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

Moral Mondays soundtrack (Durham News)

Lynn Blakey wrote a sort-of theme song, “Army of Love,” for the group comprising several dozen Carolina artists. Inspiring the song was 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton, who registered to vote in the early 1940s at age 21. She’d been an activist when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to ensure that other African-American could exercise the right to vote they had won soon after the Civil War.

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Durham News: Tougher than the rest

I’m glad to have another good reason to call Durham home. I moved here for the great restaurants and bars, the music scene, the DIY risk-taking, the smart people thinking hard about social justice and all the opportunities that Duke has to offer. Now I also know I have neighbors who pay attention and police who respond quickly.

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Diverse religion because a diverse Creation by a diverse Creator?

We might say that co-existence with others forces a species to adapt, and everyone is better for it.

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Vox Veniae: A functioning cog in some great machinery, serving something beyond

“I think we should try to make change, but in the end I need it more than the people I’m trying to help.” — Gideon Tsang, pastor of Vox Veniae in Austin, Texas

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Response to Sojourners comment: Here are the page numbers

I’m grateful that science can explain evolution. I’m concerned about the deeper logic of survival-of-the-fittest, the sort that says, “Hey, look, we can put legs on your silly little Jesus fish. We win.”

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The naked artist: narcissism or self-giving love?

“Our creativity is most fully and freely expressed as humans when we, as artists, stand back and let be. … And that is the challenge, the agony at times, of real art, not the passion for self-expression, but something completely other than that, a passion that there be something that is itself.” — Rowan Williams

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George Harrison: a changing cultural critic from “Taxman” to “I Me Mine”

When you sense that you’re constantly receiving grace, it’s a lot easier to offer it, even to the taxman.

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On how Creationism deconstructs itself and why Darwin’s fish might be a bully

“People who insist that the sacredness of Scripture depends on belief in creation in a literal six days seem never to insist on a literal reading of ‘to him who asks, give,’ or ‘sell what you have and give the money to the poor.’ In fact, their politics and economics align themselves quite precisely with those of their adversaries, who yearn to disburden themselves of the weak, and to unshackle the great creative forces of competition.” — Marilynne Robinson

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A Tree-of-Life politics of abundance

“It is characteristic of man that his life is a constant circling around its middle, but that it never takes possession of it. And this life from the middle, which only God possesses, is undisturbed as long as man does not allow himself to be flung out of his groove.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Life is like a vinyl record. I like that. We’re all symphonies on 78s.

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Sipping scotch in a mansion and eating Jesus off the floor in the nation’s capital

So what if Washington makes me feel little? Even the dean of the National Cathedral has to be little sometimes. We’re all little before God. Holiness, to the extent that humans can embody it, lies in remembering just how little we are.

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