Coffee with Erin S. Lane

ErinLane2Here is a sample of Erin S. Lane and her writing (all the way down to the United Faith Leaders logo), simply pasted from her website.


“I am a thirty-something writer and facilitator who schemes ideas for better belonging. I want to live in Seattle when I grow up, but these days I’m putting down roots in Durham, NC. I call myself a Jesus follower, and a feminist too.RSS Pointer

“I work remotely for the Center for Courage & Renewal to develop programs that deepen the leadership formation of people of faith and support healthy congregational life. Locally, I am a board member of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South and belong to a United Methodist church.


ErinLane1It’s a question I’ve been asking since 2008 when I started writing for “holy hellions,” those faithful rebels who stand against the culture of sexism, stereotypes and Sunday School answers while standing with God and God’s people.

I believe in being the church. I believe in attending a church. I just don’t like to do it. I don’t like when the old people talk too long even though I need to be reminded of our shared history. I don’t like it when the babies cry too loud even though I need to be reminded of our shared need. I don’t take well to authority figures telling me what to do. And yet I have a lot of opinions on what they should do.erinlane5

I like Jesus; I just don’t like when he’s separated from the other persons of the Trinity like the cheese who stands alone. I believe in tradition if there’s a good reason behind it. It’s just that I often can’t get a straight answer about what that reason is.

erinlane4I have a master’s degree in theology, but I don’t want to hear your dissertation. I want the specifics, like how you picture God when you pray and what you say to the beggar on the street who asks for money.

I am interested in women and men who earnestly want to belong and are ready to do so with people who don’t look and think and act like them. The trouble is I have a hard time committing to these people because as pastor Lillian Daniel puts it, “In community, humanity is just way too close to look good.”


The S. in my middle name stands for Steffen. I am married to a small man with a big beard and a big heart for youth ministry. We think choosing not to have biological children can be a vocation. My favorite article of clothing is a crew neck sweatshirt. The last time I saw my natural hair color was the fifth grade. I do not know how to make coffee, cut toenails, or whistle. I do know how to drive a stick shift, do a headstand, and dance. I’ve sampled over 35 cupcakes from shops across the states and have the pictures to prove it. I’m a Myers-Briggs ISTP, an Enneagram 5, and a Path Elements Profile fire nature. My therapist says I’m the obsessive type.

You can e-mail me at heyerinlane (at) For speaking invitations, please consult my event guidelinesbefore reaching out.



In our interview Erin discussed how painful writing can be, even drawing upon a butterfly metaphor which, in the moment she attributed to Dani Shapiro. When she sent me notes after the interview she found it to be from Ann Pratchett’s book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. The excerpt is:

“For me it’s like this: I make up a novel in my head (there will be more about this later). This is the happiest time in the arc of my writing process. The book is my invisible friend, omnipresent, evolving, thrilling… This book I have not yet written one word of is a thing of indescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its color, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life. It is the greatest novel in the history of literature, and I have thought it up, and all I have to do is put it down on paper and then everyone can see this beauty that I see.

ErinLane3“And so I do. When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing — all the color, the light and movement — is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s my book.”

While writing can be beautiful it is clearly, like life, sometimes less glamorous in the making.

Erin does describe herself as a “charismatic Catholic,” which I’ll leave to her explanation within the interview. Her husband is a United Methodist Pastor and they are currently fostering three children.

“Community is a continual act of forgiveness.” – Jean Vanier, from his book Community & Growth


Center for Courage & Renewal “joining soul & role” (Asst. Director)

Duke Divinity School

Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe by Erin S. Lane

Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith edited by Erin S. Lane and Enuma Okoro

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

Faith & Leadership



Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger

The best I can do is teach the lessons I need to learn, over and over again.  – Erin S. Lane