Palermo: Italian Capital of Culture for 2018

I recently ran across a small handful of blogs I wrote about Naples from our time there.  I   love Naples.  Anyone who has ever heard me talk about the city will be familiar with my description of it being “too much” of everything – too much life… too much music… too much corruption… too much crime… too much food….  The list could go on and on.  Naples is overwhelming.

Antica Focacceria S. Francesco

Antica Focacceria S. Francesco

I don’t live in Naples any longer, though.  Indeed, I’ve lived in Palermo almost 3 times as long as I lived there, and despite the common tendency to assume that one can lump the “two Sicilies” into a single category, Naples and Palermo are extremely different.

Strangely, I have done very little blogging about Palermo.  (Actually, I suppose it isn’t all that strange – I pastor three churches, serve on a variety of boards/committees/groups/etc., am married, and parent two children.  I don’t have much time for blogging.)  To be clear though: I love Palermo too, there’s no question about it.  Yet, Palermo is very different from Naples.  (Northern Italians may categorize them both as “mezzogiorno” or “sud,” but do not be fooled, they are not at all alike.)

Chiesa Valdese (Via Spezio)

Naples is loud and raw.

Naples wears it’s emotions on its sleeves.

Naples is in your face.

Palermo, on the other hand, is like finding an ancient bottle of wine in the corner of your cellar left by some long-departed home-owner.  It’s dusty and covered in grime, and until you open it up and experience it, there’s no way of knowing whether it’ll be stomach-churning or divine.  It has the potential to be either one, but you never quite know which until you give it a try.

Cappella Palatina

The thing about Palermo is that it refuses to be categorized.  It’s too African to be called European, too Greek to be called Italian, and too Arabic to be called Latin.  Two and a half millennia of history have created a city unlike any other in the world.

In the coming weeks and months I want to share a bit about this city I currently call home.  It has been named the “Italian Capital of Culture for 2018.”  I’m looking forward to sharing part of why I think it deserves that honor.


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Leadership and Sandboxes

Leadership and Sandboxes

“Leadership” is a word I don’t particularly like – a reality not helped by the fact that it has become such a popular word in recent years.  Popular, of course, does not mean that everyone uses it in the same way.  For some, leadership is the authority to tell others what to do.  For some, leadership is the opportunity to determine what has to be done.  For some, leadership is the ability to gather followers.  The word “leadership” has been used to justify everything from micromanaging to absentee oversight.  It is a concept easily used to justify abuse, narcissism, close-mindedness, secrecy, hyper-control, and at times even laziness.

I don’t pretend to be a “leadership expert,” but over the past twenty years, I have had ample opportunities to see ample opportunities of what I would consider “good leadership” and “bad leadership” in practice.  In my experience, the distinction boils down to three basic questions:

  • What does the organization exist for?
  • What does a leader exist for?
  • Whom does a leader exist for?

What does the organization exist for?

This should probably go without saying, there is no value in any organization that exists simply to exist.  Obviously there are many organizations for whom this is the de facto reality, but “existing” is not a good enough reason for existence.  (Ok, go ahead, call it a “mission” if you want.)

Organizations must exist for a purpose.  If that purpose is unclear, the organization cannot thrive.  If the stated purpose does not match up with the real purpose, the organization cannot succeed.  If the purpose has not changed – even a little bit – over time, it is probably a sign that either (a) the original purpose did not meet a real need, or (b) the organization is not fulfilling its purpose.

What does a leader exist for?

A leader exists to help the organization fulfill its purpose.  It is that simple.

Every aspect of a leader’s “leadership” should be focused on helping the organization understand, and therefore live out its reason for existence.

A leader does not exist to fulfill his or her desires (although, one hopes that there is a certain amount of vocational satisfaction in leadership).  A leader does not exist to protect his or her position/office/role (although, certainly part of leadership is ensuring that the position is ready for healthy transition upon departure).  A leader does not exist to better himself or herself (although, of course, it would be absurd to imagine that a good leader is not constantly growing a developing).

Whom does a leader exist for?

Here’s where it gets interesting.  A leader exists to equip, encourage and coordinate the others in the organization in order that they can do their part in fulfilling the organization’s reason for existence.  A leader does not do their job for them.  A leader does not micromanage how they do their job.  A leader does not need to know how to do each of their jobs.  A leader does not need to be involved in every decision or every activity.

A leader makes sure each individual has the resources, training, support, and coordination necessary to effectively do their part within the larger “whole” of the organization in order to most effectively tackle the organization’s reason for existence.

Some Common Mistakes

Pretty much every mistake in leadership can be boiled down to one (or both) of two problems: either (a) the organization’s reason for existence is not clear, or (b) the leader does not understand why or for whom s/he exists.

The first problem is pretty straight forward.  Fixing it is not easy, but it is easy to understand why it is a problem.

The second problem is much more complex.  Many “leaders” do not truly believe that they exist to help the organization fulfill its purpose (although they may give it lip service), and many “leaders” do not truly believe they exist to enable, equip, encourage and coordinate.  Indeed, all too often they believe the organization exists to accomplish their goals and others in the organization exist to do their will.  Thus, many “leaders” become bottlenecks in their organizations  – hoarding resources and power for their own use and, therefore, preventing qualified and capable people from doing the jobs that they are prepared to do and capable of doing (in most cases) much better than the “leader” him- or herself.

This leads to leader burnout (because the individual is fundamentally incapable of doing well all the things that s/he insists on trying to do and because the leader ends up believing that “if it has to be done, it has to be done by him- or herself”), and more importantly it leads to worker frustration.  Workers are either not well-equipped to do their jobs or are prevented from doing the jobs that they are equipped for (because the over-controlling leader does not allow them to).  They (rightly) recognize that the leader is (wrongly) using them to fulfill the “leader’s” personal goals (or feed his or her ego) and see no place for themselves in what the organization is trying to do.


Of all the leadership theories I’ve encountered, the most effective is the one I learned as a seminary intern under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Terry Nyhuis (though, he recently informed me that it was not his theory).  To be fair, that was about two decades ago and it may have morphed a bit in my mind over the years.

Imagine that the organization is playground filled with sandboxes.  Each sandbox represents one of the activities that must be done for the organization to be effective.  Each individual has his or her own sandbox – thus, his or her particular role in the organization’s purpose.

