Sand in the Gears

That malt shop in the sky

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016 Posted in Faith and Life | 11 Comments »

Of all the reasons to cry, the “Beauty School Dropout” number from Grease probably shouldn’t make my list. Yet here I sit, surreptitiously mashing tears from the corners of my eyes just like Danny Zuko would have done, in his ...

Dance For Your Life

Friday, July 3rd, 2015 Posted in Snapshots of Life | 1 Comment »

The thing is, I lied about being able to dance when I was courting my wife. How often do people dance any more? Sure, people put on some kind of godawful thumping tribal ritual-sacrifice music and grind up against each ...

Listing

Friday, May 22nd, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on Listing

Here's an excerpt from my latest Image essay if you're interested: Isaiah returned to the scene of the crime to survey his work. It was a damned atrocity. Paint ran haphazardly against the grain, tacky pools of it collected on the ...

Fair

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 17 Comments »

I've been working on contentment, which mostly means I've been praying for God to help me be content in whatever circumstances I find myself, then griping at him when I face trials that might help me learn contentment. But I'm ...

On just saying no

Friday, July 18th, 2014 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 1 Comment »

Related to my previous post, I have an essay at Good Letters digging into the hypocrisy of evangelicals, as represented by the American Family Association, who simultaneously support the Drug War while demanding that we reject child refugees from that ...

Thy kingdom come

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 Posted in The Sermons | 50 Comments »

I don't think they love their children any less than I love my own, which tells me something about what their lives must be like, to send their babies away. Their children stream northward in droves—as many as 60,000 this ...

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 ...

The worldly vision

Friday, March 28th, 2014 Posted in Curmudgeonry, The Sermons | 22 Comments »

(Note: An expanded version of this essay—which attempts to address some of the objections leveled in the comments below as well as at The American Conservative—is over at On Faith.)   I am angry, and so I hope you will forgive me for whatever I ...

Easing the burden

Friday, March 14th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 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 world we show them

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood | 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 ...

The ministering parent

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 16 Comments »

Do you ever look on your children, and wish they had better than you? Back when we were shopping my embarrassingly confessional first book, my agent at the time told me I needed a ministry to accompany it. She said this ...

The Cost of Calling: The Answer

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 Posted in The Art of Parenting, The Sermons | 18 Comments »

I come now to the question in my heart when I began: what can my sons say to a deceived and soul-sickened world? You might remember the story of a girl murdered that awful day in Columbine. As this story goes, ...

The Cost of Calling

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 12 Comments »

Many parents carry within our hearts—sometimes in a cramped and even despairing corner—a vision of what we hope our children will become. This vision lives deeper than our wish that they be doctors or NFL quarterbacks, deeper even than our desire ...

Crafted

Monday, December 9th, 2013 Posted in Fatherhood, 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 ...

Thanksgiving

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

We read somewhere that the Pilgrims survived on a few kernels of corn and were thankful, so we settled on an exquisite Thanksgiving torture wherein we set bowls of steaming, buttered, gravy-addled food in front of our children who have ...

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 ...

How we talk about good and evil

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off on How we talk about good and evil

Those of you who caught my first essay, in which I argued that the layman no longer has adequate language to discuss good and evil, and who did not subsequently spit out your coffee while sputtering with outrage, might appreciate ...

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 ...

On false compassion

Monday, March 4th, 2013 Posted in Theology | 7 Comments »

The challenge when debating a liberal Christian is that he is bound by neither Scripture nor tradition but sentiment. He is therefore free to embrace both sin and sinner, and thereby appear more loving, more magnanimous, than his opponents. This magnanimity ...

Listing

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 7 Comments »

If you were to write down the names of everyone you trust -- truly trust -- what size paper would you need? I needed the back of a receipt. There are ten names on this scrap of paper. Ten people I ...

The Christianity of Chris

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | 4 Comments »

This is not one of those reflections on the death of Christopher Hitchens, in which the writer labors to bolt his meager little meteor to that man's literary supernova. I've read enough of those to make me retch, if not ...

A boy grows

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 5 Comments »

Yesterday was Stephen Caleb's birthday. He's twelve, and there are now only 364 days between him and the onset of teenagerism, which I associate -- at least among American kids -- with sloth and self-indulgence, ignorance and idiocy and all-around ...

More than bread

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on More than bread

When we don't think we can control some things we take charge of what we can. This is why the functionary fastidiously maintains a constant distance between his stapler and his tape dispenser, and why the abused child has a ...

On sugarcoating

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 36 Comments »

I realized this morning that part of the reason I haven't written here in so long, the reason I balk at the thought of it, is that I got the most hate-filled letter I've ever received, back in July, in ...

Father’s Day

Sunday, June 19th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 1 Comment »

There's certainly no distinction to breeding, and so Father's Day must be intended to celebrate something other than one's ability to procreate. It began in tragedy, which is maybe the truth of too many things, the world's way of daring ...

Heaven presses in

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 13 Comments »

I was asked to speak to some graduates last week, and so I spoke to them about finding their place in the world and about endurance in the face of suffering and about decisions that once we make them can ...

Friendship

Friday, May 6th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

I am rarely humble yet often humbled, which is maybe the surest sign that God has not given up on me yet. I remember, years ago, standing in judgment over a friend who came to me seeking grace. I offered ...

The good in them

Sunday, April 10th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 10 Comments »

I didn't mean to be gone this long; the hours piled up into days and then weeks, and once again I was a negligent blogger. Sometimes I think there should be a social services hotline for blogs, to have them ...

On Tiger Mamas, bad art, and the heart of a child

Monday, January 24th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood, The Art of Parenting | 13 Comments »

My first thought, upon hearing of Amy Chua's now famous (or infamous) essay about the superiority of Chinese mothers, is that it's irrelevant to me. The odds that I will go out and father a child with a Chinese woman are ...

We pray the anger melts

Friday, January 7th, 2011 Posted in Fatherhood | 12 Comments »

I've got all four boys to myself and I'm trying to plot a course halfway across America, a course that doesn't entail careening off an icy highway to our deaths. They are, meanwhile, chasing one another about upstairs, with occasional ...