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Jesse James DeConto
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Jesse James DeConto decided to be a writer after hitting under .100 in his first two years of Babe Ruth baseball and realizing he was never going to play for the Red Sox. He thought he might write about sports. Then he studied philosophy and started to think he might have something profound to say. It turns out, he rarely does. But other people do, and he likes to tell their stories. He experiments with telling his own through songs, essays and a spiritual memoir, This Littler Light: Some Thoughts on NOT Changing the World, due out on Cascade Press in 2014. He spent 11 years as a newspaper reporter and editor with the Xenia (Ohio) Daily Gazette, the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald and the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. He now works as a contributing editor for Prism magazine and a regular contributor to The Christian Century. He studied philosophy at Cedarville College, journalism at UNC-Chapel Hill and theology at Duke Divinity School. He writes, sings and performs indie pop with his band, The Pinkerton Raid. He walks his youngest daughter to and from school in the vibrant Walltown section of Durham, N.C. He and his wife enjoy Durham’s burgeoning music and locavore scenes and a loyal, creative community of friends. Their oldest daughter is braving middle school.

Entries by Jesse James DeConto

A Trinitarian Vision, Revised

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2014 | 5:15 PM

On Trinity Sunday in June 2007, I went to a little church that met in a photographer's studio above a coffee shop in a historic business district near Duke University in Durham, N.C. We sat around a circle, on couches or big cushy chairs, and a pro musician, Wade Baynham,...

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A Trinitarian Vision, Broken

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 3:17 PM

"Unhappy marriages so resemble one another that we do not need to know too much about the course of this one." -- Joan Didion, Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream

One of my favorite photographs shows us kneeling at the altar at Christ Church, Xenia, Ohio. My face is turned...

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Heloise Imagined Herself Naked: the Sexy Scholar at Christian College

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 1:00 PM

For most of my sophomore year at the Baptists' Cedarville College, I chased Heloise, a smart, tall philosophy major with blonde hair in tight curls: the Sexy Scholar. Consider the New-Testament archetypes for evangelical women, the resurrected Lazarus' two sisters: Mary, lavishing expensive perfume on Jesus' feet in intimate worship;...

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My Dad, "Cecilia" and Not Being Invincible

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2014 | 4:47 PM

We want to count on the men in our lives. We might be feminists, but, still, doesn't the definition of manhood have something to do with being dependable, stable, coming through, living up to who we're supposed to be, doing the things that define us, whether as fathers or husbands...

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Finding God at Christmas

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 2:48 PM

When I was nine years old, our pastor, Brother Starch, dunked me into the baptismal waters, in a giant vat like an extra-deep jacuzzi, normally hidden behind a curtain at the back of the altar. My extended family was there to watch. We were "independent, fundamental, Bible-believing Baptists," and my...

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"Till We Get an Answer, We're Gonna Let It Shine": Learning to Hope When You Can't Save the World

(0) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 4:10 PM

Jesse James DeConto is a journalist, musician and author of the spiritual memoir This Littler Light: Some Thoughts on NOT Changing the World. He is releasing a series of excerpts like this one, paired with music videos for songs that shaped his story. "This Little Light of Mine"...

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When I Made My Little Brother Give Up Rock Music at Bible Camp

(7) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 8:51 AM

The only time I ever went to public school was my freshman year of high school. My parents had always scraped every penny together to send us kids to conservative Christian schools. Even my rock'n'roll playing Dad, who was always on the outs with our churches, thought we were better...

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The Pre-Party to the Tea Party

(1) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 3:57 PM

When I was seven years old in the mid-'80s, Mom started taking my brother and me to Grace Bible Baptist Church and School in rural New Hampshire. We'd pass by all these well-attended, high-steepled liberal churches to worship in a squat, utilitarian building hidden on a back road in the...

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'Open Up Your Heart': What My Nanny Taught Me About God

(8) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 2:23 PM

A year ago this month, my Nanny died. I studied philosophy in college and have a seminary degree. I get paid to write about faith. Nanny never went to college. She cast a suspicious eye toward the church. One of her gifts to the world was an irreverent wit. And...

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Blotting One Another's Tears

(0) Comments | Posted September 12, 2013 | 12:02 PM

I was a 24-year-old assistant city editor at a little daily paper in Portsmouth, N.H., on Sept. 11, 2001. That morning, I sat at my desk, staring at the newsroom TV.

Like so many people, I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center in real time, thinking it...

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Death Penalty: Jesus and Murder Victims' Families

(23) Comments | Posted February 17, 2013 | 2:17 AM

Often when I express my opposition to the death penalty, the standard response is, "Well, what about the victims' families?" It's as though the only way to right the wrong of murder is to take the killer's life. Our revenge instinct is strong in the United States. On this issue,...

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Why My Evangelical College Shouldn't Do Away With The Philosophy Department

(46) Comments | Posted January 23, 2013 | 3:27 PM

I became a philosophy major at Cedarville College in 1997 because I thought what really mattered in being a Christian was what you believed. Do you think human actions are free or determined? How do you know what you know? Faith? Reason? Science? Experience? Is utopia possible? Could we create...

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The Apocalypse Is Coming, and I Can't Wait

(77) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 1:34 PM

When did the apocalypse become a punchline? Some of us laugh at those silly old Mayans because we're enlightened, modern people who don't see any particular evidence that the world might be coming to an end, at least not in a sudden cataclysm. Rising oceans, nuclear radiation, cancer -- OK,...

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