Blog

The Faith vs. Science Fight Club

A few years ago, my son and I were strolling through an exhibit about the life of the famous scientist (genius, really) Galileo Galilei. Galileo is as much famous for having been put on trial by the Catholic church of his time, as he is for having helped invent the telescope, and having been part of the great 17th-century scientific revolution. After having been put on trial for claiming that the ...

It’s just a thing…but I lost it.

I had arrived early (not NORMALLY my style) to my weekly yoga practice. I decided to take advantage of one of our first truly warm spring days of the season and walked around the studio’s parking lot to de-fog my brain from a busy day. I helped get the studio set up for class and took some time to focus as the workout began. In the middle of my flow from Downward Facing Dog to Plank and back to Do...

My Battle with Stuff

It was stupid, really. Our family had recently moved from Detroit, Michigan, to a much smaller town in northern Illinois. I vacillated between anger and sadness as I watched my parents put an offer on an attractive older home away from my new friends’ neighborhoods. It was a home that clearly identified us as lower middle class. I hated that house when I compared it to my friends’ nicer, newer hom...

Jesus Christ, Inc.

*Disclaimer: I currently do not identify with any specific religion. You could say I’m spiritual, but not religious. I’m a curious person. Especially when it comes to religion. When I think about Christianity, I tend to obsess over the same question: “If Jesus was alive today, how would he position himself?” This might seem like a weird question, until you get to know me. I’ve been hel...

Finding God Inside or Outside the Church

Once upon a time (to be candid, it feels like another lifetime), I worked as a parish minister. My experience included leading a small congregation in the city and serving as an associate on a large staff in the suburbs of Philadelphia. In both positions, I would visit men and women in nursing homes as well as others who couldn’t get out to church. I’d also try to call and connect with people who ...

Mind if I borrow God?

I’m a little complicated when it comes to prayer: I pray every day, I use God’s name, and I’m not a Christian. In fact, like many others who are commonly labelled as “millennials,” I identify as spiritual, but not religious. If I’m not religious, who exactly am I praying to, and why am I using God’s name? Well, those are very good questions. I’m glad you asked. When I was little, I used to pray to...

The Lies We Tell Our Kids

It’s not intentional, really. We want to believe it’s true when we say that they can be and do anything they want when they grow up. We want to believe that there’s some relationship between that idea, and the need for them to perform throughout their teen years as if their lives depended on it. We want to believe that there is no conflict between our urging them to “follow their dreams̶...

“Paging Dr. Noah”—My Cancer and My 3-Year-Old

In November 2015, I was diagnosed with stage 4b non-Hodgkins lymphoma. If you’ve never been through something similar, I’ll let you in on a little secret: when you find out that you have cancer, you think you’re going to die the next day. In that moment, all I could think about was how much I didn’t want to leave my son alone. How much of this would he even be able to understand? He had turned thr...

Does marriage still have a place?

I have always wanted to get married. Growing up in the south, there was only one path to adulthood: meet someone in high school if you can, surely by college, graduate, and get married. But I didn’t meet anyone in high school. I didn’t meet anyone in college. I worked so hard at meeting people after college, it was basically a part time job. I joined dating websites and emailed, chatted with, and ...

Marriage and the Prom Fantasy

Ah, the promposal. Over the last couple of years I have watched a growing number of cute, silly, and sometimes romantic prom proposals pop up in hallways and classrooms. Usually, a boy comes up with a creative way to ask the girl of his dreams to attend the quintessential American rite of passage, PROM, but occasionally, the roles are reversed. Apparently this trend started in the early 2000s, wit...

You and I impact the environment—in any political climate.

Christian teachings say that God’s children are to be stewards of their environments. Some subgroups even go so far as to label themselves “Green Christians,” who practice “creation care,” which basically means caring for God’s creations. The bible repeatedly tells us to rule over the land and all living things in it, but reminds us that it is not ours to keep. Just as you are supposed to return s...

We’re Failing Our Planet

As noble as the idea of stewardship is, where’s the evidence that it’s working for us? For decades, we’ve been relying on the notion that we can be effective stewards of our world. Let’s examine that assumption. What do stewards do? They are responsible for something—in this case, keeping the air, water, animals and earth clean and healthy. They are accountable to something or someone—if you’re a ...

I’m a Pastor and I Need Counseling

I walked in and there she was. A college student from the church I serve. I couldn’t turn around. I couldn’t un-commit. I could have lied about why I was there, but that’s not ethical (right?). I was caught red-handed—seeing my professional counselor. For the last decade or so, I’ve seen a professional counselor off-and-on. Sometimes, it’s been for no special reason. Other times, in the midst of a...

National Geographic or Real Life

The Moment The smell in the air is a combination of someone burning leaves on a fall day and something I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s confusing me. The images that the smell creates in my mind don’t match up with the heat and humidity my body is experiencing. My arms are wrapped around a man I’ve only just met. I’m sitting on the back of his motorcycle as we twist and turn through a maze of ...

Spiritual But Not Religious

Does this title sound familiar? It should. In this day and age, it’s: The overwhelming response from many millennials when asked about their religious views A popular, seemingly neutral choice when completing your profile on Facebook My answer when people ask me what religion I practice Usually, I’m adamantly against an answer like this because it lacks any sort of thought or conviction. In my cas...

Here’s a Wall I’m Okay With

Borrowed from Baptist theologian Roger Williams, the phrase “a hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” has become a well-recognized description of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Officially adopted on December 15, 1791, the First Amendment prevents the government from passing any legislation that respects an e...

