Cornfield Country

“I’d been a struggling transfer student in SPU’s undergrad theology program for about a year and a half when Dr. Rob Wall, Professor of Scripture, introduced me to Dr. Richard Steele. [….] [My first meeting with him,] two and a half hours with Dr. Steele[,] [was] like trying to drink from a fire hydrant, which is, as it turns out, exactly what they – and all the subsequent times I’ve (somehow) been sovereignly selected to have with him – have been ever since.”

Authenticity vs. Professionalism

“Persons who achieve noteworthy success in the helping professions – such as clergy, teachers and therapists – must balance personal authenticity with scrupulous professionalism.” It is easier said than done to be someone who balances both authenticity and professionalism. Check out this post by Dr. Steele as he shares instances as a pastor, when his professionalism outweighed his authenticity, and vice versa.

The Power of Suggestion

“She wanted a boyfriend in the worst way, but the cards seemed to be stacked against her. She had frizzy red hair, wore floor-length peasant dresses, and was a little odd looking, even by the standards of college students in the early 1970s. And she was shy and socially awkward. [….] I can’t recall her name any more, and I sincerely hope she has long since forgotten mine, but for the purposes of this essay I shall call her Juliette.”


Margaret E. Mohrmann, MD once said, “A funeral is more than a forceful reminder that the life of someone we have cared for is over. It is also an expression of the continuation of that person’s life within the ongoing lives of family, friends, and community. It is an expression of the robust interconnectedness of us all.” In this column, I want to illustrate the profound truth of Dr. Mohrmann’s observation through two stories.

Three Rules of Thumb

“[With] forty years of religious study under my belt, […] I don’t have any “hard, incontrovertible facts” that can beat [a pithy quote by a priest in the movie ‘Rudy’]. But I do at least have three rules of thumb that have proven useful to me in my work as a pastor, professor and seminary administrator.”

Adam and Eva

“[F]resh out of seminary, I was appointed pastor of the United Methodist Church in Orfordville, Wisconsin…. About thirty people attended [that church, including] Mrs. Eva Penkert. Eva was 77 years old when I met her, and she had been a lifelong member of that church … [and] she was in church every Sunday, without fail….”