People develop strange attachments to places. Good memories, bad experiences, and people we love seem to get imprinted into places like “home,” “school,” and “church” in a way we can’t easily explain. Walking through these significant places can bring a flood of emotion. Places are much more than physical spaces but include our emotional attachments … Continue reading Places in the Heart: Where Memories Reside
Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky closes his classic novel Crime and Punishment, with the imprisoned character, Raskolnikov, making the smallest turn toward God. A radical thinker-turned-murderer, Raskolnikov begins rejecting his past life and hopes to find a new life. He begins to believe. The story ends there, with Raskolnikov on the verge of transformation. Dostoevsky writes, … Continue reading Crime, Punishment, and Redemption
Bear with me on this one … I am wrestling with a challenging idea – productive pessimism. I know, pessimism is a negative word and it may be too strong, but I am trying it out. Could pessimism every be a good thing? Perhaps “redemptive realism” would capture what I am trying to say. However, … Continue reading Productive Pessimism/Redemptive Realism: Art with Purpose
Paul Simon wrote and recorded “Mrs. Robinson,” during a time of social upheaval in the United States. The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War had divided American. Protests were common. Images of anger and injustice were commonplace on newspaper pages and TV screens. You can almost hear Simon longing for a simpler time as … Continue reading Where have you gone, Mr. Rogers?
When I moved to the South in 1994 I experienced many new cultural expressions. One the most interesting was the unique use of honorific titles plus a first name (Miss Margaret, Mr. George, etc.) for adults with whom you have a close relationship. I often hear people from Oklahoma say that they are from the … Continue reading What may I call you? A cultural dilemma
I vividly remember Sept. 11, 2001. We were living in Waveland, Miss., at the time and was in my first year of study at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Kimberly taught first grade at Charles B. Murphy Elementary in Pearlington. Our son, Jonathan, was just 10 months old. At first it was a normal Tuesday. … Continue reading Remembering 9-11: A Personal Reflection
Culture is a curious thing. Ask anyone to describe the ideal human culture and, chances are, the person will describe a culture very similar to his or her own. Some may point to subtle differences between the ideal and their own, but people tend to believe their own culture is not only good but best. Can … Continue reading Is ‘my’ culture is better than ‘your’ culture?
Any way you look at it, empathy is hard work. Selfishness always comes easy. Unfortunately, selfishness and empathy cannot occupy the same space in our lives. Every time I scroll through social media I see a few expressions of empathy and many expressions that are anything but empathic. Words that dehumanize and marginalize people are … Continue reading The Hard Work of Empathy
When I moved to New Orleans 15 years ago, I was enamored. The architecture, the music, the art, the culture, and the people inspired me. This young love for the city focused on the positives. Because I lived on the seminary campus, I had a safe place to retreat. I could enjoy the city with … Continue reading Falling in Love with My City … All Over Again
In the raw pain of writing about CJ’s death a few weeks back (“The Death and Life of an Imagine-bearer”), I could not communicate all I wanted to say with clarity. Here is an attempt to connect the dots. This is an honest effort meant to address difficult issues of race and culture. Talk will … Continue reading Gaining Clarity and Hope