Art Speaks

Finding Spiritual Beauty in Chaos

Artist DeAnne Parks brings scripture and spirituality to visual life through vivid images that enliven religious spaces throughout the Upper Midwest. She shared a selection of her works and insight into her creative process with Bearings. ~Ed. When I begin, I have no plan for the outcome. I create chaos on the canvas, turning it and letting the paint drip.... Read more

Queering Iconography

Celebrating the Wonder of Radical Imagination

It’s no secret that the bulk of religious iconography from across spiritual traditions highlights the faces of men, oftentimes whitewashed to erase the varied hues of skin that our saints embodied. Overlooked, strategically erased, and missing are the bold faces of women, queers, people of color, and the holy ones whose identities intersect these differences.... Read more

Calling Across the Bow

The Way Onward for Bearings: Navigating Life-as-Ministry

When I started this piece some weeks ago, the world was a different place. I had taken a jauntier tone than feels possible now. After all, here we are announcing not only the fifth year of publishing Bearings—a milestone for any publication, big or small—but also celebrating the launch of a redesigned site for the magazine, a new publication schedule, and a new... Read more

Plato, Basketball, and Your Life Work

Lessons I Have Learned, and Other Clichés

Mark Collins launches our regular Creative Insights section with a video on his, um, adventures making furniture from repurposed basketball court boards. His “Plato, Basketball, and Your Life Work” explores vision, revision, and purpose as, well, often something of a poke in the eye. Literally. “Varnish,” Collins tells us, as he considers how we build lives that... Read more

Cultivating Creativity

A Guide for Reflection & Conversation

The three essays in this month’s magazine describe some ways creativity is being cultivated in some churches and church-like spaces. There are varied expressions highlighted: there is poetry; there is music; there is visual art. Ellen McGrath Smith describes The Bridge Series, a monthly gathering of poets and other writers who read their work in order to raise... Read more

Generating Church through Sound

Showing up, Listening Deeply, and Practicing Together

I teach community singing and chanting as a spiritual practice. I travel around the country meeting and singing with people in different denominations, teaching and learning new songs and insights, and moving on to the next community. Through more than 30 years, the singing together has become as much a metaphor for noticing our internal states, finding our... Read more

Plowshares, Pruning Hooks, and Poems

Bridging Faith, Literature, and Advocacy

"Poetry makes nothing happen," W.H. Auden famously wrote in "In Memory of W.B. Yeats." And indeed, writing poetry often feels that way, since it's on the fringes of both literature and public discourse. Writing in other genres—essays, even stories—seems closer to the world of action, of making things happen. It's said (apocryphally) that Lincoln, upon meeting Harriet... Read more