In August, a New Yorker Magazine humor essay by cartoonist Natalya Lobanova struck a nerve, and not merely at my funny bone. It was entitled, “This Is What Your Unsolicited Advice Sounds Like”. Click here to see Natalya’s cartoons. They’re deliciously on-point.
One cartoon depicts a woman being burned at the stake as an observer asks, “Have you considered taking up yoga?” Another shows a woman about to be crushed by a semi-truck barreling toward her. A bystander advises, “Just focus on the things you can control.”
All too often, as a pastor attempting to provide wisdom and emotional and…
Scarcity is never how we’re meant to live.
Let’s consider toilet paper.
When COVID-19 first hit, it was hard to avoid the panicky stories about people buying up and hoarding toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer. Going to the grocery store was a surreal experience, seeing all the empty shelves where those things were normally stocked.
On social media and in the news, it became common wisdom to attribute those shortages to people behaving selfishly. …
…all of us.
May 31, 2020
Monica Parker is an author, a MEDIUM contributor, and actor — I’m a fan! — and she decided to ask children really big questions about God. Monica’s parents are Christian and Jewish, and she said that religion wasn’t discussed or practiced very often at home when she was growing up.
But when she became a parent, she was determined to celebrate every holiday with her family, including religious holidays. And her own kid’s concepts about God, inspired her to reach out to other children.
She sent questions to at least 300 kids, ages 4…
June 7, 2020
“I’m doubting a lot lately. I don’t know any more what I believe.”
Those words were spoken to me a few years ago by a church member. She still came to church regularly, but it was increasingly hard, she said, because so many of the words spoken, the hymns sung, the prayers, and the beliefs she once thought were necessary, just didn’t seem to ring true anymore.
She said she felt like an imposter. Doing what looked right, but on the inside, feeling like a fraud.
Everyone has a different story about how they might arrive at…
June 14, 2020
Let’s think about hope. It’s easy to talk hope when things seem to be going well. It’s kind of like being happy about sunshine during the summertime. Or enjoying having a full head of hair when you’re still a teenager.
But talking about hope when there’s a pandemic going on, and when there’ve been massive demonstrations and even violence over racial injustice; when there’s so much social division and political polarization; maybe talking about hope in our present context can sound like a lot of wishful thinking.
On the other hand, isn’t this when we should be…
June 21, 2020
Have you started allowing yourself to wonder — yet — what your life will look like in a world after COVID? Is it still way too early to imagine that? I think we know that even though businesses are reopening in limited ways, and some restrictions are being eased, there continues to be the need to social-distance and wear face masks.
Hopefully by now, we’ve all adopted the habit of washing our hands like we have an obsessive-compulsive thing going on — which we should’ve been doing all along, anyway.
We know we’re not out of the…
June 28, 2020
I haven’t traveled abroad as much as I would like. I’ve mostly visited western and southern Europe, and the Middle East. And here in the United States, I’ve been lucky enough to visit almost every state.
Out of all those places I’ve been, would you like to guess where I’ve found the local people to be the most friendly, welcoming, and hospitable? Give up?
Hands down, it’s the Middle East.
I think Americans have a kind of skewed understanding of that region, because most of what we hear about it has to do with conflict. …
July 5, 2020
Here’s a test: “A train leaves New York City at noon and travels at a constant speed of 75 mph toward Toledo. At the same time, another train leaves Toledo headed toward New York City at a constant speed of 50 mph. If New York and Toledo are 560 miles apart, then at what time will the two trains pass each other?”
Give up? When I was in school, I absolutely hated that kind of word problem. I would sit there, taking a test, starting at the page, and wonder things like, “Why would anyone want to…
July 19, 2020
This is still the season of fireflies. Or as they’re often called in the south, “lightning bugs.” They started up a few weeks ago, I noticed, on the summer solstice — right on schedule — when at twilight they began rising up and blinking softly.
Here’s some trivia: Fireflies are actually beetles, and they use their flashes as mating signals. You probably knew that already. The flashes we see out in the yard are generally males looking for females. It’s kind of like teenage boys driving around in fast cars thinking that makes them more attractive. …
July 26, 2020
For my birthday back in April, my son, Charlie, gave me a very cool gift. A membership to “23 & Me.” Using your DNA, it reveals your genetic family tree. It helps you learn about your past, and the connections you have to other people today.
When you sign up, they send you a plastic vial you have to fill up with your saliva. Doesn’t sound hard, but it’s a very big vial. And yes, it’s kind of gross.
Once you fill the vial, you seal it up in a special package, mail it in, and after…