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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

God

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

Confrontations with God, a tollbooth, and the Devil

I used to pray a strange prayer:

“Dear God, prune the roots.”

I saw my mind as a magical tree, but I feared it wasn’t mighty enough. What if it’s only a bonsai? I wanted God to go underground, down to the roots and trim them, snip off their tapered decisions to stop reaching, encourage them to dig deeper into the earth.

“But bonsais are so beautiful,” you say.

You’re not wrong. And I love you.

God’s pruning would make the root system vast. Imagine oceans of water sent up and up into the bonsai. It would have a choice…


Lived Through This

We knew a lot about hell. Not as much about heaven.

Whimsical illustration of two children getting eaten by colorful monsters.
Whimsical illustration of two children getting eaten by colorful monsters.

I was in a small Christian gang at my elementary school. At first glance, you might not have believed we were gang members, but if you looked closely at the twinkle in our eyes, you would have read the message, “We can die at any time. Jesus will catch us. How about you? Do you know who’s catching you?”

That’s a lot to read in a set of eyes. But you could, because we were looking at you for a very long time, staring, willing your salvation. We stared because Christian culture never taught us the rules of eye contact…


I ran away from God in a pair of Asics

The day my husband and I found out we could not have biological children, I cut God out of my life totally, absolutely, and with little remorse.

All I wanted, all I had ever really wanted, was to be a mother, but the God who I had been taught loved me and watched over me and wanted me to be happy, had denied me my own desire. He had ripped it away with a test result and our conversation with a doctor.

To take away the one thing I had wanted for so long was unforgivable.

“Rage keeps the person…


Reasonable Doubt

On growing up torn between one parent who believed, and another who didn’t

In 1962, my dad sat next to a boy who ate blue crayons. If my dad missed school, he’d later open the Crayola box to find empty slots where all the shades of indigo and sky had been. At the desk one over, was a kid with a guilty grin full of wax.

This was a Catholic grammar school in Northeast Philadelphia, a place run by nuns and stuffed with children. A classmate fled in a doomed escape attempt on the first week of school, and a car slammed into him as he ran across the street. …


Reasonable Doubt

My journey from undoubting faith to disbelief, in four acts

Genesis

A tall, slender man turns his mule off the main road. He rides down an inner track before turning onto a dirt path. His mule grunts with familiarity as they pass field after field; fields bearing fruits and vegetables that Jamaicans have lived off for decades since they were taken from Africa. Bananas, oranges, yams, breadfruit, pawpaw, and others burst from the ground bringing news of a successful harvest.

The man, William Case, only in his mid-twenties but a full grown man all the same, stops in front of a piece of land, tying his mule to a wooden post…


Trust Issues

Reconciling the harm Christianity can inflict with the joy it can bring

I’ll never forget the day I discovered that Mary Magdalene was never a prostitute. I had just returned from yet another unfulfilling service at a Baptist church just one block away from my former apartment, and I was beginning to feel as though my relationship with God was reaching an impasse. I tried everything I could to improve my connection: church on Sundays (though I spent more time scrolling through Twitter than paying attention), Bible study sessions (despite missing the sentimentality and ecstasy of sermons), and prayer (although I did not know where to start or what to say). …


Maybe we’re seeking the wrong answers

“Why didn’t the prayer work, Mom?”

This was the question my seven-year-old daughter posed to me last week. We were in Banff National Park in Canada, on vacation. Two hours earlier, we’d sat closely together, reciting a prayer to the Virgin Mary known as the Memorare, in the hopes of helping a hiker who had collapsed on the trail ahead of us. Shortly after we finished praying, the man died.

When it happened, we were on the last full day of a short and sweet family vacation in the Canadian Rockies. …


It’s time we examine how we treat those questioning their faith

I was recently asked to speak at my Stake conference regarding my experiences leaving the church for several years, and my recent choice to return. I decided to use this opportunity to teach a lesson sorely needed in LDS communities about how we treat those who choose to leave. The below is an adaptation of that speech.

I’d like to share with you my experience leaving the church for several years, and my recent decision to return.

Your instinct might be to get excited. You might hope that I’m about to share the secret sauce that will bring loved ones…


Embracing a spirituality in which God is less of an authoritarian, more like a blade of grass

A few years ago, I came across a thoughtful op-ed in the New York Times by Rabbi Mark Sameth. In it, he made a provocative suggestion: God was not, in fact, a He. In the Jewish tradition, God is transgender.

“Counter to everything we grew up believing, the God of Israel — the God of the three monotheistic, Abrahamic religions to which fully half the people on the planet today belong — was understood by its earliest worshipers to be a dual-gendered deity,” Sameth asserts.

I appreciate this perspective for multiple reasons. First, I research and write about ancient Goddess…


Ten years ago, I had a really bad night.

It was a warm Friday evening in June as I was preparing to happy-hour my face off at my favorite bar. I sat on the couch of my best friend’s home, where I was renting a room, eating a PB&J sandwich to coat a highly anticipated rum and coke after a tough week at work.

A masked man broke in through my bedroom window, crept down the hall, alerted my dog, and thus begins the tale I’ve told police officers, therapists, family, friends, and a judge who put the…

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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