“All My Knotted-Up Life: A Memoir” by Beth Moore

Beth Moore

Beth Moore and I are both Christians, but we are not from the same tribe. Much like Shiites and Sunnis arguing over the true Islam, Moore and I have our differences. She has lived her life in Southern White American Evangelicalism and I’ve lived mine in the rocky vineyard of New England Congregationalism.

Our politics and church culture couldn’t be more different. I had never heard of her until she got badly bullied on social media for criticizing Evangelical leaders for defending Donald Trump after the “Access Hollywood” came to light toward the end of the 2016 election.

I learned that she was a popular Bible Study leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, wrote studies used in 100’s of congregations and gave talks that filled large auditoriums and arenas. She was a very big deal in White American Evangelicalism.

So, I respected and admired her for risking to speak out at great personal cost. A victim of child sexual abuse she called out the (mostly male) SBC leadership for protecting and covering up sexual abuse in their churches. Eventually she couldn’t stay in the denomination that had been her home all her life. She and her husband, Keith, who had been raised Roman Catholic eventually joined an Anglican church a half hour away from their home in Houston.

I had recently been in a study group at my church that read Rachel Held Evans book “Inspired.” One of the other class members recommended that we listen to it on Audible because it was read by the author, who died tragically from a drug reaction.

I’ve long resisted talking books. I love books. My parents were librarians. Other people had wallpaper, we had bookshelves everywhere. But I tried Audible and listened to Rachel read her fine book, and it was a very meaningful and intimate experience.

I had a free credit on Audible, so when I learned that Beth Moore had a new memoir out, and read it herself, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did.

I like to think of myself as a person with few prejudices, but I confess Moore’s accent was jarring at first. Whereas Rachel had a soft Tennessee drawl, Beth has an Arkansas twang you could cut with a knife. I got over it. She a wonderful storyteller, and the story she tells is worth hearing. She is sometimes “laugh out loud” funny and at other times brought “tender tears” to my eyes.

The early chapters are at times troubling because of her abuse, but more generally, they tell of a complicated and mostly loving family held hostage to their secrets.

Church was a refuge for her from an early age, and she witnesses to a lively personal faith in Jesus and a deep love for the Scriptures. Perhaps we have more in common than I had thought.

Beth’s struggle with the misogyny she experienced led her to reject the “Complementarianism” that she had accepted all her life and that is baked into much of conservative Evangelicalism. This view asserts that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, and religious leadership. Women are forbidden to preach in the SBC. As a popular lay leader and speaker, Moore drew criticism that she was stepping out of her proper role as a woman. My daughter is an ordained pastor in a liberal denomination, but she is no stranger to misogyny in the church, so I resonated with Moore’s struggle as a woman who deeply believed that God had called her to ministry.

She says “Complementarianism” just didn’t fit how she and her husband related to each other. She speaks tenderly and honestly about her own complicated marriage to Keith. All her family members are portrayed lovingly. Apparently, they all signed off on her revealing the painful family secrets (at least the ones still living did.)

Above all, this is a book about one woman’s extraordinary faith journey. Beth Moore has written a very good book that is worth your time to read or listen to. I thank God for her and for this inspiring memoir.

“He Came to Earth that Winter Night” A Christmas Hymn


Christmas hymn

(I wrote this hymn in 2009. You are free to use it in public worship with attribution. To see other hymn of mine go here. The picture is from a concert I sang in with Berkshire Lyric Chorus on Friday, December 9, 2022 at St Mark’s Roman Catholic Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. I’m second from right in the top row.)

Reflections on the Legacy of the Westminster Confession of Faith

(I delivered this paper on October 20, 2022 for a Webinar: Westminster Confession at 375: Historical Reflections and Contemporary Relevance. In commemoration of this important anniversary, the Congregational Library & Archives, Boston, and Dr Williams’s Library, London, brought scholars and theologians together to talk about the significance of the Westminster Confession: past, present, and future.) Continue reading

 “Building Bigger Barns” A Sermon on Luke 12:13-21


“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:13-21 NRSV Continue reading

Charge to First Church of Christ in Pittsfield, Massachusetts

November 21 , 2021


(I served this congregation as their pastor from 1982-2004. I am Pastor Emeritus there. The congregation voted recently to put the 1853 meeting house up for sale. The upkeep on this splendid Victorian Gothic Revival building was requiring a large share of the congregation’s resources, and limiting other mission and ministry options. We met today to remember and celebrate our years in this lovely building. I was invited as the longest tenured living pastor to give a charge to the congregation at the close of the service. Here it is:) Continue reading

“A Cinderella Story” A Sermon for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

“Are all your sons here?” – 1 Samuel 16: 11,12

We all know the story of Cinderella. She is mistreated by her stepmother and her stepsisters, but in the happy ending, it is she that is picked by the handsome prince. We use the phrase “A Cinderella story” to describe a victorious underdog, such as a sports team with no chance winning over a mighty favorite.

Continue reading

“The Model Shepherd” A Sermon on John 10: 11-18

“I am the good shepherd,” Jesus said to them. “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Later, after he was crucified, the disciples recalled his words and realized that he was the good shepherd, the one who loved and cared for the sheep, even at the cost of his own life. Continue reading

“A Different Story; a Better Way” A Sermon on Matthew 4: 12-23

Over the years I have preached a number of Epiphany sermons here, as Brent often takes time away during the season. One particularly memorable one was three years ago. It was the conjunction of three significant events: the inauguration of a new president, Martin Luther King Day and the first Woman’s March. My sermon was called “Looking for Light in the Shadow of Death.” I worked hard on it, and indeed, I still think it was one of the best sermons I ever wrote. Sadly, it is not the best sermon I ever gave, because some of you will recall the plumbing failed us that morning, and the toilets weren’t working, so we abbreviated the service and sent everybody home. There’s a parable in there somewhere, although I’m not sure what it is.

So here I am, and here we are, three years later with the same text: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in the shadow of death, on them has light shined.” Continue reading

“New Shoots from Old Stumps” A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year A

I’ll tell you a secret. It is something every pastor knows. Also, any therapist, social worker or anybody else who deals with people at a deeply personal level. For many people this is not “the most wonderful time of the year.” For many it is a sad and troubled time. Advent invites us to consider even the darkest parts of our world and of our lives. And that is a good thing, because often the deepest truths are found in the darkest times. That certainly has been true for me. Continue reading

“Heads Up!” A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Advent is my favorite season of the church year. It has a different feel to it than the other seasons. There is a sense of yearning in Advent. A sense of anticipation. It is a time of watching and waiting. A time to remind ourselves that there are forces at work beyond our control. Continue reading