday’s “The Writer’s Almanac”: IX. I go by a field where once I cultivated a few poor crops. It is now covered with young trees, for the forest that belongs here has come back […]

Field Notes on Grace

Here is a conversation starter:  Where did you last experience “grace” and what did it look like? In the spirit of Stanley Hauerwas’ latest book, Working with Words, which is one Christian theologian’s exploration of language about God, I want to propose a […]

Previous Posts

Mental Health Break — "On Melancholy Hill" and What's Up Next Here
Single motherhood for the next nine months — with my hubby traveling back and forth to Washington, D.C., thanks to a National Endowment of Humanities (NEH) research fellowship there — may reduce my presence here at this intersection. But I'm ...

posted 3:34:48pm Sep. 24, 2015 | read full post »

A Monk, A Man Behind Bars for Murder, and Their Life-Changing Correspondence
[caption id="attachment_5740" align="alignleft" width="400"] The U.S. locks up more people every year than any other country, including China, with a population roughly five times greater than that of the U.S.. 5% of the world's population ...

posted 8:37:11pm Sep. 16, 2015 | read full post »

This Old House: A Poem
              The dramatic transformation that our old house continues to ...

posted 9:19:25pm Sep. 11, 2015 | read full post »

2 Ways I'm Like Mr. Bean When On Retreat at the Monastery
It’s been a while since my last “retreat” at the monastery. The last time I was here, I was on ...

posted 4:25:13pm Sep. 09, 2015 | read full post »

A 1:6 Women-to-Men Ratio on Ashley Madison — Why?
At the risk of beating a dead horse — can anyone help me understand where that awful expression comes from, by the way? — this piece takes a new angle on the whole Ashley Madison scandal. What does an eye-opening dearth of female users on ...

posted 2:37:06pm Sep. 07, 2015 | read full post »


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