Author: Ken Chitwood

Lessons from a Culture that Celebrates Life

Read Time: 4 min.

Finding his way through the vibrant “Land of the Dead” in the Disney/Pixar film Coco, Miguel sadly watches an older soul fade away in front of him. Perplexed that someone can disappear, even from the land of those who no longer live, he asks his trickster companion Héctor what happened. Poignantly, Héctor informs Miguel that, “Our memories, they have to be passed down by those who knew us in life—...[Read More]

Courage in the Wilderness

Read Time: 3 min.

My feet were dragging across a rocky singletrack trail in the Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix. It was nearly 90 degrees outside and I was 43 miles into a 52.4 mile run—a double marathon. The entire right side of my body was cramping, my legs were sapped of energy, and I could feel my heart rate climbing like a mountain goat up a scree field. I hurt. I hurt bad. I was in what ultrarunners c...[Read More]

Combatting Hate with Simple Relationships

Read Time: 3 min.

For Dawud and the Muslim American Society’s mosque in Katy, Texas, it all started with pig races. Soon after the group purchased land in the Houston suburb in 2006, their neighbor, Craig Baker, began hosting pig races and selling tickets to his friends and members of the public. In time, some 300 spectators showed up every Friday evening corresponding precisely with the jummah prayers—the holiest ...[Read More]

Anxiety and the Margins in my Life

Read Time: 4 min.

It was a simple enough mistake—a small wrong curve that took me over the bridge into Manhattan instead of to my parking spot in Long Island City. But as soon as it happened, I began to lose my mind. By the time I landed on the other side of the Queensborough Bridge on E 60th Street, I was consumed with an overwhelming anxiety that took my breath away, forced me into shakes and tears, and left me f...[Read More]

Looking Back at Islam & the West

Read Time: 4 min.

In our post-9/11 world, the relationship between the “West” and “Islam” is often misunderstood. Perceived contrasts and persistent stereotypes often have nothing to do with reality, and tensions continue to increase in our polarized world. As these biases against, and fear of, others becomes deeper ingrained, it is more important than ever to take a look at our shared past to consider how we might...[Read More]

Seeing Myself as Never Truly Alone

Read Time: 3 min.

We live in a lonely world. Some people have even said that despite (and maybe even because of) our global and immediate connectivity online and on our smartphones and tablets, we are experiencing a “loneliness epidemic.” It’s strange, but even as we live in a world where we are bombarded with people at work, in school, on the streets, at the movies, or on social media feeds with hundreds, or thous...[Read More]

Serving Means Sitting

Read Time: 5 min.

Let’s play a game of word association. When I say “SERVING,” what do you think of? Perhaps the waiter who forgot your side of Sriracha. Someone employed as a member of the armed services. Painting someone’s house. Delivering a meal to a shut-in. Organizing a car-wash for charity. We tend to relate serving with standing up, springing into action, and getting things done. And rightly so. Serving req...[Read More]

Learning to Listen, Listening to Learn

Read Time: 4 min.

“Huh?” “What did you say?” “What?” When we want to make fun of our dad, these are the words that we use. While it may not be funny that my father is hard of hearing, it is pretty humorous that sometimes when my mom and dad are talking, it’s a constant back-and-forth of these words. “Huh?” “What?” “I didn’t catch that.” And it’s not that my father is the only one with a problem. Ask my wife and she...[Read More]

One Thing That Will Make All the Difference

Read Time: 3 min.

Fresh from a breakfast of piping hot spaghetti on toast and loud laughs, I headed back to work for the day on a New Zealand dairy farm. There was important work to be done. The smell of sweet silage hung in the air and the grass fields shone brightly in the early morning sun. We drove past a patch of turf that was unwieldy and overgrown. Still new to this whole dairy farming thing, having grown up...[Read More]

Abuse in the church—it has to end.

Read Time: 3 min.

One time, I wrote a letter to Pope Francis. I know…ridiculous. What wasn’t ridiculous was the message I wrote to him: that before he goes off to save the climate and solve the refugee crisis and bring peace to the Middle East, he first needs to take care of priority number one—addressing sexual abuse in his church. The Catholic Church has gotten the bad rap of being the sole proprietor of sexual a...[Read More]

The Very Public Nature of a Very Private Matter

Read Time: 3 min.

Divorce sucks. No matter if it’s “amicable” or a battle royale, the process is grueling, emotionally taxing, and in the age of digital media—horribly public. If the legal documents, division of property, and emotions were not enough, today’s relational landscape includes navigating the ins-and-outs of social media as well! Today, more and more couples dissolving their marriages in their 30s and 40...[Read More]

Fair trade is a critical first step.

Read Time: 4 min.

Looking out at seemingly endless miles of coffee trees near Taratung, Indonesia, baking in the sun, I was transfixed by the workers slaving away, drenched in sweat, and only paid a pittance for their work. I thought back to the cooperative I visited earlier that morning. There in the shade, a family had been processing cherries and drying the beans. They laughed. They shared stories. They had me t...[Read More]

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