Wisdom for Pregnancy: A Conversation with Ilana Stanger-Ross

I started writing A is for Advice because I felt that, as a maternity care provider, I saw so much anxiety about pregnancy, birth, and parenthood among my clients, and so much self-inflicted pressure to achieve some kind of ideal birth or status as a parent. So ultimately, I wanted a book that said, hey, labor can be hard, parenting is definitely hard, but you’ll do your best and that’s going to be absolutely enough—trust yourself, and be gentle with yourself.

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Katie TahmasebComment
An Imprinting of Love: How to Be Gentle With Your Kids and Yourself

My brothers and I spent countless Saturdays exploring in the Adventures In Odyssey wonderland while my parents steeped themselves in Dobson’s philosophy. His empire pumped out radio programs, magazines, and parenting books that explained how our “sin natures” caused us to misbehave and directed parents to set firm boundaries via physical punishment and authoritarian shaming to help children understand the dire consequences of their sins.

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Screen Time for Toddlers: Why We Keep Our Little Guy Away

Before our son was born, my wife and I agreed that we would keep him away from screens for as long as possible, mostly because this is what’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatricians. Their guideline is clear enough: “For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they’re seeing.”

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Healing Spiritual Wounds: A Conversation with the Rev. Carol Howard Merritt

When I think about my experiences as a child, I remember the fear that grew up every Sunday, when our pastor began the altar call. We would sing “Just as I Am” and he would tell us that God wanted to save us from hell. I would whisper the Sinner’s Prayer, in the hopes that I would avoid it. I wouldn’t go up to the altar, because I didn’t want to make a scene every Sunday, but I was scared that I somehow lost my salvation, or that I didn’t have it in the first place. A stark panic rose up and I would plead with God to save me from the fires of damnation.

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Ryan TahmasebComment
Re-Centering of the Self: Seeing Christianity through a New Lens

What is a “spiritual life”? I didn’t have a good answer to that until recently. My road to a deeper spirituality was a long, arduous, and somewhat surprising one. It didn’t come through religion, church, Scripture, meditation, prayer, or any type of spiritual practice. Not that those things can’t get one there, I’m sure they can. It began with an examination of the self, one which revealed to me a small-false-ego-self that had to be stripped of all the detritus surrounding it so that it could be confronted in full light.

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Brad BensonComment
How an Ancient Spiritual Practice Can Help Parents Model Good Decision-Making

Ever since I became a parent, I have been particularly invested in living a moral life. This is not to say morality was unimportant to me before, of course. But now I have a little human around who observes everything I do and say, and I genuinely want to guide him toward making decisions that are right for him and those around him. Therefore, the choices I make each day, for myself and for him, have decidedly profound implications.

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Ryan TahmasebComment
Aligning Values & Actions: A Practice in Self-Discovery & Transformation

Developing self-control obviously does not come without struggle, as can be heard in Paul the Apostle’s famous lament: “That which I do not want to do, that I do.” Jesus delivers a similar warning when he tells us to “watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The Desert Fathers put extremely strong emphasis on developing self-control as a means for attaining “purity of heart.”

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Brad BensonComment
Self Care for Parents: Why Self Reflection is Crucial

Doesn’t this ring true? We must do the work of aligning who we really are inside with how we actually act every day. And self-reflection enables us to bridge this gap. When we take stock of whatever’s going on beneath the surface of our thoughts, words, and actions, we’re better able to understand the gap between the way we are living today and the way we know we should be living.

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Ryan TahmasebComment
On Biblical Interpretation & The Importance of Questions: A Conversation With Wil Gafney

It’s really important for folk of all ages to have spaces where they can ask questions and have those questions honored and respected, and sometimes left hanging. It’s important for congregants and students to hear that clergy and faculty have our own questions with which we wrestle. It’s also important to introduce folk to biblical criticism early, to demonstrate the seriousness with which we take the complexity of the text.

