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J. Mark Lawson
Liverpool, New York
Pastor, United Church of Christ in Bayberry, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, LeMoyne College
Interests: Hiking and photography in the Adirondack mountains, American history. The images in the banner are pictures I've taken while hiking.
Recent Activity
Christianity has been in the news a lot lately – and not for good reasons. Former judge and Senatorial candidate Roy Moore – who bombastically presents himself as a champion of traditional Christianity – has been publicly accused by five women (so far) of inappropriate sexual advances when they were... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2017 at Traveling in Place
This morning, we awoke to the season’s first measurable snowfall. The sight of it was comforting to me. Something normal. Right about on schedule. Life goes on. I’m tired of abnormality. I’m tired of norms – not just political ones, but also moral norms that used to define basic human... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2017 at Traveling in Place
“Be still and know that I am God.” These words have been echoing in my head a lot over the last year, because the temptation to be perpetually stirred up, distracted, and anxious is so strong. Everything is politicized. Nothing is filtered. The most powerful forces at work in society... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2017 at Traveling in Place
This weekend, I engaged in an autumn ritual and one of the true joys of home ownership: cleaning the gutters. Every year, I think to myself in early autumn, “Well, you might as well wait until all the leaves have fallen before you clean out the gutters, so you only... Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2017 at Traveling in Place
When I drove up into the mountains last week for my annual spiritual retreat, I was disappointed to see muted autumn colors robbed of their usual brilliance. An unseasonably warm September devoid of any significant rainfall stifled what is typically a splendorous display of color. In the Western part of... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2017 at Traveling in Place
One day last week, I spotted what seemed to me a large and intimidating spider suspended just below eye level on our back deck. Its huge web was spun from the eave down to the back of a wicker sofa then to the facing of the door into our sunroom,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2017 at Traveling in Place
August felt like October. Now, September feels like July. That’s unsettling, but it could be a lot worse. I’ll take unseasonable temperatures any day over multiple once-in-a-millennium, tornado-inducing hurricanes that spawn record flooding and wind destruction. In fact, I have been hearing Central New Yorkers express a newfound appreciation for... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Rain and responsibilities conspired to keep me off the hiking trails this summer – until Friday. On the first day of September I grabbed a late season chance to challenge myself with a good, long, strenuous trek up one of the Adirondack High Peaks. I choose Sawteeth, which stands 4,100... Continue reading
Posted Sep 3, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The other day I witnessed something truly wonderful. I was driving home from Syracuse on the Lake Parkway. As I entered the last curve before reaching the village, I could see ahead of me that traffic had stopped. Had there been an accident? I expected to see the flashing lights... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2017 at Traveling in Place
It’s been a long, hot summer. I’m not talking about weather. In fact, around here, it really hasn’t been all that hot. It is true that around the world, the planet is getting warming. Permafrost is receding, the ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. But that’s not... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Whatever else you may think of the political paroxysms jolting American culture right now, you cannot deny that we’re all getting a national civics lesson. I don’t think I have ever heard as much conversation about checks and balances, the Electoral College, or even the independence of the Department of... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2017 at Traveling in Place
(See update at the end of this post. - JML) While attention is focused on the Senate healthcare debate and Don Jr.’s e-mails with Russians, a largely unnoticed bill is wending its way through the legislative process that needs some serious public vetting. It is scheduled for a vote in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The long Independence Day weekend has begun – with more rain. While the weather forecast is for a bright, sunny July 4, the cloudy, wet conditions seem more appropriate. As I’ve listened to parishioners talk about the state of the nation, I’ve noticed one emotion overtaking all others. Earlier in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The violence continues. Today, a disgruntled political activist committed an act of terrorism by opening fire on a baseball practice attended by several Republican members of Congress. Forty to fifty shots rang out. The incident could have been far worse. No one was killed. Five people were injured, one critically.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2017 at Traveling in Place
I never thought this would happen to me. I’ve become – wait for it – a “birder.” Spotting birds, identifying them by their plumage, and learning their calls has never held much interest for me until this year. Back in March, I posted about all the birds we were attracting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Last February, I gave a talk at the Spiritual Renewal Center in Syracuse entitled, “Human Suffering and the God of Love.” I told a friend that it was probably the most complete theological statement I have ever made in one evening (which will either reflect well or poorly on me).... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2017 at Traveling in Place
As if we don’t have enough breaking news to keep up with, Montana Republican Congressional candidate Greg Gianforte has now been cited by the Gallatin County sheriff for misdemeanor assault against a reporter. An audio recording and eyewitness accounts confirm that, on Wednesday, Gianforte became angry with The Guardian reporter... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Do you remember those “compare and contrast” essays you were assigned in school? Today’s news presents us with a subject that is crying out for just such an exercise. President Donald Trump meets Pope Francis. Both men are masters at using the media to their advantage. Both of them tend... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The sound defeat of Marine Le Pen and the French National Front Party on Sunday was an important affirmation of the European Union and the 62-year-old Western effort to avert any more world wars. Belgium, Austria, and now France have all rejected the nationalist wave that has threatened to sweep... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at Traveling in Place
As a growing number of Americans drop out of organized religion (25% now say they do not affiliate with any form of it), American society becomes meaner and less civil. That shouldn’t surprise anybody, but in a roundabout way, it does. For a half century, our nation has been embroiled... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2017 at Traveling in Place
It isn’t often that the timing of Easter and the coming of spring cooperate as nicely as they have this year (at least around here). Buds appeared on the trees a little earlier than usual, but waited until Easter week to pop out into leaves. Now, green is rapidly replacing... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2017 at Traveling in Place
The Associated Press is reporting that the firearms industry is in sharp decline. Gun manufacturers are laying off factory employees as demand for guns at the retail level plummets. While an advocate of gun control was in the White House, gun sales increased 362 percent. Now that a strong supporter... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2017 at Traveling in Place
President Trump just got some mail – a letter sent to him by 100 prominent Christian leaders. The signatories include Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Catholic archbishop of New York; Leith Anderson, president of the National Evangelical Association; Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity; Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary;... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2017 at Traveling in Place
One day last month, my furnace needed some work. When I called to make an appointment for the repair, I was given a window of time when I could expect the service person to arrive, with a promise that he would call when he was on the way to my... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2017 at Traveling in Place
Joel Tooley is pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Melbourne, Florida, a mainstream conservative evangelical congregation thriving in a growing area of the Bible belt. Like most other evangelicals, he voted for Donald Trump. When he heard that Trump was flying in to his hometown for a political... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2017 at Traveling in Place