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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Saints and sinners Archives

Being There: A Eulogy to Our Dog Carter

Today our canine companion of 15 years—about the length of our marriage—died. He passed away peacefully at the age of 17 with his closest family around him, stroking him wistfully between sobs and thanking him for the life and love […]

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A Mother’s Day Tribute to Peggy Hight-Robb (a.k.a. “Grandmom Peggy”)

A few days ago my grandmother died. It’s poignantly fitting that “Grandmom Peggy” made her exit from this life just before Mother’s Day. She was after all a mother to six children. I only quite recently discovered how much Grandmom […]

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The Vatican Diaries: A Review

Sex. Money. Power. Corruption. Controversy. Scandal. Since the 1980’s Catholic News Service reporter John Thavis has been covering all of it and more—not from a post in Las Vegas or the nation’s Capitol but from (of all places) the Vatican. […]

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Lent Madness

In an effort to infuse this often somber season of Lent with a little humor and motivational pizzazz, one Episcopalian priest in Massachusetts has invented “Lent Madness.” Four years ago Rev. Tim Schenck started the initiative, which pits some 32 […]

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The Real Saint Valentine

On this day once a year when we exchange treakly Hallmark card greetings with our loved ones, it may be salutary to remember here at this intersection between life and God who the original St. Valentine was. Valentine was a […]

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Biblical Inerrancy, Sexual Purity and Christian Code Words: What You’re Saying

One thing that keeps me showing up at this intersection between God and life is you and your musings. I hope you’ll keep leaving them here. Here is what some of you have been saying… Saint and sinner Briana from […]

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“The Inner Life of James Bond”

James Bond’s real-life alter ego appears in my book. (See “God is my copilot” chapter.) And until now only a few close friends knew that in another life I’d be a Bond girl, preferably a bad one. (See “Well-behaved women […]

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Mental Health Break— Carpe Diem

In Italy I saw this shirt or some version of it all over the place, usually worn by young people. When I pointed it out to my husband (whose area of study frequently takes him to Italy), he explained that […]

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Lessons for Restless Souls from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”

An audio version of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises has been keeping me company in the car; and has convinced me that Hemingway was a restless soul, too (by “restless,” I mean another soul looking for more purpose, more […]

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Mental Health Break—There Really Is…

…a town called “Fucking,” and the town is in Austria. The etymology of the name dates back to the sixth century when “Focko,” a Bavarian nobleman, named the town after himself. (I’ve always wondered about people who name towns after […]

5 Tips for Facing Our Fears

Early this morning, I was just drifting off into the halcyon waters of deep sleep REM when my son woke me up to say he was scared. I was non-plussed on a third consecutive night of one or another or […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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.) […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

What To Make Of God’s Annoying Fan Club?

“I’ve got nothing against God, it’s His fan club I can’t stand!,” goes one bumper sticker.  Endless scandals, bickering, and declining membership and budgets in many denominations all point to a long, historical track record of failures to be the […]

The Lesson of the Refrigerator Repairman

He showed up at our door yesterday afternoon to fix the refrigerator. (What do you get when a professor and a minister have a broken refrigerator? Answer: An appliance repairman.) The first words out of his mouth signaled he was […]

Letter to the Editor and Correction Re: “Women Body Builders” Article

Rev. Dr. Amy Richter, who was the inspiration of my post two days ago, writes the following in response: Dear Kristina! Thank you so much! I am so honored–and inspired–on your beautiful riff on building the body of the church. […]

FSS Reader Poll, Mid-Week Miscellany

Every week I receive a little report from the editors of Beliefnet summarizing the hot content of the week- all that stuff you guys are inclined to read out there.  It seems inquiring minds these days often want to know […]

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 […]

Temptation

Temptation.  I have to imagine Jesus knew what a fact of life it is, because he taught us to pray daily for ourselves in this respect: “Give us this day our daily bread, and lead us not into temptation, but […]

Existential Schizophrenia

Maybe the universal human dilemma can be summed up in the following question: how do I live between the two poles of, on the one hand, my own insignificance and the transitory nature of my finest achievements, and, on the […]

Clubbing with Jesus

If Christianity were a dance club, then it would seem to have a lot of bouncers lately.  First it was Franklin Graham, questioning the authenticity of President Obama’s Christian faith and implying that he could be a closet Muslim after […]

The “Wheat,” The “Tares,” and Church “Purity”

Apparently conservative theologian and proponent of “masculine Christianity” John Piper is at it again. (Whatever happened to “Christian hedonism,” to borrow Piper’s own term, anyway?  This Piper seemed like a guy I could have a beer with.) Today Piper tweeted […]

The Only Begotten Son: Jesus Epithets Continued

“No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has declared him.” John 1:18 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him […]

6 Ways to “Shush” Insecurity, Via Mechthild of Magdeburg

If there were anyone who knew about insecurity or a sense of not “measuring up,” it would be the thirteenth century, “stealth theologian” Mechthild de Magdeburg: she wrote as a woman in a largely male-dominated world of letters; she did […]

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 […]

Spiritual Dissonances: Ground Zero and the W Hotel Bar

Today is the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Probably the closest thing for my generation to that surprise attack by Japanese planes on Pearl Harbor in the year 1941 is 9/11.  On Saturday evening a friend and I visited the […]

“I Gotta Have Faith”

When gay singer George Michael recently put off his tour because of a bad case of pneumonia that landed him in the intensive care unit at the hospital and drew family and long-time partner Fadi Fawaz to his sick bed, […]

A Thanksgiving for Emmy

We were sitting across from one another in the monastery dining hall, eating our lunch in silence per the rule.  We hadn’t met yet. “Would you like to come to my party?,” she blurted out.  Loudly. Heads turned. “I’ll think about […]

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 Little Ones”: Weird Jesus Sayings Continued

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to trip up…it would be better for them to have a huge millstone hung around their neck and be drowned out in the deep sea.” Matthew 18:6 Jesus could […]

For a Saint Named Betty

For all the saints, who from their labors rest, Who Thee by faith before the world confessed, Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!… Betty died peacefully in her sleep last week.  She was 88.  I had coffee with her husband […]

Previous Posts

In the Clear: Meditations on Cleaning House
The last few weeks have comprised a massive de-cluttering initiative in preparation for a home renovation, as we clear out junk from our basement, attic and just about anywhere useless stuff has managed to accrue. What Do We Throw ...

posted 2:04:34pm May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

For All Restless Souls—The Love-Hate Memoir of One Churchgoing Gal
My review of Rachel ...

posted 12:13:35pm May. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Upcoming Review of Rachel Held-Evans' Latest Book
Yesterday I submitted a final, much-revised manuscript for The Recovery-Minded Church: Loving and Ministering to People with Addictions (InterVarsity Press, 2015)—which hopefully means I can be back at this intersection between God and life at ...

posted 3:55:35pm May. 12, 2015 | read full post »

"The Power of Introductions," Via Bruce Strom and Gospel Justice
I've featured the work of my friend and inspiration Bruce Strom, a lawyer who directs the organization Gospel Justice Initiative, at this intersection before. Bruce once had a cushy job as the senior partner at a corporate law firm, but he gave ...

posted 11:06:21am May. 05, 2015 | read full post »

5 Spiritual Lessons from Editing The Recovery-Minded Church
The edits to The Recovery-Minded Church: Loving and Ministering to People with Additions (IVP) have been substantial and time-consuming, thanks to a ...

posted 10:23:02am Apr. 27, 2015 | read full post »

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