One straight Christian’s journey into Ally-hood (and a plea for ally-hood with people in the hood)

You may know the weird and sad story of my first college boyfriend.

I don’t talk about this a ton, because it was a messy and complicated and deeply personal issue, and publicly I usually only talk about it in terms of how it shaped my commitment to gun safety. But the fact is, it also cemented my commitment to GLBT inclusion within the church. (more…)

Righteousness in Complex Times

I have attempted to convert my sermon notes from yesterday into a sermon.

By means of explanation, this sermon is part of a series our church is doing on the beatitudes, or the sermon where Jesus lists different groups of people who are blessed, although their lives are hard. We are using an accompanying children’s book called “The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights,” and the image that goes along with “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” is the image of a row of Black soldiers in blue, with the reminder that God was with the soldiers as they fought and died for freedom. (more…)

Longfellow, Belafonte and the dream of peace on earth at Christmas

It is VERY unusual for me to manuscript a sermon these days. Usually, I only do so if the sermon’s going to be translated. My style borders on folksy with occasional gospel-preaching ramp-ups, neither of which is well served by tightly managed wording or the temptation to glance down at the paper on the lectern.

This Sunday, words were so hard to find that I did manuscript–coincidentally on a very rare Sunday when our faithful videographer of the past several months was not able to be present. (more…)

A dead young man + an outpouring of rage = rules to limit public speech at city council meetings? A pastor’s response to city council

You may know the story of Alan Blueford, shot by police for the crime of running away and then falsely framed by his assailant (currently on paid suspension).


You may know the story of his family and supporters taking over a city council meeting last night to demand an unredacted report about the shooting.


Blueford's family at city council in May

You MAY know that city council’s first public action is to consider new measures between now and the next meeting in two weeks to adopt new meeting policies (and one council member’s odd blaming of Occupy Oakland for having created this culture of disruption, when a recent Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce poll of Oakland voters found an overwhelming desire for city leaders to exhibit greater civility and ethics, putting to rest the argument that partisanship is the soul of rancor, since our city council is 100% Democrat).


I’ve been on a slow simmer about this all day. And tonight when I got home and learned about the new meeting policy discussion, I sat down to write a pastoral letter to the city council members I respect, because I am so saddened that their first collective response to the outpouring of grief last night was to make sure that no such outpouring of grief happen again. I understand that business was left unhandled last night (including business I care about a great deal). And in a city where we have to grieve far too often for losses that are completely unnecessary, I believe we need leaders who will stand up and say “At least the people in our charge won’t contribute to the violence that is already out of control in our city.” So here is the letter I just emailed them. They are good people I believe can offer the leadership we need, so I call on them, as a pastor and as a citizen, to lead. (more…)

Youtube videos I used at church camp (if you weren’t there, I swear they made more sense at the time)

Last week, I keynoted youth camp at Community of the Great Commission in the Sierras.

Several youth wanted links to the videos I used at camp.

Providing the links here does not mean I endorse every single word or image–sometimes the video was just used for effect. And I certainly don’t endorse the music of R Kelly–the link below is the exception that proves the rule. (more…)