Russell E. Saltzman is a former Lutheran pastor, transitioning to the Roman Catholic Church.

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The Poor Are Not Middle Class

From Web Exclusives

Linda Tirado’s poverty was a horrible grind with no means of ready escape. “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts,” her blog post that chronicled this poverty, went viral last November. By early December, Tirado had critics—many, many critics—who more or less made her out to be a poor little rich girl gone slumming, trying to pull a scam with her gofundme page (that incidentally netted her some $61,000). A news outlet described her article as one of several web hoaxes that year. Continue Reading »

When the Bible Became a Musical

From Web Exclusives

As a rule, I don’t like musicals. Well, it’s not “as” a rule. It is a rule. I do not like musicals. I never watched Glee, unless the women at my house were monopolizing the television. I walked out of The Sound of Music; something about Maria racing to the top of a hill singing with no hint of asthmatic reaction ruined it for me. I did stay through Les Misérables, though dying people singing tend to annoy me, but it was operatic and no one was asking me to believe that perfectly ordinary people frequently burst into spur-of-the-moment song. I never break into spontaneous song, not if someone might be listening. Why should anyone else? Continue Reading »

The Poor Poetry of Death

From Web Exclusives

We are planning another funeral, one of the small duties of which is selecting materials for inclusion in the folder that will be handed out to guests. The funeral home offered sample poetic spiritual selections for the funeral program. These poems are meant to offer consolation, but the ones commonly offered by funeral homes do something like the opposite. Continue Reading »

Death, Again

From Web Exclusives

Another intrusive death is rising in my life, and not just my own. He was a vigorous seventy-eight-year-old until last November. Then he experienced a fall, and another, and swiftly lost his motor skills. In the space of just a few weeks he quickly went from cane to walker to wheelchair to bed. Continue Reading »

Violet’s Life

From Web Exclusives

Sometimes in parish ministry there are encounters with parishioners that leave one simply gasping, frustrated beyond comprehension, and there is little in the pastoral toolkit to help either pastor or parishioner. Continue Reading »

Time to Admit It: I Live in the Suburbs and Love It

From Web Exclusives

have to finally confess to myself: I live in a suburb. It has taken me a while to admit it. Suburban living has never been my ambition but it has become my fate. Even with a Kansas City, Missouri address, where I now live is indisputably a suburb. That’s because we live in Platte County north of the Missouri River above Jackson County. Jackson County is Kansas City; everywhere else is a suburb. Continue Reading »

Moving Mulberry Trees

From Web Exclusives

Increase our faith!” the disciples demanded of the Lord (Luke 17:5-10).“If,” the Lord reasonably replied, “you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’”Huh? Mulberry tree? What happened to that faith-can-move-mountains thing? Well, the mountain is in St. Matthew’s report, and Matthew has Optimist Club optimism that faith, leveraged on a mustard seed, can move a mountain. Continue Reading »