• The demand of the supplies

    Now that our students are safely back in their classrooms, parents all over Shelby County can wipe their brows and fall backwards into our recliners in overwhelmed fatigue. That seasonal onslaught is behind us, and we have survived once again the Battle of School Supplies.

    Are you one of us, we parents who are assailed annually by requirements that our students must arrive for the first day of school towing a small U-Haul trailer filled with everything from some stratus of computer to a certain color of pencil to be used for a chapter in a one-term geography workbook?

  • SOUDER: What will our kids learn in school?

    Early one August morning, a mother went in to wake up her son. “Wake up, son,” she said. “It's the first day of school, and you don’t want to be late.”
    “But, Mom, I don't want to go,” he said.

    “Give me two reasons why you don't want to go,” his mother asked.

     “Well, the kids make fun of me for one, and the teachers don’t like me either!”

    The mother was unconvinced. “That's no reason not to go to school – now get ready!”

  • Cooler weather is heaven-sent

    If you don’t believe that the Lord works in mysterious ways – or even that the Lord is the lord – then I offer this testimony:

    This morning at my house an air conditioner surgeon is scheduled to make his or her fourth trip to triage our injured unit. That happens. We all have experienced problems with our units.

    But our H/VAC has been on some level of hiatus since, oh, July 15.

    That’s three weeks in the middle of summer with little or no cool air circulating.

  • CHARLTON: Religion can perpetuate labels that can destroy

    If ever there was a social Rorschach test, it is the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. What do you see in the verdict? Was it a triumph of our legal system, with justice served, or the result of a system so badly broken that it only perpetuates further injustice?

  • SOUDER: Finding ourselves in God’s great story

    I heard that several years ago, when President George H.W. Bush was on the campaign trail, he stopped in to visit some residents in a nursing home. Walking up to an elderly woman in a wheelchair, he tried to begin a conversation.

    “Hello there, Ma’am, what’s your name?”

    “Mary,” she answered.

    “Well, Mary, it’s nice to meet you,” the president said. “Do you know who I am?”

  • Here's how to learn to stand and deliver in life

    The little girl with pigtails and big black eyes rushes onto the stage, smiling and even giggling. She pauses at the right moment, confronts the spotlight and sings in duet a short, sweet song in French, ignoring an audience overflowing assigned seats and every other element of her first stage performance except her role.

    She is 6 years old. She is fearless. She is calm. She amazes.

    How can one so young respond with such aplomb in such a fearsome situation?

  • CHARLTON: Some questions aren’t seeking answers

    During the course of my ministry, I’ve experienced a lot of church interviews. Some of those interviews have taken place with search committees looking to fill a church staff position, but most of them were instigated by people who wanted to see if I held the “correct” theological opinions.

  • What I did on my summer vacation

    This was supposed to be about my July 4th and a unique opportunity to watch celebratory bombs bursting in air over the harbor area of an American city far older than the Declaration of Independence, which would be Beaufort, S.C., founded circa 1711.

    But given the deluge I left with those of you at home, given all the efforts to produce and ignite fireworks that had to be shelved day after day and finally for more than a week or two, understanding the holiday cabin fever that beset you, that would have seemed a bit self-serving.

  • CHARLTON: How to decipher complex issue of marriage

    To anyone who has ever said, “Marriage is just a piece of paper that doesn’t really matter,” you were clearly very, very wrong. The Supreme Court decisions regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, and the legal wrangling and controversy leading to those decisions, demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that piece of paper called a marriage license is incredibly important.

    Though so much has already been written and spoken in the aftermath of the decisions, allow me to make a few further observations.

  • Fighting the good fight for us