An Open Letter to My Friends Who Voted for Donald Trump

My dear friend,

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, especially when you know it’s likely to be filled with sadness and anger. I know this is uncomfortable, but I also know that you care about me. That’s why we’re friends. Thank you for your respect; I will strive to show the same to you.

It’s easy to rant against Trump supporters in the abstract, but not against you, because I know you. I know you’re not racist, or sexist, or homophobic. I know you respect and care for me and others like me. And that’s why, as a woman, as a Millennial, as a writer, and as your friend, I have to let you know how your vote feels, and more importantly, how it functions, to me. Continue reading

Who Is My Neighbor? Voting as an Evangelical

It’s really only been this week that I figured out what, at base, so disturbs me about this election. There’s plenty to choose from, sure. But beyond the actions of the candidates themselves, beyond the insane and horrible rhetoric, beyond the general polarization and scandal and dishonesty, there’s one thing above everything else that burdens my heart. This election, more than any other I can remember, we are desperate to save ourselves at any cost.

The Evangelical voting bloc has been a powerful one for a long time. It’s vocal and it’s effective. Conservatives have used lots of different methods to appeal to us, to assure us that they are the best candidates for us. This election, the Evangelical bloc has been courted through fear: fear that our way of life will disappear if we vote for the wrong candidate. Continue reading

10 Points on Eric Metaxas

In July, I wrote a response to a piece by Wayne Allyn Root advocating that Christians must vote for Donald Trump. Root’s piece didn’t turn out to have much readership, but then Eric Metaxas, of Bonhoeffer fame, wrote his own piece for the Wall Street Journal. This piece, in contrast, has gotten a lot of Evangelical response. It has the tone of many of the pieces written by this community: yes, Trump is distasteful, but hold your nose and vote for him because the alternative is worse. Here is, point by point, why I believe Eric Metaxas has it wrong. Continue reading

Are Christians “Missing the Boat” on Donald Trump?

Wayne Allyn Root, a businessman and political commentator among other things, wrote a column in which he argues that Christians are “missing the boat” on Donald Trump and that they should not only vote for him, but that doing anything else is denying the messages that God is sending us. I had enough thoughts on this that I wanted to write my own point-by-point rebuttal of where I believe Root is missing the whole point.

Root begins with the famous joke about a devout man stuck on a roof during a massive flood. He refuses any and all help, claiming that he’s waiting for God. Now, the man dies and meets God, and he asks about God’s refusal to save him. God replies, “What did you want? I sent you three different people to help you.”

This man on the roof, the writer claims, is America, and Trump is our rowboat. “Maybe God,” Root says, “is trying to tell us something important — that now is not the time for a ‘nice Christian guy’ or a ‘gentleman’ or a typical Republican powder puff…. Because right about now we need a miracle, or America is finished.” Continue reading

Silent Saturday

The day after you lose your best friend is actually worse than the day that you watch him hang. Because at least while you’re watching him die, the whole thing has an air of reality somehow, even if it’s the worst reality you’ve ever experienced. But the day after he’s dead, you wake up with this sense of unreal-ness, like maybe you dreamed it all, and now it will all be put right.

Every corner you turn, you expect to find his face on the other side. And every time a conversation starts, you strain to hear his voice. I think that’s really why we’re hiding. I mean, we’re hiding from the authorities, of course, because if Jesus is… dead, then surely the rest of us are soon to follow. But I think we’re also hiding from seeing him everywhere we used to spend time with him–in the market, at the table, sitting by the sea.

The truth is, it’s the silence and the emptiness that’s the worst of it. Because at least when you’re crying, you’re doing something. Most of us have spent the day together, and sometimes we’ve talked, or prayed, or cried together, but mostly we just sit in silence and stare at the wall, wondering what to do. Wondering how this man who we gave our whole lives to could suddenly be gone. Continue reading

40 Days of Meaningful Fasting

Do you celebrate Lent? Lent is typically thought of as a season celebrated by the Catholic church and some high-church denominations, but it’s something that I’ve really been blessed by.

