Visitors to worship at the congregation I serve, Old South, will generally find a warm and friendly group. Most Old South folk are eager to greet new people, to invite them to coffee, and to talk to them about the church. There are a few people in the congregation who are attentive to newcomers during worship as well, making sure they have a bulletin, know which hymnal is which, and to deliver children’s materials to any kids. It’s nice to see.
If you manage to get into the building, you’ll find a nice welcome.
Brian and I are at the Farmer’s Market. I walk up to the vendors, and the wife says, “Oh! You must be Pastor Brian’s wife.”I shake her hand and say, “Yes, I am Brian’s wife. My name is Carol Howard Merritt.” As she introduces me to her husband, I wonder if I should I have added the “Reverend” to my name. I don’t usually use the prefix, but should I have notified them that I’m a pastor too?
At the end of Marilynne Robinson’s latest novel Lila, the title character envisions heaven in an intensely communal way. In light of that communal vision, Century associate editor Amy Frykholm gathered together three avid Robinson readers—Rachel Stone, Peter Boumgarden, and Amber Noel—for a conversation about the novel.
Branding is all about claiming distinctiveness. What can your product do that others can’t? What looks or feels better than the others? What tastes stand out? Sometimes we treat faith communities the same way.
It was my first winter in rural South Dakota, and despite the worrisome weather, I was planning a road trip. On Sunday morning, one of my parish members came up to me and solemnly handed me a coffee can. It contained a roll of toilet paper, a candle, some matches, and a candy bar. “Put this in your trunk,” she said. I had no idea what this was. “Thank you,” I said.
Maybe it’s because I’m a pastor and my social media is flooded with churchy headlines and hashtags, but I’ve grown weary of the Christmas tradition of bemoaning the commercialization of the season and criticizing others (usually referring to non-Christians) for being so materialistic about Christmas.
I mean, I’ve got my own gripes with Black Friday and Xmas music in late September but is there anything more cliché than surveying the wrapping paper debris on the curb and the pine needles on the floor and lamenting that we’ve missed the meaning of Christmas?
When it comes to conversations about government spending, two subjects tend to get conflated. The first is an ideological debate about whether or not the government is in general any good at doing things. The second regards the actual effectiveness of specific things the government does. And the second conversation is far more concrete, productive, and important, which is why it drives me crazy when the first one prevents people from engaging the second.
Ron Haskins's new book is pretty wonky, but the articles he's written to promote it are quite readable.