Thursday, April 28, 2016

I preached a sermon at Leigh's church

You can listen to it here.

It's part of a sermon series called "Half-Truths." Each week the congregation -- Crossroads UMC in Ashburn, VA -- is looking at a popular saying that people think is biblical/part of the Christian tradition, but really isn't a good representation of that tradition. My "half-truth" was "God won't give you more than you can handle."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My friend Morgan wrote a book

Hi friends.

At the beginning of last month, I posted on here and said that I was going to be writing more regularly and that you would be seeing the fruits of that writing.

Fun fact: I lied.

Well, "lied" sounds intentional. The actual fact of the matter is that I've been struggling with a mixture of writer's block, existential doubt, and my old friend depression, who seems to haunt around every corner that looks even a little bit like failure.

Also I have cold. Blergh.

One thing that I have been meaning to write, in fact that I promised to write, is a book review. I was supposed to review a book written by my friend, Morgan Guyton. The book is called How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity.

It's a good book. I recommend it. You can buy it here.

I told Morgan that I would post something about his book on my blog. I told him I would do so last Tuesday. I didn't. Then I felt really bad about it. So I promised myself I would post it on Wednesday. I didn't. So then I started feeling really awful and ashamed about the fact that I had not posted about it, even though (rationally) I doubt Morgan, who is in the middle of launching a book, really noticed that I had failed to do so. Especially since some rather more high-profile folks than me are talking about his book. But I kept feeling worse and worse about not writing anything about it, and kept trying to come up with something clever or good or helpful to say about it, and not coming up with anything, and so not posting anything, and then feeling bad about it. And, if I'm being completely honest, I was feeling a bit bitter and jealous of my friend Morgan, who was able to write a book, while I'm apparently incapable of even writing something about a book that someone else managed to write.

This is not a particularly flattering thing to share about myself, but c'mon, you know you've thought this kind of thing before.

And then, while complaining to my wife about something completely different, she said to me: "Why don't you try to do one thing at a time and not try to do everything at once?"

Which is wise advice.

So I decided I would post about the book written by my friend Morgan.

Which I still have nothing clever or helpful to say about, other than this:

It is a good book. You should read it, if you are interested in faith or if you have become un-interested in faith because of hurtful things that religious people have done or said.

And also, this:

One of the things that Morgan's book says is that our desperate need to justify ourselves and to perform does a lot more damage than it does good, and the grace our faith proclaims is exactly the opposite of all of that. And that is probably a good thing for me to remember, when I have a bad case of writer's block and am feeling a bit depressed and can't, for the life of me, come up with anything useful to write about a friend's book.

Which you should buy.

By clicking here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

In (brief) praise of foolishness

I don't like April Fool's Day.

I hate pranks. Joke news articles that get posted online never rise to the humor level of actual satire, and often involve making light of things that aren't really that funny.

But I did name this blog with a nod to the foolishness of faith, so I thought I'd take a brief moment on this first day of April to celebrate foolishness.

Writing to a church wracked with conflict, scandal, and political machinations, the apostle Paul wrote this sometime in the 1st century:
Look at your situation when you were called, brothers and sisters! By ordinary human standards not many were wise, not many were powerful, not many were from the upper class. But God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong. And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life—what is considered to be nothing—to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing. So no human being can brag in God’s presence.
Not many wise, not many powerful, not many form the upper class -- but God chooses what is nothing to reduce all the "something-ness" that we strive for to naught.


An even playing field.


Compassion winning out over hatred.


Love being the strongest force, the thing that holds the universe together.

Foolishness, foolishness, foolishness.

I hate pranks. But here's to foolishness.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What if *he's* not the problem?

I hesitate to post this, having recently shifted most of my social media presence away from political commentary and into the much more satisfying realm of puppy pics. So, in the style of John Oliver: if you get through this with me, I'll post a pic of Penny Lane at the end. Deal?

Alright, so -- you've probably heard, there's a certain casino-owner-turned-reality-TV-"star"-turned-presidential candidate who has been getting a lot of attention and a lot of votes. This person, whose name I have steadfastly refused to write on the internet in order to avoid any further inflation of his already bloated ego, has been inciting violence and making statements that are blatantly racist, sexist, xenophobic, and just about every other type of -ist and -phobic there is. All of this, it seems, to the thunderous applause and laughter of a rather large group of fellow citizens.