The rules are simple:

  • You can do anything in your sandbox that helps you fulfill your role in the organization
  • No one can do anything in your sandbox without your permission
  • You may not do anything in anyone else’s sandbox without their permission
  • The leader will only get involved in your sandbox if (a) s/he is asked, (b) you are unequipped to do something and need help, or (c) you are about to do (or have done) harm to yourself, someone else, or the organization.
  • The leader will help coordinate communication and cooperation between sandboxes (if necessary), but the previous rules still apply.

Practically speaking, imagine the playground is a church (which, of course, I’m most familiar with, but the concept is applicable to any organization).  And imagine that the church’s “reason for existence” is a Sunday morning service.  (Obviously, churches are more complex, but we can pretend for now.)

The sandboxes may include office work, music, and preaching.  (Again, this is a simple example, but let’s pretend.)

One person is assigned to each of those “sandboxes.”  Obviously they need to coordinate to prepare for each Sunday – the office worker has to prepare the bulletins which reflect music, and sermon information; the music person has to be applicable to the preaching and accurately reflected in the printed bulletins.

The preacher, in this setting, may request a song (“play in the music person’s sandbox”) but not demand it (because it is not the preacher’s “sandbox”).  The office worker may ask the preacher to tackle a particular theme (since, as we all know, church secretaries know more about a church than anyone else!), but not demand it (because that is the preacher’s “sandbox”).  (Note: this cooperation can and should happen without the leader’s help – s/he only steps in if necessary.)

If, for some reason, it isn’t clear where a responsibility fits (for example: does a “responsive reading” fall under office work, music, or preaching?) the “leader” gets involved – not doing the responsive reading, but evaluating where the responsibility lies (at best, in consultation with all the potentially-applicable parties) – perhaps by giving it to an existing “sandbox” (and, if necessary, equipping that person to do it), or perhaps by creating a new “sandbox” (i.e. liturgy) and finding the right person for it.

In this case, the “leader” does not pick the music, does not write the sermon, and does not type the bulletin but is carefully ensuring that each of these things are done well – watching for problems (especially in communication), and ensuring that each person is equipped and given the appropriate authority and resources to do their part.

It’s worth noting, that the leader (in this situation) is not personally responsible for the fact that a particular hymn has not be sung in six months.  If someone wants a particular hymn sung, they talk to the person in charge of that sandbox directly, they do not triangulate the “leader.”  This means the music person has the ability (having been well-equipped) and the authority to do his or her job, s/he also has the responsibility to accept the repercussions of both good and bad decisions in the course of doing that job.

However, the leader can and must step in if the music person is causing harm to the organization (i.e. insisting on Queen’s “We are the Champions” as the opening anthem in a congregation that uses a liturgy from the 1830s simply because s/he “likes it”).   The leader also must step in to protect the individuals within the organization – while everyone is accountable for their own work and decisions, one of the leader’s roles is to balance that personal responsibility with his or her responsibility to protect the individuals.

How to get started

Most organizations do not start out with well-organized leadership and many have suffered through years – if not decades – of narcissistic, controlling, and often abusive leaders.  It behooves us, then, to ask how to get started.

Theoretically, it’s simple:

  • Clarify the organization’s reason(s) for existence
  • Find a leader or ensure the current leader both understands and is held accountable for this style of leadership
  • Identify the necessary “sandboxes” and the personnel associated with them
  • Equip or hire personnel for sandboxes that are not well-staffed
  • Eventually, move or remove personnel that cannot (or will not) meet a necessary need for the organization’s purpose(s).

Practically, the biggest hurdle for most organizations is finding a leader who is both profoundly committed to the organization’s purpose(s) and profoundly committed to equipping, encouraging, and coordinating the various individuals involved without micromanaging, bottlenecking decisions, or “playing in” someone else’s “sandbox.”  In many ways, the leader is like a lifeguard in a pool – ensuring everyone is safe and doing what they came to do, but seldom ever actually getting in the water.

It is worth noting that most leaders in most organizations also have their own “sandboxes.”  In these instances, the leader needs to be very careful (aka “humble”).  The “leadership” role and the “sandbox” role (though they may overlap) need to be distinct.

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The Story of a Little Girl

Sometimes people wonder how trafficking and sexual exploitation happens.  From the outside, we often imagine that people “choose” prostitution or “decide” to work the streets.  It is almost never truly a choice.

At Pellegrino della Terra (FB) we try to help women exit these situations and (re)develop autonomy.  We also try to help people understand how these things happen.

Trafficking and exploitation is often managed by well-organized crime networks that carefully but diligently break their victims down to the point where they cannot even seriously consider leaving.  Today is International Women’s Day; today particularly (but not only!) it is our responsibility as humans, to say “no.”  “This cannot continue.”

If you still find yourself asking “how?”  Maybe this will help….

The Story of a Little Girl

By Tim TenClay


Once upon a time, indeed quite recently, there was a little girl from a large family who lived just outside of a huge city on a small farm.

She was the youngest of six kids and, though her parents were exceptionally hard workers, they were having trouble keeping food on the table and rarely managed to have all their bills paid at the end of the month.

Sometimes she went to bed hungry (as did they all).

Some days she barely ate anything.

Although young in age, she was a hard worker.  She knew how to clean and cook.  She knew how to do laundry and care for the family dog.  She occasionally babysat for the neighbors’ kids (although she was barely older than they were), but her parents had taught her to be strong and independent.  Truth be known, she was more self-sufficient than many adults.

One day, as she was talking to one of her friends, she heard about a girl a few farms over who had travelled into the city and gotten a job working for a wealthy family.  That girl, according to her friend, had a wonderful life doing the same things for the wealthy family that she had done at home, but was paid for her work and able to send her extra money back to help her family make ends meet.

Sure, she was young, but remember she was also strong; so that night she talked with her parents and, despite their hesitancy, it was a fairly obvious decision: she would go to the city and get a job; she would save as much money as she could so that she could get an education (thereby hopefully ensuring a poverty-free future for herself), and she would send home as much money as she could spare.

To anyone else, it might have made more sense to send one of the older children, but the older children already had responsibilities on the farm that couldn’t be ignored.  She was the only one free enough to go.

So she went.

