All posts tagged: Featured

The Case for Spiritual Anarchism

This is going to seem radical. (It should.) We are now standing at a door of opportunity: it is time for us to unlearn everything the church taught us.  “Church” – the Sunday morning service, the weekly Bible study, the choir or worship band, the traditions and expectations – is a crutch and sorry replacement for spirit living. The church, as an institution of leadership, has usurped the freedom that was and is promised to each one of us. The church, as a multitude, put into place a system that supported and encouraged blind acceptance, heavy burdens, patriarchy, racism, violence, ignorance, shame, and disconnection. It is time to let all of that go.  WHY? Typically, we form our identity by compiling a series of labels for ourselves: woman, man, black, white, straight, gay, not religious, evangelical, catholic, lutheran, baptist, democrat, republican, apolitical, American, etc. The designation, “Christian,” signifies numerous behaviors and ideologies that align with political and social talking points that have nothing to do with original intent. As such, the term and the institution …

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Finding God in a Season of Struggle

What we are experiencing is, for many of us, a once-in-a-lifetime defining season of change. A health pandemic reached the doorstep of the United States and barged right in. We Americans are used to watching scares such as this play out in other countries, while we apathetically take it in through the twenty-four hour news cycle. Protests and riots over police brutality are happening across the nation. Law enforcement is responding with, at times, respect and, all too often, with brutal force. We have a president failing to unite us, preferring harsh rhetoric and resorting to typical pomposity. Let’s not forget the underlying hum of joblessness, a crashing economy, and climate change anxiety. Many of us wake in the mornings after a restless night wondering where the heck is God in all of this? Even the staunchest believer or church goer is disturbed by the uncertainty.  I am not an ordained minister. I am not trained at a theological seminary. I am not a guru with an army of followers. I am, however, a person …

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Best Practices for Teaching Online Coursework: 15 Suggestions, or What to Do When You Suddenly Find Yourself Teaching Online

An extended family member, who is also in academe, brought it to my attention that many in our field are thinking of the future state of the college classroom. It was only a matter of time before those of us who work in higher education would need to consider alternative methods of teaching. Measures to halt the spread of COVID-19 may begin to impact our learning communities, requiring more virtual classrooms to “pop” up. Just today, both Princeton and Columbia announced intentions to cancel in-person classes while we pass through the storm. Unfortunately, many very good, knowledgeable instructors have little, if any, experience teaching online. My intention with this post is to share a list of best practices that I adhere to while teaching online courses. These are my standards, and though they overlap with those prescribed by my institution, this list should not be considered as their official stance. I hold a Ph.D. in American studies and a good portion of my dissertation focuses on the ways digital culture is a harbinger for broader …

Photo by Logan Lambert on Unsplash; Person standing on car looking up at the night sky

Looking Up as a Radical Act of Belief

If a person is lucky, she receives a gift that is not only creative and thoughtful, but is life-altering. You know the kind I mean: the book that stops you in your tracks and changes your worldview, the pair of socks that causes you to rethink your relationship to footwear, the mug that brings a smile to your face every morning. Even the simplest of presents can make big adjustments to the way we live our lives. Those are the best kind of offerings.  This year, my dear husband gave me a telescope. I wanted one since I was a child, but had no plans to purchase anytime soon. I was so moved by his gesture of love, because it was based on an understanding of who I am and some of my deepest desires.  I want to see the celestial bodies. (I named my daughter Luna, for goodness sake!)  As soon as it started to sink in that this beautiful (Celestron!) telescope was really mine, I realized that this was a life-changing gift. Not …

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

On Finding God Outside of the Church This Holiday Season

In America, a common quip around the holidays is, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” The assumption is that the primary focus of the [Christian] holiday should be belief, not consumerism. Though a bright one-liner, like other Chrisitan-isms, it falls flat and without meaning to most ears. It actually contains a lot of meaning, but none of the intended. Something about it does not sit right with me. It seethes with judgement, not love. It covers the sense of pride that some Christians carry with them – the holier than thou pride that is ancient as story itself. Jesus is, of course, the narrative at the core of Christmas celebration, but people created alternative figures to bear the message of love: Santa Claus, Ebenezer Scrooge, The Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman, to name only a few. Jesus is absolutely central to Christmas, but the church’s inability to fully bear the message of hope and love is rooted in human pride. It is an unsuccessful attempt at fooling the masses into believing that truth is …