This has drawn a lot of comparisons to 1930s Germany and the meteoric ascendance of another monstrously masterful conductor of the xenophobic orchestra, whose name has now become so synonymous with evil that we can hurl it at people as a political ad hominem, with or without any understanding of the context in which he rose to power.

And it seems to be the widely held opinion, from just about everyone I'm friends with in material or Facebook reality, that stopping this particular orange-haired fellow and his fascist band of followers is The Thing that must happen in order to save America from impending doom and destruction.

And I'm super suspicious of that sort of language for basically the same reason I'm suspicious of Mr. "We'll make Mexico pay for the wall."

I'm suspicious -- or at least I am if I'm thinking clearly enough and being mindful enough to reflect for a second -- anytime anybody proposes that the problem, the thing that must be fixed, is that guy over there, those people over there. I've heard this person's supporters called ignorant, idiotic, dangerous, even vermin. That's language dangerously close to the type of language we decry when it is coming from their lips. That's language that says, "We'd all be better off if those people didn't exist anymore....not that I'm saying we should do anything about it, mind you, just saying...."

Remember that the eugenics folks were all about eliminating imbeciles and improving the intellect of the country. Just notice that for a second.

A brief story. Leigh and I were talking the other day, and she wondered out loud about who the people are who are voting for this fellow -- since she doesn't know anyone, personally, who is voting for the guy. Same for me, I said. And that strikes me as indicative of a problem -- the same problem, I suspect, that makes a failed businessman and reality TV star such a popular figure to begin with.

There are such huge divides, huge chasms in this country. And they are often marked, yes, by race, by class, by sexuality, by gender identity, by educational attainment. All these things are true. These things lead to the type of political clustering -- aided by the social media echo chamber -- that make it possible for me to not know a single person voting for the leading candidate of a major political party.

But deep down under that lurks something else -- something, I suspect, that is not so easy to blame on them over there.

I think we've got a shame problem and an empathy problem.

And by "we," I mean, "a group of people that includes me, myself, I, this guy right here, writing this blog post."

I think we -- I think I -- have a really hard time putting myself into the place of people I disagree with, or of people who are different than me, and I think when you start to probe around as to why that might be, other than just sort of a general human-condition-we-are-mysteries-unto-each-other thing, the reason is shame.

To put myself in someone else's place is to risk exposing my own uncertainty, or my own weakness, or my own vulnerability -- or, say, my own racism, my own sexism, my own xenophobia -- and that is really quite terrifying, so better to yell or to laugh scornfully.

And so the divisions grow deeper, and our reactions to each other grow more extreme, and it's all quite horrendously predictable and sad.

Now, I want to back up and be really clear about some things that I'm not saying. I'm not, not even for a second, condemning the protesters at the rally in Chicago and elsewhere. I'm not admonishing those who are truly fearful for the violence and oppression that might be directed at them or their families. I'm not suggesting that people should not organize, or should not be about the work of proposing political alternatives that are not based in narratives of fear, anger, or hate.

Yes to protest. Yes to organizing. Yes to a politics of hope.

But let's be careful, yes? Let's be careful not to become the thing that we fear so much.

And let's remember that the xenophobia and racism and sexism and all the other -isms and -phobias this election have brought to the surface did not suddenly appear over night.

Let's remember that they have been here, dwelling with us -- our national shadow, so to speak.

Let's remember that the Wall we're freaking out has already been built in places -- I've seen it, touched it, compared it to the one in Palestine, which I've also seen and touched, which we helped build with our tax dollars.

Let's remember that the carpet bombing threats that we're so offended by, the war crimes being proposed that we are quick to condemn -- these things have already happened, are happening still, and on our dime, and without such a widespread reaction. You know. To the real thing. Because, really, please, tell me the difference, with a straight face, between "You've got to kill the terrorists' families" and drone strikes in Pakistan.

But more than all of that, more than any particular issue that I could name, what I'm suggesting is that all of this might be dwelling much closer than we might care to admit -- hidden, under layers of shame, in our own hearts.

