Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

A Toddler Meets the White Witch

“Any Turkish Delight, anyone?”

A shorter, storybook version of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for younger children comprised last night’s bedtime reading ritual.  A five-year-old boy and three-year-old girl snuggled up next to their mother to hear with bated breath how the majestic lion, Aslan, took on the sinister White Witch in the magical land of Narnia.

Whenever I turned the page to behold the foreboding figure of the witch, and mimicked what the witch might sound like (a mix between Gargamel of “The Smurfs” and my first-grade teacher, Ms. Melton, at the international school I attended in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), my daughter would repeatedly exclaim, “I’m scared!” and begin to whimper.  At which point I would try to reassure her that in the end Aslan-Jesus wins.  By the end of the book, the white witch had begun to sound more like the friendly grandmothers I met at yesterday’s visit to the assisted living center.

But this did little to quell my daughter’s new-found fear of the wicked White Witch.  Her crying and carrying on about being scared of the White Witch obliged me to spend the first few hours of the night next to my daughter in her cramped, twin-sized bed, as she finally wandered off to sleep- and this despite my reassurances over and over again that Jesus was stronger than the White Witch, that while the White Witch wasn’t real, Aslan-Jesus was.

So I’m struck this morning by how evil (the absence of the good) and those things that make us afraid and keep us awake at night can tend to captivate us despite what we may know to be real and true- often so much more than “whatever is…noble…right…pure…and lovely.” (Philippians 4:8).

We are so easily enticed and led astray by illusions.

The Parasite Conundrum and Other News

Is this a good or bad parasite? I can’t tell!

It’s that time again: we’re getting up to speed on the “mish mash,” and then highlighting some of the future treats in store for us.

First, my apologies to those of you who caught two critical mistakes in yesterday’s post, one of which remains to be corrected: the Rwandan genocide was actually in 1994 and resulted in the deaths of more than 800,000 persons; and, the link that I tried to share to the video isn’t working, so we’re waiting on another version via Youtube or elsewhere to share with you- it really is an interesting story, so I hope you’ll come back to view it, and I’ll let you know when it’s really up and running.

Next, in response to the post, “The Problem of Athlete’s Foot,” fellow saint and sinner Saskia de Vries had this to say:

“I think it’s actually a fungus, not a bacteria. But either way, I think this is one of the more interesting science/theology conundrums. What do we make of parasites? Did God create parasites? Some parasites are super cool. Some are super deadly and terrifying. And some make you wonder if you’re actually an autonomous being at all. I highly recommend reading Carl Zimmer’s Parasite Rex.”

(I’ve invited Saskia only half-jokingly to be our resident science and theology columnist/expert.)

Finally, someone who did not share his or her name, wrote the following, in response to “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved;” I’ve decided to publish these remarks even though I had no intention of sparking this response with my original reflections, and find the remarks themselves problematic; still, we are, after all, people who come to this “well” from many places ideologically:

First quoting me, the responder writes: “‘Most of us have come to view conservative and liberal as just code words for a host of implicit political beliefs that have functioned as add-ons to the Gospel– jaded remnants of religiously framed culture wars. If we’re leaving church in droves or finding church irrelevant, it is because these labels have failed us.'”

The responder goes on: “What’s irrelevant and what’s failed us is the false gospel of ‘if you believe in this dead man you will be saved and no you don’t have to change anything about your sick disgusting behavior’…Now if instead of that false gospel, a living Christ who demands repentance were preached…and people were taught they have the ability to repent rather than ‘born that way’ original sin homosexual-moffia propaganda, then Christianity would be worth saving. As it stands, let it fall, let the world be paganized once again, and let God come down and die on a cross a second time and see if he can keep his religion together this time and prevent a Paul, Augustine, and Luther from destroying it.”

I would add here since it now seems relevant in light of this person’s remark, that a couple of you readers have asked me to weigh in on the homosexuality debate.  I’ve not done so here, or yet, because 1) a number of my very good friends are gay in committed relationships and some of the best people I know; 2) I’m not sure that Scripture is actually consistently clear with respect to this issue one way or another, and has little to say about, for example, gay marriage in our time; 3) find the whole debate wearisomely old and at times even a distraction from God’s mission.  There you have it.  My views in a nutshell.  I would also add that, like most views of mine, I don’t see them as having to be set in stone.  I’m a work in process.  So are my opinions.  Hopefully this reality belongs to being a saint and sinner.

