I had a couple pieces published elsewhere this week.

Comment invited me to write a feature essay for their series about how church practices form/inform public life. From the piece:
Never did I question the impact of my ministry more than on the morning I offered the words of benediction and slipped away from church before coffee hour. I had a rare and brief opportunity to see a visiting friend, and we'd made plans to have brunch at the Redondo Beach pier, a mere two blocks from our sanctuary. I'd never been to the beach on a Sunday morning before, and I was gobsmacked to behold the massive crowds. The sand was dotted with thousands of beach blankets; hundreds of surfers bobbed just past the breaking waves. But what truly astonished me was the row of beachside bars. It wasn't yet noon and they were packed. I don't have anything against margaritas, generally speaking, let alone beach volleyball. But the vast disparity between the service of Word and Sacrament in a half-empty sanctuary and the merrymaking at the neighbouring pier rattled me. I had known people weren't coming to worship; I now knew where they were instead. I suddenly feared that the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts—even if they were indeed acceptable in God's sight—were irrelevant to a culture that couldn't care less.
 Read the rest here

And my first piece for A Deeper Family:
My great-grandfather was murdered in an alley in Cicero in the 1930s. He seems more like an ancestor than a relative to me, so I have never felt personally sorrowful whenever this odd bit of family lore comes up. I imagine the scene as film noir. I wonder if his untimely death was the mugging of an innocent, a bar brawl, or the not-so-unlikely possibility that it was a mafia hit; such violence had long since spilled out of Chicago proper into the surrounding suburbs.
Read the rest here. And while you're there, leave a comment to be entered for a book giveaway.

(I confess that I found it a little bit amusing that I gave a nod to margaritas into the essay for the Canadian conservatives, and that the post for A Deeper Family references the mafia but not Jesus.)

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