As it turned out, the city was further away than she thought it would be.  It took her almost a week to get there, and when she did, she was hungry and lonely.  Her feet were sore and, though she’d known it was a city, it was so much bigger than she had expected.  That night, she found her way to the city’s biggest park in the hope that it might be a safe place to lay down on a bench and sleep.

For the first time in her life, she cried herself into an uncomfortable slumber.

All of the sudden, she felt a hand, and – of course – immediately sat up and opened her eyes.  To her surprise, she found herself gazing into one of the kindest-looking faces she’d ever seen.  The woman wasn’t young nor old.  She wasn’t dressed fancily nor sloppily.  It was as if, she was looking into the eyes of a long-lost aunt that she never knew existed.

“Come with me” said the woman.  “A girl like you should be out alone in the park so late at night.  Let’s get you somewhere safe.  You can take a bath; I’ll make you some dinner, and you can spend the night at my place.”

So she went.

The house wasn’t big, but it was big enough.  The bath wasn’t hot, but was it warm enough.  The food wasn’t delicious, but it was generous and she soon found herself tucked into a guest bed fast asleep.

In the morning, she explained to the woman that she had come to find work and was hoping to help support her family back home.  Having heard similar stories in the past, the woman kindly nodded, but warned her that she should be careful: not all wealthy families could be trusted.  She would help the girl find a good one.  It might take a while, but not to worry, the girl could stay with her for as long as necessary.

That afternoon, they walked around the city, and the woman showed the little girl all the beautiful parks and churches and the big fancy buildings where wealthy people worked.  She taught the girl how to read a bus map and helped her understand how the city worked.

As it turned out, she stayed with the woman for almost a week.  On the sixth day, after they had eaten breakfast and finished the dishes, the woman announced that she had found a good family for her and she’d take the girl to meet them after lunch.  The woman told her that they had two children, were very kind, and extremely wealthy.

To help her make a good impression, the woman took her shopping, bought her some nice clothes, and that afternoon they happily walked to a beautiful house not far from the park she had tried to sleep in her first night in the city.  She rang the doorbell, and when the door opened the woman told her to go in so that she could meet the family.  She’d wait outside, the woman promised, and would see her after the interview.

The girl was led through the house to a small office where she met a middle-aged man.  He told her that he was looking for someone who would help with the house and care for the kids.  It was exactly the kind of job she had been hoping for.  Even better, she would receive room and board, and while her salary would be modest (less than she had hoped for), all of her expenses would be covered so she could send everything she made back home.

Excitedly, she accepted.  Indeed, she was so excited that she completely forgot about the woman outside as the man showed her around the house and up to her new room.  It was small, but there was a bed and mirror.  There was even a modest bathroom and little window way up in the corner by the ceiling.  He told her to relax for a bit and he’d come get her later to introduce her to the children and bring her to dinner.

He pulled the door closed behind him, and she laid down on the bed to relax.

Although she hadn’t intended to, she fell asleep, and when she woke up a few hours later she could tell, from the little window in the corner by the ceiling, that the sun was beginning to set.  Thinking maybe he had come to get her while she was sleeping she decided to go downstairs and find him, but when she tried to open the door, it wouldn’t open.

Strange, she thought.  Maybe it was stuck.

So she pulled harder, and still it wouldn’t open.

Frightened, she pounded on the door, hoping someone would hear her and come to help, and before long, she heard footsteps that, she thought, must be from the man she had met earlier.  “Don’t worry,” he said.  “This door sometimes does that.”  He pushed hard on the door from the outside, and to her surprise, it opened right up.

How silly she felt, for having been scared.

The kids, he explained, were at a friend’s house, they’d be eating alone that night.  She’d meet them the next day when they got home from school, he promised.  They ate a quiet meal and she went back up to her room and fell fast asleep.

The next morning when she woke.  She got cleaned up, got dressed, and decided to see if she could help around the house.  Frustratingly, however, the door was stuck again.  However, this time when she pounded on it, no one came.  She didn’t worry though; it probably wasn’t anything.

It was lonely in her little room, but she figured someone would eventually come get her and so she went back to her little bed and rested.  Hours, it seemed, passed.  The sun got brighter through the little window in the corner by the ceiling, and then it began to get darker again.  Occasionally, she pounded on the door, but no one ever seemed to hear her.  She started to panic a couple of times, but remembered how silly she had felt the night before and told herself not to worry.

The entire day passed.

Then, the night passed.  She didn’t sleep very well that night.

In the morning, she heard footsteps, and not wanting to spend another day accidently locked in the room, she leapt out of her bed and pounded on the door.  “Do not worry,” she heard a familiar voice say, “I’ll go get someone to take care of this door.”

How silly she felt, for having worried.

She sat back down, and the morning passed.  The sun got bright through the little window in the corner by the ceiling.  Evening came, but she was determined not to feel silly again.  She was hungry, but she had been hungry back home; she could deal with that.

Eventually, she heard footsteps again, and the man pushed hard on the door until it came open.  He was in gym clothes and a sweaty, but apologized profusely.  He hadn’t known she’d been stuck in the room all this time or he would have come sooner.

How silly she felt, for having bothered him.

She followed him downstairs; he got her something to eat, and told her that, though the kids were at a friend’s house again, it would be helpful if she cleaned a little while he went to take a shower.

It was exactly what she had been hoping for.

She started in the kitchen.  She cleaned the living room.  She made the beds, and when she turned around, she saw him standing behind her wrapped in a towel.

How silly she felt.  She had known he was taking a shower and should have stayed out of his way.

Not bothered at all, he smiled and sat down on the bed she had just made.  Telling her to sit down beside him, he asked her about her family back home, and she told him everything.  She told him about the small farm and the large family.  She told him about the laundry she could do and the dog she had cared for.  She missed them, she explained, and he hugged her.

It was a bit awkward since, of course, he was only wrapped in a towel, but it seemed genuine.  So she didn’t say anything.

We’re not going to talk about what happened after that.

All you need to know is that 30 minutes later she was back up in her little room with the door that she couldn’t open.  She no longer felt silly.  Now she felt hurt and embarrassed, but there was nothing she could do.  So she laid there and, for the second time in her life, cried herself to sleep.

Later that night, the man returned to her room.

We’re not going to talk about what happened then, either.

All you need to know is that 30 minutes later the door was closed and she was alone again.

The next morning, he visited her again.

That afternoon, he brought a friend to her and left them alone.

That night, he brought in another man and left them alone.

