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starbucks

Ten Minutes in Starbucks

I’m in a Starbucks on the north edge of Minneapolis and I have about ten minutes until I have to leave to pick up the kids from the last day of summer daycamp. Instead of refreshing Twitter in hopes of something other than endless bad news, I decided to take a super basic picture of…

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The Last Day of July

I am surrounded by gremlins with good hearts and under-developed brains. This is what I tell myself as I collapse into our big yellow armchair (IKEA STRADMON) and survey the wreckage of an ordinary summer day in a house with four children. It’s early evening and the house is quiet for the first time in…

reckless

Proposal to Revise a Word (or Two) of “Reckless Love”

The only thing worse than getting a song stuck in your head is getting a song stuck in your head whose theology you find mildly reprehensible. But such is the case with the overwhelming, never-ending catchiness of “Reckless Love” It’s one of those tunes that chases me down, fights till I’m found, and lodges it’s…

bible

27 Ridiculous Lies My Church Told Me

Yesterday Christopher Stroop posed this question on the internets: “What are some of the weirdest and/or most pernicious things you were taught as part of your indoctrination into ‘the Biblical worldview’?” Immediately I began rifling through the dusty archives of my brain in search of ridiculous bullshit that I had once believed to be true because…

camo

Why I’ll Never Own a Camouflage Jacket

I’m not a hunter or any sort of manly woodsman, but if I was I might own a camouflage jacket. And if I owned a camouflage jacket, I would often say to my partner, whom I love, “Have you seen my camouflage jacket?” Because I often lose all my stuff around the house and ask…

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How I Manage to Still Be a Christian

Imagine a good religion: A religion that teaches you how to love yourself and love others really well and how to experience the love of the Divine. Now image the opposite of that: Say hello to American Evangelical Christianity. /// I snark, but I am dead serious. Lately I’ve grown cantankerous (again) as I’ve been…

love

Why I Love Donald Trump

To be perfectly candid with you, I didn’t want to write this post. But I kinda’ backed myself into a corner five years ago, and I knew that if I was going to have any sense of integrity I’d have to (at least) sit down and do a bit of honest reckoning. See, five years…

toby

Toby (a Love Story)

“Don’t you think that dog is beautiful?” she asks, showing me a picture of a pit bull on the animal adoption website for the hundredth time. She sees something in them that I just can’t quite find, and believes with unbated optimism that, given enough opportunities, I too will fall in love with a dog…

pivot

Maybe it’s time to pivot, motherf*cker.

I’ve been writing this one in my head for just over a year now. But I wanted to get the colors just right before I showed you. It was a year ago — late winter, when the snow is just starting to melt but the sun hasn’t quite come out yet — when I first…

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Goodbye Mr. Trump

Today Donald Trump is evicted. Not from the White House (unfortunately), but from my brainspace. He’s already taken up much more room than he deserves. 

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What the Babylon Bee Gets Right About the Bible

”The Bible is clearly a product of the conservative Christian machine. Jesus is not pleased.”

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A Christian Response to the Nashville Statement

Today a group of people who claim the name of Jesus released a statement condemning our LGBT brothers and sisters. This is my response.

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Never Again

I used to think the candle I lit that day in the Holocaust Museum meant something. Never again.

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11 Things I Learned on #Whole30

So I thought, ‘F*ck it, may as well do the Whole30’. And that’s how I embarked on this life-changing quest.

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God is Not an Asshole (and Other Things I Wish My Pastor Told Me)

We all wonder the same things: Is there a god? What is god like? And most of the time, we’re left wrestling with those questions alone.

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How Beer Can Help Us Love Each Other and Save the World

Today I saw a Heineken ad about drinking beer with people who you’d probably hate on Facebook. I think that they might be on to something.

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Untethered

I saw an article the other day about how loneliness is as bad for you as cigarettes or something. I don’t smoke much these days, but I’m terribly lonely — and have been for years.

cultnextdoor

My Cult Story (A Documentary Film)

We were supposed to change the world — a weird kind of extraordinary was defined by Gothard’s lists. When that’s your normal,the message hammered into you is just ‘You’re not good enough.’

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Do This Instead

This is mostly written to myself, as a reminder that the things I usually do are not the things that make me happy. I’m trying to change that.

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To Lose Myself in Earth's Shallow Soil

I feel the soil of our planet growing thinner. It’s becoming more difficult to find space where we can send our roots down deep, for strength and water and life. Do you know what this feels like?

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A Tattoo and a Prayer

It seemed like a good time to carve these words onto my chest. I have a feeling I’ll need them close by in the days ahead.

silence

5 Practical Ways to Create Space for Silence

If you’re tired of all the noise on social media, these super-practical tools will help you create space for silence. You’ll be glad you did.

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5 Quick Ways to Make Your Blog Ready for the New Year

The start of a new year is a great time to do a quick check of your blog to make sure it’s up to speed, especially if you made “write more on your blog” one of your resolutions.

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The Chaos of Hope

Words are wild, violent slippery things; you never know when they might go flying out of control. But if anything, this essay is about losing control, about leaning into the chaos of hope.

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13 Text Messages I Sent in 2016

Literally just thirteen screenshots of stuff I texted to people this year, presented in no particular order for your amusement and delight.

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In the Beginning…. Shit

Then God spoke into the darkness and said “Let there be light.” And not a damn thing happened.

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To the Christian Contemplating Suicide (The Letter I Wish I’d Found)

There is space in the big wide world for every piece of you. You deserve the space you take up in this world. Please stay.

Advent

Rend the Heavens (A Psalm for Advent)

This is my tired advent prayer. Fuck this shit indeed. Amen. Which, being translated, means: How long oh Lord?

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Maybe I Don't Love the Church Anymore

I still long for SOMETHING to be the Kingdom of God here on earth, but I’m tired of hoping that any sort of thing labeled “Church” will actually be that thing.

trump

To My Friends Who Voted for Donald Trump

did you think this wouldn’t happen? or did you think you could vote for a man who consistently appealed to hatred, xenophobia, and fear mongering and then wash your hands of the results?

write31days

day 27: mostly I'm grateful today

I’m still trying to keep my head above the grey here in Minnesota, and there’s a lot of grey.

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day 24: even when I wonder about redemption

There are days when it seems like the story of our lives, and of humanity as a whole, lives on a razor’s edge between hope and meaningless annihilation.

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day 19: enough to be simply here

I don’t have to be happy every day. Some days it is enough to be simply here.

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day 18: this illusion of vulnerability on internet screens

What does it mean for folks like us (who choose to write certain words about our lives on internet screens for anyone to read) that the thing withheld is often the real story?

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day 17: anatomy of not writing

On the surface, things feel mundane. There’s work, a lot of work, and work is good and I’m grateful for that. There’s reading the news every day and watching that godawful election burn down in slow motion and I feel distant from that but it seems like the only public conversation left these days.

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day 11: short poems and unsolicited hugs

I get all the wackiest search terms that people type into Google and wind up on my blog. Today I’m going to share a few of them. This is going to be fun.

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day 10: a million ways to lose your soul online

I see a lot of folks in this industry advertising courses and tools and books and seminars with secrets that will change your life. But there’s one ad that I haven’t seen on my newsfeed yet…

write31days

day 9: and sometimes you don't

I’m tired and my eyes hurt. It’s a good sort of tired because I’ve spent all day having adventures with my kids, but tired just the same and I honestly don’t feel like writing right now. I tell you that to say this: sometimes you feel like it and sometimes you don’t. This is true…

write31days

day 8: for one perfect moment

This afternoon a child born from a spark of my own DNA fell asleep with his head on my chest, and for one perfect moment all was right in this fucked-up world.

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day 7: my body afraid of love

I told her about how sometimes I can feel my ribs shrinking, how my shoulders curve inward to protect my heart and I have to consciously remind myself to breathe, breathe, breathe.

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day 6: particularly in between

Anne of Green Gables once said about how happy she was to live in a world with Octobers, and I respectfully disagree.

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day 5: daaaaaamn I gotta write some shit

what’s point of being holy if you’re not going to be happy while you’re at it? Also, why would god make butterflies and puppies and sunrises and nachos if (s)he didn’t care about our happiness?

write31days

day 4: random chance, bad luck, and sunshine

Yes, there’s a brilliant spark of creative intent at the beginning of all things but also: random chance, bad luck, sunshine, shitloads of human free will, evolution (maybe? don’t judge me), and lots of general shenanigans / fuckery. (how long O Lord?)

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day 3: general existential discomfort

I’ve recently been increasingly aware of this design flaw in the system. And by “the system” I mean our whole entire human existence.

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day 2: how life is supposed to feel

I’m realizing that “is this how this thing is supposed to feel?” is probably a counterproductive question. but still it runs laps through my head…

write31days

day 1: all the static and colors inside of me

I’m here because I want to be the kind of person who writes. I want to stay in the habit of putting words to all the static and colors inside of me. Even if it’s just for ten minutes.

church

Upon Looking at One’s Childhood Home on Google Maps 

It’s been almost twenty-five years since I’ve been inside, but I remember it clearly (clear, like a photograph slightly yellow with age but infused with memories).

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Final Notice

this is a poem about the
FINAL NOTICE
(Water Service has been scheduled for disconnection)
i found taped to my door this morning
and about the existential crises
inspired thereby

ocean

What I've Been Doing for The Past Six Months

You may remember I was super sad, and then I got divorced, and then I did a bunch of yoga and cooking, and then I stopped blogging. Now I’m back.

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When Blogging Isn't Fun and Nothing Else Is Either

Yesterday at 3:17 p.m. I typed into Google “I don’t feel joy.” I had no reason to be unhappy, and yet…

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Let's Make Blogging Fun Again

If you’re here for this — disjointed bits and pieces of my ordinary life, the spectacle of watching a writer spar with the keyboard and his own ego in an attempt to write a few words of which he can be proud — welcome.

comethroughme

You'll Need to Come Through Me

The Republican party should know, my fellow Christians should know, my Facebook friends should know, my family should know… if you try to harm my LGBT brothers and sisters, you will need to come through me.

house

How I Will Remember This House

Last night while I was mowing the lawn barefoot by the last light of dusk, I found myself wondering how long I’d be here. Is this little rental on the north edge of Minneapolis a many-years home, or just a right-now home? I don’t know.

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Just Love (Ellie's Story)

Ellie’s most palpable and significant gift was her ability to bring people together, to create connections. Whether you knew her for 5 minutes or 25 years, you felt her remarkable spirit touch your heart.

confessions

Confessions

It’s not often that you find a place like this where you can share a bit of your life completely unedited and uncensored and be met only with love and belonging. I’d love for you to listen in.

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Trying To Feel God

I’ve spent most of my life trying to feel God. Perhaps all along She was as close as my own skin.

