Archives For love

My roommate walked in the door as I finished typing an email. As she asked me a question, my fingers went into autopilot. I clicked a few words, hit send, and started to answer her when it broke onto my consciousness that I’d tacked “Love you, Shannon” onto an email to one of my professors, a man in his fifties who also attends my church.

“Oh crap!” I burst into the middle of my roommate’s sentence, “I just typed ‘Love you’ to Dr. Zhivago.”¹

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While her diaphragm nearly seized up with laugher, I typed a hasty apology explaining how my roommate came in right as I was finishing the email and how my fingers went into autopilot and how I always sign emails to my family that way. I hit send again and, rubbing my face in disbelief, turned around to finish the conversation.

A shocking response

My roommate and I were still standing in the kitchen, my laptop doing penance on the counter, when his response popped onto the screen.

“Oh my word,” I said to her, “listen to this Continue Reading…

When I first saw The Tortured Christby Brazilian sculptor Guido Rocha, it didn’t ask my permission, it just went ahead and seared itself into my subconscious. Every couple of months since then, The Tortured Christ pops up, uninvited. All of the sudden he’s there, blood splattering on the carpet of my brain and his screams ricocheting off the walls. It’s rather uncomfortable. 

I’d prefer a visit from the placid Jesus–the one who’s taking his torture like a champ, the Jesus that dangles on the end of necklaces, Jesus-asleep-on-the-cross. But, this Jesus keeps showing up–skin retracting between his ribs, muscles seizing in agony–and, honestly, when he stops by, I don’t start humming worship songs or try to gaze deeply into his eyes. I want to look away.


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The truth is, there’s a lot of things I’d rather look away from–not just Rocha’s Christ–11.4 million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes. Four and half million of them eke out an existence on the border of other countries, without heat in the winter or basic health care, relying on UN food coupons to keep them just beyond the grip of starvation.   


I’d rather not notice the man who holds a plastic cup at the intersection several blocks from my house. It gets complicated to think about the addictions that might be driving him to the streets, the shattered family he represents, or the burden of what it means for me to get involved Continue Reading…


The last couple years, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday has made me squirm. While I love listening to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, it’s the other dream that bothers me, God’s dream, the one in Revelation 5, that salad bowl in heaven where people of every skin tone are tossed in together and worshipping side by side. It unsettles me, because my life and church look more like a bowl of Breyer’s Cookies and Cream, light on the cookies. 


Photo 1452693051753 f0acd4cfe723Photo courtesy of Pumpkins via


When I listen to King’s dream, I can feel good about the fact that two of my best friends have been an African American and Korean American. I can feel proud of my great grandmother from Canada who told me how her town, one of the final stops on the underground railway, helped runaway slaves integrate into society. 


When I listen to God’s dream, though, I find myself asking some hard questions, like whether my mostly white church should be mostly white. Or, whether it’s enough to enjoy diversity without taking any steps to heal the racial issues in my country Continue Reading…

The Space to Love You  —  November 24, 2015


Unpack my heart

      and give me room to breathe

      your true self,

for I could never

     wrap my arms around

     your whole self

or hold my breath

     and reach the bottom of

     your deep self. 

But, I can wade this moment

     in your shallows,

then spend forever venturing

     from shore.



Photo courtesy of Rob Bye via 


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For some Christians, the last couple months have felt like a re-run of 127 Hours—the movie about Aron Ralson, the solo hiker who got pinned under a bolder in a Utah canyon. He survived, but only by cutting off his forearm with a pocketknife. Similarly, the legalization of same-sex marriage has left many Christians feeling pinned between two choices—lay there and watch conservative Christianity die or cutoff themselves off from culture. 


Thankfully, though, those aren’t our only options, because we Christians have more than knife in our pocket. We’ve got grace in there, too. 


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To be a Christian, after all, means that we’ve stepped into God’s grace and set up home there. People should be able to smell that grace lingering on us. And, that same grace should motivate us do whatever it takes to keep the lines of communication open for the gospel. 


But, what if we lose our religious freedoms? What if the court had revoked Kim Davis’ title and sentenced her to jail? What if pastors who refuse to marry same-sex couples get charged with hate crimes Continue Reading…

“Any dates lately?” I ask. 


The sunshine skitters across the waves. A biker speeds past us. 


“A couple,” she says. “Nothing serious, though.”


“Guys or girls?”  


I wait for her answer. Uncertainty swirls around me. What if she says girls?


Photo courtesy of Daniel Santalla via


I’ve talked with my friend about her same-sex attraction before—at the local bakery between bites of cherry pie, over steaming bowls of tikka masala. Some months, she fights against her feelings Continue Reading…

“Can’t you just give me something for constipation?”


I rested my stethoscope on her wrinkled belly and heard nothing. I pushed down gently and she jerked in pain. 


“I think you need to go the hospital,” I said. “You can barely stand me touching your stomach and you haven’t passed gas all day.”  


“But, can’t you just give me medicine?”


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Victory in Tough Seasons BG” by Lee Steele (modified by Shannon Gianotti)


I hate moments like this. Medicine—despite how it seems on TV—isn’t a perfect science. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if someone need surgery or if they’re just backed up. And, no one wants to spend six hours at the hospital to find out that they were, after all, just constipated.

Continue Reading…