The Truth in the Pain

Of all the stories from recent days commemorating the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the one that affected me most powerfully belongs to Vaughn Alexx.   Vaughn was working at the ticket counter at Dulles airport fifteen years ago, when two men arrived late for their flight. Always attentive and helpful, Vaughn got them […]

Learning from, learning toward

When I was a kid I opened a wood-burning furnace and got blasted by a rush of heat unlike anything I’d ever felt. For a second, I was pretty sure I’d burned my face off (I was okay, but my eyebrows took a few weeks to recover).   The lesson in that experience was immediate […]

The Grace is in the Details

Jerry Falwell, Jr. misquoted Jesus in a scripture reference Wednesday, while talking about why he supports Donald Trump. Falwell was being interviewed at the Republican National Convention, and he combined two stories from the Gospel of John, in comments about Trump’s moral character and why Christians would support him.   The interviewer asked, “Is his […]

Parched for Compassion

When my wife was a medical resident, life was very intense.  She worked 100 hours a week, and was chronically sleep-deprived.  She was a new surgeon, feeling the impact of her decisions, actions and possible mistakes on the lives of others. There were 20 serious patient crises happening at any given moment – doctors and […]

It’s not mundane when it’s you.

I grew up in Oklahoma City, and was 16 years old when the federal building there was bombed. At the critical moment, I happened to be in a second-story classroom, daydreaming out a window that faced downtown, and saw the explosion.   The tragedy was instantly a defining experience for everyone in the community, both […]

Dr. Robert Moore

Dr. Robert Moore was the first person I met in seminary who told me to pray.   That fact may sound strange, depending on your perspective on ministers. Chicago Theological Seminary is the school where I was trained to be a pastor, and every day I spent there was filled with conversation and learning about […]

Respect: Seeing Again

    The word respect comes from the same root as spectator or spectacle.  To respect a person, or a community, or an issue, literally means to see again, or to see anew. This is bad news.  Respect is often described as a baseline, a starting point, something we expect people to take for granted, […]