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When We Hit the Wall

Three hundred drivers spun out and crunched against walls and guardrails and schoolbusses and semi trucks today, a frozen flash mob symphony of crushed plastic and bent steel.

bloggers

A Love Letter to Bloggers

I’m grateful for a place to put my words — barely edited and a little bit undercooked. And I’m so very grateful that you’re doing the same thing.

tinder

Love in the Age of Tinder

Are they ruining their lives? Or am I missing out? Does this window-shopping dance make us all consumers of love and of each other?

heart

7 Simple Ways to Love Yourself Today

To be wholehearted is a radically subversive act. Begin here. Be gentle. Be patient with yourself. And don’t give up.

happiness

I Accept

I so often forget that all of this is a journey. I resent the absence of a destination, of perfection. I wonder if I’m doing it right, if I’m doing enough.

assault

We Need to Talk About Sexual Assault

Guys, we need to talk about sexual assault. I don’t just mean now. I mean we need to wake up and pay attention. How long are we going to let this be the status quo? When are we going to do something about it?

micah

I Want to Build Your Website

You need a simple, clean blog where you can write your words and not worry about code and hosts and servers and plugins. Let me help you.

civilwar

The Civil War Wasn't Your Fault (and Other Things I Wish I'd Known)

“My system could have prevented the Civil War” is more than just laughable hubris. It carries the implicit suggestion that if we had only tried harder, done more, and followed the rules better, we could have prevented our own civil wars.

prodigal

Confessions of the Older Brother

I’ll break every rule I so carefully kept all these years, and blow all I’ve saved on riotous living. Maybe by throwing away everything, I’ll finally find the love I’ve been trying to earn all along.

books

20 Books You Should Read This Year

This is mostly a random selection of stuff I’ve read in the past year, or bought on Amazon to read next year, or found at a thrift shop last week. If you’re looking for new (old) books to read in 2016, I’ve got you covered.

blogawesome

Ready For Your Year of Blogging Awesomeness?

I can’t wait to see what you’re going to write!

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From the Other Side

I can still remember how empty those words felt a year ago, how little I believed what I was writing when I told myself I’d make it to the other side.

Journey of Grief

A Journey of Grief

I carry my grief with me wherever I go. I wish it didn’t take so long to move from the depths of our despair to a place where we can say life is good again. But it always does.

Faith

When Faith is a Clusterf*ck

Sometimes the chapters are all in the wrong order, and despair follows way too close on the heels of joy.

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Letting Go

You do not have to write your own story. You do not have to believe all the right things. You do not have to be good. You only have to keep walking, and know that you have always been infinitely loved.

<strong>The Truth About Waking Up</strong>
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<em>I read your message last night, the one you sent a week or two ago. Now can I tell you how I really feel?</em><br/><br/>

The Truth About Waking Up

I read your message last night, the one you sent a week or two ago. You told me about how my faith and hope are helping you hold on to faith and hope even when you want to give up. You called my writing “honest” and “vulnerable” and told me that you cried reading it. You…

becominghuman

Day 31: Using My Words

It’s just late afternoon, and already dark outside, so I guess it’s November now and October’s #Write31Days challenge is over. I guess also that I’m a day late with this post, and that maybe I skipped a few days toward the end. I guess I was just busy doing human stuff. /// As I watched…

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Day 28: Getting Help

I wasn’t sure if I was going to bring this up, but we’re only a few days from the end of this 31-day writing challenge, so fuck it — let’s go. Sometimes part of becoming human means asking for help. Here’s what that’s looked like for me in the past year: Every Monday morning I…

becominghuman

Day 26: Failing

This is also part of becoming human. And in the grand narrative of the world, missing two days of a thirty-one day writing challenge is barely worth mentioning as a failure. I realize this. What’s worth mentioning, though, is that failure is inseparable and essential to the process of becoming human. (As much as I…

becominghuman

Day 23: Choosing Happiness

So we’re twenty three days into this project of becoming human, and I guess I want to say that today I’m happy. That’s all. But you know it’s been a long road to get here. I was thinking about that, today, about what it takes to choose happiness. About how many times in the past…

becominghuman

Day 22: Having an Ordinary Day

My liturgical friends have a stretch of the church calendar they call “ordinary time”. I don’t know very much about it, but I think it has something to do with the rhythms of life, and the way that the high points and holidays are scattered across stretches of the year that are simply ordinary. Today…

becominghuman

Day 21: Walking with God

I used to think of God as always either calling or sending. But those ideas — calling or sending — suggest that god is somewhere other than right beside me I now think of god who as one who walks along with me, every step. And god isn’t nearly so concerned with where I walk, as much as that I stay…

becominghuman

Day 20: Coming Home

Every time I walk through that terminal, past the baggage claim and out the front doors, I love this city a little bit more. This morning she was quiet, hung with thin grey clouds. Scattered amidst her familiar landmarks, the trees are lighting up in a million shades of red. She’s beautiful.   /// Home…

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Day 19: Finding My People

  It’s Monday morning after a flawless weekend; you know the type. One of those Monday mornings where we’re texting our new friends and reliving memories and telling inside jokes and making playlists and promising to stay friends forever. It’s been the same since the first Monday morning after teen camp, back when we were in…

becominghuman

Day 18: Being Present

I’m growing to believe that being present is one of the greatest gifts we can give, to ourselves and to our fellow humans. It’s not easy, though. There are a thousand things distracting us from being present all the time — the voices spinning circles inside our heads, to-do lists begging for attention, electronic devices,…

becominghuman

Day 17: Living the Best Day of My Life

“THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” I announced this effusively over black coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice at a cafe in Little Rock this morning. Maybe I was just being dramatic. The first black coffee of the day tends to have the effect on me, especially with warm sunlight streaming through big windows…

becominghuman

Day 16: Healing

I don’t need a calendar to tell me it’s been a year. I can feel it in the air when I step outside, the crisp wind that tears leaves from trees and sends them skidding down Minneapolis sidewalks. Images crowd in at the periphery of my memory. I don’t need to glance at them to know…

becominghuman

Day 15: Roadtripping

Today I drove from Chicago to Little Rock. I want to have something profound to say, but I am so very full of pizza right now. So I’m going to sit here on my man Cory’s couch and talk to my people. (When you get a chance to hang out with your internet friends in…

becominghuman

Day 14: Looking Back

I’m sitting in the Minneapolis airport, about to hop on a plane toward Chicago and a weekend with the Bedlam Family. I just got done reading a thing Melissa Hawks wrote, a story about how we became friends. It started with an interview at a pizza shop in Minneapolis last fall. It’s funny, reading it now, because…

becominghuman

Day 13: Giving Up

I did not want to get out of bed today. Everything felt grey and numb and lifeless, and I couldn’t even remember how to begin being human. Laying there on my mattress, I thought of how last week that I’d woken up and done yoga and gone running and kicked ass all day. It felt like a…

becominghuman

Day 12: Listening to Taylor Swift

I was listening to Taylor Swift before breakfast, as you do on Monday mornings. Today I found myself thinking about why. Why do so many of us Millennials find ourselves hooked on her music, singing along every time we’re in the car? /// “Everything was simpler ten years ago,” I told my therapist last week.…

becominghuman

Day 11: Embracing the Seasons

I’m scared to death of winter. Winter in Minnesota is hard — anybody who lives here will tell you that. Six months from the first snow to the last, face-numbing cold, day after day after day of grey skies. Winter is hard, but the summers make up for it. It’s just part of the deal.…

becominghuman

Day 10: Learning from My Boys

Today I’m going to tell you four lessons I’m learning from my boys. They’re three and five, and in between legos and hot dogs and Netflix, they’re teaching me about what it means to be human. /// Always run toward people you love. For these boys, life is always the third act of a romantic commedy. Every…

becominghuman

Day 09: Cooking Good Food

I just got done scraping the last few bits of a delicious supper off my plate. My stomach is about to die of happiness, but hopefully I’ll get this blog post done first. Here’s what I made: I started with brussels sprouts, set in a pot to steam. While they were cooking, I chopped two…

becominghuman

Day 08: Learning Poetry

  Today is National Poetry day, so I want to share one of my favorites with you. I first heard it from my friend Stephen, during our cross-country road trip at the start of this year. Somewhere in the Utah desert, probably. Though the winter, I had bits and pieces of this poem written on the window…

becominghuman

Day 07: Playing with Legos

I’m sitting on the floor in the boys’ bedroom next to an ocean of Legos. The three-year-old is building a monster truck, or at least an abstract impression of a monster truck. Every few minutes he lets out a roar — the sort of wordless, guttural howl of frustration that only toddlers know. “UUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!’ I…

becominghuman

Day 06: Celebrating Bandersnatch

Today we are celebrating the release of my friend Erika’s book: Bandersnatch. I wouldn’t let just anybody interrupt my #write31days series for a book release guest post, but this one seems fitting. Erika Morrison has been one of the people who has taught me the most about becoming human in the past few years: about…

becominghuman

Day 05: Taking Care of My Body

It’s mid-afternoon, and I just finished “Morning Yoga to Start Your Day.” Some days start harder than others. Especially Mondays. Some days you wake up and shower and get dressed and go downtown for breakfast and then when you come back home, your brain goes blank and you can’t remember how to think or work…

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Day 04: Figuring My Life Out

I had an existential crisis before I got out of bed this morning. This isn’t particularly unusual, although the source was slightly unexpected: Mindy Kaling. I was reading Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me? (as you do on Sunday mornings) and I came to this essay about men and boys: Until I was 30, I…

becominghuman

Day 03: Accomplishing Nothing

I accomplished literally nothing today. Outside my windows, shades of dusk are telling me that Saturday evening is here and that I have nothing to show for it. I haven’t bought a couch, built a website, or written anything good. I haven’t even made my bed, cleaned my kitchen, or paid my rent. Sometime after…

becominghuman

Day 02: Writing Scared

Immediately after publishing yesterday’s post, I confessed to my fellow Clumsy Bloggers: can i tell you a secret? i am so insecure about this whole damn project. i’m like, “everybody is going to hate every word i write. nobody is going to share this on fb. i am done. time to quit and go be a bartender.”…

becominghuman

Day 01: Becoming Human

A few days ago my friend Mikayla asked how I’m doing. “Ya know, it is what it is,” I replied. Because apparently I am a curmedgeonly old man from Kansas, in an angsty low-budget film. But then I elaborated: “Grief is a long road. Healing is a slow process. Fall is beautiful. Winter is scary.…

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Why I'd Rather Be a Happy Blogger Than a Successful One

Amber Salhus is one of my favorite Clumsy Bloggers. In addition to writing great words, she’s always cracking us up in the Clumsy Bloggers’ Facebook Group with her cussing and her GIFs. When she showed me her list of blog topics she’s working on, I saw this one and said, “I want that for a…

Blogging

Three Things I Learned about Blogging (by Not Blogging)

I met Aaron Smith a few years ago at a blogging conference in Portland. We’ve been reading each other’s stuff for a few years now, and I’m continually impressed with the raw honesty that Aaron brings to the page. He’s also part of the Clumsy Bloggers’ Workshop, and today he’s telling us what he learned about…

missit

Do You Ever Miss It?

