When Game of Thrones Came to Sunday School

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This was the second week of the Sunday School class I am teaching on Anne Lamott‘s book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. This week we finished discussing the “Help” chapter, and things got really interesting. Lamott writes about her past experiences of prayer, even as far back as her childhood, and in class we talked about our own prayer histories. One thing I love about the author is her honesty; she doesn’t sugar-coat the hard stuff. She admits that it is sometimes very difficult to connect in prayer with a God who is so mysterious, whom we can’t see or touch and whose descriptions in the Bible can be both comforting and troubling. That’s why, she says, God gave us imagination. It can sometimes lead us astray, but it can bring us closer to God, too, and she writes about how we can know the difference: Continue reading “When Game of Thrones Came to Sunday School”

Grief and Hope: Advent 1

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Last night, I was chaplain to a family dealing with a sudden loss.  In their grief, they asked over and over, as so many of us do, “Why?”  I didn’t even attempt an answer.  Anything would have been just noise at that point.  No matter what I said, their loved one would still be dead.  The closest I can come to a reason why is that the world is not what it should be.  In this season of the liturgical calendar, the lectionary readings remind Christians of just that. Continue reading “Grief and Hope: Advent 1”

I’m Hard to Shock Anymore (Even When I Get Asked for a Lap Dance)

I won’t say I’ve heard it all, but as a hospital chaplain, I hear a lot.  There are things people say in the midst of crisis that they wouldn’t say otherwise.  Things that a few years ago would have made me blush or left me speechless, I now take in stride.  When I was called to the room of an elderly patient who was actively dying, I found his children and grandchildren gathered around the bed.  I expressed my sympathies, listened to their stories about him, and at their request prayed for a peaceful passing for him at the right time, as well as comfort and strength for his family.  Before leaving, I asked, “Is there anything else I can do?”  The patient’s grandson, a few years younger than me, asked, “I don’t guess you do lap dances, do you?”  His mother used his full name as she smacked him in the back of the head, looking at me apologetically.  “What?” he said.  “Not for me, for Grandpa!  You never know what might help.” Continue reading “I’m Hard to Shock Anymore (Even When I Get Asked for a Lap Dance)”

Fat Shaming Week, Imago Dei, and Incarnation

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Social media have the power to connect people, to spread knowledge and information, to allow communication across cultural and other barriers.  I have seen such things happen during my time on Facebook and Twitter.  Unfortunately, I have also seen the dark side of social media, and another perfect example reared its ugly head this week.  Under the hashtag #FatShamingWeek, tweets like the one above (which is one of the less offensive, I’m sorry to say) attempt to make overweight women — because most of the tweets are aimed specifically at women — feel unattractive, ostensibly “for their own good.”  (I’m happy to report that there is now a counter-movement and many have posted tweets under the same hashtag expressing pride in their bodies and respect for others regardless of size.)  I don’t know who started the hashtag, or how they think this will give anyone motivation to lose weight (when in reality, fat shaming more often leads to gaining weight), or why they believe someone else’s body size is any of their damned business. Continue reading “Fat Shaming Week, Imago Dei, and Incarnation”