She realized that she would never be able to get that door open, and as the days turned to weeks, she ate very little; she slept even less; she was seldom allowed out of her room until one day, she heard a familiar voice in the hall.

It wasn’t the man; it was a woman’s voice.  Trying to remember where she’d heard it before, she couldn’t place it until the door opened and she found herself face to face with the woman who had saved her in the park just weeks ago (although it seemed like months, if not years).

She threw her arms around the woman, who immediately grabbed her by the arm, led her downstairs and out the door.  The woman quietly walked her to the park where they had first met and they sat down on a bench.  She couldn’t remember, but thought that perhaps it was even the bench where the woman had first found her.  The woman asked what the man did, and because the girl was embarrassed, she didn’t answer, but the woman asked again, and the girl told her everything.

Many hugs, many tears, and many hours later the woman looked the girl in the face.  Her kind eyes seemed a bit different as she explained to the girl that she had been broken.  She should be embarrassed about what she had let happen to her.  She would never get a respectable job.  She certainly didn’t want to tell her family back home about what had happened.  She had only one chance to survive:  she had learned some things in that room with the little window in the corner by the ceiling – things she could get paid for.  Indeed, if she did them well, she could probably make enough money to send home to her family.  They would never know what happened and would never have reason to ask.

The woman explained: the girl would live with her.  She would secretly do those things she had learned at night in this very park.  She would help pay the rent and food (because, obviously, the woman couldn’t continue to pay for everything herself), and she could send the left-over money to her family.  They would never know what happened and would never have reason to ask.

So she went.

She went the woman.  She worked in the park at night, secretly doing what she had learned in the room with the little window in the corner by the ceiling.  She gave the woman the money she earned and was allowed to send just enough of it back home.  She told no one.

Her family, on the other hand, told everyone how wonderful it had all worked out.  Their little girl had gone to the city and gotten a job.  She earned so much, they told their neighbors, that they could pay their bills.  She worked for a nice, wealthy family, and was going to get an education that would ensure a poverty-free future for her and them.

And you know what?  A strong little girl two farms over heard the story and knew exactly what she wanted to do….

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2 years Later – What I’ve learned as an “Economic Migrant” in Europe

We’ve been in Italy almost exactly 2 years now.  A few thoughts….

2 years Later – What I’ve learned as an “Economic Migrant” in Europe

Rev. Dr. Tim TenClay


Let me start out with a little disclaimer: I’m a married, straight, white, male American with two young, blond, outgoing daughters.  Each of those descriptors makes my life easier than that of the “average” immigrant in Europe (if, indeed, it is possible to speak of an “average migrant.”)

Nonetheless, about 3 years ago, we began preparing for a move to Italy, where from a technical perspective, we would become “economic migrants.”  Often, people in our situation, refer to ourselves as “expats,” but I dislike that word.  To me, it seems a not-so-subtle way of saying that “we” (generally, white mid- to upper-class Americans or Europeans) are not “them” (“migrants.”)

I have learned a lot over the past two years of living in Europe as an “economic migrant.”  Here are 10 things I wish people knew about the experience:

  • “Being legal” isn’t easy.

When I came to Italy, I did everything “right.”  I had a passport; I had a visa; I had all my documents; I had a helpful employer.  Still, knowing what paperwork to file, where to file it, when it had to be done, and what documents I needed to bring along (original? duplicate? triplicate? notarized?) is a never-ending struggle.  Websites seldom give me all the information I need (and rarely in my native language), and calling ahead is useless.

I want to be legal.  I’m doing everything in my power to be legal.  Yet, even those who are supposed to be “in the know” are often unable to tell me clearly what’s necessary.  (Then, when every time I think I have everything in place, we find a mistake or something needs to be renewed.)

  • “Learning the language,” even if one is highly motivated, takes time.

Let me be clear.  In general, I believe in the phrase: If you live here, you need to learn the language.

However, that’s much more easily said than done – even for someone who is extremely motivated (which, I’ll admit) is not always the case.  It isn’t enough to “watch TV” (even if that worked “so wonderfully” for your cousin when he spent a year overseas).  Finding a class that’s appropriate for my level, is affordable, and does not conflict with my work schedule is extremely difficult (and often extremely expensive).  All of those “free language classes” you have heard about are wonderful, but they are not all suitable for me.  (All of which at least quadruples in difficulty when dealing with a family and a school.)

  • Saying “Those immigrants… oh, but not you” still sounds racist.

This probably goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyhow.  Ending a sentence with “but not you” never works.  It doesn’t matter if one is talking about gender, race, culture, or religion.  I understand that you are trying to be kind, but I simply do not believe you.

  • Race and religion are a big deal.

My “migrant life” is vastly different than that of many of my African and Middle-Eastern friends.  Partly because I’m a white American; partly because I’m a Christian (and a pastor, on top of that).  People sometimes joke about how ironic it is that I moved to Italy when “Italians all want to move to New York,” but no one ever questions my motives.  When I go to the immigration office and answer their questions, they seldom give me the impression that they think I’m lying to them or that they do not trust my answers.

As a side note, the term “economic migrant” is so broad that it pretty much has no significance at all.  Essentially, it is the official category for anyone who is transitioning away from a country where the UN doesn’t recognize a real war or serious conflict where one is in imminent danger.  How do you measure any of those adjectives (real, serious, imminent, etc.)? No one seems to know.

  • Losing my identity was harder on me than I thought it would be.

I knew I was leaving behind some of my identity – my “place in this world.”  This is, after all, not my first time living outside of my home country.  However, I left behind a stable (dare I even suggest reasonably “successful”) career where I was known for the things I did well and had a “place at the table.”  I lost all of that.  No one understands my education or experience.  Even in the church, which at least recognizes my credentials, I am seen as a “new” pastor and lumped in with seminary students and recent grads (as if my decade and a half of experience never happened).  I have met dozens of professionals who, as immigrants, now mop floors, park cars, and deliver groceries (and that’s if they’re lucky – often even those jobs are hard to find).

People ask why we chose to move here, but “choice” is a tricky word.  I came because my wife had specific work to do.  Some of us come to provide a future for our children that we don’t believe that can have in our home countries, others leave their home countries to escape incredibly dangerous situations.  Remember, the term “economic migrant” means pretty much nothing.  There is no “normal” situation when it comes to migration or immigration.