A few nights ago the following message popped up on my screen, from a friend who’s walked a few of the same paths I have. I read these words quickly, and found in them a voice that sounds unmistakably familiar. Sometimes I don’t know whether or not I’m losing my mind, but at least it’s…

road2

I Will Be Afraid

“When I walk through the Valley of Shadows, I will not be afraid.” That’s what the Psalmist said, but me? I’m not that bold. I have a confession: When I walk through the Valley of Shadows, I will be afraid.  When I walk through the Valley of Shadows, I will wake up screaming in the…

valley

A Prayer from the Valley

“He guides me along right paths,     bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk     through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,     for you are close beside me.” – Psalm 23   but surely there must be some mistake. don’t you see? I trusted you to guide me along right paths, god you…

GodsWill

How Not to Discover God's Will For Your Life

I came across some bullshit today. And by “bullshit”, I mean a few pages from the “Wisdom Booklets” that were the core part of Bill Gothard’s  homeschooling curriculum. I had three thoughts when I read this bullshit: “I remember this. Exactly. I remember reading this. I remember believing this.” and then “Oh. No wonder I…

<strong>How to Find Time to Write When Your Kids Are on Summer Break</strong>
<br/><br/>
<em>Here are five ways to find time to write when you have kids on summer break.</em><br/><br/>

How to Find Time to Write When Your Kids Are on Summer Break

Today in the Clumsy Bloggers’ Workshop, I was soliciting ideas for my next “How to” post… hoping for something reasonable and simple like “How to Make Links Look Good on Facebook” or “How to Find Pictures for Your Blog“. But then Jaime was all like: “You should write about how to find time to write when you…

whiksey

We're Going to Have a Problem

We’re going to have a problem. I say this with some amount of certainty. In a few years or a few decades, some of us are going to be in rehab or Alcoholics Anonymous or something. And if we’re not, we should be. It starts innocently enough. Trust me, I know. Liberated from our legalistic teetotaling, we…

Writing

How I Wrote 17,231 Words in 30 Days

I met Laura Beth Martin at a writers’ conference in Portland this spring. She had already been in the Clumsy Bloggers’ Workshop for a few weeks, and told me about the 30 Days of Writing it had inspired. I made her promise to tell me how it turned out for her, when she had finished. Here’s…

image

Until You Bless Me

“Do y’all do blessings and shit?” I asked it shyly, unsure of the proper etiquette (even though the sign in front of the white tent advertised all manner of blessings available). I hoped the casual and shit would mask how badly I wanted to be blessed, how I’d felt my heart pull me toward this corner…

trees

Believe With All Your Heart, Mind, and Strength

This is a guest post from Rev. Jennifer Crumpton, author of the new devotional book Femmevangelical: The Modern Girl’s Guide to the Good News. I’ll let her introduce herself: I am a progressive, liberal Christian minister in New York City who was raised a fundamentalist evangelical Southern Baptist in Birmingham, AL. It’s been a long road,…

facebook

Should I Rethink My Theology? (a Flowchart)

Next time you’re talking about God, stop and listen to the words coming out of your mouth. Does the person you’re describing sound like an asshole? If so, consider it an invitation to rethink your theology. I know how scary that can be, like being lost at sea without a compass, or a map, or…

divorce

Divorce

The author of Ecclesiastes once said: “The end of a thing is better than its beginning.” I’m not sure that the author of Ecclesiastes had ever been divorced. If he had, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so quick to talk about what a good thing an ending is. I am the last person who ever…

<strong>Confessions of a Reluctant Christian</strong>
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<em>All I have is this scrap of my story, honest and unresolved. I just thought you should know.</em><br/><br/>

Confessions of a Reluctant Christian

“Tell me your story,” he said. Where should I start? “Start at the beginning.” So I did. I think I was about eight years in when he stopped me. “Wait, you’re still a Christian, after all that? You realize that’s a miracle, right?” Yes. And yes. /// They always say that, when they pull up…

<strong>Keep Walking</strong>
<br/><br/>
<em>Like the words scrawled across my chest, this one splashed down my left arm is all red and black and full of hope. I need to tell you a story.</em><br/><br/>

Keep Walking

I want to show you my new tattoo. Like the words scrawled across my chest, this one splashed down my left arm is all red and black and full of hope. But in order to tell you about this tattoo, I need to tell you a story. /// It was December, the month that would never…

duggars

I'm Tired of Talking about Bill Gothard & the Duggars

I’m so very tired. I just got home from a four-day camping trip — four days of sunshine and rain and afternoon naps and black coffee — and when I opened my computer for the first time last night, the notifications started rolling in. Tweets and Facebook comments and interview requests from the tabloids and click-bait…

<strong>The Prodigal (A Theologically Correct Parable)</strong>
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<em>Jesus loved using stories to mess with people's theology.</em><br/><br/>

The Prodigal (A Theologically Correct Parable)

Jesus loved using stories to mess with people’s theology.  One of my favorite stories from Jesus is the one we’ve come to know as “the parable of the Prodigal Son”. However, Jesus’ telling of it left out a few important theological points, leading to some rather unbiblical implications. So I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting it to…

Untitled3

What I Wish the Church Knew About My Mental Health

Today’s guest post is from Jade Miller. She has written about her experiences with church, faith, and recovery in “Pieces of Me: A Collision of Art, Poetry, Essays, Faith, and Mental Health.” I’m grateful for her story.  Content Warning: Emotional/Spiritual Abuse, Suicidal Ideation, Self-Harm, Eating Disorders ___________________ I was 12 the first time I was admitted to…

<strong>Why You Should Write Like You Talk</strong>
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<em>Blogging is only dead if you write boring shit.</em><br/><br/>

Write Like You Talk

Yesterday a friend asked me what I thought about writing personal vs. objective blog posts. Should you try to strike a balance between connecting with your audience and sharing your story? It’s a question that lurks in the back of every blogger’s mind (probably) when we’re hunched over a coffee-shop table pounding the keys and procrastinating on Twitter.…

tower2

Why Your Links Look Like This (and How to Fix Them)

So you’ve written a blog post and picked out a great image and posted it on Facebook. And now it looks like this: Instead of a nice wide image grabbing potential readers and drawing them in to your carefully crafted words, there’s a vertical image standing awkwardly over to one side, with the title and text of your…

<strong>Why My Boys Wore Spiderman Costumes to Church Today</strong>
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<em>The world needs more superheroes like that.</em><br/><br/>

Why My Boys Wore Spiderman Costumes to Church Today

“Daddy, can I wear my Spiderman costume to church?”  It’s Sunday morning and I’m trying to drink my second cup of coffee and procrastinating on getting dressed. “Go find some clothes so I can get you dressed,” I’d told Keenan. (He’s four years old, and this mission usually has a fifty percent success rate.) Today…

pizza

10 Reasons Why Christians Should Give Pizza to Everybody

Are we seriously still having this argument? How do you even respond to stuff like: “We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything… I choose to be heterosexual. They choose to be homosexual. Why should I be beat over the head to go along with something they…

<strong>Dear Christianity, I Have a Few Questions</strong>
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<em>How is it that when I hear the voice of darkness breathing down my neck, I recognize the words as YOURS?</em><br/><br/>

Dear Christianity, I Have a Few Questions

Dear Christianity, We’ve been together a while now. My whole life, to be exact.  I know we’ve had our hard times, our breakups and makeups and are-we-going-to-make-it stretches, but you’re still my religion. So I have a few questions for you. I’ve been seeing a therapist lately. (Don’t worry — it’s not you, it’s me.)…

04

Ghosts in the City

I used to be a photographer. Then somewhere along the way I stuck my camera in an old backpack and let it gather dust for a few years.  But a snowy night in March seemed like the right time to open it up again, to capture the ghosts in the city.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 8.59.43 AM

We Are "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"

When I was in first grade, my family joined Bill Gothard’s homeschool cult. So when Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt showed up on Netflix this month, it sometimes felt like rewatching parts of our life. In today’s guest post, my older sister Kirstin Murray Kyner put that feeling into words: The new Netflix show “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”…

knees

Does Jesus Heal Our Ouchies?

“Does Jesus heal our ouchies?” It’s one of those moments when abstract spirituality meets bruises and scraped knees, and my son wonders with the sort of innocent curiosity possessed only by a three-year-old. I hear myself answering him before I even stop to think about what I should say. /// A baby born too soon…

ourfather

Our Father Who Art in Heaven, Please

Our father who art in Heaven, please be on Earth as it is up there because I can’t do this on my own. Help? The words trip and fall off my tongue sincerely, but without eloquence. Fitting, I suppose. I’ve been tripping and falling through life without much eloquence lately. I have no idea what…

artist

Why I Am an Artist

Today’s guest post comes from my friend Christina Dizon. I had the privilege of working with Christina on her new website a few months ago, and it turned out to be one of my favorite projects so far. I love Christina’s eye for beauty and her passion for encouraging other artists. I think you will too. For twenty years now…

<strong>Why I Hate the Bible</strong>
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<em>It should have given me life. Instead, it almost killed me. </em><br/><br/>

Why I Hate the Bible

I hate the Bible. These words shock me as I form them on my lips, form them with my fingers. They are harsh, ugly. My own mind rebels against this unwelcome sentiment. I try to swallow it. I cannot. You are horrified too. Arguments tumble up and spill out almost instantly — questions and objections and…

<strong>Why I Love Blackjack</strong>
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<em>A true story of gambling and religion.</em><br/><br/>

Why I Love Blackjack

I lost a hundred dollars in Vegas last month. “I have no interest in gambling,” I’d said. “But I’ll play a few hands just for the experience.” Riding shotgun across the Utah desert bound for Sin City, I Googled “how to play blackjack in vegas”. “I’ll only spend fifty dollars, max,” I told myself. “I know…

february

Dear God (A Psalm for Lent)

dear god it’s me again it’s february and i can’t tell where the grey horizon ends and the grey sky begins (i can’t tell much of anything anymore) i heard a song today about how “this is my father’s world / why should my heart be sad?” and well, have you seen your world lately? there’s…

<strong>On Ash Wednesday</strong>
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<em>ashes to ashes / dust to dust / in dying, we rise</em><br/><br/>

On Ash Wednesday

“ashes to ashes / dust to dust in dying, we rise”   I’ve never observed Lent before. I shrugged it off as unnecessary, a sort of overly-religious performance, or at least the strange practice of a liturgical spirituality that I did not claim as my own. But the truth is — I was unwilling to…

<strong>Confessions of an Impatient Seedling</strong>
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<em>God, I would give anything to feel the sun again.</em><br/><br/>

Confessions of an Impatient Seedling

I am waiting, not very patiently. I fell into the ground some time ago, you see, and have been all but forgotten. In the darkness I feel myself dissolve, the shell that once protected me turn to ash. I am alone. Soil fills my lungs, damp and mixed with shit and death and I’m gasping for air, screaming for air, choking…

Why I Don't Cry to Christians Anymore

I received this guest post anonymously, from a friend of a friend. I think it’s worth our time. May we learn to love better. -Micah content note: mentions of rape / assault  Maybe I’ve got it all wrong. I’m sure if I do, and even if I don’t, you will be sure to tell me. But…

<strong>A Roadtrip. A Tattoo. A Damn Good Story.</strong>
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<em>With every broken bone, I swear, I lived.</em><br/><br/>

A Roadtrip. A Tattoo. A Damn Good Story.