Is the U.S. a Christian Country?

Updated February 24, 2017—Item #5 was added. 1. Although there were several earlier non-native settlements (mainly Roanoke and Jamestown), it was the story of the Pilgrim Fathers, who established the first permanent settlement, that is revered in early American history. Only a third of the occupants of the Mayflower were Protestant Separatists; most of the others were crew, support tradesmen &...

Raised Republican, Voted Democrat

I am a typical millennial. November 8th, 2016 marked only the second presidential election in which I was eligible to vote, and the first presidential election in which I was adequately informed in my vote. Four years ago, I watched about thirty minutes of one of the presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, I googled the platform issues for each candidate the n...

When it comes to religion, we’d better get an education.

The famous American playwright Wilson Mizner is attributed with saying, “I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.” Given America’s current lack of “religious literacy”—the knowledge of, and ability to understand, both your own religion and that of others—Mizner may very well be correct. Several years ago, the Pew Research Center put out its Religious Knowledge Survey. They found t...

Failing the Digital Age

When I woke up this morning I had three texts, several Instagram notifications, a Snapchat message, six Facebook notices, several other app notifications, and umpteen e-mails. It was 6 a.m. Ridonculous. Do you ever wake up in the morning overwhelmed by the state of your digital life? How about mid-afternoon when the e-mails have piled up? Or at night when you feel you need to scroll through anothe...

My First Trip to a Counselor

“You know there are people you can talk to about this, right?” My first instinct was to tell my mother, rather vehemently, that I was NOT crazy. I had a loving family, great friends, and a rock solid Christian faith. I was also 26, living in a small town with very few local friends, and spending the majority of my time working.  Overworking, really. I was definitely having a bit of a quarter life ...

The Moment I Accidentally Rejected Christ

I was close to tears on a sunny Sunday morning, standing outside of the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen in Prague. I was beyond confused and surrounded by a mob of angry parents, ready to tear me limb from limb. How did this happen? Minutes before, I was inside celebrating Easter Sunday with a group of my friends. We had all travelled to the Czech Republic with our high school marching ban...

Making Peace with a Violent World

The world is pretty violent. Gang violence, foreign wars, police brutality, bullying at school, the death penalty, violent entertainment, road rage, domestic violence…you name it, we’ve got it. What can we do? How can we fight violence and make peace? Good questions. There should be an unease when it comes to the prevalence of violence. Indeed, more and more people are sensing that this isn’t the ...

How to Save Christianity

Even though many declare America to be a God-fearing nation, the number of Americans who identify as “Christian” has dropped to around 70% since 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Millennials have played a big role in this drop, considering they are the largest group of individuals who have become “unaffiliated.” With this massive number of Millennials leaving the Christian faith, how do ...

When My Chest Caves In

Sometimes my chest caves in on itself. My lungs collapse. My ribs crush together with the force of two vehicles colliding, metal on metal screeching as it bends and breaks. My heart quivers and explodes. Instead of debris, I am left with a hole. I have anxiety. I am still not exactly sure what that means. Is my anxiety situational? Am I simply responding to the stress of “adulting”,  loss of a job...

Life Isn’t Fair

As I’ve got older I have become increasingly attached to the phrase ‘it is what it is’. Sometimes it’s said in recognition, sometimes in resignation. Usually it’s because something happened that’s outside my control; it may not be fair but there’s nothing I can do to change it. Why can’t life be fair? Life is fair in the movies. Life is fair with karma. Life is fair in the imaginary ideal of the w...

Marriage vs. Tinder

As someone who doesn’t identify with a particular religion, I don’t typically think about sex in terms of premarital and postmarital. In my mind, sex is sex and marriage is marriage. However, I can’t help but notice the ambiguity at the intersection of premarital sex, millennial hookup culture, and the ongoing quest to find a mate. There used to be one clear path to happiness. You found someone to...

Picture Yourself on a Grid

A google maps view of your life in relation to neighbors, if you will. Some you know. Most you don’t. Most you wouldn’t even recognize if they came to your door and said “I live a block a way and I need help.” But they’ll never say that. We never do. Unless a child is in a life or death situation, we tend to just hunker down with our needs and our loneliness, our lacking and our unrealized dreams....

What’s my convenience worth?

“What’s my convenience worth?” It was a seemingly simple question from my friend Aaron, but an inquiry with some pretty significant implications for the way I discipline my day, treat others, or deal with things. We live in what you might call a convenience culture. Drive-thrus and free refills, fast food and grocery delivery, e-mails and easy returns, microwaveable meals and to-go containers, air...

Defined by Divide: A Poem

Today I tried. To understand the other side. Tried to cross the divide. A conversation overheard- offensive in almost every word. How to respond? With attack and hate? with protests, with rallies, with satire that deprecates? But you see, I know you- you love people, you serve my God, we may even agree on a thing or two. But with these words, these ideas, these fears nationwide, it is easier to de...

Ban the Backyard

There is a common myth in America that what a happy family needs most is a Big Backyard. (This is similar to the myth that happiness increases in direct proportion to square footage, but that’s a post for another time). Those who do not live in homes at all, or live in homes with little or no yard, envision the big American backyard as some idyllic paradise where romping and ball tossing and havin...

What if I’m wrong?

During the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989), a group of U.S. special forces—operating undercover—were captured by Soviet special forces. On searching the U.S. soldiers, the Soviets found large amounts of U.S. dollars—funds designated for their covert mission. It was a ton of cash. The Soviets were baffled to realize the U.S. soldiers were carrying out their mission willingly. Why would you be fightin...