With Glad and Generous Hearts

A few years ago, when I worked for Back Bay Mission, we got a new executive director. She wasn’t a member of the United Church of Christ, and I needed to introduce her to the denomination and to a whole bunch of people. So I took her to Cleveland. I took her to the annual meeting of the United Church of Christ’s Council for Health and Human Services Ministries. And I took her to the national offices of the United Church of Christ. I introduced her to the people who work for the Council and to people who work at

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Orange Team, Turquoise Team, Purple Team

At about 5:40pm pacific time on Monday, July 29, a young white man opened fire at the annual garlic festival in Gilroy, California. At about 10:40am mountain time on Saturday, August 3, a young white man opened fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. At about 1:20am eastern time on Sunday, August 4, another young white man opened fire in a popular nightlife district in Dayton, Ohio. On Saturday afternoon—or, maybe, on Sunday morning—a lot of pastors rewrote their sermons so that they could address the issues of gun violence, white supremacy, and toxic masculinity that these shootings raised.

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Kids These Days

Many of you know that I’m an amateur musician. I play clarinet and tenor saxophone. And while my clarinet is reserved for things like summer band, I actually practice my saxophone. It sits on a stand in my office at home. Sometimes, I can pick it up and work for an hour or so. Sometimes, I can pick it up for fifteen minutes or so. But I practice. And if you’ve ever played a musical instrument, or if you’ve ever played a sport, or if you’ve ever been an artist, or, really, if you’ve ever done something where you have

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Markets, Charity, and African T-Shirts

Recently, I was interviewed for an article from the United Church of Christ’s Tri-Conference Ministries. During that interview, I mentioned that I had recently read about the idea of doing good recklessly (I didn’t originally read it on Cheezburger, but you can read the same thread that I did there). The interviewer pushed back a little, pointing out that doing good recklessly can cause real harm. And she gave the example of companies and organizations dumping t-shirts into African markets, damaging local clothing industries. At the time, I said that there are large-scale policy issues (like market regulation in African

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The Rules

Linda Tirado is an author and a journalist. And she told this story to some people at NPR: In 2008, Linda and her husband moved to Cincinnati. They didn’t have much money, so they got a cheap basement apartment. And then a summer storm came through and the flooding ruined a lot of their stuff and the mold destroyed the rest. Tirado was eight months pregnant at the time and all she wanted was a place to sit down, so she started calling around to churches and charities, asking if she could get a chair. So she gets a hold

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Radical Charity Discussion Guide Available!

Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) isn’t just for solo reading. It also makes a great book for discussion for your church, organization, or book group. And now there’s a discussion guide available! You can download it here!

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Short. Sweet. Simple.

I am a writer and a preacher, so I know a simple truth: words have power. Words can lift us up and tear us down. Words can impart wisdom and spread ignorance. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words… words have almost unimaginable power. A few months ago, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives swore in its very first Muslim woman legislator. Her name is Movita Johnson-Harrell. Right before she was sworn in—as in, minutes before she was sworn in—another legislator delivered the session’s opening prayer. It was two minutes long. And I know that doesn’t sound like a

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God’s Away on Business

When I was in seminary, I spent a few months as a student chaplain at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. Along with the other student chaplains, I took classes at the hospital and covered on-calls.  During the week, during the day, there were real professional chaplains at the hospital. People who knew what they were doing. One night a week, there was only me. Just before my very first night, a pregnant woman had come into labor and delivery. She had a stillbirth. And after she spent some time with a real professional chaplain, she left alone. Her child

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Race and Charity Skepticism

This post is based, in part, on this post from 2016. Not too long ago, I wrote a book called Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church). If you haven’t read it, you should. You can buy a copy here. One of the challenges of writing a book is that some of what I wanted to say just didn’t make it in. Books have a limited amount of space, and I couldn’t cover every topic that I would have liked to. And one of the topics that I couldn’t cover was race. So I took an old post that

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A Terrible Prophet

The church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints. And even pastors like me struggle to love as we ought to. If you’ve listened to my sermons, you know that I have some issues with how our country has been treating people who come to this country seeking asylum. And you can probably guess that I have some issues with how our country treats immigrants—especially immigrants from the south—in general. Well… earlier this week, while I was working on this sermon, there was a news story. There was a group on Facebook made up of about

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