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What a Prostitution Survivor Taught Me About Joy

I worked for a community mental health clinic in downtown Seattle for the first two years after graduate school. The clients at this location were considered the most severely traumatized and chemically dependent residents in the city. On my first day of work, my supervisor gave me a list of over eighty clients with a handful of names that were marked with an orange highlighter. We were talking about my caseload when he said, “It is a lot of clients, but the names in orange... Read More

God Gave Birth

Alone in the darkness God moaned the blues undulating his belly. Although he cried out, there was no one to hear him. No girlfriend, no midwife, no wife, mother. Finally, God’s water broke and formed salty oceans. For seven days, God pushed and pushed matter through water, making mountains, fields, pushed light away from dark, each contraction, a day of labor to create cosmos and creature, pushing until he could hear the cold, vulnerable universe howl. Afterward, God would not... Read More


I. Forsythia immemorial, daffodils and primrose seethe unaware contentment at being alive, as if it’s just another spring— but my seasons of loss keep increasing. Wresting myself from the meat hooks, I climb from the depths like Inanna. Cracked open hard ancient ground beneath my feet flies apart. I lay out a path, repurposed mismatched flagstones, uneven, ill-fitting winding away from my front door— can’t connect it to the road. Every night I dream I’m driving or in... Read More

The Trauma of God

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. —Hebrews 10:31 NJB   god (n.): Old English god “supreme being, deity; the Christian God; image of a god; godlike person,” from Proto-Germanic *guthan (cognates: Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Dutch god, Old High German got, German Gott, Old Norse guð, Gothic guþ), from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (cognates: Old Church Slavonic zovo “to call,” Sanskrit huta- “invoked,” an epithet of Indra),... Read More

Until an End Is Made

For BHF   We had only one more residency at Whidbey Island, in Washington State, until we graduated from our mostly long-distance writing program, so the four of us boys had decided to commemorate the occasion with a photo shoot. We’d chosen the perfect outfits—a combination of hipster, English prof, and frat boy—and we intended the pictures, taken by our friend Lindsey, to capture our genius forever. We four perched on the porch rail of a Victorian home, the sea in... Read More

An Ordinary Nine Innings

All baseball games begin with no runs, no hits, no errors, a player scuffing his shoes at the plate, and nobody on base, but I’m going to start by telling you the final score: John Sexton’s Baseball as a Road to God is a flawed but insightful look at how something as ordinary/pedestrian/unchurched/free from theology/etc as baseball can help us explore the deeper meaning of things. First Inning Sexton loves the game of baseball. For many years he has taught about the game at... Read More

What Are You Waiting For? A Meditation on Isaiah 61:1–4, 8-11, Luke 1:53, and Luke 3:7–18

All the time John the Baptist spent waiting and preparing in the wilderness was in order to steep his identity in God.1 Even before John’s conception, God had already claimed his life; John’s primary identity would always be in relation to Jesus and in how John lived out his call to ministry. Someone like John is makes us uncomfortable because his very existence points us away from ourselves and toward the kingdom of God. We do not naturally and without some inner resistance... Read More

Water Mission

My father is a missionary in Saigon, and every day he sits or stands in his white cotton shirt and talks to servicemen and the Vietnamese about Jesus. While my mother rests through the heat of the day, I walk behind him to Buddha’s temple. There, in a small public pump house, open on four sides and draped in flowers, he chooses one of the dozen brass water spouts under the pagoda-shaped roof and fills our collapsible plastic vessels with water purified by filters and blessed... Read More

The Invitation

To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you. — Theophan the Recluse The place is humid: four rooms, maze of red, easy to lose yourself inside. Occupy aorta and ventricle, lounge in any chamber you’d like. Feel at home enclosed by blood and beating. The walls speak. They will keep you up all night.  Read More

Evil, Justice, and the God that Failed: The Pathos and Pathology of Metallica

One of the classic yet banal arguments that inevitably arises between bored record store clerks is the question of who is the greatest rock band ever. One clerk will of course say the Beatles. The clerk who says this has passed through her rebellious phase, has integrated herself into a vast realm of authority that includes consumers and critics, and has made an informed decision. The record store clerk who is still angry with his parents will counter that the Rolling Stones are,... Read More