In the end, though, our home countries no longer have us and our experience, and our new homes either refuse (actively) or (innocently) don’t know how to use us – often that all leaves us feeling useless and frustrated.

The thing I wish I could get across more than anything else is that my language limitations are not reflective of my experience, intellectual capacity, or capabilities.

  • I don’t trust the people I should be able to trust, and I’m almost always afraid.

I hesitate to say “I am always afraid,” but sometimes it seems like it.  I am in a constant state of (usually low-grade) worry.  I worry that if I’m pulled over, my documents may not be perfectly in order (or I will have forgotten one of them at home), that I will not be able to explain myself if I’m caught in a dangerous situation, that my children will not be able to find me if there is an emergency (or that we will not be able to find a hospital), or that I will say the wrong thing to the wrong person.

I do not trust police officers (even though I have met several on a personal level, and honestly believe they are good people), and I go out of my way to avoid situations where I might have to show my documents – even though they are all in order and I do speak the language well enough to understand questions and answer them with adequate clarity.  Even though I know I’m “above board,” I worry.

I know many people in my community whose documents are less certain than mine; sometimes I lay awake at night wondering how they manage to stay sane.

  • We’re not all the same.

Guess what? The United States is a huge country.  (Africa is a huge continent, too!)  I probably do not know that person you meet when you were in New York City on your honeymoon (even thought I lived in upstate New York for four years).  Not all Americans think the same, vote the same, grew up eating the same foods, or even like the same sports (some of us do not even really like sports at all.)

Italians have a highly-developed sense of regional discernment: they can tell where someone was born by the tiniest dialectical differences and food preferences.  Indeed, the dialects (in some cases, actual languages) of different regions are so different that Italians often cannot even understand each other when they speak.  You should know: the same is often true for the US, or Ghana, or Nigeria, or Syria.

  • “Little things” are often a very big deal (for you and for me).

My parents taught me that when encountering someone on the sidewalk, I should move to the right-hand-side of the sidewalk, the oncoming person moves to their right-hand-side of the sidewalk, and – in that way – traffic on the sidewalk will move effortlessly and with a minimal need to swerve or run into one another.  I was taught hundreds of little “rules” of common courtesy – ways of interacting with other people to make society more pleasant for everyone.   Almost none of them apply here.  I have to constantly remind myself that Italians are not more rude than Americans, they just have a different set of cultural courtesies and expectations – courtesies and expectations that I often do not know.

I’m an extreme extrovert and still sometimes want to lock myself in my room after a day of what – to my mind – seems constant rudeness.  I imagine my Italian friends often think the same thing of me.  I really am a polite guy, just know that I don’t always understand how to be polite in your context.

  • Everything is harder here.

This is not a criticism of Italy.  If I were a foreigner living in the US, it would be the same.  Nonetheless, things that are simple for a native are often more difficult for a foreigner.

In my home country, I knew what store to go to when I wanted to buy something.  I knew who to ask if I had questions.  I could guess the ballpark price for things I wanted to purchas.  In short, I had a lifetime of knowledge that enabled me to do things like buy a car or figure out what vaccinations my daughters need for school or buy a turkey for Thanksgiving.  Very little of that knowledge is applicable here.  Even if I understand the words, I often don’t understand what they really mean (i.e. a “doctor” in the US usually implies either a medical doctor or someone with a terminal degree in their field, in Italy an individual with the title “dottore” or “dottoressa” may have little more than a bachelor’s degree – same word, completely different meaning.)

I could easily walk into 3 stores in my hometown and buy a pie plate; it took me a year to find one here and I still have not found a 9×13” pan for cakes and brownies.   Granted, pie plates and cake pans are relatively insignificant, but they serve as a perfect metaphor for pretty much everything time I need to find or do something new.

  • It’s very seldom about you, but you can make a difference.

I need you to know: I love my new country.  I may live here the rest of my life (I have no clue, but I’m open to the idea).  There are so many wonderful things about Italy: art, music, architecture, great people, good food – the list could go on and on.  On the other hand, I’m sometimes worn out and frustrated at simply trying to live and take care of my family, and to do it all alone (remember, unlike for most Italians, our parents and family are a world away).  I don’t hold that against the people I interact with on a daily basis, but they can make a difference.

I need people I can trust (and people I can trust with my children).

I need patience when I’m trying to explain or ask something (I’m working on the language, but it’s going to be a while).  Chances are, I’m trying to figure out how to discuss  the implications of something like my doctoral thesis while using the equivalent of a 2nd grade vocabulary.

If you want me to do something, you need to know that I may know a dozen ways to do that in the US, but have no clue where to get what I need to accomplish even the most simple tasks here.

In short, I need friends who are actually friends.

So does every other “immigrant” in the world.

Posted in Immigration, Italy, misc. | Leave a comment

What is “Essere Chiesa Insieme?”

Several years ago (before knowing that we would, one day, end up in Italy), I attended a conference put on by the American Waldensian Society in Rome related to “Essere Chiesa Insieme” (Being Church Together). I wrote about it here.

In August, I became the pastor of an “Essere Chiesa Insieme” church. Indeed, that church helped begin the movement.

Last week I attended a training event in Braunfels, Germany for leaders of “international congregations.” It was an eye-opening, instructive, and life-giving week, and I returned from it with an even stronger conviction in the concept of Being Church Together.

All of my close friends know that I live in Palermo, Italy. Most of them know that I’m pastoring three different congregations, in three different communities, at three different places on their journey toward increasing faithfulness. Many, however, have asked about this Being Church Together thing. What is it? What does it mean? How does it work?

I’m still learning, of course (and hope to never stop), but I’d like to describe it a bit for those of you who wonder what I’m talking about when I say “Essere Chiesa Insieme” or “Being Church Together.”

The concept is based on two very simple beliefs:

  1. We are united in and through Christ, and
  2. Unity based in anything other than Christ is a cheap imitation of the real thing.

The difficulty with these two beliefs (despite being profoundly biblical) is that, it is dramatically easier to live out unity based language, culture, background, or tradition that it is to live out that which we have in Christ across differences of language, culture, background, and tradition.

In other words: it is even more difficult to live out the unity we have in Christ without unity in those other areas. (Put bluntly: it is immensely complicated to worship together, study the Bible together, seek justice together, and reach out to the world together when we don’t speak the same language, assume the same cosmology, enjoy a common history, or work from within similar cultural priorities.)

