Allen Marshall O’Brien is the pastor of a UCC church in Northern California and co-host of the Irenicast. He believes in the importance of education, peace, and ecology, throws things to his border collie Sonata, and writes for multiple platforms.
A teacher forced me to kiss her in high school. She had been grading everyone on their responses to Spanish commands: “abra la puerta” and someone opened a door. To another student, “cierra la ventana.” Then she looked at me and said, “Alano…besame.” I loved the language and excelled in class, but was stupefied and surely misheard. I asked for clarification. “Besame,” she repeated. This was for a class participation grade so, embarrassed, I got up and walked past all my chuckling classmates to the front of the room Read more “Abra la puerta, that fresh new wind is blowing”
A group of Evangelical leaders released the “Nashville Statement” on gender and sexuality last month, sparking a host of outrage (and the formation of response statements like Christians United). What may be less immediately obvious, however, are the groups behind Nashville’s drafting.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood drew signatories for their release from organizations such as The Gospel Coalition, the Southern Baptist Convention with its seminary and college (Boyce), Together For The Gospel, and a variety of schools, churches, and public figures. The CBMW itself appears to be cross-pollinated by mutual publicity and financial ties to many of these. Notably present within the list of signatories are the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council, both deemed hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
File this one under TMI. It’s super intimate and not something I yell at strangers, but it’s just us here so I’ll let you in on a secret:
My faith gave me issues.
As a developing adolescent I routinely heard sexual expression outside of marriage was anathema. Masturbation was an affront to my Creator; only within marriage were my sexual feelings legitimate.
So I prayed. I asked the Source of all living things to kill this part of me, to castrate me in the pursuit of holiness. I created an internal liturgy and recited it for years: remove this from me. Temptation was strong, but I believed God was stronger and could bring me to marriage spotless, untouched. Then marriage would solve all of my problems and, more importantly, validate this deeply meaningful portion of my personhood. Read more “I tried to pray my sexuality away”
When I finally noticed her, she didn’t glance away. Her stance gave me the impression that she had been glaring at me for a while. You see, the crammed In-N-Out didn’t have bathrooms; none of the restaurants did. They relied upon public restrooms located in an alley next to a segue rental, which spilled wide-eyed tourists into the alleyway, rolling around at the speed of newborn turtles.
We had deftly dodged the segues and keyed-in the code to the bathroom as a haggard voice in waders sing-songed the numbers to us like some boardwalk siren. He sat there and smoked and offered everyone the secret combination, irrespective of their patron status. I thought it funny he waited in waders. Read more “Here in the shade”
I’m not sure what led me to it – perhaps some combination of mustacheod woodworker commercial and that one conversation with the aspiring barber at the bar – but after a stellar career of 14 years, my beard met oil.
The beard oil came in a small bottle and complimentary dropper, which I used to deposit three mounds of liquid on the tips of the index, middle, and ring fingers of my left hand, palm facing ceiling in ritualistic praise. It smelled good. Really good. First contact [cue Close Encounters theme] changed everything. Time melted and I was sitting on my high school gymnasium stage, responding to the cute JW twins, “ya, I use conditioner because my hair is so curly.”Read more “I Tried Beard Oil”
Ancient literature once chronicled the history of Mammon, a conniving god whose allure of wealth concentrates power and inspires devotion, but few speak of it as openly as Jesus or Milton — at least in this area of the world since its invisible hand took hold of a fledgling nation.