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exposing the wounds in the Church

January 11th, 2019 | 1 min read

By Matthew Loftus

I really wish this New Yorker profile of Karen Swallow Prior had been about three times as long, but it’ll have to do for now:

The next morning, we shared a breakfast of scrambled eggs with some venison that Roy had killed and cooked. A high-school building-trades teacher, Roy is bright and supportive, and he and Prior have now been married for thirty-four years. In the kitchen, the talk turned to Trump, and, although Roy, who was raised in central New York, understands the grievances of many rural Americans, he had little time for the President. “How do you trust anyone with a rug like that?” Roy asked. He poured boiling water over coffee grinds for his wife. He didn’t drink coffee himself, but he had perfected her preferred pour-over method while Prior was recovering from her recent injuries. Prior had been hit by the bus on the same day that Paige Patterson, the Baptist leader she had organized against, had been removed from his position at the seminary. She found the timing of the incident “eerie”; a friend had suggested that the brokenness of Prior’s body symbolized the brokenness of women under patriarchy in the Church. Being hit by a bus had been an extreme experience in vulnerability, and, within that, she’d found a larger lesson for the Church. “Evangelicalism tends to separate the spiritual and the physical, and that’s wrong,” she told me. The Church, like a person, has a body, and both could be broken. There could be no healing without first exposing the wounds.

Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at