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Preaching courage in the face of absurdity. Editor of Real Life, Real/igion — join us for the newsletter Real/igion for the Rest of Us.
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To reveal and to renew

What was the name of that film
with the actor you like
the one with the hair?
we racked our brains; we remembered at last —
and it all came clear:

an apocalypse small; a relief; a reveal.

What was the name of the law you made then:
that let you buy people? And places? And power?
What was the lie? Was it then, or today?

We racked our brains; it began to come clear:

And when we remembered the sum of the sin:
An apocalypse large; a ransom;
a rout — and it ended the world
as it was, and had…


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Another reluctant poem for seekers and believers

Humbly mumbling my sorrow and shame
I ask for permission
to call Your true name:

Speaker of galaxies;
Mother of time;
Father of energy;
Breath of creation;
Matrix of living things
(deep love and real flesh and one earth to share);

Eternal soul in a person like me;
Born here but not from here,
Drawn by Your story, I come and I wait.

I wait in the moment; I wait in my onliness:
Waiting with all of us, humble and sorrowing
seeking You, following —

stumbling; following.

All of us, following: grieving and growing,
loving, believing, seeking your Way.

We…


Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Pentecost reboots the church

So RevDrSparky kept her promise and did not spam your email box with too many newsletters, did she? Well, that’s how I’m spinning the fact that I’ve actually been dazed and confused for the past months and have neglected my newsletter venture.

As I have worked through my call to ministry, my circadian rhythms have gone beyond syncopation and sleep escaped me entirely sometimes. I’ve sometimes stayed up all night, proofreading and preparing sermons; I’ve stayed so busy that there was little time for posting on Medium — such that my royalties one month totaled $1.98, …


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Can we please have one now?

Today is Pentecost, the Christian version that originated from the extraordinary story reported in Acts 2:1–21. Apparently, on that day, a whole crowd of Spirit-struck believers were speaking in different languages, but everyone was hearing in their own language.

And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. … And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. … and the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.


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But I think I’m finally next in the queue

In September of 2019, I had a mountaintop experience at the top of an actual mountain, at the beautiful monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

There, on my first ever spiritual retreat, I felt a true call to return to the ministry I had left behind. I was sure God was calling me to preach again, for a world in crisis, a world that really needed my specific voice, for some particular reason. But it didn’t go at all the way it was supposed to.

God called me — I was sure of it. But then God put me on hold for, like, more than a year.

And I didn’t even get any of those annoying but helpful messages, like “Your call…


The pandemic SHUT DOWN all those churches, my friends. In the midst of a historic movement for justice for people of color, the worship hour was STILL the most segregated hour in America, and it looks like Jesus said, "That's it. Get out of my house." Just like he tossed the moneychangers out of the temple...

But those congregations who use their sojourn in the virtual church world as a time of repentance, deep anti-racism faith work to de-center whiteness and combat white supremacy, and realignment with Jesus, may survive and thrive.

As a white itinerant preacher of a certain age, I can take a small role in this great turning by reminding the congregations that there are no white people in the Bible.

Blessings.


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Religion for the real world

When the pandemic closed the churches, it felt like being kicked out of the Garden again. Desperate to stay alive, congregations invented online services overnight, and now virtual church is here to stay. But where is here?

We are worshippers tabernacled (yup, you can verb it; I looked it up) in our homes, like the primitive Christians in house churches. Ministers are now voice crying in the wilderness, like the ancient prophets, relying on the spirit and our bandwidth. Many of the smaller churches may never physically reopen. And in some ways, it felt like the end of everything.

I…


The once and future tabernacle…

I’ve missed you all, though I’ve been right here — and I know so have you — but you know how time goes: quickly when you are racing to finish something, slowly when you are waiting for the next thing to race to.

I’m deep into a book that I’m co-authoring on an honest-to-God contract for an honest-to-God publishing house…so watch this space, and please peruse my writings here and around Medium.

Meanwhile, I’m checking in because first, I just want to ask: does anyone else think that the season of Lent, in COVID, feels redundant…?

And second: I want…


Insight’s not always that great a deal

I am supposed to be this writer, this facile, glib, satirical preacher.

And ever since January 6, when fools rushed in where angels have feared to tread for quite some time — I’m talking about a mob of people who thought they could storm the capitol on January 6 and somehow, what, erase the election Trump lost from the calendar and hope no one would notice — I don’t know what in the world to say about it.

Except it was stupid and horrifying and I’m disrupted and can’t think of anything clever…


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Holding hands, we hold the truth

This is the time to hold hands. We are down to that minimum grace: to hold hands, tight, one with another, and form a chain of humanity to stand against the losses and challenges our species will face in the coming decades.

Otherwise, these decades are going to be the endgame: the period during which we learn whether the planet will allow us to live after what we have done to her.

My generation of Americans has danced through its history under a virtual veil of glittering, glorious media that helped ensure American hegemony, that bedazzled us and kept us…

Rev Dr Sparky

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