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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Spirituality Archives

Naked Feet … and the Gift of Reverence

When he slipped his feet into the tub of warm, herb-infused water, he did so almost apologetically. “Thank you,” he said, tentatively, an edge of either shyness or embarrassment in his tone as she summoned a foot to her lap. […]

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

It’s been too long! Vacation, a family lice infestation, sickness, and preparation for a home renovation—much of it occurring at the same time—fun, huh?—have kept me away from this intersection. But I couldn’t not share my delight at the news […]

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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 Away? […]

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Mental Health Break—One Saint’s Admonitions for Living in Present

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), also known as “the Little Flower of Jesus,” was a French Carmelite nun who had wisdom beyond her years.  I stumbled across her reflections on living in the present in a little devotional I’ve been […]

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Faith from the Underside

Faith turned over to the side that doesn’t capture the light: the underbelly of trust in God—or is it distrust?—so often not shown.  At first glance, Barbara Brown Taylor’s latest book, Learning To Walk in the Dark, seems an exercise […]

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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 […]

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“There Are Mornings”: A Poem

Fellow saint and sinner Sally sent this poem by Lisel Mueller along, which seems so fitting for all of us saints and sinners at this intersection between God and life; so I share it with you, too, in hopes that, […]

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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 […]

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Holy Space 12: The Birthday

Today concludes our Advent series “Holy Space.” Over the last few weeks as we have vicariously traveled to The Holy Land, thanks to travel photojournalist Katie Archibald-Woodward, I hope you, too, have had a chance to reflect a bit on […]

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Holy Space 11: The City on a Hill

If you’re just tuning in, we’re finishing up an Advent series of meditations on “holy space” with the help of travel photojournalist Katie Archibald-Woodward on assignment in The Holy Land. The series, which has been running Tuesdays and Thursdays, concludes […]

Holy Space 10: The West Bank

Some Facts About the West Bank: CITIZENSHIP: Palestinians in the West Bank are not citizens of any country.  Technically.  By most they are considered an occupied territory, and occasionally recognized as a full-fledged state.  However, since the Palestinian Authority is […]

Holy Space 10: Aseel Bannoura

If you’re tuning in for the first time at this intersection between faith and God for anyone converted, unconverted or under conversion…we’re in the middle of an Advent series exploring “holy space.” You’re invited to share your own experiences of […]

Holy Space 9: The Peace of Jerusalem

I wish I’d had more experiences, well, any experiences, talking with Jewish Israelis about the occupation while visiting the Holy Land these two times.  My goal this recent visit was to learn more about the occupation overall.  I wanted to […]

Holy Space 8: Crossing the Threshold

While in the West Bank I had the incredible opportunity to meet up with one of my dear friends who I made while studying at The Ecumenical Institute for the World Council of Churches at Bossey in Switzerland. Ashraf Tannous […]

Holy Space 7: At the Site of Your Birth

I can’t connect here. The “site” of your birth is just a shrine to me. It’s hard for me to come and give thanks to you here. I find I just come to consume, to get my picture and go. […]

Holy Space 6: The Western Wall

Today is a unique day in Jerusalem, especially around the Western Wall.  It’s a Thursday, and, as Andre our guide explains to us, on Monday’s and Thursday’s bar mitzvahs are celebrated.  As we walk to the wall we witness parade […]

Holy Space 5: “Bicycle Day” on Via Dolorosa

Today is known as “Bicycle Day”, at least around Jerusalem.  You may be familiar with it too, but under its more familiar name, Yom Kippur—the Jewish holy day of Atonement. For more reflections on the Via Dolorosa, see Katie’s blog. […]

Holy Space 3: Down By The River

The Jordan River, like many of the sites I’ve visited in the Holy Land and have yet to visit, is hard to connect with.  We don’t know where exactly along the Jordan River Jesus was baptized and the churches and […]

Holy Space 2: Desert Wanderings

We are driving north, leaving Petra, and it is bare. I envision the 300,000 or so Israelites wandering through this land in their exodus from Egypt.  I can see why they grumbled and longed to return to Egypt.  At this […]

“Holy Space” Installment 1: Meeting Moses on Mt. Sinai

The first installment from photojournalist Katie Woodward Archibald in our “Holy Space” series (Tuesdays and Thursdays) comes from Mt. Sinai… As I began my 3,000-stair descent down Mount Sinai I was a bit uneasy.  No one else could be found […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