In case you didn’t grow up in the church or have no idea what I’m talking about, Lent is 40 days (which doesn’t count the Sundays) of fasting in preparation for Easter. Different people do it different ways: some give up something like chocolate until Easter, some engage in acts of service, and some fast from things like gossiping or complaining. Traditionally, you abstain from eating meat on Fridays in remembrance of the crucifixion (hence Friday fish fries) and don’t say “alleluia” in church in recognition of the solemnity of the season.

The season is 40 days long to echo Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is February 10th this year. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before, traditionally the day when people would make pancakes to use up the rest of their cooking fat before the fast. Of course, it’s also known as a day of going crazy for the same reason. Continue reading

Veni, Veni

A couple of years ago, I put up a short story for Christmas (which you can find here) which used some characters from my current novel, Go. I thought I’d write another one for this year instead of just cheating and putting up the old one! Enjoy! If you’d like to learn more about the MacMasters, ask me about being a beta reader. I’m hoping the rewrite will be done (very) soon!

“And so man was made higher than the angels, and God said that it was very good.”

It was the first time in five years that the four MacMasters had been in church together. Twelve-year-old Xandri sat between her parents, with Curt, her little brother, sitting on her mother’s other side. It was Christmas Eve, and Xandri could just make out snow swirling around outside the stained glass windows of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in Shadyside, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The huge sanctuary was chilly, but made warmer with its closely packed congregation and the ceremonial candles lit on the altar.

“Humans are in a very unique position,” the priest continued, looking out over the filled pews. “We are the only beings in creation who can neither call ourselves good nor evil.” Continue reading

Godspell

My mother’s faith began with a pack of cigarettes
(menthol miracle)
and a nap with a Western Civ textbook on her chest
dreaming of jeans in a sea of togas.
She met Jesus on the Mount
and then in buckskins, asleep,
seven feet tall.
He opened his eyes at her from a wooden sculpture
and sent her an Episcopal priest,
a mountaintop in eastern Kansas.
Whiskey and smoke were His body and blood,
calling the hippy rocker in the 1980s
who wanted nothing to do with this Galilean carpenter.
He was the God of the small things,
the gritty things,
the pot smokers, the drinkers, those who stayed up too late
and were sanctified in the fire of the early-morning radio station.
Seeing visions and dreaming dreams
long after all the drugs and smoke had gone away.
She met Jesus, sharp edges intact,
on the road to Mount Oread.
She’s never been the “church-y” type.

Ashes

“From dust you came and to dust
you shall return.” Empty powder
blown into a strong wind.

A hollow city steeped in darkness,
lifeless shell of a kingdom
with no energy to even let itself burn.

Tears streaked in grey and brown,
stomach barren and eyes raw,
sitting in sackcloth and despair.

Grey memories mix with black earth.
Your grief is fertile ground,
rising with no place left to fall.

All welcome in the Holy of Holies
now. Serve with hands smelling
like His, a fragrant offering.

On the altar, only ashes remain.

From Ashes You Come

“Happy Ash Wednesday” always seems a little bit like an oxymoron. Ash Wednesday, while sacred, is not particularly happy. An Ash Wednesday service is solemn, including putting a cross of ashes on the forehead of each member of the congregation and reminding them, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”

“Lent,” as I just learned from this beautiful article on Relevant, comes from a Latin root that also gives us “lengthen.” In this cold and difficult time of year, the days are slowly lengthening and more light is working its way into every day. Lent is a time to prepare ourselves for the ultimate coming of that light. The more we understand our existence in ashes, the more awe we will find in the coming of the new life.

This Lent, I’m participating in an Instagram project with The Neighborhood Church, my home church in Colorado. Each day, there’s a word to serve as inspiration to take and post a picture. I want to take it a step further, though–writing has always been an important way for me to engage with my faith, so I’m going to endeavor to write a piece each day, or most days, following the theme. “Ashes” is the inspiration for today, so keep an eye out.

I won’t say “Happy Ash Wednesday.” But, along the lines of C.S. Lewis’s Joy with a capital J, I will wish you a Joyous Ash Wednesday and Lenten Season.