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Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Theology Archives

A Beloved Lion, The Dentist Who Trophy-Hunted Him, and the Power of Shame

This week Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer admitted to hunting and killing Zimbabwe’s beloved celebrity lion Cecil, the most famous resident of one of Zimbabwe’s national parks and the subject of a decade-long study by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Unit. Earlier […]

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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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David Brooks and “The Big Me”—A Critique

In the midst of preparing for this major house renovation, for which mental health breaks have come in the form of way too many back-to-back episodes of the T.V. series “Breaking Bad,” and regrettably less writing at this intersection, the […]

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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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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 least a bit more often. […]

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A Glorious Dark: A Review

Three years ago, when pastor, seminary professor and author A.J. Swoboda’s first book Messy made its debut, I said I hoped the book would not be his last; so when a review copy of Swoboda’s second book, A Glorious Dark, […]

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Author Marilynne Robinson Live: On Soul Vs. Mind and Why It Matters

My favorite contemporary author Marilynne Robinson was in town this week speaking at an event hosted by Emory’s University’s Carlos Museum. She was speaking with an astrophysicist who was also brilliant—but I was mostly there to hear Marilynne, whose gentle, […]

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Restless Soul Hall of Fame: Sister Corita Kent

Since NPR’s recent segment, Sister Corita Kent has come to mind a few times this week as someone who deserves to be added to our Restless Souls’ Hall of Fame—yes, it’s a bit of a new concept here at this […]

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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 […]

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Insights from Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch

Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch, all 776 pages of it, was beach reading this past week.  In addition to being one of those books that drips with brilliance on just about every page and is hard to put […]

Favorite Hauerwasisms On The Cross, Church Growth, Etc…

This intersection is a place where hopefully you and I both can come and reflect, vent, ask questions and share doubts and experiences without judgement. It’s also a place where you get to be a bit of a guinea pig: […]

Beyond Christian Apologetics

[NOTE: This is a revised version of an earlier post.] The other day I did my first author reading at our local library. Only two people showed up, which was great, a) because it meant we were able to have […]

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 […]

Musical Mental Health Break: “Reflektor” and Kierkegaard, Via Lead Singer of Arcade Fire

Today’s musical mental health break is the official video for “Reflektor,” this thanks to fellow saint and sinner Paul (a.k.a. “hubby”). In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, lead singer Win Butler shared that the nineteenth century Danish philosopher Soren […]

“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 […]

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 […]

Official Release of “Mom in the Mirror” Today

Today marks the official release of friend Emily Wierenga’s book, Mom in the Mirror. Wierenga, a former anorexic, and Dena Cabrera, an expert on eating disorders, teamed up to write a book that tackles issues of post-pregnancy body image for […]

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.  […]

“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 […]

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.  […]

“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,” […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

“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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

Divine Child Abuse Atonement- Why It Can’t Hold Muster

Those of you watching with bated breath the conversation that began last week- about bad atonement theories- will be vaguely interested in knowing the latest: I have given some thought to fellow saint and sinner Paul’s claim that an orthodox […]

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 […]

Simone Weil and the Church Uprooted

Some of you know that one of my favorite thinkers is Simone Weil.  Last night I read a short chapter on this twentieth century French philosopher and social activist by another of her admirers, the historian John Lukacs, in Remembering […]

“The Beloved Oppressor” and Bad Atonement Theories

Larry King interviewed Admiral General Aladeen of the Republic of Wadiya (a.k.a. Sasha Baron Cohen) a few days ago in advance of Baron Cohen’s forthcoming movie, “The Dictator.”  (If Baron Cohen’s first film, “Borat,” is any indication, the film will […]

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 […]

Mary Magdalene’s Tears: A Homiletics of Remaining

If you’ve been wondering why FSS has been a bit catatonic in the last couple of days, it’s because I’ve been writing a final paper for my women’s theology class- about how to preach to those whose lives have been […]

“A Resurrected Christianity?”