And that if we can uncover that, if we can gently tear open those layers of shame, we might just find those terrifying forces disarmed. We might just rediscover our capacity for empathy and for solidarity and for care.

It's what Christian theologians might refer to as "standing under the cross." Realizing our own complicity, our own involvement in violence, our own need for forgiveness. And then finding ourselves, somewhat miraculously, forgiven. Free from shame. Free to love.

And that, I suspect, will go much further towards healing this hurting country and this hurting world than shutting up those terrifying people over there.

And that's about as far as I'll go with this, for today.

Now, for your promised Penny pic:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Transitions, Lenten Journeys, and New Life for the Ol' Blog

Hi friends -- it's been too long since I've posted regularly on here. If you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me!

You might already know, but this has been a time of massive transition for me. Leigh and I graduated in May and got married in September; by October we'd moved to Georgetown University to begin a new position together as Chaplains-in-Residence in the New South freshman residence hall. During that same time period, I served for a semester as the interim United Methodist Chaplain at American University, since our full-time chaplain was on sabbatical for the semester. I also came on as a board member for Friends of Sabeel North America. Leigh started another new job during that semester. And we were both TAing classes at Wesley Seminary. It was a full and rich semester. It was also tremendously busy, and more than a little overwhelming.

As the new year began, I started to realize that I needed to take a deep breath and step back from a few things. I've learned before that I need to take some care with myself, to not get in over my head emotionally and mentally. It's a health issue for me, and it's also a soul issue. When I'm overwhelmed, I don't function well, and I don't love well, either.

Because of that, and because of some other discernment that I've been doing, I made a tough decision. I've stepped down from my position as an Associate Chaplain at AU.* February 28th was my last Sunday there. I'm sad, and will miss a community that I've been part of for a long time -- four years in an official capacity, but really more like 7 years, since I first came to DC. I also feel a sense of peace about the decision, and am excited to see how that ministry is going to continue to grow in love, service, and welcome.

This was definitely a big decision for me, but it's just one part of a deeper and wider sense I've had that I'm in a time of transition and need to, for lack of a more eloquent word, do this transition. Getting married, moving together with Leigh to start a shared position, and most recently getting a dog** -- these are big, big shifts from where I was a few years ago. I think I need some time to honor that. Some time to learn how to be a husband (and a puppy dad) and to take some breaths before plunging into whatever the next adventure is going to be.

And I suppose that's the Lenten practice that I've taken up, to be in this, to be mindful of this journey I'm on. William Bridges suggests two questions for people who are in transition, particularly work transition: "What is it time to let go of in my life right now?" and "What is standing backstage, in the wings of my life, waiting to make its entrance?"***

So during Lent I'm pondering those questions. And taking some time to pray and to reflect and to write and to think.

And to play with a puppy, which sure helps.

Ministry at Georgetown continues (you can read updates from Leigh and I about that here), as does TAing at Wesley. I'm also going to be working on a few writing projects -- some of the fruit of which I may be posting on here. And I'm going to try to update this blog at least once a week, now that I'll have a bit more down time, so you'll be seeing more from me on here.

So stay tuned for more writing and thoughts here -- and if you want the puppy picture hookup, friend me on Facebook!

I am grateful for all of you, and overflowing with gratitude for all of the amazing opportunities and gifts in my life.

Grace and peace,

* Many of you donated so generously to the Next Generation Campaign at AU.  Thank you, thank you, thank you! I benefited directly from that support, and now the campaign continues to grow. The vision remains to support a new staff position at AU in the coming year. I don't know exactly what that will look like, but I bet it will be cool, and I'm sure they'll be updating the Next Generation website when they have more details.

** Specifically, this adorable puppy:

*** That's from Bridges' book Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes (DeCapo, 2004), pg. 87.

Monday, February 15, 2016

A sermon, an interview, and a Lenten reflection

Hi folks!

I haven't had the chance to update the blog in awhile, so just wanted to share a few things with you.

-- I gave a sermon last night for the AU Methodists, part of our "Dystopian Lent" sermon series. You can read the text here, or listen to the audio:

-- Leigh interviewed me for her Patheos blog. You can read the interview, "The Fidelity of Limits," here.

