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

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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Souls to the polls on Saturday? (Durham News)

When our leaders have taken efforts to silence some of our voices, there’s something beautiful about a group of people going together to make themselves heard.

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Ferguson and voting rights (Durham News)

If we’re supposed to live in a democracy, and your government not only doesn’t represent your interests but actually becomes an instrument of extreme violence against you, maybe rioting is the only thing you have left to get its attention.

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Groanings too deep for words (Durham News)

Sloan Meek’s singing doesn’t mean everything is right with the world. Far from it. But when he gets going, it’s hard not to sing along in honest-to-goodness, genuine joy.

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You’re not supposed to believe in magic, but I do

If you want a mystical experience, go on a spiritual retreat, if you must, but don’t try to tell the rest of us about it. We can’t understand.

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The beauty of this place (Durham News)

I was in San Francisco recently, shopping in a vintage-clothing store in Haight-Ashbury, and I asked the cashier to recommend a place for dinner. “In the Haight?” he asked. “Nowhere. The food is terrible. Go down the hill to Cole Valley.” Seriously? There were almost 30 restaurants within a few blocks. None of them were any good?

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