Essays

Short personal, cultural, and journalistic essays for those on the margins of faith

Stepping Back into the World

Gates slam, voices scream, and somewhere someone bangs on a metal bar. She lies on the bed staring up at the ceiling, her fingers opening and closing. Her lips press in a heart-shaped pout, and she jerks at times. It…

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Beauty Behind Bars

His name is Ken, and our worlds collide under unusual circumstances. The local nature preserve is hosting a Wildlife Artist Expo, so I drive my oldest daughter, Rainey – who announced at her preschool graduation that she wanted to be…

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We Don’t Do That

We walk in and a woman tells us to pick a color. I’m drawn to the blues. They seem whimsical and youthful and impractical. But it’s getting warmer, and I should stick with what everyone does this time of year:…

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The People Inside

You can’t take it with you. Purse, wallet, cell phone, car keys—you must stow everything in the coin-operated lockers in the corner of the lobby. Check in with the guard behind the desk, stash your stuff, and wait your turn….

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For the Limits of the Law, Better Call Saul

Three seasons in, most of the cynicism has faded from the response to AMC’s most prestigious and highly-rated television series, Better Call Saul.   As a spinoff of — and prequel to — the immensely popular Breaking Bad, Better Call…

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Systems of Court

Zechariah is arrested for the first time just before he turns seventeen. His mom doesn’t have enough credit to post bail, so she asks my husband and me for help. Because of the nature of our lives running a nonprofit…

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The Choice Between Life and Death

Let’s talk about evil. Sometimes folks accuse people who want to abolish the death penalty of being unrealistic, utopian, or oblivious to the fact that evil is real. What do we do with someone who is a threat to society?…

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Starved for Beauty

I was nervous the first time I met the men. Possibly even afraid.   They were behind bars. Locked up in a maximum-security facility. Separated from society because they had done bad things. And most of them were going to…

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Fireworks, War, and Justice

Independence Day and I have a complicated relationship. I have fond memories from my childhood—packing a picnic and going to an all-day festival with my family. We’d lay our blanket on the grassy hillside and wait until nightfall. A military…

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How a Muslim Proved My Faith to Me

As one of the only American photographers living in the Kingdom of Bahrain, my services were in high demand, especially by expats who longed for pictures to memorialize their time in the Middle East but who were still American enough…

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