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

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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That time festival security saw me as a threat to a Civil-Rights heroine (Christian Century)

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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