Contributor: Kelly J. Baker

Kelly J. Baker is a freelance writer with a religious studies PhD who covers higher education, gender, labor, motherhood, American religions, and popular culture. She has regular columns at the Chronicle for Higher Education’s Vitae project, Women in Higher Education, Killing the Buddha, and Sacred Matters. She’s written for The Atlantic, The Rumpus, The Manifest-Station, The Washington Post’s “Faith Street”, and Brain, Child. She is the author of the award-winning book The Gospel According to the Klan: The KKK’s Appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 and The Zombies Are Coming!: The Realities of the Zombie Apocalypse in American Culture. When she’s not writing essays or wrangling two children, two dogs, and a seriously mean cat, she’s hacking away at a collection of essays on apocalypses in America tentatively titled The End of Us. You can find her on TwitterFacebook, or her blog.

Not Quite Home

I decided to return to my old church for a visit. Readers of Bearings will recall that it’s been a while since I’ve crossed the threshold of the church that nurtured me through graduate school and the various ups and downs of life at that time. I’d been mulling a holiday return. I wanted to see how much changed in the intermittent years, and I wanted to know... Read more

#NeverthelessSheResisted

Creating Space for Women's Thriving in the Church and the World

Three weeks ago, Senate Republicans silenced Senator Elizabeth Warren for criticizing attorney general nominee Senator Jeff Sessions. Warren had attempted to read civil rights activist Coretta Scott King’s 1986 letter against Sessions’ nomination for a federal judgeship. Scott’s concerns over whether Sessions would support the civil rights of all citizens seemed... Read more

Sharing Spiritual Stories, Even When Your Voice Shakes

This summer, my two-year-old and I were driving on the way to some errand or another. His older sister was absent, over at a friend’s house to play. He found that he could chatter uninterrupted about whatever topic he wanted, a rare pleasure. Suddenly, he asked me with urgency, “Why is the sky blue?” I admitted that I wasn’t sure why the sky was blue, but I could... Read more

Talking About Racism

While driving my seven-year-old to a doctor’s appointment for what was likely an ear infection, I noticed that the car was unusually quiet. Rain pattered on the windshield, and the wipers provided their usual rhythmic swishing sound. But my oldest kid is a talker—her waking hours are filled with questions, comments, knock-knock jokes, and observations—and she was... Read more

Loving in Public

Why I Won't Stop Talking About Racial Justice

Originally published in Bearings January 2016 | On December 29, 2015, my 14th wedding anniversary, I spent most of the day researching and thinking about the death of Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old African-American boy gunned down by the police in Cleveland, Ohio. His murder had happened a little over a year earlier. Yet my shock, outrage, and grief over his death... Read more

September 11

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I drove to the university for my classes. I flipped the radio on, like I always do, to listen to pop music on my commute. This morning was different. There was no music. Instead, the morning DJs were trying to confirm whether two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. Their voices wavered between incredulity and terror.... Read more

After Charleston

By now we all know the basic details of the story: More than a week ago, Dylann Storm Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and joined a small Bible study. He prayed with the assembled group. After an hour, he started shooting, even though he later admitted that everyone was “so nice” that he almost didn’t go through with his planned massacre.... Read more

Not Quite Home

I decided to return to my old church for a visit. Readers of BEARINGS will recall that it’s been a while since I’ve crossed the threshold of the church that nurtured me through graduate school and the various ups and downs of life at that time. I’d been mulling a holiday return. I wanted to see how much changed in the intermittent years, and I wanted to know... Read more

The Return of the Holiday Prodigal: It’s Complicated…

This time of year marks the return of the “C&E” crowd to churches—the folks who appear at Christmas and Easter. I imagine that lots of clergy and regular congregants have mixed feelings about these seasonal prodigals. On the one hand, it’s pretty magical to have a packed house at holiday services with extra voices ringing out the holiday hymns. On the other,... Read more