Souleika Jouad, author of the stunningly beautiful memoir Between Two Kingdoms: a Memoir of a Life Interrupted (Penguin RandomHouse 2021), needed to wear a mask over her nose and mouth during the months following her bone marrow transplant. She needed to do so for two reasons: first, the procedure that killed her cancer also killed her immune system, and her body needed time to rebuild it. Second, breathing is gross.

Sure, ruah, the breath of life, is beautiful. Breathing is a meaningful act that defines the beginning and end of our earthly journey. …

Sociologist Robert Putnam wrote in his classic, Bowling Alone (Simon and Schuster, 2000), that television can account for the lion’s share of the loss of social capital — the value associated with cultural interconnectedness — that took place in the second half of the 20th Century. Sure, people also became more mobile, started working longer hours, and placed less faith in institutions. But television? It did the real damage.

50 years ago, TV accounted for why we didn’t need to look outside our homes for entertainment, such as bowling leagues. Televisions have remote controls, where we can change what we…

Christian thinking about critical issues; critical thinking about Christian leadership.

This spring, I had the pleasure of returning to the spectator’s section of the softball field as my daughter’s team resumed interscholastic competition. I attended four games, enjoyed them, and felt pretty much like I deserved a participation trophy that named me “parent of the year.”

As we engaged in the painfully awkward process of reorienting ourselves to small-talk with Other People, my husband Dan and I found ourselves chatting with another family at the last game. …

Christian thinking about critical issues; critical thinking about Christian leadership.

Having completed annual performance reviews for members of the team I supervise, I turned my attention this week to the written self-evaluation that will be included in mine. I get as nervous as the next person about formal reviews, but I am also a firm believer in them. Formative evaluation at regular intervals help us improve. No organization will change if the leader herself isn’t also changing.

I have written books on this topic, dammit. So why was writing my self-evaluation this year so difficult?

The trials of Covid-19’s fears and isolation, the violence of racial and political strife, and…

Christian thinking about critical issues; critical thinking about Christian leadership.

My colleague and predecessor, Andover Newton Seminary President Nick Carter, used to like to say, “We need to deal with what’s staring us in the face before it hits us in the face.” And then the realities of a sprawling campus, shrinking enrollment, soaring expenses, and skittish donors hit Andover Newton in the face.

Our free-standing seminary closed its campus and reopened as an embedded entity within Yale Divinity School in 2017 so it could continue to pursue its 200+ year history of educating clergy for locally governed faith communities. …

For more thoughts from Sarah B. Drummond, visit

When President Joe Biden introduced a new infrastructure development plan for the United States, the first and loudest critique from his opponents was that much of what was contained in the new bill wasn’t really infrastructure.

Whenever a critic makes an argument on the basis of not-realness, I pay attention. That particular form of resistance to change is both fascinating and sly. When one Christian disagrees with the other’s interpretation of scripture, for example, they’re not likely to say, “I disagree.” Instead, they say to their contrary-minded opponent, “You are not a real Christian.” Case closed; argument over.

So, what…

Ron DeSantis, please.

I happen to know you went to Yale and majored in History. Even if the baseball team and fraternity life took up a great deal of your time and attention, you still know that Critical Race Theory isn’t anti-American. Any time we put the term “critical” in front of something, we’re suggesting, “Let’s be thoughtful.” To be thoughtful, refrain from making assumptions, and take nothing at face value, are habits of mind as American as apple pie.

I have one thing for which to thank you, Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Republican. When you chose to take up…

“After the pandemic is over, what practices should we keep that we’ve learned during this season?” — A question posed to senior managers at Yale Divinity School

The last installment of this series responding to questions coming my way this spring 2021 semester… but keep the questions coming

In two weeks, Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School will host an event unlike any we have offered before. We have partnered with the Center for Career Development and Ministry (, a counseling and coaching practice best known to our students for offering pre-ordination psychological evaluations, to provide a grief group for graduating students.

The two facilitators have been working with clergy throughout the pandemic, helping them to process all of the…

Is it ethical to admit new students without high confidence that you can graduate them on time and with adequate resources?

Can you trade the well-being of future students (if you enroll them) with existing students?

Is it ethical to accept students who you believe would be better off — in all respects — going elsewhere?

Is it ethical not tell them something (true) which, if you told them, would have led them not to enroll?

What ethical frameworks could one use to balance the competing claims of staff, faculty, students (current and future), when trustees must make hard decisions…

“Should I ask for permission now or forgiveness later?” -J, Campus Leader

Don’t let them get wet.

Don’t expose them to sunlight.

And never, ever let them eat after midnight.

Keep them six feet apart from one another.

Require they wear masks at all times.

Except when they’re eating, which is when they can take off their masks.

But while eating, they should not breathe,

and only before, not after, midnight.

Make them wash their hands a lot.

But wait; don’t get them wet.

The “rules” above combine those from the movie “Gremlins” (Warner Brothers, 1984) and the practices recommended…

Sarah B. Drummond

Sarah Birmingham Drummond is Founding Dean of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School and teaches and writes on the topic of ministerial leadership.

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