As ordained clergy, I’ve officiated a lot of funerals. For fourteen years, I shaped burnt ash across congregant’s foreheads on Ash Wednesday and reminded them that we all come from dust. To dust we shall return. Yet these words and rituals rang hollow when my brother died over a year ago from a drug overdose. As I officiated my little brother’s funeral, I held... Read more
“Resilient” is what they call those of us who have overcome tremendous obstacles in order to thrive. Psychologists study the conditions of highly adaptive people who seem to defy the odds against them and conclude that those who are resilient have positive community connections, realistic expectations, goals, relentless optimism, and they practice self-care. Those... Read more
My daughter is being confirmed this year. Now I understand why parents always say that they don’t know where the time goes. It feels like it was just yesterday that she was baptized. Now she is claiming all those baptismal promises we made on her behalf as her own.
At our church, the confirmation program capstone is a “faith statement” that confirmands write... Read more
As a child, I was an avid comic book collector. Every other Saturday, after I completed my chores and received my allowance, my neighborhood friends and I would walk to the nearby comic store, which would have just received its newest shipment of X-Men and Wolverine comics. I was a partisan Marvel fanboy—a true believer whose loyalty was marked by my disdain for... Read more
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... Read more
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
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 of popular acclaim in Galilee,... Read more
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 of melancholy. It was more than vaguely reminiscent of one... Read more
Autumn is the best season. I love it all: gorgeous leaves, crisp temperatures, flannel fresh from the closet, and, if you’re into that sort of thing, pumpkin spice lattes. There’s so much to love this time of year, but my absolute favorite marker of the season is Oktoberfest beer.
A few weeks ago, when I saw the first Oktoberfest display in my local liquor store... Read more
Scordatura refers to tuning patterns for the open strings of violins and cellos that differ from the normally accepted tuning pattern of the notes G, D, A, and E. In Italian the word means “mistuned” or “out of tune,” and the connotation is carried into English where these alternative tunings are sometimes described as “abnormal.” The musical notation and accompanying... Read more