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Ryan Tahmaseb Comments
Healing from Grief Means Allowing It To Help Us Grow

I don’t love the truth of it, but over time I’ve learned that our most powerful learning experiences often occur after a loss of some kind. With loss comes grief, and for a while, grief has a weight to it that can feel unbearably heavy. But whenever we’re ready, which hopefully isn’t too long after the loss, we can begin to work on giving our grief expression through activities like therapy, writing, prayer, honest conversation, and meditation.


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An Approach to Keeping Children Open to Religion in a Secular Age

I was raised in a Protestant Christian household, but after being confirmed at the age of 13 my parents gave me the choice of continuing with the church or not. I couldn’t run away fast enough. The whole thing seemed like a sham and a waste of time. Nothing aligned with the science I was learning in school, and the church’s ideas of God, creation, and heaven seemed beyond ridiculous.

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Brad Benson Comments
The Grace of Enough: A Conversation with Haley Stewart

There is no checklist for living more simply that’s going to fit each person’s circumstances or vocation, but we can all begin with prayer and discernment over what we want versus what we truly need. It’s easy to assume that because it’s the norm to have something, it’s impossible to live without it. There are many things that add convenience to our lives, but we can also handle inconvenience!

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Ryan TahmasebComment
And All The Bells On Earth Shall Ring

It’s Christmas morning, and despite everything painful, sorrowful, and even tragic that has happened to you and to me and to the world this year, the light has arrived. Today we celebrate the arrival of Jesus—the Christ—even though in some mysterious way the Christ has always been present in the world.

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Ryan TahmasebComment
How Parenting Helps Us Better Understand Ourselves

My son was born over a year and a half ago. When my wife and I look at pictures of him from his first few months, we can’t believe how much he has grown. His face has already lost much of that chubby roundness, and he looks and moves like a toddler. We’ve witnessed his first words, his first haircut, and his realization that running, dancing, hopping, and jumping are all more fun than walking. I’ve also started to realize how much I’ve changed, too.

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Ryan Tahmaseb Comment
Holy Light in the Holy Darkness: Advent and Waiting For New Life

As we move closer and closer to the Winter Solstice—the shortest, darkest day of the year—it seems worthwhile to take some time to reflect on what this season of darkness has to teach us. In the Christian tradition, this season is known as Advent. Advent comes near the end of the calendar year, but it also marks the beginning of the new church year. It intentionally pairs what’s happening outside with what’s happening inside each of us.

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Ryan Tahmaseb Comments
The Path of Love: A Conversation With Brian McLaren

At its best, Christianity has called people to move beyond selfishness to caring for their families, and beyond caring only for their families to caring for their neighbors, and beyond caring only for their neighbors to caring for the outsider, outcast, other, alien, refugee, and stranger . . . and even beyond that: to daring to love our enemies.

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Ryan Tahmaseb Comments
Acting According To Divine Truth

My father was born in Iran, home of Rumi, the Sufi master. For years, these words from one of Rumi’s poems greeted my students on the door to my classroom: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is field. I’ll meet you there.” I’m still searching for this field.

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Ryan Tahmaseb Comments
Responding to Mass Violence: How We Can Turn Grief Into Action

I’ve been an educator for ten years, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to prepare myself to answer students’ questions about local, national, and international incidents of mass violence. Each time there’s a horrific bombing or shooting, our Head of School sends out an email to faculty and parents. The awfulness of the tragedy is acknowledged, and there are links to resources on how to discuss tragedies with kids.

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Ryan Tahmaseb Comments
Grateful and Grounded: A Conversation with Diana Butler Bass

The spiritual awakening that I’ve described in many of my books – and I am of the opinion that this awakening is the work of the people – happens when each one of us demands that our religious traditions and institutions live up to their own teachings and wisdom.  Without the passion of the people, and our participation in these ancient traditions, institutions will always be uninspired, inauthentic, and hypocritical. 

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Ryan TahmasebComment