Being Church Together is the commitment to do the hard work of living out our unity in Christ.

It’s that simple. (Theoretically)

Of course theoretical simplicity is often less than helpful in practice.

“Unity in Christ” is one thing.

Not worshiping as you “always have,” engaging a new worship vocabulary (musically, liturgically, etc.), accepting diverse (secondary) doctrines, risking the death of your own “sacred cows,” embracing people who smell, look, act, speak, eat, and dress differently, and confronting racial, cultural, denominational, and linguistic biases (and prejudices, and privileges) is something very different. It may be “fun” and “inspiring” for a few days or a weeks at a retreat or conference, but to do it or months, years, or even decades is an exhausting journey of never-ending transformation (by everyone involved).

It is easier to be a monoethnic, monolingual, monocultural congregation. Indeed, the more times you can mention “mono-” in your congregational identity, the easier “being church” becomes.

But “being church” without “being together” is a pretty good indication that a congregation has (sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally) based their unity on something other than Christ.

So, what is Being Church Together (as I understand it)?

It is the commitment to “be church” and “be together” faithfully with those around you – it is a fundamental commitment to respecting “inter-” and “multi-” rather than (en)forcing a false (though often simpler) “mono-.”

Which raises the question: How does it work?

Well, that’s where things start getting interesting.

To do it faithfully, it has to be done differently in every context.

Faithfully “Being Church Together” means valuing each individual in the body, and that – by very definition – means doing things differently in each community.

My recent thoughts (as I’ve been thinking about this in my communities) have revolved these 7 questions:

  • Are we really (honestly!) committed to being together with “them” (whomever “they” are)?
  • Which values, of each person and group, do we have to respect?
  • What strengths do each person and group bring to the table?

(Note: sometimes we have to respect things that, in our opinion, are not “strengths.”)

  • What assumptions and preferences, of each person and group, can be and/or need to be challenged?
  • What weaknesses do we have to take into consideration?

(Note: “weakness” in this sense is not an indication of “goodness” or “badness.”)

  • What needs to be changed in order for us to “be church” and “be together” more and more effectively?
  • How are these things changing as we look at the different generations in our community?


I’m certainly a work-in-progress here. As always, I’d love your thoughts?

Posted in Essere Chiesa Insieme, Religious | 2 Comments

Immigrant. Displaced Person. Refugee. Emigrant. Migrant. Ex-Pat. Alien. Legal. Illegal. Documented. Undocumented.

Immigrant. Displaced Person. Refugee. Emigrant. Migrant. Ex-Pat. Alien. Legal. Illegal. Documented. Undocumented.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these words over the past couple of years, and for most of that time, I held the position that the key issue was “definition.” Most of these words are simply defining words. There is a technical definition, for example, for the word “refugee,” and to use it outside of that definition (as many do) causes confusion and disorder. Similarly, in many settings, the word “alien” is nothing more than a legal designation (despite its implications).

Other words are less clear. Consider, for a moment, what the definition of an “ex-pat” should be. Is someone an “immigrant” or an “emigrant?” Is someone “displaced” or “migrant?” Does “documented” make someone “legal” and is “illegal” an undeniable result of being “undocumented?”

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to the conclusion that the key question is not how we define any of these words. The key question is how each of these words is used to define the “other” – the “not us,” “those people.”

Each of these words are loaded with baggage – some of it positive, some of it negative. “Ex-pat,” for example, gives the impression of someone who will not stay forever, (often) someone who is white, (usually) someone who can sustain themselves financially, and (almost always) someone from a wealthy country; the word “refugee” is generically used to indicate the opposite of all of those things (usually positively), and the word “migrant” is often used to indicate the opposite of an “ex-pat” in a less-than-flattering way.

Even the relatively benign (or intentionally technical) terms are, in the end, “us/them” designators, and each of these “us/them” designators is used to define “who belongs,” “who is welcome,” “who is the helper,” “who is the receiver of help,” “who is like me/us,” “who is different from me/us,” etc., etc.

There are many laudable attempts to (re)define the baggage attached to words like “(im)migrant,” and I certainly hope they continue. At a more profound level, though, I find myself concerned about how intent we are at discerning who is “us” and who is “them,” and the fact that – in practically every situation – those designations are based on human-created (rather than ontological) distinctions.

Some of them are obvious. Clearly there is no ontological distinction between the US and Mexico. Mexico is Mexico; the US is the US, and the US is not Mexico (and visa versa) only because at a certain point in history an invisible, human-created line was drawn between one (invisible, human-created) country and another.

Other distinctions are equally as obvious, even if they seem less absurd on the surface. Take, for example, the suggestion that a country should welcome “Christians” and refuse “Muslims.” As a Christian pastor, certainly I believe there is a distinction between Christianity and Islam, but even this is a (not-so-subtle and fundamentally unhelpful) way of designating “us” and “them” in the world of human movement from one region to another – a (not-so-subtle and fundamentally unhelpful) way of trying to appear like we’re protecting the “us” from the evils of the “them.”

My wife is a sociologist and a social-worker. She understands the technicalities of human movement and the legal specifics related to it. Her job is an important one – it is essential to the maintenance and re-establishment of human safety and dignity both locally and globally.

I am a pastor. Although the distinction between pastor and social-worker is probably best imagined as a venn diagram, my job is different. My job is to encourage and equip people – at a very personal level – to abandon the human-created distinctions that we use to define “us” from “them” and embrace a profound doctrine of Imago Dei. In the Christian tradition (as well as in Judaism and some forms of Islam), the doctrine of Imago Dei is the belief that all humanity is created in the “image of God” – that we are all, at the most ontological level, bearers of the same divine spark. Thus, we are all equally as deserving of help (when needed) and equally as responsible to offer that help (when within our abilities to do so.) The distinctions that my wife has to work within as a social-worker are irrelevant to my world.

“Do unto others….”

“God so loved the world…”

“Love your neighbor…”

These are not statements with caveats attached. They are not statements followed by “if” or preceded by “maybe.”

There are people who have to worry about legal status, invisible lines, and human-created categories. Most of us are not those people. Most of us are people whose job is far more simple – and at the same time – far more profound: to honor the Imago Dei in all people; to accept help (when we need it), and to offer help (when we can).

