You’re Invited! The Misunderstood Bible Project: A Talk

Michelangelo’s Moses

The Bible. It’s weird. Let’s talk. If you happen to be in Charlottesville, VA and free for (a free) lunch and talk on September 19 (Tues), c’mon by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (conference room)! I look forward to discussing my work for The Misunderstood Bible (forthcoming, Oxford University Press) with those able to attend. Kristin Swenson flyer VFH talk 2017

Here’s a little more info:

The Bible is a really weird book, no matter what a person believes or doesn’t, biblical scholar Kristin Swenson observes.

What Was the Women’s March For?

People ask what the Women’s March on Washington was for, anyway, as if not rallying around a single discrete issue is mere silliness. To them, I say: if only there were a single, simple, self-contained issue. Gosh, wouldn’t that be great?

Here’s the thing. When trouble advances, women are pretty much always on the front line to confront it. Add to that, the interrelatedness of the issues on parade on January 21. Scratch the surface and you’ll see that climate change, immigration, health care, racism, education, the right to facts from a free (unthreatened) press, a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion, marriage equality, and economic justice intersect over and over again. These and more are too much for any one person to solve. And they just got a whole lot harder.

Epiphany’s Choice and the Environment: In Reverence to Honor, or in Fear to Destroy

Hang on, you there, packing up the Christmas lights, dismantling the tree, boxing up the crèche with its cast of characters and that long-tailed star. Christmas is not over. Sure, come December 26th, it may have been all over for the “Little Drummer Boy,” Bing Crosby, and the Nutcracker; but not quite for Christmas. The wise men are just now arriving. And those magi from the East, with their three auspicious gifts, are not simply late to the party. They inaugurate a whole new thing: public acknowledgment by the world’s powers, of a radically new kind of rule. They’re not the only ones who notice (cue the soundtrack for the dastardly villain). What gets me now, thinking as I have been about environmental issues in Jesus-ish terms, is how relevant the contrast between the wise men and Herod is still today.

Daily Dilemma Plus Beef Bone Broth and Barley Soups

Shaken. Oh, and stirred. Whomever you voted for on November 8, this election has left a lot of us shaken and stirred up, to boot.

How plan the day when the president-elect snubs the Constitution, a delightful friend has invited me for coffee and pie, religious do-gooders chisel away women’s rights, and a mere twenty minutes’ drive could have me on stunning mountain trails in bright sunshine? img_0064“I arise each morning,” E. B. White said, “torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and an inclination to enjoy (or savor) it. This makes it hard to plan the day.” Hard, indeed.

If Heaven There Is, It Is Surely with Dogs

If heaven there is, it is surely with dogs. snow-with-william

With Lady and Mukluk and Blizzard and Blue. Beauregard, Suvi, Sir Winston and Trieve. Loki and Merry, Hector, Shiloh, and Trout. There’s Cody and dsc00091Norman, Tuk, all the Roberts, too.

Sweet William, now join them. Godspeed on your way. Muzzle to palm, miss you. Miss you.

Each pup a person we’re the better for. So, there it is. Here we are. With Eedy beside me, so warm and so bright,

if heaven there is, it is surely with dogs.



For William, 2004-2016william-up-close-small

The Solace of Honest Work

For now, the swish and swish is all there is. The wooden handle of a rake with its metal-tined delta is all that I, who have come soul-tired, need. That, modest strength in my shoulders, and the blue tarp onto which I toss leaves with a swing that despite everything can’t but be joyous. It’s the swoop of a dance, the flinging of a scarf, the scatter of crumbs to ducklings.

I rake leaves, though I should be saving the world.

Five Reasons It’s So Daggone Hard to Talk about Environmental Issues in This Election

Number One: There’s just so much else! Between ferreting out and correcting lies, determining the relevance of sexual impropriety and serial bankruptcy, judging emails the nefarious contents of which still elude the best sleuths, the American Way vis-à-vis immigration, and ISIS oh ISIS,… who can talk about anything so multi-faceted and complex as the environment? Any edgewise that might exist barely lets another syllable slip in, much less the battery of words that a full treatment of environmental issues demands.

We Are Animals, Environment and Election 2016

We are animals. I don’t mean that figuratively (though given the mud-fest incivility of this election, a case could be made). I mean it literally and to consider in the context of this election. We are blood, bone, brain, and balls, composed of material stuff and animated by love, fear, and the pursuit of happiness. We Americans are just as much a part of our planet’s natural systems and the ecologies of our site-specific homes as is any barn swallow or humpback whale or spotted salamander. We forget this. We have forgotten this in arguments about walls and email and the economy and ISIS. We forget at our peril because there’s no future for our country with its Silicon Valley and Supreme Court and health care and Rust Belt manufacturing without attending with wise intention to environmental sustainability.

A Patriotic Act of Faith for Environmental Protection and Climate Justice

*Related: Join folks in RVA Aug. 18, 6pm for follow-up Hands Across Our Land rally!*

(The following article first appeared on The Huffington Post)

George Jones is still serving his country. Navy vet (Korea) and lifetime resident of Virginia, Mr. Jones bused to Richmond to take his message of American responsibility to the governor. That message: no new pipelines, no more fracking, enough already with our dependence on fossil fuels.George Jones close

A Good Thing about That Emoji Bible

One of my favorite questions as a Bible-scholar-lady is “So, what’s the best translation?” I love this question not only because it opens the door to substantive discussion that can last for the better part of a class period… no matter how long the meeting. But I also love it because we get to talk about paradox: The best translation is precisely not the one. Rather, the best translation is a whole mess of ’em, side by side, allowing a reader to see the varieties of ways this ancient text can mean (and sometimes revealing the biases of whoever’s behind said translation). So even when I disagree with some version’s particular word choice, turn of phrase, or punctuation, finally I say bring it on. Give us a new translation, and keep them coming. Come they do.Bible Emoji cover225x225