About Jesse

    A veteran newspaper reporter, Jesse tells stories of regular people living with passion, struggling against injustice or simply practicing their faith. Through songwriting, magazine journalism and essays, Jesse aims to describe the human condition, especially the search for transcendence.



this littler light:
flashes of grace in politics, pop culture and publick houses

That time festival security saw me as a threat to a Civil-Rights heroine

The team was suspicious of our vintage blue suitcase and oddly small gear box. Why were they there? We weren’t around to explain. Might they contain some kind of explosive devices? They moved our stuff to the woods.

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Beer & Hymns: You’re invited (Durham News)

There’s not much more to it than the name suggests: Some of us drink beer, most of us sing hymns, and the main thing is, we get together, renew old friendships, make new ones and try to find a sense of human solidarity in this age when it’s easier to stay home and watch Netflix or pretend that social media is really social.

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Indie-rock and Chuck Ts do not a New Christianity make (Religion Dispatches)

Love him or hate him, but don’t confuse Mark Driscoll with a religious innovator. That’s Driscoll’s wicked genius—to mask your great-grandfather’s us-and-them religion with an edgy façade.

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America needs new abbeys: An interview with Nathan Marion (Religion Dispatches)

“It’s not like a building should be only used by its members. So that’s been a really open process that a lot of other churches are starting to see.” — Nathan Marion of Lonely Buildings and the Fremont Abbey Arts Center

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White people’s privilege (Durham News)

“That’s absurd,” I said. “Nobody’s going to sit here at MY TABLE and suggest that everyone’s on an even playing field.” I actually said that. “MY TABLE.” Who am I, Moses? Or Don Corleone?

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Ode to restaurant workers (Salt Collective)

Foodservice is a symphony of seemingly menial tasks that come together to create some of the most important experiences of humanity. Food is an instrument of Communion.

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Blessings black and white (Durham News)

“Blessing” is a difficult word because if God is an equalizer for people lacking enough power or justice or security, God might also be an equalizer for people who have too much, and that might not sound like such good news.

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Spiritual truths elusive (Durham News column)

For us Westerners, free speech is sacred. We cherish it with a kind of religious zeal. Censorship burns us, like, say, the thought of Muslims in the Duke Chapel tower burns Franklin Graham or those anonymous ghouls who threatened campus leaders over it.

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Straight, white and male in America (Durham News column)

The worst thing a cop has ever done to me is give me a speeding ticket I deserved. The system doesn’t threaten me because the system was built to protect me from others.

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My kid’s art teacher asked if Michael Brown was too political (Durham News)

My youngest and I helped art teacher Malcolm Goff haul his pieces into the school. I noticed one of them had an inscription, “In honor of Michael Brown.” It showed a young black man with his hands raised up in defense, his eyes and mouth wide with fear. “Do you think it’s too political for elementary school kids?” Malcolm asked me.

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