Digesting The Justice Conference 2013


Philadelphia and The Justice Conference 2013 are in the rearview, and we are back home in Washington state with our brains packed full with history and information. I will spend the next couple of weeks going through my notes and handouts and turning them into coherent blog posts, but for now I leave you with a quick blurb of what’s to come!

So about the conference.

In one word: Amazing. In more words: having the conference in a city with so much of our nation’s history was a perfect choice. And next year the conference returns to the West Coast in L.A.!

We arrived in Philly late Thursday night and the pre-conference started bright and early Friday morning forcing us to adjust to the three-hour time difference. Lucky for us our hotel was connected to the world’s largest convention center where the conference was held. I’m not sure if it really is the world’s largest, but a million-square feet has got to rank up there!

I attended break out sessions in regard to using social media for good, Jesus, Jazz and Justice, and how to bring flesh to vision. There were quite a few people in attendance from the West Coast, including Pastor Eugene Cho from Quest Church in Seattle, but more on him later.

The main conference opened with words from the conference founder, Ken Wytsma (who by the way has a book out Pursuing Justice that I highly recommend!). I actually had the opportunity to meet him and shake his hand. Ken spoke about not just doing justice, but becoming just.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” — Proverbs 11:2

I will go into deeper detail about the conference speakers, but for now I will share one of the highlights for me: Brenda Salter McNeil, President and Founder of Salter McNeil and Associates. She is an associate professor of Reconciliation Studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University.

Brenda shared about the “messy theology of justice” and left us with a call to action:

1. Examine your theology and the foundation that has been laid in your life.

2. Think about what it means to me to see an issue that causes my stomach to hurt.

What I have written so far doesn’t even break the surface of my experience at this year’s conference. It was reiterated at The Justice Conference to reach deeper in the pursuit of justice. In that manner my blog posts will also go deeper into what I took away from an amazing weekend.

But wait, there’s more! I will also be writing about the many amazing things we saw while being tourists in Philly. So please check back soon!


Excuse My Hiatus

I am not ignoring you. And I promise I’m still reading. But please excuse my absence from here for a short while longer.

You see, tomorrow is the day! Finally! We leave for Philadelphia for The Justice Conference and will be gone for five days. I promise after the conference I’m going to blog so much you’re going to be sick of me, but until then it will be pretty sparse.

My “To Read” pile continues to grow as I power through “The Aviator’s Wife,” but I promise my weekly reading/Q and A posts will resume soon!

Stay tuned!


What I’m Reading Wednesday


This past Christmas my husband did a Google search for “Downton Abbey” and 1920s books for my gifts. Inside and outside of my stocking was a pile of books from my favorite era and favorite television series.

One of the books I received was “Bright Young Things” by Anna Godbersen. This book was the first of the series and follows three young women in New York in 1929. One is a socialite, one is an inspiring singer and one is the daughter of a bootlegger. (Sidenote, I’ve been watching Ken Burns’ documentary series on “Prohibition” as well).

When I read books like this I can’t help but picture myself during the time era. I like to think I would still have been a journalist. Chances are I wouldn’t have been a sports writer, but maybe I would have been a gossip columnist or a critic like Dorothy Parker. I also admire journalist and editor Cissy Patterson (I recently bought Newspaper Titan and it’s on the to read list!).

I was excited about last Sunday’s “Downton Abbey” episode in which Lady Edith tries to shed her spinster lifestyle and pursues a job as a newspaper columnist. But of course her married editor is attracted to her and bad news is bound to come out of this storyline…

I look forward to reading the rest of the “Bright Young Things” to see how the characters develop and what happens after the Wall Street crash.

What I’m Reading Wednesday


I was fortunate to receive an early copy of “The Obituary Writer” (to be released March 4) and chat with author Ann Hood. I was instantly intrigued by the cover and title because 1, it’s during my favorite era (1920s-ish) and 2, being a journalist I was curious about the character’s profession of an obit writer.

In her latest novel Ann weaves together two stories during two very different eras: the San Francisco earthquake in 1906 and the JFK inauguration in 1961. I was instantly hooked upon reading as I couldn’t wait to find the connection between the two women in each story. As I was reading one night my husband looked at the cover and said, “That sounds sad.” And it was sad. The novel is about grief and loss and heartache. By the end of the book I was so emotionally invested in the stories I was so sad to see it end.

When I checked out Ann’s blog I read about her own tragedy of losing a child and the connection with how “The Obituary Writer” came to fruition.

Here are a few questions I asked Ann about her latest novel:

Q: The Obituary Writer is centered around two historical events: the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906 and the JFK inauguration in 1961. Can you share your own personal connection with the date April 18?

A: On April 18, 2002, my five year old daughter Grace died suddenly from a virulent form of strep. Several years later, on April 18, I opened the Writers Almanac online hoping there would be a poem or anecdote that might speak to me somehow. What I found was a long description of the big San Francisco earthquake, which happened that day in 1906. I started to think of the things large and small, universal and personal, that are “earthquakes” and I knew I would set a book then.

Q: Why did you decide to write about the two historical events?

A: To me, JFK’s era represented hope to many people — Camelot. It seemed a perfect juxtaposition for the despair of the earlier era.

Q: One of the main characters, Claire, was a TWA flight attendant as you also were. Did you include any of your own personal experiences with Claire’s character?

A: I didn’t. But I loved researching those early days before jet travel. And it suited my exploration of the roles of women over time.

Q: Claire has a fascination with Jackie Kennedy. Why did you decide to add this to the character?

A: Women did have that fascination. I remember my mother and her friends analyzing everything she did and wore.

Q: The Obituary Writer deals with quite a bit of loss and grief, something I read that you unfortunately know all too well. Did writing this story help you deal with your own personal grief and tragedy?

A: It doesn’t help really. But it hopefully speaks to people who have suffered loss, which is just about everyone.

Q: What is your next project?

A: A book of interconnected short stories called “Dear Mussolini,” that follows a family over 100 years.

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: “Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walters.