I want to tell you about my new tattoo. It’s a bold scrawl underlined in red, bleeding across my chest and onto my arm. It’s only a few days old. Today it feels like a sunburn. This week a layer of skin will peel and flake away as I heal and the ink becomes part of…

LAUGH

Share If You Think This Is Funny

Remember when you knew how to laugh? I don’t just mean the sort of resigned snort lazy half-assed acknowledgment of humor we’ve befriended of late, (most often in the company of cheap beer and acquaintances.) heh-heh-heh I mean laugh. The wheezing, gasping, howling “stop stop stop I can’t breathe” without an ounce of cynicism or self-awareness or…

<strong>How to Make Links Look Good on Facebook</strong>
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<em>It seems overwhelming, but once you’ve done it a few times it only takes a minute or two.</em><br/><br/>

How to Make Links Look Good on Facebook

I love blogging. The writing, the community, the technical ins and outs, the hours of frustration whilst mucking about with CSS and whatnot. Today we interrupt our usual stream of millennial angst to talk about a very practical part of blogging. Regular programming will resume next week or whatever. So you wrote a blog post. You threw a…

<strong>Turning the Page</strong>
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<em>There might be a few changes around here.</em><br/><br/>

Turning the Page

People often ask me where the name “Redemption Pictures” came from. It started when I was in college, making short films and dreaming big dreams about big screens and Hollywood. “Redemption Pictures” was the name I gave to those little movies. When I started the blog without much thought a few years ago, I went ahead…

<strong>For They Shall See God</strong>
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<em>Blessed are the pure in heart? To be honest, being blessed sound boring.</em><br/><br/>

For They Shall See God

Blessed are the pure in heart (for they shall see God). And I always thought that to be pure in heart meant to have successfully wrangled my sinful impulses — stuffed my fleshly desires into cages like so many squawking, unruly chickens. To be pure in heart meant to follow all the rules. Sadly, to be…

<strong>After Three Beers</strong>
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<em>What would you do if you weren't afraid?</em><br/><br/>

After Three Beers

I want to be the person that I am after three beers. After three beers, I am unafraid. I dance without thinking about how I look, without trying to remember what my feet should be doing. After three beers, I don’t give a fuck what you think about me. I stop trying to impress you.…

books

7 Books I Read in 2014

I am proud of myself. This year I read more than five books. Some of you read dozens, even hundreds. I did not. But I read more than five, which is an improvement over last year. Here are a few of them: 1. GIRL AT THE END OF THE WORLD Elizabeth Esther’s brand-new memoir is…

<strong>150 Actual Search Terms for My Blog (as Poetry)</strong>
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<em>I have copied these phrases verbatim from my analytics dashboard, sorted them by topic, arranged them by plot and cadence. I have added only question marks.</em><br/><br/>

150 Actual Search Terms For My Blog (as Poetry)

Over the past few years this blog has granted me a unique glimpse into our collective humanity. Not only in the words we share and the comments we leave, but in the questions we ask when we are alone with our search engines. What follows are 150 actual search terms that led people to my blog…

Street

Dear God, I Have a Few Complaints

Dear God, I have a few complaints. Don’t get me wrong – I like You. I believe in You. Generally speaking, I think You’re doing a decent job at this whole “being the God of the universe” gig. But still, there are a few things that I really just don’t get. First – Advent. Advent is…

plugged-in

What Are You Plugged Into Today?

Today I’m happy to share a guest post from Elora Nicole – a passionate author, artist, and story coach. Make sure you check out The Storytellers, where Elora curates a community for writers and creatives.  _____ There are days spent wallowing in the dried up soil of my creativity. Whether it be for an email or blog post or curriculum…

Disarming Scripture

Do You Read the Bible With Your Conscience?

A few months ago, I got to sit at a table with Derek Flood – a guy whose work has helped shape my thinking on difficult aspects of theology for few years now. Derek has a new book out this month called Disarming Scripture, dealing with the problem of violence in Scripture. His book tackles all the tough stuff– from genocide in…

nightsky

A Prayer Into the Void

If this hole really is “God-shaped”… God must be vast indeed. If God can begin to touch (what feels like) the infinite depth of this chasm, God must be an infinite universe.

Tiger Rose Tattoo

So That I Don't Forget

“What is saving your life right now?” Stephen asks me yesterday at church, and I say the first three things that come to mind: “Coldplay. Rohr. Hope.” The first two come and go — they’ll be different next month — but the third one has been close to my heart for a while: “For we…

stones

When We Throw Stones

“Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.” That’s what they say, when religious leaders are questioned about their abusive and manipulative actions. “We all make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. You wouldn’t want somebody airing all your dirty laundry, would you?” As if building an multi-million-dollar “ministry” or “church” on the backs of vulnerable followers…

boxes

I'm Tired of Owning

i’m tired of owning things boxes taped up and torn open again and taped up again but never really unpacked i’m tired of clothing and toys and furniture and all the trappings of should and supposed to and someday i’m tired of all the things we bought because they’re the sorts of things adults should…

Love Trumps Fear

Love Trumps Fear

“If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” (from I John 4) It’s one of my favorite passages in all…

renovatus

Last Sunday

At Renovatus Church, there’s this liturgy we say every week before Communion: “This is the Table, not of the Church, but of the Lord. It is made ready for those who love Him, and for those who want to love Him more. So come, you who have much faith and you who have little. You…

writing

When Writing is an Act of Hope

I bought a new journal last month. It’s a terribly ugly little thing – a ghastly shade of green with a thin, tight spine. When you look for a new journal during the first week of back-to-school, the options are few. But it does the trick. Over morning coffee, the pen bleeds across those black-and-white lines as…

wintertrees

Into the Winter

“…but the summers make up for it.” That’s what the people from Minnesota always said, when I complained about the long, cold winters. The summers make up for it.  And I laughed at them as I packed my bags and boxes and headed south. Didn’t they realize that there were places where the summers didn’t…

mirror

Of Monsters and (Wo)men

Today Lindsay is sharing the story of how she’s fighting back against the darkness. She is honest, and brave. Let’s support her path to recovery (click here). 16. I am sitting in an uncomfortably hard blue chair in the guidance counselor’s office, staring at diplomas on the wall and cheesy motivational posters that are supposed to…

Charlotte

Goodbye Charlotte

“We’re living a good story.” That’s what I told Sarah in August a year ago, as we threw things into a suitcase for a reckless overnight road trip to Charlotte. And in a sense, that was true. Good stories and good memories are made from the brave, impulsive moments that we still laugh about a…

Pride2014

Why I Held This Sign at Gay Pride

I ran into a street preacher at Charlotte Pride this year. I was carrying a sign that say “God Loves Gays”; he was carrying a big Bible and wearing a t-shirt that said “Jesus is the Standard”. He handed me a tract and asked if I had received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I assured him…

peopleonstreet

When I Was Ashamed of the Gospel

Every time I read something Ed Cyzewski has written, I feel he wrote it just for me. Ed puts words to so many of my questions, doubts, and struggles of faith – and always offers a way forward. Today he’s sharing a bit from his brand new book: A Christian Survival Guide. I think you’ll resonate with his story. When…

shittogetherphone

I Don't Have My Shit Together + Free Wallpaper

“I don’t want to be a Christian writer, if it means writing from the heart and then hitting backspace until it feels safe again. I don’t want to be a Christian writer if it means I need to act like I have my shit together. Because the truth is, I don’t.” I think there’s a real…

deadend

Love, Hate, and Dead-End Theology

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into…

mattwalsh

How To Not Be Matt Walsh

This isn’t about Matt Walsh. Not really. We could just as easily talk about any number of blustering voices on talk radio or cable news or behind the pulpits of many churches. But right now the conversation is about Matt Walsh and the latest profoundly ignorant thing he wrote. So let’s talk about Matt Walsh.…

GoodWillHunting

It's Not Your Fault

You see this, all this shit? It’s not your fault. I know… No you don’t. It’s not your fault. I know. No. Listen to me son. It’s not your fault. I know that. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. Don’t fuck with me, alright? Don’t fuck with me, Sean. Not you. It’s not your…

healing_image

When We Are Healing

When I read these words by Sarah Ann Roginsky, I feel like she is speaking the heart of so many. She says things here that I have felt myself, many times. Maybe you’ve felt this too: Healing. It is not the romantic struggle we often find in movies. It is not often accompanied by rainfall,…

God&#039;s Will

8 Myths Christians Believe About God's Will

If you’re like me, “God’s will” has been the focus of much prayer, angst, hope, and confusion. I’ve often wondered if I had found it, missed it, or generally screwed it up. So I’m very grateful for these words from Mandy Meisenheimer, challenging myths that I’ve often believed about God’s will: Seeking God’s will used to…

trapped

3 Lies That Kept Me Trapped By Porn

I’ve read a lot of stuff about pornography, lust, and accountability. When I first glanced at My Chains Are Gone, I thought it was going to be more of the same. It wasn’t. David shares his journey to freedom with candor and clarity that is often missing from this conversation, especially in the church.  While pornography and…

birds

To the One Losing Her Faith

You tell me you don’t believe anymore. Your faith is slipping away, like sand through your open fingers. You say it as if it’s a simple thing, but between the words I can hear all you’re not saying: The sleepless nights spent staring at the ceiling. The hopeless prayers you’re sure no one hears. The doubt.…

xbox

Why I Stopped Playing Violent Video Games

I didn’t get my first video-game console until after I was married. It was an old black Xbox, the kind my friends had owned years earlier. But video games had not been a part of my life in high school, and I was eager to make up for lost time. There’s an ongoing debate about…

Benham Brothers at Bill Gothard&#039;s IBLP Seminar

The Benham Brothers, Evangelicals, and Bill Gothard

Earlier this month, I wrote about the deep connections between ousted cult leader Bill Gothard and high-profile Christians such as the Duggars and the family behind Hobby Lobby. Some people have asked why I continue to write about Gothard’s web, considering as he has resigned and those who had supported him previously probably didn’t know about…

Holy Bible

The Holy Bible?

Today Brandon Chase is sharing a few thoughts on what the Bible means, and what we mean when we talk about it. These are eye-opening, provocative, and absolutely necessary questions. I’m grateful for his words.  “HOLY BIBLE” It’s imprinted on the genuine leather cover and spine of most Bibles you’ve ever picked up. It’s so ingrained that…

guest

The Guest

It was after closing time when the guest walked in. I was cleaning up the dining room, resetting the tables, wiping down the line, emptying the trash cans. The kitchen was already cleaned, the grill turned off for the night. We were all about to head home. “Can I help you?” I asked, though I…

grace

Experiencing Grace

“Experiencing radical grace is like living in another world. It’s not a world in which I labor to get God to notice me and like me. It’s not a world in which I strive for spiritual success.”  –Richard Rohr /// You don’t have to make yourself good enough for God.  It’s a message I often heard…

image

Dear Mr. Gothard

A few months ago, Heather shared this story with me. I sat motionless reading the words you’re about to read, my heart breaking at the horror of it all. My mind didn’t want to believe it, but I knew in my gut that it was true. I recognized the places she speaks of, the phrases she…

christain

3 Christian News Stories You Won't Believe Are Real

I never planned to write about these sorts of things. But then, I never expected to see a collection of such remarkably bizarre news stories all in one week. (We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming on Monday. Or Tuesday. Whatever.) This is the stuff of parody accounts and satire sites, the sort of thing that just…

gothardhobbylobby

Hobby Lobby, the Duggars, and Bill Gothard

I often hear Christians dismiss Bill Gothard and his teachings as legalistic, fundamentalist, bizarre, and dangerous. Rightly so, especially in the wake of his alleged sexual misconduct. But many of these same Christians support Hobby Lobby or the Duggars for their “Christian values”, perhaps not realizing how closely they are connected to Bill Gothard. This week, I’ve heard Christians…

god

I Still Believe in a White Male God

I didn’t realize it. If you asked me to my face, I’d tell you that God is not an old white man, robed and bearded, flanked by naked angels. I’d tell you all about how God is like Jesus, not Santa Claus. I’d tell you God is Light, and God is Beauty, and most of…

wildgoose

10 Things I Learned at #WildGoose14

On Sunday morning I joined a parade down a dirt road in a campground, sang peace songs led by Rev. Yolanda on an acoustic guitar, and received communion from a mason jar in a grass clearing with sweat dripping down my legs and back. That was church. There was a sermon, too, but I didn’t hear most of…

