Sand in the Gears

Archive for the ‘Faith and Life’ Category

Lament

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 26 Comments »

When we tucked what remained of that little girl into the earth, I was relieved it was over. I was filled with something that felt like transcendence. We had weathered the storm, we had kept the faith, we had given ...

The presence and the devil

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 1 Comment »

Some of you may appreciate my latest "Good Letters" essay, which is about redemption and communion and other heavy things. I know, a marked change for light-hearted Tony. Here's an excerpt: "I lingered at the edges of another church in the ...

Which will falter

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 16 Comments »

In the gathered dark freezing rain scaled the limbs, the leaves, and every outstretched thing. We woke to the thrum of a power line fallen, its light so savage we had to shield our eyes. Electric fire inhabited a tree ...

Easing the burden

Friday, March 14th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 18 Comments »

"I'm sorry I shot you in the face with my Nerf gun. Do you forgive me?" My son knows he is supposed to ask for forgiveness, just as his brother knows that sooner or later he will be expected to say ...

The prodigal and I

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 26 Comments »

I passed through Wichita today, which was no small thing for me, because on every corner is loss. That is the place we took our children to see a game not long before we divorced. There is the building where ...

The world we show them

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 13 Comments »

"Which world do you want to live in?" My oldest son, just days from his 14th birthday, glares back at me. Behind him in the car sit his brothers. Their hands are pressed to their faces. One of them is crying. Caleb begins ...

Past where legs can carry

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 21 Comments »

The day after an amazingly talented actor pushed heroin into his vein and died, I saw yet another study purporting to show that we live in the best of times. It's hard to disagree. Infant mortality and poverty are plummeting. Our ...

The Casserole Dish Manifesto

Friday, January 31st, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 2 Comments »

Well, I'd intended for any manifestos I write to be published well after my death, if not to spare my children the embarrassment, then to avert desecration of my grave. In grad school I learned, by way of a miserable ...

On the virtue of not being special

Thursday, January 16th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 47 Comments »

"I have a sense," I once told a counselor, "that I'm supposed to do something great." He sat back in his chair and smiled. "Oh yeah. Everyone has that feeling about himself. Especially in this country." I was deflated for weeks. My ...

Crafted

Monday, December 9th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | 49 Comments »

My mother died while I was at the beach and so while my children spent their days on the shore, I spoke by phone with the many professionals who position themselves between the living and the dead. My thirteen year-old wanted ...

The last shall be on page three

Thursday, November 28th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

The folks at National Review Online asked me for my favorite Thanksgiving tradition and so now there it sits amongst the ruminations of people mostly more famous than me. It's at the very bottom of the last page, like how ...

Eulogy for Mama

Friday, October 11th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 13 Comments »

My mother was born on April Fool’s Day, and I know there were times when she felt like the world was playing a joke on her. A more selfish woman might have considered me such a joke. My mother was drawn ...

Words for Good and Evil

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 3 Comments »

The thing is, I'd rather write screenplays. Actually, I'd like to write novels that become screenplays. Or short stories that get spun into TV series. (Did you know that "Justified" is based on an Elmore Leonard story?) The other thing—one of ...

The difference between being blessed and being spared

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 3 Comments »

Some of you may like my latest Good Letters post. Here's an excerpt: This quiet slaughter is perhaps the greatest perversion wrought by the devil after the fall. The most innocent among God’s most favored creation, cut down by a world ...

Sheep and wolves

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | 10 Comments »

Because I am a father I think about the parents of that boy torn to pieces, of his sister whose leg was taken. I think about those parents in Newtown, whose biggest Christmas purchases were coffins for their sons and ...

The lies in truth

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 21 Comments »

Michelle Obama called herself a "single mother" last week and we'll probably be hearing about it years from now. Some Obama opponents consider it evidence the president is an absentee father, others that he's gay, others simply that the Obamas ...

Benediction from a bad man

Monday, April 1st, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 28 Comments »

I guess I stopped writing about personal things here because I didn't like the person I had become. I felt stupid, the faith and family writer who gets divorced. This was compounded by coming to DC and finding myself—though alongside ...

On feeling Godforsaken

Friday, March 29th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 3 Comments »

Some of you might like my meditation on what Good Friday means to the parent of a dead child. Here's an excerpt: "It is a great mystery to me, how God can know what it means to be forsaken, and because ...

On the separateness of preaching and healing

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 2 Comments »

Preach and heal. This is what Christ asked of his apostles, before sending them out in pairs: "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out ...

Phantom limbs and other lost things

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off

Some of you may like my essay at Good Letters. An excerpt: "Sometimes this broken world hacks away at our flesh. Other times it hands us the blades, and we sunder ourselves. Drink down whatever forgetting medicine invites you and the ...

Winton’s Children

Friday, February 15th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 2 Comments »

In case anybody ever tells you that one average joe can't make much difference: Winton's Children   UPDATE: If you'd like to see someone deserving win the Nobel Peace Prize for a change, you might consider signing this petition.

Hell and Christmas

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 23 Comments »

There is nothing to be done but weep. Cry out for the children with bodies shattered, for the ones covered in blood not their own, for the ones who didn't die instantly. Cry out for those who fell protecting them. ...

Childlike

Friday, November 30th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Back when I thought I knew something about God, I sought arguments. God is this, and God is not that, and those scriptures you think say one thing actually mean something else, don't you know. I thought her simple and ...

Question of the day

Monday, November 26th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Maybe you are like me and you are like most of us and so you imagine that your looks and your brains and your accumulations matter. Sometimes this works well for us, because if nothing else we can imagine the ...

On the virtue of burning things down

Friday, September 28th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

Some of you may appreciate my latest Good Letters post over at Patheos, in which I make the entirely reasonable suggestion that Penn State's football stadium be leveled, as a small act of communal repentance. "The forgetting can’t happen soon enough, ...

The Collapse of Western Civilization Begins in Your Dentist’s Chair

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off

Some of you may like my latest offering for Image -- an homage, if you will, to those noble members of the political, legal, financial, and insurance professions to whom I sometimes refer in the collective as "that bunch of ...

A pox on this house

Monday, August 20th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | 3 Comments »

The last fortnight was chicken pox time for the Woodlief boys. I have acquaintances who are apostles of all things scientific and modern, and who are therefore appalled that my boys never received the chicken pox vaccine. It seemed like ...

Silence

Thursday, July 26th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off

Some of you may appreciate my essay at Patheos about the long silent witnesses to Jerry Sandusky's crimes against children, and the propensity for most of us to avoid the courageous and costly choice. Here's an excerpt: "We all imagine we’d ...

A prayer for the lying

Saturday, June 9th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

My children woke me to pray this morning at 5:45 a.m. Actually, they woke me playing Legos and making the range of dramatic voices and sound effects that are, apparently, part of early morning Lego play. But then I pleaded with ...

Ambergris

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 6 Comments »

Some of you may like my latest essay at Image, which I fear once again scandalizes some good Christian folk with a naughty word. But some words are apt and true, even if George Carlin used them. Here's an excerpt: "'And ...