Out of Egypt

Revisiting the Roots of African American Christianity

As a pastor/professor I have always wondered about Matthew 2:14: "Out of Egypt I have called my son!"  What does this mean for me, for Africans, for African Americans? Does this help us re-member or reclaim the African roots to our faith as Christians? To reflect on these questions I went to Egypt—not once, but over and over again through the years. These videos... Read more

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

Born to Believe

Ritual Visions from Mexico

In "Born to Believe," I reflect on the beliefs and rituals children inherit from previous generations as they attempt to express life’s importance as it occurs, and often when it is most out of control. At birth our religious choices are determined by our parents. For children in Mexico, where over 80% of the country is Catholic, this means that they will most... Read more

Leading with Love and Song

Lessons from Creative Arts Camp that Just Might Change VBS Forever (and for the Better)

My friend Christina started talking to me about Creative Arts Camp during Holy Week last year, when my focus was obviously elsewhere. She told me how amazing it had been the first time the previous summer—how they taught dance, writing, visual arts, culinary arts, and music to a diverse group of more than 50 kids signed up from ages 7-14. She filled my ears with... Read more

Can We Believe in Light?

Pittsburgh Poets Contend with the Tree of Life Massacre

We asked regular Bearings contributor Ellen McGrath Smith to gather some poems from Pittsburgh writers for our Tree of Life Special Issue. Alas, an email glitch kept the piece from getting to us before publication of the issue. We share them now as an opportunity for further reflection on the particular tragedy at Tree of Life and on the culture of gun violence... Read more

Oh God of Mercy, Oh Wild God

Dancing from Grief to Possibility

The poet Gerald Stern (b. 1925) had much in common with the 11 members of Tree of Life Synagogue who were murdered on October 27. He was raised by immigrant parents in a Jewish household not far from the synagogue, in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. And, like most of those who died, his life was shaped in complex ways by the experience of living through... 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