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

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February 17th 1600, 1848 and Today

Speak out for those who cannot speak,
for the rights of all the destitute.
Speak out, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The 17th of February signifies practically nothing to American Christians. However, it is an important date to my colleagues here in Italy. On September 17, 1848 the King of Sardinia 353issued an edict extending full civil rights to the two people groups in his kingdom that remained ghettoed and legally relegated to second class status: Waldensians and Jews.

For the first time, both people groups were allowed to attend universities, buy houses and land, trade outside of their home regions, and worship without fear of persecution (at least theoretically).

Most people are vaguely familiar with the hardships European Jews have experienced throughout history, but Waldensian history is practically unknown to most Americans. In short, the Waldensians were “protestants” before “protestantism.” Legend traces the movement back to a man named Peter Waldo (born approximately 1140) who was roughly contemporary with the more famous St. Francis (for reference, Luther would not be born for another 300+ years, in 1483). Waldo gave up his considerable wealth (not unlike St. Francis) and eventually developed a community of men and women known as “the poor of Lyon” (Lyon, France). They were exceptionally committed to the Bible (studied and taught by both men and women), to poverty (as a discipline of faithfulness and a method for promoting justice), and anticlericism – all three of which made the established church deeply uncomfortable and lead to Waldo’s excommunication in 1184 (although his beliefs had been condemned by the Third Lateran Council half a decade earlier).

(As an interesting side note, St. Francis got himself into similar trouble for similar ideals but was later re-embraced by the established church and is now the patron saint of Italy.)

The importance of February 17th, however neither begins or ends with the edict of 1848. Giordano Bruno, (in)famous for his cosmic theories and commitment to science, was burned at the stake by the Inquisition on the same date in 1600. Not surprisingly, many consider Bruno the personification of the historic conflicts between science and religion.

Today, February 17th is celebrated by the Waldensians as a day of freedom – freedom for all religions and freedom for all people.

Although Waldensians are now legally recognized by the Italian government, they have not forgotten what it was like to be on the side of the persecuted and remain profoundly committed to fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom from the injustices of cultural and gender persecution, and freedom from all prejudices based on race, class, and history.

God has taken his place in the divine council…
“…Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

Psalm 82:1a, 3-4

Posted in Italy, Music | Leave a comment

Let’s be Friends

Here is my article for this coming month’s church newsletter, the Courant:

Let’s be Friends

If there’s one thing that continues to surprise me, no matter how long I’ve been a minister, it’s the fact that “Church” is so hard. Have you ever thought about that? It shouldn’t be.

Most American congregations aren’t particularly diverse ethnically, or culturally, or linguistically, or economically, or educationally, or theologically. (Sure, there are exceptions, but most are not.) Indeed, most are made up of people who are remarkably similar. Many, especially small congregations, are dominated by just a few families who make up a huge percentage of the membership (thus, ensuring that many congregations aren’t even all that diverse genetically!)

Yet, for some reasons, this whole “Church” thing turns out to be incredibly difficult. It’s hard to keep people engaged and cared for. It’s hard to makes sure people are heard and valued. It’s hard to get over old hurts and ongoing mistrust. It’s hard to admit the wrongs we do (and forgive the wrongs done to us).

Which raises the question: Why?

If we aren’t separated by the big things (see above), why is it so difficult?

I’m sure there are many reasons, but two rise to the surface as I think about it: (1) we’re so close, we fight like family, and (2) we’re so close, we propagate a culture of status quo.

We’re so close, we fight like family.

Every relationship eventually has to deal with conflict. Sometimes it’s conflict over little things (“what kind of pizza to order?”); sometimes it’s conflict over bigger things (“what kind of end-of-life care do we chose for a loved one?”). Conflict is inevitable in every relationship. There’s nothing wrong with that. The question is how we engage it.

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that friends are often far better at engaging conflict than families (even conflict over big issues).   Friends tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt (families often don’t). Friends tend to fight fairly (families often don’t). Friends often overlook little slights understanding that some things just aren’t worth fighting about (families regularly argue intensely over things that are, quite frankly, utterly insignificant). Friends frequently seek harmony in the midst of difference (family often demands unanimity). Friends always know that a relationship could disintegrate (families usually [wrongly] assume that’s an impossibility).

I’m not a big fan of using the “family” metaphor for congregations and this is partly why. What if, instead of assuming we’re family, we actually worked at being friends? I’ve never met a church-goer who complained about their congregation being too friendly. On the other hand, I cannot even begin to list the times “family-like arguments” have infected congregations to a point where reconciliation seems almost impossible.

Friendship can be particularly difficult when so many of us actually are family (or at least have limited real diversity to overcome), but it is possible. Perhaps it is even necessary.

We’re so close, we propagate a culture of status quo.

As crazy as it may sound, the fact that congregations are often made up of people who are so similar, creates a context where change is disincentivized. One might be tempted to think that our like-ness would make us more affirming of each other’s growth and development, but the exact opposite is often the case. Why? It’s simple: the more we’re like someone, the more their change suggests we might need to change too.

Put bluntly, in contexts where true diversity is limited, an individual’s decision to change is, inherently (albeit perhaps unintentionally), a judgment on the groups norms.

This can be a good thing for some groups. It can facilitate stability and limit change just “for the sake of change.” On the other hand, the Church is an entity that’s almost all about change. Congregations don’t exist to help people stay what they are; congregations exist to help people become what they can be (in order, of course, to increasingly glorify God).

What an incredible irony it is: one of the primary reasons churches exist is to facilitate change, yet many congregations make true change almost impossible.

Again, the metaphor of “family” is less helpful than that of “friends.” Families usually experience change as condemnation; friends, more often, see change as opportunities for growth and development.

Let’s be friends.

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a place for “family” language in the Church. (It is, after all, a biblical metaphor and sometimes helpful.) What if we put it on the back burner for a while though, and started replacing it with “friendship” language. Or better yet, what if we started actually being friends?! Not because we have to, but because we can. Not because we’re so much alike, but because we’re committed to being together even (perhaps especially) when we differ.

Posted in Church, NON-Belgic Confession, PRC - Courant | Leave a comment

Why do you care about AIDS?

