Twice Liberated: A Personal Journey Through Feminism

[Touchstone, Summer 1994] When I joined the college newspaper as a shy freshman many years ago, the editor gave me my first assignment: “Find out what’s all this stuff about women’s lib.” I was baffled as to how to do that; reports of feminism (which was then usually called “women’s lib”) were just beginning to titillate the public, just beginning to show up in Johnny Carson jokes about “bra-burners.” Was it possible to dig up any local “libbers”? My editor had a suggestion: go to the Student Union and have them announce over the loudspeaker, “Anyone representing the women’s liberation movement, please come to the information desk.”

Could We Survive Persecution?

[Christianity Today, March 1, 1999] A few decades ago a small paperback appeared titled ”Tortured for Christ," by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. In it Wurmbrand described his experiences of persecution behind the Iron Curtain. He pled with Americans to remember Russian believers suffering for their faith, invisible behind the fog of disinformation.

Silence is Golden, Even at the Gas Pump

[Religion News Service, January 7, 1997] In a north Florida city, just off the interstate, stands a gas station that at first appears routine. But as I came around last week to pump a tankful for my holiday trip home, I noticed a sign posted next to the credit‑card slot. The wording was oddly formal. ”We hope your fueling experience will be enhanced by Jacksonville's first FAST PAY television gas pumps."

God as Suffering Parent

[Beliefnet, December 22, 1999] * Selected for Best Christian Writing 2000 * On a cold day in December a mother gave birth to a baby boy. Seventeen years later he sat in her kitchen with a towel around his neck while she trimmed his hair. When a boy reaches a certain age he doesn’t like his mother to touch him any more. This is as close as she’s likely to get, circling him, nipping behind his pink ears with scissors.

Don’t Blame the Publishers

[Christianity Today, February 9, 1998] Get a bunch of Christian intellectuals together and pretty soon they'll start in deploring the CBA. The initials stand for the Christian Booksellers Association, the organization that links Christian bookstores across the nation. (Secular bookstores form the American Booksellers Association, or ABA.)

Looking for Religious Truth in All the Wrong Places

[Religion News Service, July 25, 1995] It's as adorable as a kitten sitting on a teddy bear holding a balloon, licking a lollipop shaped like a rainbow that smells like violets and plays “Send in the Clowns.” Make that a pink kitten. Superlatives fail me. The latest porcelain doll catalog just arrived from the Ashton‑Drake Galleries, and just thumbing through it is enough to make my teeth hurt.

Time Out

[Christianity Today, October 25, 1999] My daughter gave me a round clock for my birthday. It has a round white dial like a full moon, dashed with tapering black hands. Black Roman numerals swing around the circumference of the disk and at the bottom stand serenely on their heads. Each snap of the second hand is accompanied by a tick. I haven't had a round clock for a long time. Megan told me this was for my desk, so I put it at the back, just under the window. It joins three square clocks already in residence: one on the far edge facing the sofa, one on top of the computer monitor, and a tiny one in a corner of the monitor screen. When I sit at my desk I am relentlessly aware of what time it is. These three square clocks, with their segmented black numerals, flash time that looks impressively specific. However, they habitually disagree with each other, reminding me that specific is not the same as accurate. Right now I have my choice of 12:31, 12:32, or 12:33. Make that 12:34.

So I’m Sorry Already

[Christianity Today, April 6, 1998] On the old ”Bob Newhart Show," the one that cast Bob as a psychiatrist, one recurrent character carried meekness to a fault. He was a failure as a door-to-door salesman because he feared knocking on people's doors might disturb them. So he'd wait on the doorstep, hoping they'd happen to open the door.

Shows the Famiily Can Watch

[Religion News Service, September 3, 1996] A recent television awards ceremony sought to honor so‑called “family” shows; advertising for the program proclaimed that it would celebrate “shows the whole family can watch together.” The tone was both defensive and opportunistic. The show's producers read their demographics correctly: There are a lot of parents out there who are just plain peeved.

Church Fires, Contagious Hatred

[Religion News Service, July 23, 1996] At the beginning of a summer expected to be long and hot, a shocking charge was made: Racists are burning black churches. In a June 8 address, President Clinton cited the burning of Murkland Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C., which he described as the 30th such fire in 18 months.