Christine Di Pasquale is a multimedia storyteller working on an MFA in Visual Narrative at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She works in science communications in Washington, D.C., but will always call the Jersey Shore home.

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What Does Proximity Require of Us?

Image via Rev. Rachel Johnson/The Riverside Church

At Riverside, McKesson drew a distinction between the terms “ally” and “accomplice.” An ally holds herself at a safe distance from the fight for justice, he said. What turns her into an accomplice is proximity: proximity to the fight and/or to those who suffer oppression and/or injustice

In Camden, Signs of a City, and a Church, Moving Forward

Image via Ashley LaBonde/Wide Eyed Studios

For the better part of 50 years, when I thought about Camden, N.J. — if I thought about the city at all — I’d envision driving as quickly as possible through a blighted urban wasteland to get across the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia.

I didn’t envision young people building boats in a deconsecrated church, or designing websites in a beautifully remodeled house whose walls are covered with original art, or being guided by caring adults through the traumas they’ve experienced and into health, wholeness, and academic achievement.

What a gift, then, to be reintroduced to the city through ministries that bring Camden’s human vitality to the surface, where it shines far above the daunting statistics upon which the city’s troubled reputation is built.

'God Is Not Finished With This World'

A Q+A with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

Image via /

If we who are Christians participate in the political process and in the public discourse as we are called to do — the New Testament tells us that we are to participate in the life of the polis, in the life of our society — the principle on which Christians must vote is the principle, Does this look like love of neighbor? If it does, we do it; if it doesn’t, we don’t.

We evaluate candidates based on that. We evaluate public policy based on that. And that has nothing to do with whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, liberal or conservative. It has to do with if you say you’re a follower of Jesus, then you enter the public sphere based on the principle of love which is seeking the good and the welfare of the “other.” That’s a game-changer.

Michael Curry Installed as Presiding Bishop of Episcopal Church, Urges 'the Way of Love'

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches at his installation, Nov. 1. Image via Danielle Thomas/C. 2015 Washington National Cathedral

Curry’s landslide election in June — 10 days after nine black congregants were shot to death by a white supremacist at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. — is notable for a denomination whose membership is only 4 percent black.

"After the Charleston shootings, it became really important to send a signal about race in the Episcopal Church," said the cathedral’s retiring dean, the Very Rev. Gary Hall, in an interview last week.

Curry’s election is not only a symbol of the church’s need to engage with racial justice issues, but also its need to become “a more hospitable place for people of color,” said Hall.

A 2014 denominational survey found that only 17 percent of black Episcopal churches are growing — and that while black congregations engage in more lively worship and have “clearer purpose,” their congregants tend to be older and are less engaged in evangelism than the denomination’s white churches. Latino, Asian, Native American, and multi-racial/ethnic Episcopal churches were too few to sample individually, though their collective growth is significantly stronger than predominantly white or black churches, the report said.

Disarming Our Speech

"I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations With Truth and Love," IVP Books

POLICE BRUTALITY, the Affordable Care Act, climate change: When people with differing convictions on issues such as these come together for conversation, some prefer to first set aside the issues and focus on building relationships, while others want disagreements front and center. In his book I Beg to Differ: Navigating Difficult Conversations With Truth and Love, Biola University communications professor Tim Muehlhoff says relationship and honesty are necessary for progress to be made.

“If every conversation we have with others is about the issues that divide us, the intensity will hurt the communication climate,” he writes.

For example, he offers the hypothetical story of an evangelical Christian who wants to share his faith with a Muslim co-worker. Over lunch, the colleagues take time to learn about each other’s differing religious convictions, but the conversation doesn’t invade their work relationship. Back at the office, they return to their easygoing, day-to-day relational habits.

It’s a mistake to begin conversations by trying to convince others of our position, Muehlhoff says. It is better to listen with a sincere desire to understand what the other person believes and why they believe it.

Pursuing Grace, Onstage and Off

"Laughter is Sacred Space: The Not-So-Typical Journey of a Mennonite Actor"

LAUGHTER IS Sacred Space: The Not-So-Typical Journey of a Mennonite Actor has the narrative arc of a classic Greek tragedy: Boy from religious sect grows up, becomes a butcher, goes to seminary, then finds acting acclaim as part of a duo (Ted & Lee), only to have his comedic partner die by suicide, after which the show must go on and does.

Ted Swartz’s story is a bittersweet tale, with emphasis on the sweet. It is told in the structure of a five-act play. What originally drew me was the fact that Swartz’s late acting partner, Lee Eshleman, was a classmate of mine at Eastern Mennonite University, where we were art majors to-gether. Eshleman was easily the most talented among us. (His line drawings illustrate the book.) He was also smart, funny, and regal.

After I left EMU, unmarried and pregnant, I would sometimes see Eshleman’s name on the masthead of the alumni magazine and think, “I wish I had it as together as Lee does.” It was a shock to hear that, like my own son, Eshleman too had died by suicide.

His death and its impact on Swartz take up a good deal of space in this memoir. The duo worked together for 20 years, and Swartz is honest about the ups and downs of their friendship. He does a great job of communicating that Eshleman was much more than his suicide or his bipolar disorder. He was that extraordinary person I remember.

Education in Color

Raising one half-African son and one of mixed European descent posed both ordinary and unique parenting challenges for my husband and me.