Unlearning Christianity

“My starting point is that we’re already there. We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness… We have nothing to attain or even learn. We do, however, need to unlearn some things.” –Richard Rohr For years I tried to learn. “Study to show thyself…

Of Artists and Patrons

“I truly believe there are artists and there are patrons in the Kingdom.” A friend told me this the other day, and I think she might be on to something. To be honest, sometimes I wish art was commercially self-sustainable. I wish there was a simple machine to turn words into dollars. But then, we…

Weekend Links (Vol. 6)

The God I Don’t Believe In by Antonia Terrazas I wonder if I have started to pay more attention to the “surrounding material” being chipped away from that form revealing itself in the marble, creating tiny playthings from the sheddings, idols in their own ways. I am ready at every moment to give an account of…

4 Reasons I'm Not Going to Heaven

A few days ago somebody gave me a scrap of yellow paper with blue letters on it. Across the top it read: “Am I Going to Heaven? QUIZ!” Not too long ago, I was the one carrying those papers, handing them to strangers in hopes of altering their eternal destination. So I recognized all the…

jesus

The Filthy Shepherd

You wouldn’t want your boy to be a shepherd when he grew up. It was a lonely life, watching over the sheep. Cold days and colder nights spent huddled on the rocky hillsides, with nothing but a small fire and some burnt coffee to keep you warm. Always hungry. Always one bad day away from…

girl

My Innocence Was Stolen From Me

A few days ago an essay was published titled “My Easy Trip from Youth Pastor to Felon.” The narrator relates his story of a “spiral into sin”, detailing how his sin destroyed his life and ministry. It wasn’t until the very end of the story that he noted that his “friend” with which he was having an…

baggageclaim

Leaving the Baggage Claim

The arrow was pointing toward the suitcases and duffle bags, but when I saw it I imagined a spiritual sort of baggage claim where weary pilgrims collect the familiar packages and parcels we’ve carried so often. I keep trying to walk past the baggage claim and out on the the sidewalk, but I have bad of habit of stopping…

#YesAllWomen

Because We Will Not Stay Silent Any Longer

Today Beth Morey is wrapping up the #YesAllWomen series with part of her own story, as well as some practical steps for moving forward. If, like me, you’ve read these stories and wondered “But what can I do?”, make sure you read this one. Though I had only planned to run this series for a…

#YesAllWomen

Because I Keep Dying

Nikki sent this to me yesterday, wanting her story to be heard. There’s nothing I can say to introduce this. Just listen. ( content warning: descriptions of sexual assault / rape ) I started dying when I was very young. During a time when personality and temperament were being formed, pieces of me were robbed by the…

#YesAllWomen

Because I Am Worthy of Respect

I had only planned to share a handful of #YesAllWomen stories here last week. But then I read what Bek Curtis’ wrote. This is a difficult, uncomfortable read. But it needs to be seen, and shared. I don’t ever want us to forget the reality of Bek’s story.  ( content warning: descriptions of sexual assault / rape…

YesAllWomen

Because It's Not Just Me

Carmen Ibrahim got in touch with me last week after reading several #YesAllWomen stories. She wanted to share hers too. And I’m so glad she did. (Carmen has requested that those who know her personally not share this post on Facebook, though Twitter is fair game.) (content warning: mention of rape/assault) I first saw #YesAllWomen…

WeekendLinks

Weekend Links (Vol. 5)

It’s Saturday, so I’ve got another round of good things to read. I have collected these just for you during my many wanderings on the internets. I hope you like them. In Which It All Locks Into Place by Sarah Bessey You’ll work again, you’ll waste time watching television, you’ll clean the washrooms, you’ll make…

#YesAllWomen

Because White Supremacy & Misogyny Are Violence

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Suzannah Paul has taught me more about feminism and intersectionality than anyone else I know. She’s passionate, intelligent, and a kind friend. The voice she brings to the #YesAllWomen conversation is one of thoughtful analysis and a bold call to repentance: (Content note: violent, misogynistic, and racist…

#YesAllWomen

Because These Are Sacred Scars

I want you to meet Natalie Trust. She is a kind and generous friend and a compelling storyteller. She lives life with her heart wide open. I’m so grateful that she’s adding her voice to the #YesAllWomen conversation: “If he knows you are leaving him, if he knows time has run out, there are two likely…

women2

Because I Didn't Think I'd Be Raped Again

Bethany Paget is a strong and brave woman. She’s surviving addiction and abuse, fighting back against the darkness, and raising a daughter in the light. I’m in awe of her relentless courage and her clear voice. She shared bits and pieces of her story as part of the #YesAllWomen movement, and she’s sharing a bit more here today: (…

#YesAllWomen

Because You Can't Know Until It's Too Late

Over the weekend, thousands of women used the hashtag #YesAllWomen to talk about the harassment, abuse, discrimination, and fear that they face every day – just because of their gender. These stories only scratch the surface of what many have experienced – including my own friends. Today Becca Rose is sharing more of her story, and why #YesAllWomen matters…

waiting

Waiting for Permission

“I guess I’m pretty fucked up,” I tell him. “I’m still waiting around for permission to believe the truth.” It had been one of those weeks where everything I read made me angry. I wanted to fight everyone whose opinions weren’t the same as mine. I had a hard time thinking clearly through the clouds…

weekendlinks

Weekend Links (Vol. 4)

There were a lot of good words on the internet this week. I’ve gathered a few of them here for your reading pleasure. Enjoy! 16 Reasons Why I’m Asking Anne Lamott For an Endorsement by Esther Emery I want this. I want to do my part to make a world like this: where we choose ourselves,…

clumsybloggers

Clumsy Bloggers' Workshop

You’re staring at your computer screen right now, wondering what to do next. A thousand words are raging in your chest, and a thousand ideas inside your head. You’re about to go microwave your coffee for the second time. I see you, clumsy blogger. I’m a clumsy blogger too. For the past two years, I’ve…

linegraph

7 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Viral Blog Post

Last year I wrote a blog post that went viral. It was a thrilling, scary, exhausting, fun experience. A few paragraphs that had started as a Facebook comment quickly flew around the world. My blog post was reprinted in the Huffington Post, Thought Catalogue, and dozens of other sites that I don’t even know about.…

bible

Dear God, Am I Good Enough For You Yet?

Somewhere along the way, I think I missed the point of it all. Maybe it was when I was a child, and I thought that God would be impressed with me if I woke up before sunrise to pray. Maybe it was when I was 16, and I thought that memorizing all of Psalm 119…

Weekend Links

Weekend Links (Vol. 3)

There are a lot of good things on the internet. This collection includes white privilege, blackjack, liberal Jesus, sexist tabloids, smartphones, and a cartoon about theologians. Enjoy! Safe :: Saturday Stories by Stephen Lovegrove I vowed to myself in that moment that I would never talk about my sexual orientation to anyone. I made crazy…

megaphone

Confessions of a Religious Asshole

Yesterday I got one of those comments on my blog. You know, one of the ones where horror turns to unintentional hilarity and then disbelief. One of those comments so bizarrely WRONG that you don’t know quite how to respond to it. I cringed, then I laughed, then I tore it up into a dozen…

phone

Smartphones and Dumb People

Look up. They say we are a generation of smartphones and dumb people. Wasting our days on empty social media. Trading real life for an artificial world. Missing life because we’re looking down. So let’s return to a quieter time. Before glowing screens and flitting pixels demanded all our attention. When people walked down the…

Weekend Links

Weekend Links (Vol. 2)

Though it’s Monday afternoon, I still am not ready to admit that the weekend is over. So, with that denial firmly in place, here are a few good things I read on the internet in the past week or so: When This is the Dinner Party Revolution by Ed Cyzewski Jesus shared dinner with some…

dress

What I Wish Women Knew About Men

Dear Women, Summer is almost here, which means that us men are going to be forced to realize you have a body and skin and curves. This is very difficult for us men. We have to constantly be on guard against danger (and by “danger” I mean you). This is why I wish you knew that……

weekendlinks

Weekend Links (Vol. 1)

There are a lot of good things on the internet. There are a lot of strange and terrible things too, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the good things. I want to share some good things with you that I saw this week on the internet: Christian Women: Feminism IS…

Shut Up and Know that I Am God

If you haven’t read anything by Jonathan Merritt, you should. His book A Faith of Our Own has been extremely informative and encouraging as I’ve tried to find my place in the tradition of faith over the past few years. He just released a new book called Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined, and today…

Walk With Us?

Next month, we are going to take our two small boys and join thousands of others for AIDS Walk Charlotte 2014. For decades, many who suffered from AIDS were told “You deserve this. You brought this on yourselves. This is God’s punishment on you.” We’re walking to say with our feet what we believe in…

We Had Hoped

Silence. Then suddenly, a breath. Cold air rushing into empty lungs. Grave clothes abandoned on a stone slab. An explosion of earth-shaking light. Hardened soldiers’ knees buckling. Trumpet blasts and angels singing and sunrise. Silence. Then the creaking of a boulder shifting. A cave opening. A dead man walking out of his grave more alive…

godisdead

God is Dead

God is dead, and we killed Him. With politics and religion, with rage and fear, with wood and nails and fists we tore apart the body of the God and left Him to hang alone covered in blood and spit and shame.

Jesus

What Nobody Ever Told Me About Jesus

I’ve been wearing my heart on my sleeve around here, all torn up. It’s no secret that there’s been a lot of anger, swirling confusion, throbbing frustration. I’ve metaphorically stomped around the house slamming doors, yelling till my throat was raw. Mostly yelling about the Church. I want to talk about this again a bit…

10 Things Real People Do Every Day

I’ve read a lot of lists of “10 Things that Rich/Successful/Satisfied/Extraordinary People Do Every Day”. Meanwhile, I’ve been conducting extensive research (and by “conducting research” I mean “scrolling through Twitter”) and have created a definitive list of what actual non-unicorn people do every day: 1. Make coffee, then forget to drink it.  Because how can…

gospel

In Search of a Better Gospel

“I don’t know whether or not I’m an evangelical anymore. Is there a BuzzFeed quiz for that?” I tweeted that a month ago, half-joking. As it turns out, there is no simple quiz. Instead, there’s this bleeding disaster that has been throbbing for almost two weeks now — lines in the sand, farewells, angry words,…

book

The Correct Theology Didn’t Help These Guys

Ed Cyzewski is one of those people who writes the words I wish I could. He has some really important things to say to people who want to follow Jesus, through all the doubt and confusion anyway. I can hardly wait to read his new book, but in the meantime he’s written a few words…

christian

I Don't Know If I'm a Christian Anymore

I thought I had writer’s block. I thought the words had left me a week or two ago. Every time I tried to write, my mind seemed like an empty room. I was wrong. I wasn’t out of words. Only out of comfortable words, neat words that flow from one cleanly-formatted paragraph to the next…

streams

When Streams Run Uphill

My friend Mihee Kim-Kort just wrote a book about sexism, racism, and the church. The conversations that she shares are essential for followers of Jesus to hear. I’m happy to have her here today wrinting about her book, what inspired it, and why it matters. Let’s listen.  _______ la vida es la lucha Coined by our…

mandyhale

Why I Kissed “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” Goodbye

This week my friend Mandy Hale is celebrating the release of her second book: I’ve Never Been to Vegas But My Luggage Has. I appreciate Mandy’s humor, courage, and the way she shares her story with those who need it most, and I’m honored to have her share a bit of her story here today. …

