Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

Gotta Catch ’em All

Six Websites Not to Miss This Summer

20160729_lee_the_tokens

On July 7th I thought it had finally happened—the long foretold Zombie Apocalypse. On that day people were walking around my neighborhood, and even my church, shuffling their feet, eyes cast down at their smartphones, turning around aimlessly in circles and pointing at seemingly nothing. Before I could pack up my zombie survival kit and… Read More

Fresh Catch of Summer Reading—Heat Wave Edition

20160715_heat_wave

This isn’t, as summers go, an easy one. With ongoing waves of gun violence roiling the nation and two presidential nominating conventions more likely—to mix metaphors—to turn up the heat than to calm the waters, an escapist junket into banal beach reading might seem a reasonable tonic. But that hardly seems to be the direction… Read More

Putting a Comma at the End of a Bearings Year of Calling Out the Beautiful, the Bodacious, and the B*llsh*t

20160630_comma

Gertrude and Lloyd were members of a church I served for 25 years. They were both in their 80s, and though they made it to Sunday worship once in a while, they were part of that catch-all category of “shut-ins” who received pastoral visits from time to time. During one of those afternoon visits, Gertrude… Read More

Theology in Living Color

20160623_MLK_Jr

Recently, I was at a missions event at a conservative Christian university. There, I met a white missionary who had been working in India. As we talked, he spoke patronizingly of the Hindu temple and the many gods displayed. So I took out my phone and Tweeted: An important goal of evangelical mission work is to share the gospel and to win the… Read More

Searching for Sanctuary after #Orlando

20160616_Sanctuary

Like many Americans, I still am reeling from last Sunday’s shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. I am haunted by the death and destruction that separated 2 AM’s celebratory last call from 5 AM’s bloody wakeup call. Three hours. 180 minutes. Forty-nine individuals murdered, and more than 50 wounded. Most of the men and women terrorized… Read More

Jesus, The Jerk

Making Sense of the Times Jesus Wasn't Very Christlike

Christ and the Canaanite Woman; Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn (Dutch, 1606 - 1669); about 1650; Pen and brown ink, brown wash, corrected with white gouache; 20 × 27.9 cm (7 7/8 × 11 in.); 83.GG.199

Jesus could be a real jerk sometimes. I’m not referring here to the times he got angry (John 2:13-17), cynical (Matthew 21:18-22), or sarcastic (Mark 12:18-27) with people. I’m talking about the times Jesus was just plain mean to them. Case in point: the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15. You remember the story. After months… Read More

Disappearing Our Pastors

20160603_lamailloux

“So,” I said, “what I reckon it all comes down to is, how can I preach if I don’t have any answers?” “Yes, Mr. Crow,” he said, “How can you?” … “I don’t believe I can,” I said, and I felt my skin turn cold, for I had not even thought that until then. He… Read More

Re-Mediating Religion by Turning Up the Social Media Volume on Social Justice

20160526_volume

Earlier this year, one of our award-winning Bearings contributors, Kelly Baker, wrote a piece about the challenges, for white people in particular, of thinking through and talking about racism. Especially with other white people, including goodhearted, well-intentioned, ideologically liberal white people. Often, we just don’t want to hear about it. We get it. Racism is… Read More

Confession Reboot

Why Sharing Our Failure with Others Still Matters

20160518_Mol_Confess

“I failed,” Jon Snow said to Ser Davos in a recent “Game of Thrones” episode. And Jon had. In fact, because of his leadership decisions, Jon was murdered by his friends. But Melisandre, a priestess of the Lord of Light, brought Jon back from the dead. Why? No one knows. Melisandre only has guesses. Ser… Read More

Seeing Through Brokenness

Beauty and Love in the Church's Kaleidoscopic Change

20160511_Kaleidoscope

As my father might say, it was déjà vu all over again: Driving to Andover Newton Theological Seminary (ANTS) for the last class of the course I taught this semester, closing out my year as a visiting professor there. Rather than some “school’s out for summer” kind of delirium, the drive carried a good bit… Read More