• Grace, Race, and Peace: Admitting there is a problem is the first step to getting help.

    The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, or so I have been told by those who specialize in treating addiction. What they also tell me is that the correlative is true: the the greater investment we make in denial, the more the addiction feeds itself. I was raised, as many in American were to believe that racism is a bad thing. But I was also raised to believe that racism is only a limited description of mean and ill intended choices that one person could, but should not, make. Therefore it was pretty easy for me to agree that being racist is bad, because it was…

  • Making room for Christ with Dorothy Day

    This post is a reflection on Dorothy Day’s classic advent writing…Room for Christ by Dorothy Day Dorothy Day has a way of hacking into our sophisticated means of cushioning the incarnation, doesn’t she? There is little that we, including me, would love more than to believe that Christmas is something that we simply need to remember. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that Christmas was a thing that happened in a different era; “The Bible Times,” as we like to say. It was a thing that happened and it has meaning for us today. And isn’t that lovely and worth commemorating with pageantry and especially crafts and baking. We have…

  • The Suspicious Miracle of the Tarnished Cross. A guest post on faith by David J. Dunn

    David J. Dunn is a good friend whose friendship helps sustain my faith. He also writes my favorite blog on the Huffington Post and one of the sharpest Christian Blogs on the internet providing keen and refreshingly Christian insights on on otherwise boringly controversial topics. Here he offers some particularly helpful reflections on imperfect faith. This is the cross I received at my chrismation. It’s tarnished. It is always tarnished. It was bright, shiny, and new the day that I first received it. It became sullied almost immediately afterwards. It’s not that I haven’t tried to polish it. I have actually tried to polish it several times. The dark smudges…

  • I’ll Have What They’re Having. Why it is good to remember saints on All Saints Day

    Flannery O’Connor, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, and Walker Percy.   Those are my answers when people ask me, knowing what they do about me, why I became Catholic so late in my life.    In fact there are many answers to that simple question, but one of the quickest ways to say what I mean is simply by making a short list of some of the people who I want most to be like.   If you want to know who I am, ask my friends.  But if you want to know who I am becoming, ask my heroes.

  • “Short Term 12,” The grace you give may be your own.

    Sammy is a pale and furious vision.  He is shirtless, young, scrawny and utterly enraged.   He shrieks as he runs toward the small white gate that serves as the thin membrane between Short Term 12 (his group home) and his ridiculous idea of the life of an autonomous child.  He is ferrel. He is angry. He is, as they say, “throwing a fit.”  He is also dead in his tracks, suddenly caught, held down and screeching. For a while he flails like a fish on sand but only for moments.  It subsides while you watch. Mason asks him if he almost has it out of his system, which is clearly…

  • “Never Forget” and “Do this in Remembrance of Me:” Thoughts on how we remember September 11th.

      Today my FaceBook feed is wrought with variations and recollections of the event of September 11th from twelve years ago.   The personal recollections have shrunk from previous years and some simply share a photo or state, “Never forget.”   Seeing that phrase repeated over without more context has begun to trouble me, and not just a little.   What is “never forget” supposed to be shorthand for on this kind of anniversary? On one hand I think it is referring to a kind of remembering that simple tries to honor those who have suffered, especially the handfuls of people who were not merely victims, but heroes who sacrificed…

  • Is This Seat Taken? My night as the welcomed stranger among the even stranger at a Passover Seder.

      Tonight I realized how much laundry had to be done and my mind immediately started looking for other things to do.  My newsfeed on FaceBook kept informing me that a good portion of my friends (most of them burners) were either confirming or canceling their RSVP to attend a Passover celebration that some someone was holding somewhere.   It turned out the someone was a indeed a fellow burner with whom I had many mutual friends and the somewhere was his house.  So I did what any self respecting burner and experienced procrastinator would do, …I invited myself over.

  • It’s Not About the Chocolate: Grace and self improvement in the season of Lent.

    It is Ash Wednesday and throughout the day and the week my friends and I will be bantering back and forth about what we intend to give up for the season of lent.  The list will inevitably include more and less brave endeavors.  After many years of self-discovery, I now try to keep my personal commitments, ahem, modest. Lately I have begun to think that our lenten choices are beginning to feel more and more like new year’s resolutions than spiritual exercises: quit smoking, exercise, skip dessert, drink less, eat more broccoli…  And if I happen to loose a couple pounds along the way, so be it.    Self control and discipline…

  • Why I Burn Art and Still Go to Church. “Faith For Reasons”

     This is another entry in the Faith for Reasons series, more entries can be found here:  Faith for Reasons.   I am back from another Regional Burn in central Texas (FreezerBurn!) and boy is my art tired.   My bedroom is clobbered with explosions of shiny red costumery and camp-stuffs, my laundry pile smells of smoke and sunscreen lotion, and there is, of course, glitter. Even for this short winter burn, for which I had made no particular elaborate plans, the hours I spend going, coming, and restoring order once I am home will far outweigh the hours I actually spent on the land.  If you know at all what…

  • Making Sense of It All. How Advent confronts us in the wake of tragedy.

    When tragedy hits, we ask why.  It is visceral, perhaps even instinctual, and almost involuntary.   For the past 48 hours I have mostly sat quiet in my house, mostly alone, listening to people process an unthinkable event, a moment of real evil.    How did this happen?  How could this happen?    Thankfully one of my friends just said it outright, “How can there be a loving God in a world like this.”   We want to understand, we want to explain, at least in hopes that we can make this happen less often.  We dwell on the moment, on the suffering, and ask ourselves, “How can this make…