Somewhere On This Coast or the Other

The words that you are about to read were penned seven years ago, during a pilgrimage to Portland. I was gratuitously plagiarizing Donald Miller’s search for God; God was kind enough to meet me on the West Coast despite my lack of originality. Today I am back in Portland for the first time since that pilgrimage.…

Bill Gothard

On Growing Up in Bill Gothard's Homeschool Cult

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” they say. I hear it over and over again. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There was some good and some bad. Just take what good you can and leave the rest.” I don’t know how. This is what happens when your definitions of “good”…

Lightstock Love + Giveaway

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and maybe they’re right. Around here, I’m used to writing a thousand words at a time but it never quite looks right until there’s a picture above it. I’ve been a huge fan of Lightstock ever since I met them at a conference last summer. I’ve…

<strong>I Don't Have My Shit Together</strong>
<br/><br/>
<em>Do I need to censor this because I'm a Christian writer?</em><br/><br/>

I Don't Have My Shit Together

I don’t want to be a Christian writer, if it means writing from the heart and then hitting backspace until it feels safe again. I don’t want to be a Christian writer, if it means pretending that faith is something other than what it is – brutal, clumsy, fragile, ugly. I don’t want to be…

child

When We Hang Millstones on Children

I want you to see this. It comes from Mary DeMuth, a friend who is bravely speaking up about the abuse she experienced, and the abuse she sees in the church. This is something that has been heavy on my heart lately – especially with the allegations surfacing about the Bill Gothard homeschool cult in which I…

Against Images of Darkness

I am powerless against the darkness. I wake up in the morning sore and blurry, fumbling across Twitter while waiting for the black coffee. I see images of the darkness in the palm of my hand. Syria. Ukraine.  Another black kid gunned down on our own streets. And we are powerless to stop it. The…

The First Day Toward Freedom

In now-abandoned corners of the internet I recently found some words from eight years ago. I was nineteen years old when I wrote them, living and working at a homeschool cult center, attending a fundamentalist baptist church.   Reading these words now, it’s like peering inside the mind of a boy I hardly recognize –…

7 Things I Wish the Church Knew About Me

I didn’t write these words, but they speak what I’ve often felt. They come from Meghan Ableson – a friend who has left the “church”, but hasn’t left the faith. What she says here matters. Listen.  Dear Church, It’s coming up on one year since I left you. I grew up with you. I memorized…

church

Why I Haven't Left the Church

We keep talking about Church. What it is, and what it should be. Why we stay, and why we leave. I’ve shared with you the stories of many who have left, but today I want to share the story of somebody who stayed. I’m so grateful to Abbi for sharing her perspective. Make sure you…

evolution

Why I Don't Care About Creation vs. Evolution Anymore

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. And for a long time, I believed that God the Father had created heaven and earth in six literal days (for the Bible tells me so). I believed that the world was about six thousand years old, that Adam and Eve were actual…

fence

What the Christian Right Gets Wrong About Sin

In today’s dispatch from the culture wars, dozens of prominent conservative Christian leaders – including Rick Warren, Ravi Zacharias, and Wayne Grudem – have filed an amicus brief supporting Hobby Lobby in the ongoing battle over contraception. (Religion News Service) Much ink has already been spilled in this battle – about contraception, religious liberty, freedom…

laptop2

A Thank-You to My Community

A few weeks ago, I asked for your help with Redemption Pictures. Your response was overwhelming. In just a few hours, you had donated enough to cover a new used laptop and most of a year’s worth of hosting. Now I am typing these very words upon the new used laptop, generously sent my way by…

children

Here's to the Children

“Love saves people.” (My three-year-old son says more in three words than I can in a thousand, and it’s the Gospel.) “Love saves people,” he told Mommy as he rubbed her head, and he was trying to save her with all the love his little hands could hold. No wonder Jesus said that the Kingdom belongs…

Leave (Stories from a Restless Heart)

Leave (Stories from a Restless Heart)

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”http://micahjmurray.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/leave1-1.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”off” sticky=”off” align=”center” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] Leave is a short collection of essays and poems, words from a restless heart. It offers a glimpse at the story behind this blog. /// from the book: “The words…

hope

Hope After

This is a guest post from Jonathan Simmons. He’s sharing his story – even the rough and unfinished parts – with courage and wisdom that is both rare and refreshing. I’m grateful for his friendship, and for his voice. Follow Jonathan on Twitter, and read more from him over at Spit and Mud.  So I…

huffpostlive

HuffPost Live: Love the Sinner Hate the Sin?

Last summer, I had a conversation that I can’t get out of my mind. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but looking back that was when I began to shift from seeing homosexuality as an “issue” to seeing people’s stories and faces instead. The next day, I wrote about “Why I Can’t Say…

Redemption Pictures

I Need Your Help

It’s been almost two years since I first started typing words onto Redemption Pictures . Honestly, I’ve been amazed at the response. You’ve read these blog posts, and passed them along to thousands of new readers. You’ve shared your stories with me and with each other in guest posts, in comments, and in dozens of emails. If…

Top Posts

My Top 10 Posts of 2013

A year ago, I made a handful of resolutions. Most of them were promptly forgotten, but one — to write regularly in 2013. Looking back, I’m a bit surprised that I stuck to it. For an entire year, I sat down and put words onto the screen almost every week. Honestly, I don’t think I…

books

5 Books I Read in 2013

It seems that everybody is putting together their lists of “Top Books I Read in 2013”, but I can’t really call this that. Honestly, this is a list of all the books I read in 2013. I feel a little bit bad about that — apparently it’s a good idea to read lots of books.…

nadiabolzweber

Pastrix (A Review)

A few weeks ago a kind friend sent me a copy of Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint (by Nadia Bolz-Weber), and I devoured it. I don’t read as many books as I should, but this was one I couldn’t put down. I found it to be both hilarious and moving. I wanted…

Baby Jesus

They Won't Be Expecting That

At Christmas time, I’m struck by how unexpected it all is. We expect a god to be powerful, mighty, smiting his enemies, concerned with his own glory. We don’t expect God to be born in a stable — a crying, scared, helpless baby. Don’t forget this. Don’t forget what God did on Christmas. It’s remarkable,…

Tips to Avoid a Blue Christmas

6 Tips to Avoid a Blue Christmas

It’s the same every year. I’m sitting on a couch surrounded by shreds of wrapping paper and stacks of new shirts and socks from J.C. Penny. The Christmas tree is still lit, but it seems somehow less cheery without any presents under it. The nearly-frantic cheer of Christmas morning has slowly faded into a quiet…

Black Friday

On Black Friday

This is not the blog post I was going to write today. I was going to write a handful of words about consumerism and greed and the big bad Black Friday and how we need to get back to a simpler way of celebrating holidays. But I would have been wrong. /// I’ve noticed something…

Jesus Feminist

How I Became a Jesus Feminist

When I was nineteen, a kid asked me what a feminist was. “A feminist is a woman with an authority problem,” I said. It was a black-and-white world I lived in then, one where I had all the answers (because I had read them in a book) and I wasn’t afraid to tell them (because…

How Feminism Hurts Men

How Feminism Hurts Men

Yesterday somebody on Facebook told me that feminism elevates women at the expense of men, that its agenda to validate women emasculates us guys. He was right. For men, the rise of feminism has relegated us to second-class status. Inequality and discrimination have become part of our everyday lives. Because of feminism, men can no longer…

hallway

Confessions of a Recovering Cynic

For years, I wore the label on my forehead in big black letters: “Cynic.” I was eighteen, nineteen, twenty and immersed in a dysfunctional system where authoritarianism and cognitive dissonance ruled supreme. I was a boy becoming a man and trying to bridge the gap between what I heard and what I saw. I was…

Church is Dying

The Church is Dying and I Am Glad

Some people say that the church is dying, and maybe they’re right. They say that the church doesn’t have the political sway it used to, that the culture has shifted, that being a Christian doesn’t have the same social advantages that it used to. They say that the bandwagon has stopped carrying us and started running…

Donald Miller

Meeting Donald Miller

Dear Jesus, Yesterday I read this book called Blue Like Jazz. The guy who wrote it talked a lot about You, and what You did, and what You want us to do. He talked about how love should be, and the whole concept of “love everybody”. Now I’m all confused. Where are You in all this?…

telephone

Things Christians Should Stop Saying

Christians love to make lists of things that Christians need to stop saying. RELEVANT listed “20 Christianese Phrases We Really Need to Stop Saying”. Huffington Post had “6 Things Christians Should Just Stop Saying”. Jayson D. Bradley wrote “3 Phrases Christians Should Quit Relying On“. Christian Piatt rounded up “Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use“. If…

the God who Bleeds

The God Who Bleeds

I’m haunted by the mystery that Jesus was God in human form. Not an ambassador from God, not one part of the Whole, but the entire fullness of the Godhead clothed in flesh. The Creator walking among the Created. We have certain expectations for how a god should act. The myths tell us that a…

Addie Zierman

A Conversation with Addie Zierman about 'When We Were on Fire'

I’ve never met Addie Zierman. The world is a big place with lots of wonderful people in it, so it’s not particularly remarkable that I haven’t met everyone in person. But it is a little funny, I think, that Addie and I lived in the same town for years, graduated from the same college, and…

When We Were on Fire

A Hundred Small Perfect Steps

“He watched with rapt attention while some teacher in Texas stood in front of a podium and broke faith into a hundred little steps. Kneel on your floor at the beginning of the day and pray. Do not move until you receive a word from God. Read your Bible three times every day. Memorize at…

When We Were On Fire

When We Were on Fire (A Review)

“We were homesick for something we could not name, but we were slipping. The structure of the evangelical church service was not big enough to accommodate the deep questions of our hearts.” It’s been a week now since I read When We Were on Fire, and I still haven’t come up with a good way…

bench

When We Came Out

As a follower of Jesus, I believe deeply that we are called to love our gay  brothers and sisters. I also believe that love is patient and kind, that love pulls up a chair and listens. Today, that’s what I’m doing. Today is National Coming Out Day. I refuse to see this day, these people,…

Answers in Genesis Billboard

To All Of Our Atheist Friends

 “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.”  This the the latest salvo in the ongoing “billboard battle” raging on signs all around the country. These prominent ads have launched much debate about the premise of such a statement, the persuasiveness of the argument, and the reception by the “atheist friends”. In a press…

hand

All I Have to Offer

A few months ago I wrote a few words about why I can’t say “Love the sinner, hate the sin” anymore. This is the story behind the words:  Before I even read between the lines, I knew what you were really saying. “Angry.” “Struggling.” “Confused.” “Alone.” We had been friends for a while, in the very…

