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Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape our Faith

Thinking through narrative is Jesus’ primary pedagogical mode: a man goes on a journey, a woman searches for a coin, a son goes astray, a servant makes a bad investment. Whatever the perspective, there is ample evidence that societal attitudes—on whatever issue, whether toward smoking or politics, war or sexuality—are affected more by story than by law. Thus, stories both encourage and constrain us, depending on our ability to critically interpret and respond to these narratives.
July 10, 2023

Makoto Fujimura

In this episode, Jennifer Holberg talks with Makoto Fujimura, a leading contemporary artist whose process driven, refractive “slow art” has been described by David Brooks of New York Times as “a small rebellion against the quickening of time”. He was a Presidential Nominee to the National Council on the Arts from 2003 to 2009, and served as an international advocate for the arts, speaking with decision-makers and advising governmental policies on the arts. In this episode, they discuss Fujimura's book,…
August 26, 2021
Inside Out

Dusty Endings

Though Easter was a huge deal in my family, we never did Ash Wednesday when I was growing up. No service, no imposition of ashes. And although my parents adored the Advent season (during which we had many family traditions, including daily lighting of our Advent wreath and daily chocolate ending from our Advent calendars), Lent was completely ignored. (Lest you think we were complete spiritual slackers, we still had daily family devotions, as we always did.) Naturally, we didn’t…
As We See It

Barefoot Teaching

Today is not just the first day of teaching in a new semester for me; it also marks the beginning of my 25th year in the classroom. My silver anniversary, if you will. I’m not sure it’s an occasion for a party or anything. And I realize it’s clichéd to say, but it really doesn’t seem that long ago that my 22-year-old self was walking in to teach English 131AK: Expository Writing to incoming first-year students at the University of…
December 31, 2015

A Curious Professor

Part I: Holberg In all the years of our long friendship, there was never a week that went by when Dale Brown and I did not talk about teaching. We talked about our own classes, of course, and our students, but we also talked about all the pedagogical “nitty-gritty” – grading and assignments and course readings – trying to figure out how to get ever better at what we felt was the most meaningful part of our job as professors.…

Lucky 13

MAY 2012: INSIDE OUT by Jennifer L. Holberg I recently joined the blogging group "The Twelve: Reformed. Done Daily." It's a group that has been going for a while (and with great stuff—I encourage you to check it out at And now that one of the original twelve has dropped out, I guess that makes me the blog's Matthias. You'll remember the story of Matthias from Acts 1. After Jesus' ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem and discussed a…

Scenes of Miracle

I've had a great treat this summer: every Wednesday, I've gotten to spend the morning with a dear friend's 20-month old child. The official reason is to give my friend a little time for her own writing, but the real reason, if truth be told, is much more selfish on my part--I get to have an excuse to goof around for a couple of hours. Of late, my schedule has become almost unbearably busy, so this time has become a…
August 1, 2011

Story-Shaped Lives

I still have the handmade birthday card my fifth grade teacher gave me—an enormous piece of folded yellow construction paper with a big orange bookworm (wearing a festive birthday hat, naturally) drawn on the front. Somehow that flimsy relic of thirty years ago survived the many moves of my childhood and found a snug home at the bottom of the cedar box a great-uncle made me as a repository for my "treasures." Perhaps it's no surprise I safeguarded it so…
August 1, 2010

In Defense of Extravagance

Several years ago I was in England, researching the life of a very minor Modernist poet. I had dutifully made the rounds of libraries far and wide, and finally, after about a month, I had arrived at the very last one on my list. My reward when I was done was to be my first trip to France with my brother, who lived in England at the time. To be honest, I was only visiting that particular library out of…
November 1, 2009