Writing a religion column

I’m in a writing queue of seven pastors. We write a rotating, weekly column for the Merced Sun-Star called “Religion 101.” It’s fun to be able to make the occasional contribution, but it’s also a challenge.

Many people have mental stereotypes of what they think they will find in the column–doctrinaire, dogmatic, preachy, and moralistic. Such stereotypes function as hurdles to understanding, both for the reader and the writer.

Writing in a way that surprises, intrigues, and even irritates is a challenge. For example, how can a writer surprise if what is written is only what the reader expects?

That is what made Jesus’ parables so powerful. A listener would ask Jesus what he thought was a simple-enough question. Jesus typically responded with a story that turned the questioner’s world upside down.

This week’s Religion 101 article is meant to be oblique and indirect. Rather than saying, “We should stereotype other people,” it tells a simple story. Check out this link and see what you think.

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