2004

18 Things I'd Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

1. You want so badly to be cool. And that’s ok. But in a few years, you’ll realize that the people you admire are the humble ones. 2. Stop trying so damn hard to make God like you. He already does. 3. You’ll never be a perfect Christian, and all your frantic efforts are only…

tree

But Here I Am

When I was a kid, I loved hearing testimonies at church. Testimonies were the stories folks told of how they got saved, the tales of a life from before they were born again. In my sheltered world, these testimonies were some of the most exciting and scandalous things I’d ever heard. The best ones involved…

piano

Life in the After

Becca Rose is one of the bravest. Not only in the way she writes her story of freedom, but the way she fights to live that story. Becca blogs at bookwormbeauty.com and is the only person I know who tweets even more prolifically than I do. I’m grateful for what she’s written here; so much of…

charlotte

How to Make a Sacred Pilgrimage

// Step One: Brave “We’re living a good story,” I told her as we tossed clothes and shoes into the open suitcase. “Donald Miller would be proud of us.” She nodded. It was 8:30 on Friday night, and the toddlers were already pajama’d and sleeping.  On any other weekend, we’d be watching Netflix – the…

camera

Where to Find Pictures for Your Blog

Looking for free, high-quality pictures for your blog posts? Here are seven websites to get you started.

doors

With Enough Words

There’s a part of me that believes any problem can be solved with enough words. Sometimes folks tell me that I need to just listen and not try to fix everything. But I’m young, and I suffer the afflictions of youth — idealism, impulsiveness, impatience. At once arrogant and humbled, frustrated and ridiculously hopeful, I stand…

Gun and Bible

Death, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

I missed “Bring Your Gun to Starbucks Day” this week. The plan was to “thank starbucks for standing up for our right to bear arms” by bearing arms into Starbucks and ordering coffee. There was a logo and everything – the Starbucks mermaid-goddess, brandishing two handguns, framed with the words “I Love Guns & Coffee”.…

Coffee

Dancing Around the Edges

This is not what I want to write. I’ve been mucking about with another blog post for hours and I’ve written a thousand words so far and I’m pretty sure that I hate about nine hundred of them. Anne Lamott would say I should keep my butt in my chair and keep writing a bad first…

cat

4 Reasons I Might Not Like Your Blog

I love the internets. It’s a wondrous place full of lovely people and my life is richer and fuller because of the relationships I’ve built here. During my journeys through the blogosphere, I’ve come across many sites which I have loved and many from which I have wandered never to return. I’m not a scientist…

cake2

Perhaps Love Bakes a Cake

It is a culture war that has raged in churches and courtrooms, in parades and fast food places. Now in the most bizarre turn of all, the “gay marriage” battle is being fought in bakeries and restaurants across the country. While many Christians see this as a disturbing indicator of mounting persecution, I see it…

alps

Evangelicals Abroad: A Shame Observed

Hannah is one of my new friends from the wonderful world of social media/blogging. She writes beautiful words about spiritual hurt and healing on Wine & Marble. I’m so grateful to Hännah for sharing her story here today. -Micah ______________________ Monetier-les-Bains, 2005. I was nestled up against the window, feasting on the green and gold of…

God Graffiti

Hath God Said?

I have a three-year-old son who’s learned the authority that comes with citing a higher power. “Can I watch a show? Mommy said yes. Can I have candies? Mommy said yes. Can we go for a walk? Mommy said yes.” He tacks the magic words onto the end of his own ideas and hopes no one…

Upload_11-30

3 Reasons Why I Love Lightstock

When I’m not writing about church/culture/politics/sex-robots, occasionally I’m going to be blogging about blogging around here. I love writing, but I also really enjoy all the related web/social/design/networking that make up this whole crazy mess. So I guess this is a pretty good place to start, because every good blog/post should have good a good…

Sinners

Don't Be a Friend of Sinners

When I was growing up Christians didn’t hang out with sinners. Sinners hung out at bars and Christians avoided them – bars and sinners both – so as to not spoil our testimony for the Lord. After all, one drop of muddy water ruins the whole glass. It was of utmost importance to avoid all…

President Bartlet West Wing Screencap

What The West Wing Taught Me About Writing

I sit here writing words onto the internet and the only face I see is my own reflected in the screen. Sometimes this is a scary hobby. Sometimes I meet people in real life who have read my words and then I feel a little bit naked, because I write stuff onto the internet that…

Sailboat

5 Reasons I Am Reformed

I had a bad experience with Reformed theology. But my bad experience is by no means representative of Reformed theology, nor of those who embrace it. Rather, I’ve found that some of the most genuine, humble, and thoughtful Christians I know consider themselves Reformed. Especially Nate Pyle. He’s a pastor/blogger who I’ve grown to respect for…

Church

Why We Left the Church (Our Stories)

We are an entire generation with the broken pieces of our religion scattered on the floor around us. We are the children who learned fake smiles too early, who found all the right answers dissatisfying, who know what it’s like to sit in a pew with our hearts a thousand miles away. For us, Sunday…

Church

The Problem with 'Church'

We have a problem. “Church.” I hear this word a lot, but lately it seems that we’re mostly talking past each other. Words only work as long as we can agree on a shared definition. The problem with “church” is that it means so many different things: The global body of believers in Jesus through all…

Pin-Up Church

Centerfold Church

Sometimes you forget you are a Bride. On Sunday mornings you trade your wedding gown for the perfect skin of a magazine model. Produced, choreographed, airbrushed, packaged, sold for consumption. The countdown timer signals the bass drop and with a practiced smile you self-consciously raise your hands (for maximum visual impact). Sometimes you forget you are…

books

When Theology and Story Collide

The word “story” has become a bit of a cliché by now. Words only have meaning because we agree that they do, but most days I’m not even sure what this one is supposed to mean anymore. When I was in college a few years ago, it was all we talked about. We weren’t video editors…

Hospital

The Happy Ending

Justin Robinson is a friend, a filmmaker, and an all-around cool guy. He’s one of the most ambitious and hard-working gentlemen I know on both ends of the camera, plus he does stunts and loves Jesus. I really appreciate what goes on inside his head when he thinks about films, and I’m very stoked that…

Charlotte

Safely To Arrive At Home

“Here I raise my Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I come And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.” I can’t think of any better words to begin this story. This morning I was thinking about that old hymn while I was getting ready for work, about raising an Ebenezer to remember the work of…

Mountains

5 Reasons I Reject Unconditional Election

“Unconditional election is God’s free choice before creation, not based on foreseen faith, to which traitors he will grant faith and repentance, pardoning them, and adopting them into his everlasting family of joy.” – John Piper Once upon a time, I stopped believing in God because of unconditional election. I couldn’t get over the question…

Pencils

If the World Wants a Sign

We talk about stories a lot around here, especially the redemption stories God is writing in our lives. If you follow Pastor Jonathan Martin on Twitter, you know he has a tendency to preach spontaneous sermons 140 characters at a time that make you want to retweet every phrase. But these words from him about…

Robot

I Am Not a Sex-Fueled Robot

They say that men give love to get sex, and women give sex to get love. If this is true, then marriage is nothing but a market exchange where we trade emotion for flesh in a desperate attempt to satisfy our own cravings. If this is true, I am simply a customer settling a invoice…

Church Pews

Why I Can't Say Love the Sinner / Hate the Sin Anymore

I thought we just needed to try harder. Maybe we needed to focus more on loving the sinner, and less on protesting his sin. But I’m done. I can’t look my gay brother in the eye anymore and say “I love the sinner but hate the sin.” I can’t keep drawing circles in the sand. Even…

An Anthology of Madness

An Anthology of Madness (A Review)

“Grace is the most magnificent force on the planet, and it is not to be reckoned with. It is intangible, yet smothering. It is the only thing which must first drown us before it can rescue us.” Max is not kind to language. While some of us smoothly layer sentences into pleasing paragraphs, Max brutally…

Yard Sale

Everything Must Go

They say that money can’t buy happiness, but that doesn’t keep me from trying. So I went to college and graduated and got a job where they give me dollars and then I exchanged all those dollars for stuff and now I’m sitting in my house surrounded by piles of stuff with no dollars. But…

Riot

When We Criticize One Another

We love to argue. With a thousand words and sarcastic asides and 140 characters slung around like projectiles in the air, we draw battle lines and come to blows. When I made up my unofficial resolutions at the start of this year, I included “don’t argue on the internet”. But I can’t seem to get…

Stack of Bibles

I Don't Want To Read the Bible Anymore

It started with a small complaint. A small complaint in a big parking lot with a heavy push-broom and puddles of gravel and dust. It didn’t seem fair that He was invisible. They said that He was the most important of all, but He had the nerve to stay hidden behind mystery and space. How…

Arlington

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Today we remember. We remember those who have served, who have given their lives for the freedom we so enjoy. We remember their honor, their duty, their sacrifice. We remember the families they left behind, those who have lost husbands and fathers and sons and wives and mothers and daughters. Today we pray. We pray…

Boy Scouts

Drawing Circles in the Sand

This week the Boy Scouts of America voted to no longer exclude Scouts from their ranks “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” In the circles of Christianity that I often frequent, the defining mantra for interaction with the LGBT community is “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” We talk of how sex…

House of Cards

The Day I Stopped Believing in God

By then, I was already having doubts. Sitting across the table from new friends who didn’t see any reason to believe in God, I had tried to explain to them why I did and why it mattered. But this was the real world, and in the real world “because the Bible says so” doesn’t always…

Abercrombie and Fitch Models

A Letter to Abercrombie

Dear Mr. Abercrombie & Fitch, Nobody likes you anymore. You messed up. You said that you only want the cool kids wearing your brand. You don’t want to sell clothes to anybody who doesn’t fit your ideal of sexiness. You said some dumb stuff, and now your image is hurting. Now there’s a video going…

Juicing

The Worst Juice Cleanse Ever

Last Thursday I skipped breakfast and had pizza for lunch. I had pizza for supper too, if those stale circles of hard dough anemically sprinkled with cheese and sold shrink-wrapped and frozen can be called “pizza”. I wish I could say this sort of behavior is abnormal for me. It’s not. My diet all too…

Freedom

A Picture of Freedom

Earlier this week I wrote about how the internet is full of beautiful friends that we’ve never met. Caroline is one of those friends. I love this story, and I think you will too. There’s so much of what she’s written here that resonates with my own heart. It’s about everything good and beautiful in…

Prototype. by Jonathan Martin.