-- Leigh and I have also started a blog to share reflections and information with our Georgetown University students. Here's our first reflection, about Lent and the goodness of limits.

Hoping to post some more updates and reflections soon! Thanks for reading/listening.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Some recent snazz

Hi folks --

Haven't been doing a good job of keeping the blog updated, but a few things to check out:

-- all of my sermons from our "Big Questions" series at AU are available on the AU Methodist website (with audio available on my Soundcloud site)
-- Jason Wiedel was kind enough to include me in his recent MediaScorch podcast about Christianity and mental health; check it out
-- stay tuned for more sermon stuff and an upcoming Advent series!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

There are funerals I never want to officiate.

It was December of 2013.

I was in the college lounge at the church -- just across the street from campus -- when one of the students' phones buzzed.

There was a pause. Then a short intake of breath.

"It's an alert form public safety. There might be a shooter on campus."

Hold, there. Let that be disruptive for a moment. "A shooter." This is a common enough occurrence in our country that we have a shorthand colloquialism for something that ought to be difficult to imagine, let alone discuss.

"Ok," I said.

Non-anxious presence, they tell us in seminary. Be calm. 'Hold the office.'

"You all stay here. Lock the door. I'll go make sure the rest of the church knows."

We checked outer doors.

"This church has an awful lot of doors," one of the pastors said to me in passing. I laughed. We need a term other than gallows humor. I've never seen the gallows. The phrase doesn't mean much to me. This was handgun humor. Catastrophe comedy.

Back in the college lounge, the students checked in on social media. "Everyone ok?" one posted on our group page. One by one, others responded.

Finally, information began flowing in. False alarm. Everything is ok.

Everything is ok.

This time.


In this line of vocation -- what one author ironically refers to as being a "professional religious person," a phrase not without its share of self-critique -- funerals are an assumed part of the job. Death is a fact of life -- as it turns out, one of the few definite facts of life -- and being present with people in times of grief and death is one of the sacred spaces that pastors and chaplains are invited into. We stand in awe on holy ground, and often that holy ground is a place of pain.

In seminary, we are given guidance in officiating funerals. How to hold pastoral presence. Things not to say. How to pay attention to family dynamics and cultural differences. How to create space for lament. 

Funerals are a part of the role, no less than weddings and baptisms and preaching and (in campus ministry, at least) Costco runs for absurd amounts of s'mores supplies.

But there are funerals I never want to officiate.

There is no reason, no goddamn reason in the whole wide world, that I should ever have to plan a service, write a homily, hold the pastoral office, at a funeral for a college student who was shot and killed because we, as a country, have decided that we love guns more than life. 

In Oregon, this weekend, there are people doing just that. 

There shouldn't be.

If I continue in this church-thing -- and somehow, it seems to me that no matter the frustrations of a given week or month, I keep coming back to this odd gathering of messy people who cluster around a table and look for God in bread and grape juice and each other and mere inadequate words -- I will probably officiate many funerals. I pray that I will be given the grace to do so with awe and respect for the sacredness of such moments of grief and celebration, pain and release.

But there are funerals I never want to officiate. Here are five things you can do so that I never have to. 

Or, here's one: call you legislators this week. Tell them your friend David is a college chaplain. Tell them it's his job to pray and to be with people in times of mourning. Tell them it's their job to make sure that he doesn't have to do that for the families of students who died because we, as a country, refused to take any common sense measures to end gun violence.

Tell them I'll keep doing my job, today and tomorrow and the next day.

Tell them to do theirs. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sermon -- "Who am I...and what am I doing with my life?"

Hi friends -- I'm posting my sermon texts over at the AU Methodist website these days, but figured I'd share the audio here for you. This is part of a sermon series we're doing called "Big Questions" -- you can read more about that (as well as see what questions we're considering and submit your own questions) here

Anyway, Sunday's question was "Who am I...and what am I doing with my life?" I'd say I pretty much 100% answered this one, no ambiguities or questions remain:

(that was a joke):

The text is available here

It's a real privilege to be able to serve with the students at American, and to get the chance to offer these sorts of reflections. My position at AU is funded by donations, so if you like these kinds of reflections, you can help keep them coming by supporting our Next Generation Campaign!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Laverne and Esther (a sermon about privilege)

This is the sermon I preached at Emmanuel UMC in Laurel, MD this morning. I was invited to preach as part of a sermon series called "Old Testament Yearbook," with each week dedicated to a different character from the Hebrew Bible. I was asked to preach on Esther. I decided to share some lessons about privilege that we can learn from Esther -- and from Laverne Cox.

