Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

Theology in Living Color

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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

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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

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“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

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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

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“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

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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

Swimming into the Deep End

Parenting, Pastoring, and Common Discernment

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As I write, I am just returning to pastoral ministry after parental leave. As I bonded with my newborn daughter—my second child—I spent time reflecting on how my vocation as a parent is reshaping my ideals and practices for ministry. Since I was ordained in my late 20s and didn’t become a parent until almost… Read More