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Lillian Daniel
A national speaker and writer, Lillian Daniel has served as the Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, of Glen Ellyn since 2004.

She is the author of the book Tell It Like It Is: Reclaiming the Practice of Testimony, which is the story of one church’s attempt to get mainline Protestants to talk to each other about God.

Her newest book, This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, co-authored by Martin B. Copenhaver is a humorous and honest look at the ministry.

Her next book, coming out in January, 2013 is When Spiritual But Not Religious is Not Enough: Seeing God in Unexpected Places, Even the Church.

A contributing editor to the Christian Century Magazine, and to Leadership, her work has also appeared in Christianity Today, Books and Culture, the Journal for Preachers and in the daily e-mail devotionals available at

She has taught preaching at Yale Divinity School, Chicago Theological Seminary, and the University of Chicago Divinity School.

She serves on the boards of Interfaith Worker Justice, Yale Divinity School and Chicago Theological Seminary.

Entries by Lillian Daniel

Prayers on the Clothesline

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2015 | 10:52 AM


A recent art exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art at St Louis University featured the work of photographer Regina DeLuise, whose black and white photographs attend to the ordinary moments in the spiritual lives of the people of Bhutan....

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Real Relationships Renegotiate

(0) Comments | Posted May 23, 2015 | 10:41 AM

Relationships are a constant and continual renegotiation. What you say on your twelfth birthday, your retirement date or wedding day may not be your plan ten years later. And yet, to the other person, it can be a total surprise. They defend the old plan, saying "You can't change your...

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Airport Haikus

(3) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 10:22 AM

A haiku is a Japanese three-line poem, 17 syllables, written in 5/7/5 syllable count. After three hours on the runway, then a cancelled flight, followed by six more hours at the airport, it was time to devote myself to this ancient literary form.

They promised us free

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King Underquoted

(0) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 5:25 PM

If you visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., you will no longer see the quotation "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness."

It was there when the statue was unveiled in 2011, but it has since been removed. Why? Because it turns out...

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Confessions of a Freeloader

(0) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 6:10 PM

At Thanksgiving, I come in from out of town, and eat a meal that someone else cooked, in a house that someone else cleaned, enjoying entertainment that someone else planned.

On Christmas Eve and Easter, I have the nerve to do it in my own town. I join a...

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Why Do Christmas Pageants Make Us Laugh?

(0) Comments | Posted December 29, 2014 | 2:04 PM

No matter how serious the children are in their Biblical roles, we end up laughing at Christmas pageants.

Maybe it's the earnest Mary played by a girl who is twice the height of Joseph her erstwhile husband. Maybe it's the wandering toddler shepherd who keeps walking off the stage...

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Let's Not Meet at a Restaurant

(1) Comments | Posted November 11, 2014 | 4:49 PM

I often meet my friends and family in loud and crowded places. We go to the coffee shop or the new restaurant. We exchange news about our lives in the midst of ordering from the menu, or waving hello to other people we know. We catch up, but do we...

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The Life-Saving Work of Interfaith Conversation

(0) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 8:09 PM

The late great Abraham Joshua Heschel was once asked why he devoted so much time to interfaith dialogue. He answered by recounting part of his family history. "When the Nazis came for my parents," he wrote, "they had no one to call. They did not know the local minister. They...

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On Good Friday, If You Can't Say It in Front of the Rabbi, Don't Say It at All

(15) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 2:45 PM

Leading a church through Lent has been a lot more interesting with a rabbi at my side. It began with coffee and conversation back in the fall, but then we decided to use the season of Lent to study together.

Before you know it, we had decided that I...

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Do Gay People Control the Weather?

(20) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 2:56 PM

Whenever there is extreme weather, some religious leader gets airtime for blaming someone. Whether it's a tsunami, an earthquake, a heat wave or a drought, someone will say it's God's way of getting our attention and therefore it has to be someone's fault.

When Disneyworld introduced "gay days,"...

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The Decorative Boulder

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 4:33 PM

At the conclusion of a graveside service, I said goodbye to the family members who were in silent prayer after they had buried their loved one. My car was parked about a hundred feet away. I backed out of the historic cemetery hoping that I would not distract them as...

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When We Share a Table With Our Enemies

(8) Comments | Posted May 28, 2013 | 12:44 PM

Thousands of years ago, in the world's most beloved psalm, the people were told that one day God would spread a table before them in the presence of their enemies: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" (Psalm 23:5, KJV).

What does it mean?

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Magical Thinking About Unread Books

(17) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 2:19 PM

I am always carrying way too much stuff around. I live only four blocks from the church where I am a pastor, but I am embarrassed at how often I drive there. I drive because of all the stuff I haul from one place to another. It is common for...

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The Church Calendar: New and Improved

(6) Comments | Posted February 5, 2013 | 3:48 PM

An Important Message from Church Headquarters: Treasuring the freedom that allows us to honor our unique ancient traditions while keeping up with the times, we propose adjusting these special Sundays in the church year.

Where I'm At Sunday, May 8 (formerly Confirmation Sunday): The youth of the church will...

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No, You Are Not Actually the Power Source

(8) Comments | Posted January 17, 2013 | 12:19 PM

When you want your 19-year-old son to take a trip with you, you have to be willing to think like a 19-year-old when it comes to travel plans. That's how I ended up spending a week with him in a remote tree house in Nicaragua. In order to get from...

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Torn by Justin Lee: Gay Evangelical Writes A Coming Out Story Your Conservative Grandmother Could Love

(28) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 2:24 PM

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christian Debate by Justin Lee
Reviewed by Lillian Daniel

Raised a Southern Baptist, with two loving parents, Justin Lee didn't want to be gay. But when he revealed that he was only attracted to his own gender, the church he loved...

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'Making Health the Center of Your Life' and Other Unhelpful Blasphemies

(1) Comments | Posted October 10, 2012 | 1:09 PM

A health club proudly displays its motto: "Making Health the Center of Your Life."

At first glance, it's a logical claim. After all, they are in the business of keeping people fit and healthy. If you put health at the center of your life, you may put the health...

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Hyatt Hotels and the AAR/SBL: An Ethicist and a Biblical Scholar Walk Past A Boycott

(8) Comments | Posted July 23, 2012 | 4:26 PM

An ethicist, a Bible scholar, a theologian and a preacher walk into a hotel that is being boycotted at the request of its own workers. It's like the punch line of a bad joke. But it's not a joke, it could happen. And it's not funny, but serious.

It is...

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10 Best and Worst Reasons to Get Married in a Church

(4) Comments | Posted July 16, 2012 | 8:07 AM

10 Good Reasons to Get Married in a Church

  1. I want God to be at the center of this momentous event.
  2. I desire God's guidance in my married life.
  3. I love this church and I am an active participant in it.
  4. I was once an active participant in this...
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10 Signs You Should Not Be Getting Married in a Church

(740) Comments | Posted July 10, 2012 | 1:37 PM

10 Signs You Should Not be Getting Married in a Church

  1. You find yourself asking the clergy to take all the references to Jesus out of the service.
  2. You find yourself dreading your next meeting with the minister.
  3. You find yourself dreading the service, worried that the minister...
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