            A few months ago, the notoriously short attention span of the U.S. media focused for a brief moment on the experience of transgender people – folks who don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. The catalyst for this momentary fascination with a group that is often ignored or mocked in media representation was Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to come out as trans and subsequently to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. I didn’t quite understand the media buzz; my fiancĂ©e had to explain to me that prior to coming out as trans, Jenner was well-known and loved as a Cold War-era Olympic decathalon gold medalist and All-American Wheaties box celebrity.  
            I don’t usually spend a lot of time reflecting on the U.S. celebrity scene, and this is the first and likely the last time that I’ve ever mentioned Vanity Fair in a sermon. But in all of the buzz around Caitlyn Jenner’s cover shoot, one response in particular caught my attention. The actress Laverne Cox, star of the hit HBO series Orange is the New Black and herself a trans woman, posted a reflection on her blog, of which I will quote only a brief excerpt. She writes:
“I am so moved by all the love and support Caitlyn is receiving….Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think what is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities….For me it is necessary everyday to celebrate every aspect of myself especially those things about myself that don’t align with other people’s ideas about what is beautiful….Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class. I have hoped over the past few years that the incredible love I have received from the public can translate to the lives of all trans folks.”[i]
            I was struck by the power of this reflection. I should mention, for those unfamiliar with Ms. Cox, that she is a woman of color. She is someone who has faced multiple forms of societal stigma – as a woman, as a trans person, and as a person of color – using the media spotlight to lift up the needs and voices of those with less privilege than herself.
            I – a white, straight, cisgender male – find myself deeply humbled by Ms. Cox’s witness. How easy it is for me, on a daily basis, to forget my privilege, the unearned status and power granted to me by USAmerican society. For me to learn a lesson about the importance of using one’s status to amplify the voices of those less privileged – and to learn this lesson from a transwoman of color – is to enter into a space of self-reflection and repentance that I associate with encountering the gospel of Jesus Christ.
            Ms. Cox does not identify as a Christian. She has spoken in interviews about her upbringing in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and how she has come to understand and practice her spirituality outside of the institution of American Christianity.[ii] But to me, her words strike a deep, resonating chord within the prophetic and pastoral tradition of our religious heritage. In her refusal to hide behind the power of celebrity status or beauty standards, and her decision to identity instead with those who share aspects of identity often targeted for violence, Laverne Cox reminds me of another celebrity woman: the biblical character of Esther.
            The book of Esther, as many commentators have pointed out, is not a historical record, nor is it particularly theological – God does not appear in the story at all.[iii] Rather, it’s something like a fairy tale – though a pretty grim one, if you’ll excuse the pun. It is a story of palace intrigues and political rivalries, of gender and ethnic violence, of the folly of power and the surprising ability of individuals to challenge the status quo. The main character, Esther, is a young, status-less Jewish woman who becomes a princess because she happens to meet the objectifying beauty standards of the Persian court. This, indeed, would seem like a fairy-tale-princess dream come true, if not for the horrifying violence on the horizon. In the scene which we read this morning, Esther’s cousin Mordecai informs her of a plot in the royal court to massacre all of their people – for no reason other than a petty rivalry between Mordecai and Haman, the king’s chief courtier.  
            At first, Esther, who has hidden her Jewish identity from the court, reacts defensively. She sends him new clothes, so that he will stop embarrassing himself with his public acts of mourning and protest. She tries to explain to him that she is a marginalized individual, with no power to change things in the king’s court. Her reaction is, I think, quite understandable – she is young, and scared, and sticking one’s neck out in this situation is likely to end with that neck on a chopping block.
            And Mordecai tells her, essentially: “Look, don’t think that your status will protect you. You’re one of us. We will all share the same fate.” And then, that powerful line: “Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”
