I’m a writing pastor. I love this work. I spend my days with people who are trying to live lives of faith in a pretty forbidding world. I’m lucky—people talk to me, share their stories, nurse their doubts and questions, ask me how to find God when you’re so stressed you can hardly breathe. Mostly I listen, tell them they’re not alone. I don’t have many answers, but I love the quest. I sit in front of a screen and write my way to God. I never know where I’m going when I start, I just try to tell what amounts to a story. And when it’s true, the story takes me home.
My love of stories began with the greatest volume of stories ever, the Bible. I heard hundreds, thousands of Bible stories as a boy, growing up in a fervently Baptist home on the Great Plains of South Dakota. Then I started to read books. I ended up an English major, of course, got a Master’s degree in literature and then spent four or five years working toward a Ph.D because I thought I wanted to be a professor. Meanwhile, I’d left the Baptist church and was searching for a faith home that would have me. I found my way into an Episcopal church while I was working on that Ph.D, and I never finished it. I set off for divinity school and was ordained more than thirty years ago.
I’ve always been a writing pastor. When I started out, I was married with two little kids and a wife who had a demanding job. In the parish newsletter, I skipped the churchly stuff and wrote stories about what was actually happening in my life and the lives of people who were honest enough to tell me their truth. A few years ago I wrote Breakfast Epiphanies: Finding Wonder in the Everyday (Beacon Press). It’s a collection of stories that chronicles everything from my first father-daughter dance, to my fiasco in traffic court, to my mother’s death. All tales in search of the Spirit. A few years ago I wrote Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul: The Passage to New Life When Old Beliefs Die (Convergent Books). As the subtitle says, it’s about finding a faith that can carry you through all the crazy phases of life.
I’m married to Pam Anderson, food writer and cookbook author. You can see her work at Copperhouseevents.com. Pam and I have two grown daughters.
Something happened to me at age forty that I’m still trying to understand. The life I thought I’d get, I didn’t. Like it or not, I had to renegotiate my contract. I had to figure out what it meant to be a man, to be a husband and father, to be a pastor in this new and uncertain arrangement. I had to decide what I believed about the “God” who was supposed to be in charge of all this. I’ve been working on Plan B ever since. That’s what I usually write about. Plan B is a lot harder to live, but it’s far richer and a lot more fun. I hope you find something of your own life in these posts, and that you’ll tell a few of your own stories along the way.