Can a Church Split Truly Be Gracious?

I’m grateful to report that Religion Dispatches published an essay of mine! In the piece, “Can a Church Split Truly Be Gracious?” I describe and reflect upon my experience leading a commission (officially a “Presbytery Engagement Team”) to investigate a church seeking to leave my presbytery, the Presbytery of Northern Plains.

The process was fraught, troubling, and yet also somehow life-giving. The intro is below. Please to to the Religion Dispatches site for the full piece.

The directions are easy. Drive north; turn left just before you hit Canada. In recent months, I became accustomed to the two and a half hour drive from Fargo, N.D. to Bathgate, N.D. The Presbyterian church in Bathgate had asked to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). As chair of the task force to engage with the congregation concerning its possible disaffiliation, I made that drive north often. Out my window I saw the wheat, beans, and sugar beets planted in the fields rich with Red River valley soil. Then harvest came. As our meetings dragged into winter, one night my car’s temperature gauge measured minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Disaffiliation in North Dakota is not for the faint of heart.

…I approached the Bathgate church eager to convince them to stay in the fold. At first I thought a few frank conversations and my young adult energy would turn them around… [read the full piece here]

RD Screen Shot

Can A Church Split Truly Be Gracious? | Religion Dispatches

Visualizing Recent PC(USA) Sexuality & Marriage Decisions

Have you ever wondered: what would happen if I built a digital representation of important PC(USA) ordination stands, sexuality, and marriage votes from 1996 forward? Of course, not. That’s ridiculous. What sort of nerdy, tech-curious, Presbyterian pastor and professor-type would want to do such a thing? Ummm…. Ok, well, this summer I did [click here now to jump […]

Continue

“Hannah, Delivered” a review

Hannah, Delivered is a fine new novel by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew. Elizabeth and I met two summers ago at the Collegeville Institute, and re-met last spring at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College. When I received my copy, Elizabeth included a kind note that read, in part,“I’d love for Hannah to speak […]

Continue

What is Digital Humanities? (in 400 words or less)

For my last blog post for Texts, Maps, Networks: Digital Methods in the Humanities, I’d like to respond to a question I get fairly often. “What is digital humanities?” Since those who ask it come from all walks of life—churchy, professory, friendy—I’m going to attempt to go both deep and wide in, well, exactly 400 words. Here goes nothing…

Continue

:-|On that Controversial Facebook Emotion Study

The best controversies are those in which the headlines make you think one thing, but the full article pushes you another way. Eventually, you say, “I have no idea what to think on this one.” That happened to me this week when investigating Facebook’s social experiment on happiness, the experiment conducted without that little thing called “informed consent.”

Continue

Radical Hospitality & the Rooster Soup Company

Help support a new Kickstarter venture, a partnership between Broad Street Ministry and Federal Donuts. It’s a great idea: to use high-quality leftover chicken backs & bones that would go to waste, make delicious soup to sell, and donate 100% of our profits to Broad Street Ministry.

Continue

Should We Kill the Essay? Is It Dead Already?

If no boss is ever going to require employees to write an essay, why should professors assign them?

Continue

500 Lifetimes of Books & the Screwmeneutical Imperative

If you went to the Library of Congress and read a book every day from birth to death, it’d take you 500 lifetimes to finish. What to do? Enter: the “Screwmeneutical Imperative.”

Continue

Think This, Do This, Read This

This is a hodgepodge post about thinking, doing, and reading. First, the thinking regarding the blog’s Fargo media debut last week. I Think This… The reaction to my “I’m #AmbivalentAboutFargo and You Should Be Too” post went beyond anything I envisioned. Not only did the post receive over 600 Facebook shares (most of them well […]

Continue