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.


    The Atlantic


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

Some of Durham’s best friends (News & Observer column)

Doug and Mona represent the kind of economic development we need. Durham is their destination. They haven’t felt the need to “own” it, to tear it down, to rebuild it, to go in and change a neighborhood so it better suits them.

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The church camps that aim to bridge race relations (The Atlantic magazine)

In a new wave of social-justice work, church communities are looking outside their walls for the reconciliation they haven’t found inside, and they’re bringing this movement to summer camp.

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Feeding the fight against racism (Durham News column)

The Greensboro anti-racism group the Racial Equity Institute has been doing so many workshops in the Triangle, it has spawned it own catering company, a cottage industry to feed the fight against racism.

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A local music champion ambles out of town (Durham News column)

Wearing a T-shirt that said, “CHOOSE LOCAL MUSIC,” JKutchma was his usual kinetic self on-stage – one of the most physical performers the Triangle has known – but he gave it a little extra that night, ad-libbing an impassioned sermon on how in the age of the mp3, it had become harder and harder for musicians to finance their work.

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A rose garden’s promise (Durham News)

Last fall, the Duke Memorial United Methodist Church installed a port-o-potty outside after a youth-group mission trip to Asheville, where the kids met a lot of people living on the streets and realized how hard it can be to find a bathroom.

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Never going back again (Durham News column about vinyl records)

Vinyl records make you sit and listen, because if you don’t, then they’re just going to keep playing the same three or four songs over and over again. You can just turn on Pandora and forget about it, which is what so many of us do with music nowadays. With vinyl, you sit there, waiting: to carefully, delicately lift the needle, to pick up the disc with attentive gentleness, reverently to flip it over or slide it back into its sleeve, to coax another one out, to hold it by its edges so as not to smudge the ebony sheen, to circumnavigate the center hole over the spindle, to land the stylus like a helicopter carrying the queen.

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Finding God and a parking space (Durham News)

“At the church, a tribal war broke out between those who sought to maintain the old neighborhood and the newcomers who had begun to attend the church. In the short term, the old-timers won. It was, in a word, unpleasant.”

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We want them to tell us they won’t tell us what we want to hear (Christian Century)

If you believe in democracy, you believe in compromise. Ironically, talk of “saying what you believe” is a way of telling us what we want to hear, of pandering to the zeitgeist.

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Flip-flopping as a spiritual value (Durham News)

Joe Biden is a good politician, which means he’s a shrewd communicator. Ironically, talk of “saying what you believe” is a way of telling us what we want to hear. You might even call it pandering to the zeitgeist.

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Food service shift (Durham News)

I have come to see food service as one of the most important vocations on the planet, so much more important than other jobs we pay people a lot of money for. Cooks, servers and dishwashers help people to be together, and what is more important than that?

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