In recent days, Diana Butler Bass and Andrew Sullivan (in a Newsweek cover story, “Forget the Church, Follow Jesus”) have both given expression to some angst about the death of the church.  Bass has gone on to hold out the […]

Life is not a running game in “Touchback”

Happy Easter, everyone! Christ is risen, which is something I have some thoughts and even grumblings about- yes, you read that correctly- so stay tuned for another post about that.  In the meantime, the following review of “Touchback,” opening in […]

“I’d Like to Talk to You About Cheeses”

It’s been a full week here for Fellowship of Saints and Sinners, so I wanted to take a short breather to reflect on some of the things we’ve been talking about,  and then offer a brief glimpse of what we […]

Then God Said “Let It Be Messy”

Church planter and professor A.J. Swoboda has a book out, and it’s worth a read.  My review of Swoboda’s book, which aired today in the Episcopal Church’s very helpful, ecumenical publication, Sermons That Work (http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com), is reprinted in full below with […]

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 […]

“The Uncertainty Principle”

The “uncertainty principle” in quantum mechanics is this: “increasing the accuracy of measurement of one observable quantity increases the uncertainty with which another conjugate quantity may be known.” I suspect we see this principle play out not just at the […]

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 […]

Another Reason Why I Am On Occasion An “Agnostic Christian”…A Response to My Last Post

By way of an update, I received the following comment in response to my last post, and have decided to keep the identity of the person who wrote this private (although their response was shared publicly).  Apparently my gendered language […]

The Heresy of Masculine Christianity: A Response to John Piper

The other day my son’s pre-K teacher commended him for continuing with his work when the other kids around him were goofing off.  My son had gone on dutifully coloring away with his crayons when he could have been lured […]

“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 […]

“The Lamb of God”: Jesus Epithets Continued

“Look!, [John the Baptist] said.  “There’s God’s lamb!  He’s the one who takes away the world’s sin!” -John 1:29 “God is angry with us every day,” someone exclaimed to me the other day. And if truth be told, there was […]

“The Making of a Girl”

This video is an intimate look at the systemic nature of the commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of women and girls.  The woman in the video who is narrating the story is herself a survivor of sexual exploitation, and […]

In Defense of Rob Bell’s “Love Wins”

Apparently Rob Bell’s best-selling Love Wins and its ambivalent stance towards an “eternal” hell (as “eternal” has historically been interpreted by evangelicals at least) continue to send ripples.  Two authors, author of Crazy Love Francis Chan and senior managing editor of Christianity […]

Marriage as “Process” or “End” or Both? More Reflections.

Apparently my reflections on Lauren Winner and her latest book have generated interest if not controversy about the nature of marriage as a storybook conclusion to the hopes and dreams of single people. In light of this, a few thoughts, […]

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 […]

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 […]

“A Very Brief History of Eternity”

I recently finished a wonderful, little book by Yale historian Carlos Eire. The book lives up to its name: it manages to cover in relative brevity the breathtaking expanse of “eternity” from its very first beginnings in antiquity to its […]

“God is Like a Shitty Girlfriend”

The Old Testament story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, Isaac, (Genesis 22:1-19), has flummoxed many a thinker.  The great nineteenth century theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, wrote Fear and Trembling as a response to this disturbing story, which in turn […]

Food for Thought: Would You Agree?

 

What Distinguishes the Suffering of a Follower of Christ?

Most of us at one point or another have asked the question, “Why does God allow suffering?”  Frustratingly, the Bible I read never gives an answer.  Suffering is simply a given.  A bit like the bumper sticker, “Shit happens.” Except […]

“What If God Was One of Us?”

I heard this song sung by Alanis Morisette the other day on the radio.  It’s actually a wonderful reflection on the doctrine that makes Christianity so distinctive- the notion that in Jesus Christ God became “one of us,” laying aside […]

Previous Posts

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 »

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," ...

posted 2:19:02pm Jul. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Help End Loan Shark Lending and One Cause of Poverty with This Short Survey
When this video [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsDUQpUfRzg[/youtube] recently went viral, I was rooting for the shark. Not so when it comes to loan sharks, who are one contributor to systemic poverty and sharply growing income ...

posted 10:39:17am Jul. 09, 2015 | read full post »

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 ...

posted 6:07:11pm Jul. 01, 2015 | read full post »

Poverty vs. Privilege
Lately, I've been learning about poverty ...

posted 8:02:30pm Jun. 10, 2015 | read full post »

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