Word Economy (The Redux)

By now, you may have heard the news. Deeper Story, the site where I've been a contributor and editor for nearly four years, is shutting down. All good things must come to an end, I suppose. Death is a natural part of living. In any event, I've been combing my Deeper Story archives and I ran across this little piece. It was first published in June of 2011, but the thoughts still apply. Do you like Hemingway? Then read on.


I’ve been playing with words and thinking about word economy.  The word economy is in a bear market, I think.  We say so little with so many words.  I am a regular offender.

Earnest Hemingway was masterful. He once wrote an entire short story with 6 words.  “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”  Some consider it his most complete work.  Let’s be honest, those people must not have read The Sun Also Rises.

It only took Yahweh 212 words to create the entire universe, if you read the New International Version, that is.  He did so much with so little.  Best I can tell, it only took him 18 words to decide that woman was a good idea, and he molded her form with speechless precision.  Sometimes the best works are done without words.

Jesus unfolded a Samaritan whore’s entire story in 36 words.  “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”  It wasn’t quite Hemingway, but then again, Hemingway never walked on water now did he?  Jesus spoke with precision and offered the Samaritan woman the formula for living water.  She drank.

Words carry such power.  Words reveal.  Words evoke.  Words heal.  Let’s use them well.


In this month's Tiny Letter (my monthly newsletter), I'm discussing the idea of resting  within church practices. There, I'm speaking candidly about some recent changes in the Haines' household, and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Sign up to read along!

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Mourning With the Mourners

Friends, readers, and earnest grievers: I watched the news of Ferguson unfold last night on CNN. The prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, walked to the podium and delivered a recitation of grand jury deliberations that ultimately ended in the revelation that Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, would not be indicted.

I watched the scene on the Ferguson streets unfold, cross-checked every statement of every pundit with my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I sat in the safety of my home with the safety of my internet, and I watched Ferguson burn.

I am a lawyer by trade and a writer by craft, so you can imagine my temptation to throw my two cents into the fray...

Continue reading this editor letter at Deeper Story.



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Photo by Lisa Widerberg, Creative Commons via Flickr.

On Cigarette Ashes, Magnolia Blossoms, and Driver-Side Doors

I. This is not so much a piece about marriage as it is about certainty, about propositional truth. In a certain sense, this is a piece about driver-side doors.


At the wise old age of eighteen, I laid on a bed sheet under the midnight stars with a God-fearing girl; we flung dreams into the river of hot summer wind. She was supposed to be my first love. She was not--not really. She was, instead, the girl I was supposed to love, I being the youth group preacher-to-be, and she being the daughter of an upright minister.

We had a First Baptist kind of relationship, one that was more of a profession of faith than a profession of passion. The truth was--and boy, did we ever know the Truth...

Continue reading at A Deeper Story.

Featured image credit: "Magnolia" by THOR.

On Broken Pastors and Golden Calves


I've always been a question pusher, an inquisitor of sorts.

I was blazing a trail through the frozen Ozarks on an average weekday—the Boston Mountains rising like guardians over landscape as frozen as a faithless heart—when my phone range. It was a friend from my ministry days, a mid-western pastor who’d once confessed he was wrestling with the most un-nuanced question of faith—is God real? He’d spilled it across the bench seat of the beat up Chevy lumbering down the dirt roads near Indian territory, said he’d have an easier time counting summer stars in the panhandle of Oklahoma than imagining a real and present God. This confession came in his earlier days of ministry, before he’d acceded to the office of “Associate Pastor” and dug deep into a mid-western suburban life, before he’d started a family on a churchman’s salary.

I considered his confession—that truth spoken nearly six years prior—and cut to the quick of the matter. "How's your faith these days?" I asked.

"It's good, bro; how's yours?" he quipped, flipped the question on the inquisitor with an evangelical sleight of hand.

“Do you remember the night we were rolling in the old pickup on the back roads? You told me you were groping about for God, that you were considering jumping...” Continue reading at A Deeper Story.

*Photo by Sigfrid Lundberg, Creative Commons via Twitter.


Lest you have wondered whether I am, indeed, a hopeless romantic, allow me to write and remove all doubt. Yesterday, I offered Exhibit "A" as proof, and today, I offer Exhibit "B". Follow me over to A Deeper Story writing about Amber (again), and a professorial pedagogical genius, and that grand poet, ee cummings.


Professor Atkinson met us at the door of the lazy Fayetteville bistro, took Amber by the hand and said, “pardon all these ambitious paper chasers. Aside from your husband, they are the most boring companions. I’m so glad you could make it, and I have a surprise for you.” With that, he turned, clinked a water glass with a fork, and declared to the small group, “thank you all for coming. Please have a seat and let’s begin.” He waited for each of us to find our respective table settings, composed himself, and then, with a flair that can only be described as theatric, he recited the following poem by EE Cummings from memory.

i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Continue reading at A Deeper Story.