Columns

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Working the stuffiness out of our faith

Nov 18, 2016 Six years ago, I deployed to Panama with members of an Air Force construction squadron called Red Horse. Ours was a humanitarian mission to build schools and clinics along the swampland of the Darién Gap. Since there wasn't much call for my counseling or preaching skills inside a construction camp, I made

An old soldier faces life regrets

Nov 13, 2016 By Norris Burkes I first met Ernie Head in hospice care last summer. The 96-year-old was a proud WWII veteran who lived life by a personal motto: "No matter how you feel - Get Up - Dress Up - Show Up - Never Give Up." We began each of my home visits

(Sac Bee) Overcoming challenges that military service has on vets and their marriage

BY NORRIS BURKES Special to The Sacramento Bee Despite the impression that these deployments would be fertile ground for divorce, 2015 Defense Department statistics cite a military divorce rate of 3.1 per 1,000 vs. the civilian rate of 3.6 per 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a retired Air Force

Do more than just thank a veteran

Nov 6, 2016 By Norris Burkes This Veterans Day, I want you to do more than just thank a veteran. As a veteran of 28 years, I challenge you to go beyond patriotic rhetoric by asking some questions. First, ask us what we did in military service. Don't worry; our stories aren't just about bombs

Emotional shields are no protection

Oct 30, 2016 by Norris Burkes "I'm trying to be strong," she told me, "but I just can't stop crying." Shaking my head, I wondered aloud, "Is there a reason you have to stop?" If you've ever watched "Star Trek," you would know that the Starship Enterprise often stumbles into places "where no man has

“If I finish Sacramento’s California Marathon, I’ll get a tattoo.”

Oct 23, 2016 at By Norris Burkes Have you ever made an outlandish promise or bet with someone and later reneged? On a recent fall morning, my wife reminded me that I'd nearly done such a thing. We'd just awoken with the morning alarm when she noticed me retreating into the covers. "Aren't you running

Marriages inspired by plant, laugh and love

See Youtube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LG_8lMNGEXw Oct 16, 2016 By Norris Burkes On the first weekend of October, I led 11 military veterans and their spouses into the Sequoia National Park for a marriage retreat. We came to accomplish three things: plant, laugh and love. Our retreat was hosted by the environmental group Nature Corps. Mark Landon

Marriages inspired by plant, laugh and love

Oct 16, 2016 By Norris Burkes On the first weekend of October, I led 11 military veterans and their spouses into the Sequoia National Park for a marriage retreat. We came to accomplish three things: plant, laugh and love. Our retreat was hosted by the environmental group Nature Corps. Mark Landon leads the organization that

Read the Bible, but don’t misquote it

Oct 9, 2016 By Norris Burkes When I was a pre-ministerial student at Baylor University, I often teased incoming freshman by asking them to find 2nd Hesitations in the Bible. Of course there is no such book. Nevertheless, the joke often worked well enough to send them deep into their Bibles. A 2010 Pew Research

Could your deity be elected God?

Oct 3, 2016 By Norris Burkes As I considered the upcoming presidential election, I started fantasizing about what it might be like if we humans could elect our own deity and pass the accompanying ballot measures. Crazy, right? Certainly. But humor me for a moment. Go with me into a make-believe world where we follow

Feigned illness brings life lessons

Sep 25, 2016 by Norris Burkes Who hasn't feigned illness to take a day off from work? This was my question as I called the Baylor University Bookstore one Friday morning in the fall of 1978. When my manager picked up the line, I winked knowingly at my new girlfriend sitting beside me. "I'm not

My year of allowing grace to work

Sep 18, 2016 by Norris Burkes I winced this month when a presidential candidate said that half of her opponent's supporters were "deplorable." Perhaps her pneumonia caused her lapse in judgment, but I have no such excuse for a similar blunder I made in 1991. That was the year I began a one-year residency called