            And suddenly, it’s as if something shifts inside of Esther. She has been largely reactive up to this point in the story, but now she orders her older, male cousin to take action; she commands a fast; and, over the course of the following chapters, she sets into place a clever strategy to get the king on her side and to disrupt the plot against her people.
            The story, like many fairy tales, ends violently, with a happy ever after for the good guys and a horrifying end for the bad guys. But it’s not the climax of the story that interests me today; rather, it’s this moment when Esther comes to see with new eyes and speak with a new, powerful voice – or should I say, her own voice, a voice that must have been waiting inside of her, longing to be let out. Esther stops hiding behind the privileged aspects of her identity and instead chooses to act from her most vulnerable, endangered identity. It is that identity which creates connection with others, rather than isolating her in the illusion of security and the desperate loneliness of affluence. She turns down the false promises of upward mobility, exchanging them for the risky action of societally-downward solidarity. In doing so, Esther is able to use her status and privilege to affect change, to challenge violent systems of power, and to save her people.   
Esther’s insight speaks powerfully into our situation today, as a church and as a society. We are terrified of vulnerability, terrified of shame – and, paradoxically, this prevents us, particularly those of us with a high level of status and privilege, from naming and claiming our own ability to make change. And so in 2014 when women responded to the misogynistic manifesto of a mass shooter in California by posting stories on social media with the tag, #YesAllWomen, many men responded – not by joining together to end sexist violence – but rather by starting their own campaign, called #NotAllMen.” When the #BlackLivesMatter movement began, protesting police violence against unarmed African American men and women, many white folks responded – not by joining the effort to end police violence and racism – but instead by insisting on the slogan “All Lives Matter.” In fact, just recently, several Black Lives Matter signs hanging outside of churches in Maryland and DC were vandalized to erase the word “black.”[iv] That’s privilege at work, denying rather than challenging violence and discrimination. And meanwhile, the church in the U.S. spends its time fighting amongst itself and worrying about whether or not it will survive for another few years.
Do we see how different this is from the decision of Esther? Do we see how much we have to learn from the risk-taking young princess of this Jewish fairy tale?
Centuries after the fabled Persian court portrayed in the story of Esther, another young Jew grappled with questions of power and vulnerability, upward mobility versus downward solidarity. Writing to the church in Philippi, the apostle Paul admonished them: “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself.” Interestingly, modern translators have added the word “though,” which does not exist in the original Greek. We read, “Christ who, though he was in the form of God, emptied himself.” But the actual text reads something like, “Christ who was in the form of God, emptying himself.” We decided that there was some sort of contradiction between who God is and the idea of emptying oneself, of identifying with the vulnerable and the marginalized. We decided that choosing to give up power and status is somehow out of character for God.[v]
But the Christ we Christians claim to follow, the God we claim to put our faith in, does not shy away from vulnerability. This God does not hide behind power or status or beauty in order to avoid risk. This God, this Christ, identifies with the threatened and the excluded. This God, this Christ, tells us that beauty and power and status are nothing except opportunities to speak out for and with those who have been denied such privilege.
And when I am tempted to say, “Look, I don’t really have that much power. I can’t really change things. It’s too risky. I’m too vulnerable.”
Or when churches wring anxious hands about shrinking budgets and empty pews, wondering whether we will ever ascend back to our former glory at the center of societal prestige.
This God, I believe, speaks – though just like in the book of Esther, not always directly. God speaks through the scandalous grief and protest of those whose people are threatened with violence, through young women who find their voice to challenge the status quo, through trans women of color, through countless marginalized people all over our land – this God speaks.
And says:
Perhaps, you have come to your current place of privilege for just such a time as this.

[i] From Laverne Cox’s tumblr blog:
[ii] “Laverne Talks Spirituality with Miss Ross Live”:
[iii] Sidnie White Crawford, “Esther Introduction,” in The New Interpreter’s Study Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 2003), 689-690.
[iv] Petula Dvorak, “The ugly message behind erasing ‘Black’ from ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs,” The Washington Post, 6 August 2015, available:
[v] I owe this insight to a talk given by Brian McLaren at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Marco Island, FL, in March 2015.