LiveBIG Staff, May 30, 2014

Reverend Tracey (Truhlar) Bianchi graduated from Iowa (1995) with a BA in History and Political Science. She serves on pastoral staff at Christ Church of Oak Brook (a Chicago area congregation of 3000+). She?s the author of several books and numerous articles. You can find her at

Green Mama coverI?ve got an interesting job. Not over the top interesting, like I don?t build rockets or prosthetic limbs. My days are not narrated by Mike Rowe and when my profession shows up on TV it?s usually horrifying. Nonetheless, my gig is interesting. When I?m asked, ?So, what do you do for a living??My answer is often met with a furrowed brow. ?Really? You do that? But you are so nice and normal.?Or, ?So you are allowed to get married and drink??

I?m a pastor. An ordained, Master of Divinity holding Reverend. For good reason, religion is not exactly well-received. Consider the thoughts you are harboring after reading that sentence. People of faith elicit the extremes. Fear of judgmental, hyper-criticism to relief at meeting a person who deals in life and death. A similar reaction, perhaps, to when you discover you are chatting it up with a politician, school administrator, attorney or government official.

Through my undergraduate work in History and Political Science (Iowa) I was confounded by the many broken systems (education, politics, health care, religion) that perpetuated war, violence and anger for millennia. At its worst, religion festers hatred and breeds ignorance. At best it rescues, redeems, champions those in need, and heals. Some of the largest networked hospitals in the world are religious. Faith-based NGOs have been at the forefront of global relief and development for decades, pressing for basic human rights, equality and dignity. Some of the foremost leaders in crisis and disaster response are faith-based groups that employ thousands of people and manage hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. All at the hands of religious types a bit like me.

mom connection coverWhen the immediate response to my profession is that I must be an ignorant jerk, I wince. How did religion, or any of our systems, get so warped? Can we change them in some small way? Work toward the common good together? At Iowa I earned a varsity letter in rowing. A sport where even the slightest tip of the hips would lose a race. All eight rowers had to be lined up perfectly, stroke after stroke in metered, perfect time. Mess that up and you sink a boat. What I took from rowing, though, was that the rest of life is actually about stepping out of line. Out of line with the errors and injuries of broken systems. Out of line with the preconceived, the assumed, the zombie-esque way we operate blindly within them.

What about you? Your profession? Your place in life? Broken systems abound. Can you redeem them? Can you provide a glimmer of hope and a different vantage point when everyone else seems to be rowing in one tight movement? Can you break out and dare to change the systems that limit us? And can you step out of line and bolster the common good? I dare say we can.