This year, thanks to our anticipated move, I’m not riding the Aids Red Ribbon Ride (which I have immensely enjoyed for the past two years). Nonetheless, I know and love some incredible men and women who will be riding it and supporting it. As I watch their training on FaceBook and observe their fund raising, I’m reminded of how often I’ve been asked: Why do you care about AIDS?

Have you ever asked yourself that? (Probably not.)

Have you ever asked someone else? (Again, probably not.)

Believe it or not, I’m asked that question a lot. To me the answer is obvious (I’ll get to that in a second), but I guess I understand it. After all, I’m a middle-aged, married, straight white guy. I’ve never been promiscuous, never been a drug user, never been raped, don’t have a blood disorder, and – although I was an EMT for a short time – have never had an accidental sharps exposure.

To most people, I am exactly the opposite of someone who should particularly care about AIDS.

That’s why I care about it.

I care about it because most people look at me and assume that AIDS has nothing to do with me. As a matter of fact, most of my friends, colleagues, and parishioners assume that it has nothing to do with them either.

They look in a mirror and they compare themselves with “the kind of people who get AIDS” and they imagine there’s no overlap.

Except, they’re wrong.

AIDS – unlike pretty much everything else in the world – doesn’t discriminate.

Straight people get it. Gay people get it. Young people get it. Old people get it. Gorgeous people get it. Ugly people get it. Rich people get it. Poor people get it. Athletes get it. Musicians get it. Chess players get it. Parents get it. Single people get it. (I could go on, but I think you get the point….)

That’s why I care about it.

There’s more though.

I also care about it because I’m a minister. Every week I stand in front of my congregation and I call them to confession with words like: we have all fallen short of God’s will for us; we are all sinners in the hands of a gracious God – a God eager to forgive…. A God whose love is so deeply that nothing can separate us from it… nothing! “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation….”

I say those words, and I realize that the Church (big “C” – the Christian Church, as a whole) has not lived into them very well.  We’ve all-too-often imagined that God’s love doesn’t extend to people we imagine are unlike us… to those people… them… they… (whomever “those,” “them,” and “they” happens to be).

We’ve failed to realize that they are us.

I care about AIDS because, nearly every Sunday, when I call my congregation to confession I’m embarrassed at how the Church (big “C”) has responded to the AIDS crisis.

Yes, I think about AIDS that often.

Every week, I’m reminded of how often we have sectioned off people whom God Loves. (I wish I could say “they have,” but I know I’m stuck with the first-person-plural here.)  We’ve sectioned them off and imagined they’re somehow not us.

We’ve failed to realize that they are us… we are them.

That’s why I care about it.

Sure, AIDS is increasingly experienced as a disease to be “lived with” rather than to “die from,” but we have a long way to go.  Will you help?

Grace and peace,

Posted in ARRR, NON-Belgic Confession, Politics, Synod 2011 | Leave a comment

A Home Library

Here is my latest article for our Church’s monthly newsletter, the Courant:

This will come as no surprise to most of you, but I’m a little bit of a “book guy.” Although my library doesn’t hold a candle to that of some of my colleagues, I have been carefully adding new favorites to it for about two decades. However, with an overseas move on the horizon, I’ve had to rethink my approach to books and start evaluating which are important enough to take up space (and weight) in our luggage (or to reacquire digitally), which can be stored, and which to liquidate.

As I’ve thought about this, I was reminded of a list I put together several years ago describing what religious books are worth buying for a home library – as it turns out, it’s very similar to the list of books that I’ll be packing. Most people make the mistake of buying too many low-quality books and end up with a library full of relatively worthless ones that aren’t really all that helpful. Perhaps I can save you some money and space – here are the ones I think everyone should consider:

  • An NRSV version of the Bible: there are a lot of English translations and paraphrases available and each has their own benefits and drawbacks. The NRSV, however, is something of an “industry standard” and it’s the one we use in worship at Pultneyville Reformed. For what it’s worth, I prefer versions that include the Apocrypha – they usually cost the same, and it’s helpful to have at your disposal. ($10-50)
    (Also available online for free at:
  • A copy of the RCA creeds and confessions: you may not agree with everything in them, but they provide a helpful foundation for being able to think intelligently about matters of faith. The Bible is our “only rule of faith and practice” but it isn’t always easy or concise. The creeds and confessions often boil down complicated concepts into helpful explanations. ($7)
    (Also available online for free at:
  • The Isaiah Vision by Raymond Fung: It’s a simple little book, but the Adult Sunday School Class has spent most of the year discussing it and its implications. Sometimes congregations like ours find it easier to say what we don’t believe than to describe what we do stand for. The Isaiah Vision gives language for how “to do church” in a way that makes sense in a wide variety of contexts. ($8)
  • The New Bible Dictionary published by InterVarsity Press: Bible dictionaries are essentially encyclopedias of Bible information. If you run across the word denarii do you know what it means? What is a Psalm? What important contextual and genre information should you know when reading Nehemiah? Bible dictionaries give you all the inside information you need in (reasonably) short and concise articles (without actually telling you what to believe). I like IVP’s The New Bible Dictionary because it does a good job of straddling “easy” and “academic. ($30)
  • John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion: believe it or not, the Institutes are exceptionally accessible. Even if you take a year or two to work through them, you’ll be better off than reading a hundred pseudo-religious books picked up from the sale aisle of the bookstore. Whatever you do, though, please get a modern translation like the one by Ford Lewis Battles. ($25-50)

You can buy all of them for around a hundred dollars, and if you never buy another religious book, they’d serve you well for the rest of your life.

Seriously, how often can you say that?!

On the other hand, if you’d like to go further than that, here are a few more I’d suggest:

One last thing: there are two categories of books that are generally a waste of money for a home library (1) original language resources and (2) commentaries. Although both do a great job a boosting the ego, they simply aren’t usually worth it. Why? Put bluntly: the NRSV is a quality translation and most people will never develop enough skill with the original languages to make it worthwhile, also most commentaries fit in to one of three categories: too academic, too unacademic, or too stuck on a particular position. Most people will benefit more from spending time studying the Bible itself (especially if they do it with other people) rather than studying what some “professional scholar” has to say about it.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like help choosing specific editions.

Grace and peace,


PS: I provided links to the above resources on Amazon.  For the record, I get no “kickback” or benefits for doing so.  Most of them can be found through various distributors at similar prices.

Posted in Books, Church, NON-Belgic Confession, PRC - Courant, Religious | Leave a comment