Visio Divina (The Visual Word): Advent Meditation 7

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

One Lousy Prayer’s Thoughts on Prayer as Spiritual Formation

It is hard to be honest as a minister about the fact that I am not very good at praying. Sure, I do it.  Most mornings these days I sidle up next to Jesus with a cup of coffee and […]

“The Toil of Freedom,” in Honor of Black History Month

“How do we embrace the toil of freedom?” That is the question that friend, screenwriter and producer Okorie Johnson sets out to answer in his forthcoming film, “Canopy.” As an introspective look at how one particular African American struggles to […]

Food for Thought: Prayer as Social Justice? World Prayer Assembly, Jakarta

20,000 children will lead the May 2012 World Prayer Assembly in prayer for the world. Wow. Which begs the question: can prayer be social justice?  After watching this video sent on by organizers of the May 2012 “World Prayer Assembly” […]

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 […]

The Spirituality of Half-Baked Chili Cheese Casserole

The domesticated goddess in me made a new recipe the other night.  (These days “domesticated” means trying out the dishes on sample at my local Trader Joe’s, so long as I can be assured of four ingredients or less.)  So […]

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 […]

The Freedom Riders

“Make ready for the Christ, whose smile- like lightning- sets free the song of everlasting glory that now sleeps in your paper flesh- like dynamite.”-Thomas Merton Just the other day my son played his first basketball game as the only […]

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 […]

5 Ways to Tame the Animal of Regret

If regret can sometimes seem like an animal on our backs, there are ways we can tame it.  Here are five practical tips for dealing with regret when it threatens to get the best of us: 1. Don’t be afraid […]

Space Dog: The Animal of Regret

The first-ever animal to orbit the Earth and to die in space was a dog named “Laika” (Russian for “Barker”).  When the Soviets launched Sputnik 2 in 1957, Laika out-performed two other dogs to earn the dubious honor of participating […]

The Spiritual Practice of Getting Lost

“Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be…mistreated four hundred years. But…afterwards they will come out with great possessions.”  Genesis 15:13-14 Have you ever been lost? If not, you […]

Great Expectations

 We all expect things out of the cards we have been dealt in life.  We expect to find  the right someone and be married for life.  Or to land the job that will finally make  us happy.  Or to live […]

James Bond Spirituality

I have a weakness for James Bond flicks.  Apparently the poet May Swenson does, too.  Her below poem, compliments of The Writer’s Almanac, provides a helpful framework for thinking about a recent church worship experience and its implications for Christian spirituality: […]

The “Terrible Thing” About Hope

The other day I was listening to an NPR interview with the writer Hisham Matar, whose latest novel,Anatomy of a Disappearance, draws from his own experience.  Matar’s father, a dissident under the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, mysteriously disappeared […]

What Would It Look Like for “Church” to Matter?

It is not every day that you hear a story that touches something deep inside of you.  That gives you a taste for “church” that matters. Not “church” as just another social obligation or Sunday morning engagement, but “church” when it […]

Previous Posts

3 Quasi-Spiritual Lessons from the Ashley Madison Scandal
For those of us saints and sinners who even remotely have been following last week’s Ashley Madison scandal, I can think of at least three lessons it offers (and you may have more, in which case feel free to leave them below): 1. Chances ...

posted 6:14:59pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

John Oliver vs. Televangelists and Their "Big Seed" Prosperity Gospel
If you've not seen it, you must: John Oliver on "Last Week Tonight" offered the most brilliantly funny rebuke of televangelists and the prosperity gospel I've seen to date. Oliver doesn't mince words, including the four-letter ones, in blasting ...

posted 2:21:12am Aug. 18, 2015 | read full post »

How the Latest Revelations Re: ISIS' Systemized Sexual Violence Against Girls Remind Me I Am Not a Pacifist
As if ISIS had not already convinced us enough of its total depravity ... the latest revelations by The New York Times —(be forewarned, they are disturbing to read) — remind me why I am not a pacifist. As if turning small boys into child ...

posted 5:54:37pm Aug. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Mustard Seed Faith and a Mustard Seed Kingdom of God, Via Mary Oliver
Last ...

posted 1:47:32pm Aug. 12, 2015 | read full post »

A Beloved Lion, The Dentist Who Trophy-Hunted Him, and the Power of Shame
[caption id="attachment_5637" align="alignleft" width="300"] 13-year-old Cecil was the beloved resident of Hwange National Park, where earlier this July he was baited and killed for fun by Walter Palmer, DDS. The GPS collar Cecil was wearing ...

posted 2:54:27pm Jul. 29, 2015 | read full post »

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