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About This Blog

public witness 2011In November, 2014, I left parish ministry and, over the next several months, created Shenandoah Spirituality, a new, personal ministry focused on spirituality, healing, and wholeness. In this space, I’ll be posting writings that might have been used in a sermon or a newsletter column–but with a far wider range of topics. New entires will be posted at least once a week.

June 18: Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all for whom this is a happy day. That’s not the case for everyone, and for those for whom this is a difficult day for any of a number of reasons, I pray for your comfort and healing.

I’m one of those for whom it is a mixed day. My father died more than 20 years ago. We had our difficulties at times, but I loved him and I knew that he loved me. I think about him often, and on this day, all my memories are good ones.

My dad, Rev. Tipton L. Britner, as a young man.

Rather than writing a full-length blog, I’m adding a sermon under the sermons tab that I first delivered a few years ago about Biblical fathers.  It’s not about my father, but I did include an anecdote I’ll share with my readers today and invite you to read the rest of the sermon here.

      “Perhaps because we were both political junkies, my dad always was impressed that I was a lawyer in Washington, D.C. When I visited him, he would introduce me to others by saying, “This is my boy; he’s a Washington lawyer!” He was a man like any other man with many flaws. Yet I’m not romanticizing his memory when I say that every day of my life, even in all these days since his death, I have felt his blessing.”

     In the sermon, I spend a lot of time describing the Biblical version of a father’s blessing, and I share how we might adapt that tradition to our contemporary understanding of gender roles and diverse families. As I often write, we are holy, we are loved, and we deserve to be loved. That’s the kind of blessing I got from my father, and it’s the kind of blessing I wish for everyone. For those who did not have a father who gave them such a blessing, take mine. The great thing about blessings, like love, is that you can keep giving it away without diminishing one’s own.

For my father and all the men who ever have mentored me and blessed me with their love, encouragement, and wisdom, permit me to take this occasion to say, “Thank you!”


June 11: What is Truth?

     In the final two weeks of school, I had the opportunity to teach a few lessons to an eighth-grade class. I thought it went pretty well until this week, when I found out that I may have been teaching them something that’s not true–or not True, as I’ll discuss in this blog entry. Continue reading

A Reading for Memorial Day

This week, I share a reading I’ve used in worship services. It is from the book, “Bless All Who Serve,” which, as described by publisher Skinner House Books, is “a collection of materials that provide encouragement and comfort to Armed Service men and women in their times of need.”  I encourage my readers to follow the link provided by the book title. It will take you to a page that will allow you to donate copies of the book to our service personnel in uniform. This selection is by Rev. Rebekah Montgomery, who is a former Army chaplain.  Continue reading

May 21: Identity and Intersectionality

     I was fascinated this week by a new report showing that white fears of “cultural displacement” was a bigger predictor of Trump voters than economic insecurity.  In fact, among poor whites, Clinton had a small advantage. Those who believe that discrimination against whites is just as bad as discrimination against blacks or that immigration threatens their basic way of life were more than three times more likely to vote for Trump.

     That was not the single biggest predictor of Trump voters. I’ll get to that below. For this blog,  I reflect on this idea of “cultural displacement” and how that fits into some other ways of thinking about people. If you haven’t heard it before, I’d like to introduce you to a relatively new term: intersectionality. It’s largely associated with traditionally oppressed groups such as persons of color or women. Yet, I think the idea helps to explain some of Trump’s voters. Continue reading

May 7: Thou Shalt Not Be Overcome

Julian of Norwich

     “And this word, ‘ Thou shall not be overcome,’ was said full sharply and full mightily for sickness and comfort against all tribulations that may come : he said not, thou shalt not be troubled, thou shalt not be travelled, thou shalt not be diseased; but he said, ‘ Thou shalt not be overcome.’* Continue reading

April 30: Getting Found


by David Wagoner

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you

Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.

No two branches are the same to Wren.

If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows

Where you are. You must let it find you.

     If it feels like you’re spending all your time searching for your true self, you’re probably working too hard. Stop looking. Let yourself be found. Continue reading

April 23: Changing for Good

    There’s a saying among my friends that goes something like, “Everything I’ve ever let go of had claw marks.”  That’s how I felt when, finally, I gave up artificial sweeteners. More seriously, I’ve seen this applied to everything from unhealthy relationships to bad habits to toxic beliefs and attitudes. Continue reading