21stCenturySpirituality

Iconic Truth

Seeing Resurrection Through Tears

With the year-in-year-out cycle of holidays—sacred and secular alike—it’s easy to think of Easter, and the resurgence of life that it celebrates, as a foregone conclusion. I remember going out to play one Good Friday afternoon when I was about 10; we kids were gathering junk in the woods to build some kind of fort. At the… Read More

Living Religion Beyond Belief

A few weeks ago I gave a talk at a local chapter of Sunday Assembly, a gathering started by British comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones that was briefly known as “the atheist church” and that, ironically, draws on the “seeker sensitive” church planting methods of conservative megachurch pastor Rick Warren. A few months into… Read More

Giving Up for Lent … Or Maybe Not

The sight of my marked forehead on Ash Wednesday brings the inevitable question: “What are you giving up for Lent?” I have a stock answer: Lobster Newburg and healthy thoughts. Truth is, I genuinely struggle each year, knowing that whatever I choose to give up will be short-lived and followed by a guilt chaser. Yes,… Read More

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

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

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

Conversation Starter

Moving Into Year Three of Getting Our Bearings by Sharing Our Stories

As we ease into our third year of publication of The BTS Center’s award-winning blog, Bearings, co-editors Elizabeth Drescher and Alyssa Lodewick have been mulling the role of outlets like ours in shaping what the Church is becoming in a dynamic religious landscape. We’re excited to continue what we see as a multi-dimensional dialogue that… Read More

Jesus, The Jerk

Making Sense of the Times Jesus Wasn't Very Christlike

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

Confession Reboot

Why Sharing Our Failure with Others Still Matters

“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

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

The Ministry of Stories

Creating Space to Notice and Know

During the four hot, humid months between my junior and senior years of college, I waited tables at Beethoven’s Inn, a hole-in-the-wall deli that served sandwiches named after classical music composers. The realm of the “Handel, Bach, and Scarlatti” was a land of firsts for me. There, I ate gazpacho for the first time. I… Read More

Life As Art

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to introduce you to the work of Troy Bronsink, who will serve as the keynote speaker and moderator at The BTS Center’s annual January convocation. This year, the theme of Convocation 2016 is “Life as Art: Design Thinking and Mindfulness for Integrating Life and Ministry.” In the following piece, Troy offers a preview… Read More

Back to the Future of Religion

Does Demographic Research Create the Religious "Reality" It Describes?

If you somehow managed to Marty McFly yourself back to the High Middle Ages—the epoch of Christendom influence in the pre-Reformation West—you’d likely catch a glimpse of the future of faith even as you regarded the sights, sounds, and (alas) smells of its glorious past. And if you happened to be a researcher from the… Read More