Bearings

Navigating Life-as-Ministry

Tending Trauma as Transformative Communion

The best sushi I ever tasted was handed to me fresh from the Sea of Galilee. I was the last customer at the restaurant when a fisherman brought it in. A Palestinian Christian waiter, the Jewish fisherman who caught the fish, and his Palestinian Muslim friend invited me—an Irish, Italian-American Catholic—to share this meal at… Read More

Called to Dinner, Together

Growing up, I didn’t realize that my proximity to extended family would, 40 years later, turn out to be an anachronism. With my much older sister and three of my father’s six siblings living within a few hundred yards of our family farm, I came and went as I pleased. My mother, an unenthusiastic cook,… Read More

Facing the Future, Eyes Wide Shut

Editor’s Note: Pamela Shellberg, scholar-in-residence at The BTS Center, will be a key speaker at Convocation 2017: “Course Corrections.” The event also will feature poet Scott Cairns and Michelle Walsh, a spiritual director and licensed clinical social worker. In Pam’s latest post for Bearings, she offers a preview of “Course Corrections” and outlines some of the questions that participants will explore. If… Read More

Giving the Church a New Look with Old Eyes

“Technically, it’s called presbyopia,” said the ophthalmologist. “Starts about age 40, so you’re pretty much on target. Most people just get readers.” “Presbyopia, eh?” “Yeah. It means –” “I know … old eyes.” As a lifelong Presbyterian, this is the only other word I’ve heard with the Greek root presby, which means “old.” Technically, Presbyterian… Read More

Humble Clay Cups

Poetry for Faith and Healing

Everyone seems to want to beat up on 2016. On social media, it’s been referred to as a dumpster fire as well as a sentient creature that will rain down more of its wrath if it hears you maligning it. There are ample reasons why people—in my bubble, at least—want to malign 2016. Syria, as… Read More

Hope is a Thing with Muscles

Last weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” included a sketch in which Emma Stone played an exhausted, postpartum Virgin Mary who’s annoyed with Joseph for inviting visitor after visitor—shepherds, magi, a llama (not of the Dalai sort … )—into the stable where she’s just given birth to Jesus. The bit plays up Mary’s fatigue, her frustration with… Read More

The Pain of “Doing No Harm”

As I finish Thanksgiving and head full bore into the Christmas season, John Wesley’s three rules—“Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.”—keep running through my mind. Perhaps this is because we have just come through a contentious election season that has left our communities deeply divided. Or maybe it’s because many of… Read More

Bearing Each Other Up

Reflections Upon the 2016 Election

EDITORS’ NOTE: Adam Copeland was our scheduled contributor for this week, but as we moved late into the night of the presidential election, it was clear that the outcome many of us had hoped for, and perhaps even expected, was not to happen. We began to wonder whether it might be too much to ask… Read More

What the Parrots of Telegraph Hill and Other “Invasive Species” Can Teach the Church

Some years ago, while living in San Francisco, I encountered the parrots of Telegraph Hill. I was walking through a park on the Embarcadero, the city’s western waterfront, when I heard a racket overhead. Looking up, I could see bright flashes of color moving in the branches and occasionally taking flight among the eucalyptus trees… Read More

Beyond Prophetic Rhetoric

Jesus and Justice in Practice

It’s not news to say that this has been a crazy, rancorous election season—perhaps the most ugly in modern history, many pundits claim. Maybe. But when I reflect back on earlier election cycles, there seems to have been plenty of media-infused hostility that we tend to mute in our nostalgic remembrance. The 2008 election of… Read More

A Different Kind of Bible Conversation

Where’s the best place to talk about the Bible in our increasingly Bible-illiterate culture? And with whom? Perhaps you’d be surprised if I told you that some of today’s most fascinating Bible-oriented conversations are taking place in non-church settings in America’s least Bible-oriented cities, among people who hold a mix of perspectives (religious and otherwise)… Read More

Re-Seeing Evangelical Support for Donald J. Trump

Not long ago, Wayne Grudem, a prominent evangelical theologian, voiced support for Donald Trump. His main reason was because the next president would appoint the succeeding Supreme Court Justices. After I read his statement, I tweeted this:           As more and more evangelicals have rallied around Donald Trump, I have found… Read More

Growing Up as a Church When Our Young Adults Leave

Toward the end of Coffee Hour on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend—a light day, as they go—I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was our usually unflappable church Music Director, looking, well, flapped. “Got a minute?” he said in the “up tone” that in church staff speak means, “Houston, we have a problem.”… Read More