Deanna Thompson

Deanna Thompson was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at age 42 that had metastasized to her bones. The doctors told her she had fewer than five years, but when I interviewed her, it was more than six years after her diagnosis. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and two daughters and teaches religion at Hamline University. “Initially, I thought I was on … Continue reading Deanna Thompson

Memphis Theological Seminary

Just wrapping up a busy month in Memphis, with American Stories at Memphis Theological Seminary and American Stories at First Congregational Church. I’ve been to Memphis a few times now, and I’m always drawn in by the combination of history, music, food, and good people. I had the chance tp speak at the seminary, and I also set up a studio to ask, “How does … Continue reading Memphis Theological Seminary

Brett Menzie

Brett Menzie had a history of kidney trouble in his family. His grandmother was on dialysis. His middle son suffered in utero from a kidney malfunction known as hydronephrosis, which required surgery when he was born. While Brett was not a medical match for either of his family members, he joined a national donor registry and gave one of his kidneys to a total stranger … Continue reading Brett Menzie

My New Year’s Wish

We stood in utter darkness. I was 12 years old, 100 feet underground, in the long, winding passages of Mammoth Cave. The park service guide gathered us in one of the large rooms. He spoke of geology and history. He told us about preservation and heritage. Then he introduced me to the idea of light pollution. He explained that because of stray light in our … Continue reading My New Year’s Wish

Humam Taha

Humam Taha graduated from the University of Mosul, where he studied to be a translator. After the United States invaded Iraq, Humam joined the coalition forces as a translator to help resolve cultural differences and misunderstandings. In 2007 he moved to Dallas after the U.S. Congress passed a bill giving sanctuary to linguists who worked with coalition forces and their families. “Only the good things that … Continue reading Humam Taha

Kathy Webb

Kathy Webb served six years as a state representative in the Arkansas legislature and now is executive director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. An activist all her life, Kathy noticed a shift from working with like-minded activists to the process of compromise she encountered as a legislator. “We are all a whole package, with the pluses and the minuses.” I have always believed that you can … Continue reading Kathy Webb

Brandon Sheehan

Brandon Sheehan was born near Venice Beach, California. He says he grew up with sandy toes and salty lips. He studied fire ecology in college and worked for the forest service fighting wildfires. Brandon grew up Jewish, but eventually studied Tibetan Buddhism and was a resident at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana where he cast statues of the Buddha and helped … Continue reading Brandon Sheehan

Jarell Wilson

Jarell Wilson describes himself as black, gay, and Christian. He lives in the South and, at times, he struggles to balance these three identities in a society that he says doesn’t embrace two thirds of them. He believes that people often try to put identities into boxes, and that results in stereotypes that lead to stress and conflict. Yet, at the end of the day, Jarell finds … Continue reading Jarell Wilson