A three-choice question that explains America

Being an assistant minister puts me in a small, unusual club. It’s a bit like being vice president — a high-visibility job with a not-always-clear role. Most second-chair clergy I know are content to be there, rather than itching for the top dog to get out of the way. Still, there’s plenty to talk about when we get together.

At one recent gathering, a fellow No. 2, the Rev. Erin Gingrich, captured our situation with a question: How does your supervisor view you — object, resource, or equal?

This incisive question could apply to any number of situations; the answer determines how much you’re going to thrive. And I realized that it’s a question that can help explain the history and present reality of the United States of America.

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Forward in the new reality

This post is the text of the talk I gave on the Sunday after the presidential election.

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to sneak out of town with my partner for a getaway weekend. Ready to relax and just read a magazine for a change, I sat down with the one copy of the New Yorker that I had managed to grab while rushing out the door. Then I opened the magazine. The Politics Issue.


The whole magazine was about the election. I briefly considered a ritual burning. The presidential race was wearing me out even then, before any of us knew what we know now.

I did not set the magazine on fire, nor, to my surprise, did I set it aside.Instead, I found myself drawn into a photo essay. It was about first-time voters from around the country. Each voter, ranging in age from 18 to 72, was pictured next to a quote about the presidential candidate they had decided on.

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America: Mixed feelings and the challenge to be great

Federal tax rules keep ministers from saying very much about political candidates, but I am allowed to talk about hats. And there’s a certain cap I’d like to discuss.

Perhaps you’ve seen this one up close at a recent family reunion. It says “Make America Great Again,” and it’s inspired a number of variations, such as “Make Baseball Fun Again” (cry for help?) and “Make America Great Britain Again” (history majors = clever).

But not all the variations are light-hearted. Continue reading


Getting back into it

Writing really only happens for me if there’s an element of relationship, if there’s at least a chance of knocking over a domino or flicking on a light bulb in someone else’s brain. Secret diaries are not my thing.

So I’m back at blogging. This time around, I’m not writing on someone else’s dime, so I have the freedom to tackle anything that feels interesting or important — current events, ethics, politics, theology, the human experience.

There will also be mediocre photos and no small amount of silliness.

An editor once said to me, upon reading one of my beginnings, “I didn’t know where you were going, but I wanted to go with you.” Maybe you’ll feel that way, too. Time to give it a spin.


Me, on a Colorado playground, 2014.