Prototype (An Illustrated Review)

“I believe that somewhere, somehow, you’ve heard the music. Distant or close, you’ve heard the song of your belovedness. It’s a song of unrestrained joy, a song of hope and belonging. A song that calls you into the future. Can you even imagine what it would be like to dance the dance of children, the…

Good Christian

I Don't Want to be a Good Christian Anymore

God, sometimes I feel  like I’m not a good Christian in Your eyes,   like You’re a Father disappointed in me,  frustrated, wishing I would do more, be more,  and I wonder are You proud of me? Am I a good Christian?  Do I make You smile? I don’t want to fail.  I don’t want to…

Barack Obama

Why I Love Barack Obama

I keep having this dream. I’m at a park, or a convention, or at the White House, and he’s there too. I wait around for the chance to talk to him for a moment. When he sees me, I hug him. I tell him that even though I don’t like all his policies and stuff,…

You Can Be Free

You Can Be Free

“Brothers and sisters, you can be free!” The words came fast and rushed up from inside my heart. I hurried to write them down, driving on the freeway scrawling nearly-unintelligible phrases on the nearest scraps of paper I could find. That was a month ago. Now I’m sitting here on this cold Wednesday morning when…

We Mourn With Boston

Against the Wounds

Warning: There’s a heartbreaking, disturbing image in this one. I was going to write something different today, but I don’t want to anymore. This has been a terrible week, and the words I was going to toss into the air would have felt empty and worthless in the whirlwind. So instead you get this –…

The Hunger Games

Why I Don't Want to Watch the Hunger Games

Apparently there’s a new trailer for the next Hunger Games movie, and it’s quite exciting. I’ve seen quotes and links and squeals of joy from all across the internet all day. Probably everyone I know is bursting with impatience to watch Catching Fire. Everyone except me. When I see the words “Hunger Games”, a part…

All I Know

All I Know

“But one last thing,” she asks. “How has Jesus dying on the cross healed you?” A bunch of words bounce through my head, and I’m not sure what to say. We’ve been discussing atonement theory for the better part of an hour, but those phrases are just a bunch of words now. Theological phrases fall…

Sean Hannity

Why Abuse Is Not Discipline

Warning: I’m going to talk about physical and verbal and sexual abuse.  I used to be a big fan of talk radio. I used to drive around Minneapolis in my beat-up two-door Cavalier with a McCain sticker on the back, jamming out to the sweet sounds of Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.…

Laptop for Blog

New Wineskins

I first started blogging almost a decade ago, when I was fresh out of high school and Xanga was cool. There were a lot of pictures and song lyrics back then, because it was 2004 and that’s what one did. When I started that blog, somebody told me that there was no way I would…

The Lily and the Storm

The Lily and the Storm

It seems that every new season brings another round of fisticuffs in our nation’s debate about marriage. Inevitably there are strong voices on all sides of the conversation, and I find myself sitting here overwhelmed with the noise of it all. But last week, as the voices escalated once again, a friend sent me these…

church

When We Criticize the Church

We were sold a package deal. Truth and lies, hope and despair, real and fake – all tied up in a neat package with a bow and sold to us with the label of “Christianity”. The men in the suits with all the words told us that what they taught was true. They said it…

I Don't Want to Be a Christian Anymore

I Don't Want to Be a Christian Anymore

“I think I don’t want to be a ‘Christian’ anymore. Because in the middle of trying to think, talk, and act like a Christian it’s easy to forget to love God and be loved by Him.” – from my journal (2008) Christian. It’s just a word, and words only have meaning because we agree that they…

Hemingway&#039;s Vacuum

In the Vacuum

A few weeks ago I got a very kind e-mail inviting me to be part of the A Deeper Story crew. Having admired many of these wordsmiths from a distance, I was thrilled to join them. My inaugural post on Deeper Story is about a depressing Hemingway post (of course). I’ll let you see the…

freedom

If My Voice Is Heard At All

If my voice is heard at all, let it be heard whispering hope to those longing to hear. Let it be heard by those who have been sold lies disguised as truth. Let it be heard by those broken hearts who have searched for the Healer for too long. Let it be heard in the hallways…

Bible

Beware of Thinking Biblically

If you took all the Bibles in American homes and made one big stack, your tower of Bibles would dwarf Mount Everest a thousand times over. That would be a pretty cool stack, for sure, but it would make it pretty hard to actually read the Bibles. If you took all the Google results for “thinking…

Pictured: The godless future of America

Boys and Dolls: A Father's Response

What would you do if you found your boy playing with a doll instead of a bulldozer? This is the scandalous premise at the heart of a recent Sesame Street clip. As a guy who aspires to Biblical manhood, as a father of two sons, and as a regular viewer of Sesame Street, this debate…

Pursuing Justice Review

Pursuing Justice ( A Review )

“The truth is, we are all giving our lives away…” Pursuing Justice showed up in my mailbox sometime before Christmas, and then sat on the workbench in my garage for a few months. I’m not sure why I put off reading it for so long – maybe because the idea of reading and reviewing books…

audi2

Sex, Lies, and TV Commercials

This is the part of the blog where I write about gender politics as portrayed in Super Bowl commercials. A few years ago I would have thought this was liberal, feminist nonsense. I don’t think so anymore. The Bible tells us that we should not allow the culture around us to influence our mindsets, but…

Alois Bell Applebees Receipt

A Letter to the Applebee's Waitress

Dear Chelsea, You’ve had a rough week. First, there was that pastor who visited your restaurant and decided that, because she gives God 10%, she should be excempt from the 18% gratuity on her bill. Even though you weren’t Paster Bell’s server, it’s infuriating to see that kind of disrespect from guests. When she was…

Santa or God

The Unexpected God

What is the god like? (This is the question that has haunted us all along.) Does it laugh? Does it cry? Does it care about humanity? Does it have a name, a face, a personality? We all have a mental picture of “God”. For many of us he is kind, wise, and distant. A long,…

pict5744

All the Answers

I don’t know all the answers. I don’t even believe that it’s possible to know all the answers. I’m still young, but as I’m growing older I have a growing respect for those brave enough to say “I don’t know”. There was a time when much of my religion was based on a logical system…

President Barack Obama Voting

Voting for Himself

We are on the brink of moral implosion. America has plunged head-first onto the slippery slope of sin and now we are hurtling toward an inevitable chasm of absolute moral chaos. What would have never been acceptable a few generations ago is now prime-time entertainment. Kids these days live lawless lifestyles of perpetual cyber-sexing and…

Josh and Lacey Sturm

Five Questions with Lacey Sturm (of Flyleaf)

Jesus once said that you would know who His followers are by their love. I think when He said that, Jesus was describing Lacey. Her love for God and deep knowledge of His love for her overflow to everyone she meets. She has a powerful voice, a sincere faith, and a beautiful family. I hope…

Red Letter Revolution: Shane Claiborne & Tony Campolo

Red Letter Revolution ( A Review )

You might not want to read this book. It will make you angry. It will make you shake your head in disagreement. And it will probably make you realize that there are some things about your life that you need to change. So if you want to read something you’ll agree with that will make…

Fitness: In the Gym

The Worst Work-Out Plan Ever

Five days a week, I roll out of bed and stumble into the gym half-asleep. I don’t warm up before lifting. I don’t drink water whilst in the gym; I drink coffee. I don’t track my progress from week to week. I never do legs, core, or cardio work. My only diet strategy is “eat…

A Faith of Our Own

A Faith of Our Own (A Review)

Probably the most common metaphor used in conversations about generations and culture is the dreaded pendulum. “Beware of the pendulum effect!” some wise person will invariable interject into the conversation. “Because your parents were too strict, you’ll be tempted to go and become all liberal.” Whether it’s political involvement, theology, or child rearing techniques, we…

Jesus for President

Jesus is My Candidate?

We’re almost there. November is coming, and with it Election Day. Then maybe all this will subside. Right now you can’t go anywhere – in real life or on the internet – without being bombarded by politics. It’s the worst sort too: ugly, deceitful, angry, self-righteous politics from every corner. But what if, instead of…

Jason Burkey

Five Questions with Jason Burkey

I met Jason a few years ago on the film set of “For the Glory.” He was the main movie star and I was the guy who stands next to the guy who runs the camera. Later on I saw him in the beautiful movie “October Baby“, where he plays the heroic boyfriend. He’s good…

morning

Incoherent Mumbled Prayers

“God, give me grace for today.” I don’t remember if I said it aloud, or just felt it trudge through my mind as a tired prayer. In that moment between looking at the clock on my phone and willing my frame into a vertical position, it was just there. This is an improvement . There have…

The Prodigal Father

The Prodigal Father

You know the story. There was a son who got tired of living on the family farm and decided to chase the big city lights. After a whirlwind summer, he stumbled home broke and broken, too ashamed to look his father in the eyes. But when he was still a speck on the horizon, his…

beginning

In the Beginning God

In the beginning, God. Really, this is the perfect way to start. It’s easy to get caught up in all the details of the Bible and forget how it begins. Not as a theological dissertation. Not as a scientific revelation. Not as a book of rules. No, it’s a story. And it starts with God.…

Nick Ahern

Five Questions with Nick Ahern

This is the first in a new series called “Five Questions”. I’ll be irreverently interviewing a few people whom I find interesting and sharing the results with you. Enjoy. I blame Kevin Miller of impending “Hellbound?” fame for first introducing me to Nick’s blog. Since that fateful day several months ago, I’ve kept up regularly with…

The Myth of Closure

The Myth of Closure

Eleven years ago, Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection. They say that as he took his last breath, he stared open-eyed and unremorseful into the closed circuit camera capturing his final moments. Six hundred miles away, the families of his victims gathered to watch McVeigh’s execution. Maybe it would give them some closure. I…

So Help Me God (Almost a Poem)

So Help Me God (Almost a Poem)

Ernest Hemmingway once said, “There’s nothing to writing…. all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” I think he might have been onto something. Words bleeding into life, snow bleeding into hope, day bleeding into night then back into day again. God said that life and blood are inseparably linked, which might…

i&#039;m sorry

I'm Sorry I Hated You

Jesus had a way of putting profound truth into just a few words. One time he summarized the entirety of the Bible by saying “Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.” In these two commands lie the essence of all Christian spirituality. I’ve been thinking about empathy lately, and about how…

Jesus: Relationship or Religion?

Christianity: It's Not a Religion, It's a Relationship

You’ve heard it before. It tops the list of “Stuff Christians Say”. I know I’ve said it. But it’s not true. The intention is honorable enough; we want to differentiate Christianity from other belief systems. We’re trying to express the fundamental difference between our faith and other faiths; that is, the unmerited offer of free…

At least, that’s the neat and tidy summary for my home page. The reality is a bit more dicey.

A lot of days, I wonder if I still love Jesus. Sometimes that’s about me and sometimes that’s about him and always it’s about the clusterfuck of baggage most of us carry from humanity’s clumsy / godawful attempts at organized religion.

I don’t ask as many questions about religion these days as I did a year or two ago. Not because I have more answers. Rather, because I’ve come to accept (with varying degrees of resentment) that the human experience is quite unlikely to give me the answers I want. I persist in spirituality by some mixture of compulsion, faith, and inertia. It’s never quite enough to let me feel at home, but it’s too much to give up on altogether.

In the meantime, I do my best to write words and love people.

I wish I was better at both — writing and loving. Both require a lot of hard work and showing up when I don’t feel like it. Some days I’m proud of the work I do, and other days I just want to sleep. But I try to keep showing up, and I guess that’s worth something.

The stuff I write tends to be about growing up in a cult, trying to be a good Christian, and ultimately becoming a somewhat-jaded but still-hopeful ex-evangelical post-modern. Sometimes I swear a lot, so don’t read my blog posts out loud to your mom.

I also write stuff that helps my fellow bloggers with writing words and some of the technical bullshit associated with trying to convert our hearts into pixels on strangers’ screens.

I’ve been lucky enough to find a job for myself at the intersection of words + design + people, making beautiful websites and helping clumsy bloggers just like me put their words out into the internet. I’ve gotten to work with some pretty kick-ass people and companies, and for that I’m grateful. If you’re just getting into the blogging game and want to learn some stuff, I wrote a workshop thingy just for you.

I want to make a website with you.

I want to come speak at your church or post-church beer gathering.

Here is some stuff I like: cheeseburgers, brunch, sunshine, electronic music, movie theater popcorn, basketball, airports, and funny GIFs.

I’m the dad to two beautiful boys who love shopping at Target and eating at McDonalds and cuddling whilst watching Netflix.

I used to have a motorcycle but I sold it when I got divorced so now I drive an SUV like a proper dad. I also went skydiving once. It was very cold. I hope you are impressed.

Come say hi to me on Facebook. Like my pictures on Instagram. Send me a telegraph.

I still don’t have my shit together, at least in an existential sense.

But I am happy.