As for what to look forward to in the future here at FSS: I hope you’ll check back for my review of an advance copy of Rachel Held-Evans’ A Year of Biblical Womanhood, as well as Michael Frost’s Road to Missional.  We continue with our very irregular series of “Jesus Epithets” (usually inspired my occasional sermons as an itinerant preacher).  And, starting in two weeks, I’ll be assisting Emory University’s Tom Long in teaching div school students how to preach (in Homiletics 101 of sorts), so you’ll probably hear occasional insights from this process as well.  (This may also mean, in addition to some vamped-up work on my book and a few more clients in my job as a corporate chaplain, that my posts will be a little less regular- but I’ll try my best to keep meeting you here at the intersection between life and God as often as possible.)

So, until we meet again…which may be tomorrow, God speed!

 

From War to Peace: A Powerful, True Story of Reconciliation

The east African nation of Burundi has witnessed a long, bloody, and tragic history of civil war.  The same ugly tribalism and brutality between Hutus and Tutsis that have swept neighboring Rwanda- (resulting in 1994 in a genocide of more than 800,000 people, mainly Tutsis)- have been part and parcel of Burundi’s story. The country is also among the five poorest countries in the world.

Yet there is also another story to be found here, one that begins with how God not long ago began to work for reconciliation- first in the life of one man and his wife, and then, with ripples, for a whole nation.  Now this same man is the president of Burundi, and the nation’s motto is “prayer and work.”  It is a remarkable story, actually, one that both inspires and provokes me this morning.  I guess you could say I’m “intrigued” in addition to being moved.  You can hear the whole story in this ten-minute video.  I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

A Spiritual Inventory for iPhone Users

Thanks to this little rectangular contraption, my life will never be the same again.

This week with the start of another school year and a few more things added to our family’s schedule, I’ve found myself even more glued to my iPhone- so glued, in fact, that just the other day I found myself exclaiming to my husband, “my whole life is in here!”  (He had to correct me.)  I guess you could say that lately I’ve been worshiping at the altar of my iPhone.

Which has me doing a spiritual inventory of sorts around my iPhone usage.  If you, like me, find yourself regularly engaging in three or more of the following behaviors, you may have a problem, and your relationship with God and your neighbors may be suffering:

1. You begin to worry, sweat marbles and cuss under your breath when you’ve misplaced your iPhone.

2.  When you’re glancing at your iPhone, your jaw drops, your breath stabilizes and you become transfixed, tuning out the world around you like a yogi in meditation.

3. You would rather spend more time perusing on Facebook what your new, virtual friend in Bangalore had for dinner than being alone with God in prayer.

4. You’re convinced that the majority of your virtual friends really are your friends.  Not!

5. You obsessively glance at your phone in meetings, Bible studies and especially in Sunday morning worship when the preacher is being a bore.

6. You find it difficult to avoid picking up your phone when you’re driving (even if it is illegal).  Other drivers have cast dirty looks your way or yelled things like, “You know that’s illegal,” or, “Get off your phone!,” when you’re looking at your phone rather than at the stoplight in front of you.

7.  Your phone alerts wake up you or your spouse in the middle of the night.

8. You’ve convinced yourself that responding to an e-mail or text message by the end of the day, rather than within an hour, is a slow turnaround time.

9. You take your iPhone with you literally everywhere you go.

10. Your iPhone makes you feel important on a more consistent basis than the fact that God loves you.

11.   You can’t stop thinking about what to tweet or post or blog about- even when you’re having sex.

12. You’re convinced that Steve Jobs, not Jesus, is the greatest man who ever lived.

Have I missed anything here?  Got any more behaviors to add to this list?  Send them along!

The Quality Difference: “Habit” Versus “Act”

“Quality is not an act but a habit.” So reads the banner which hangs in the warehouse of a trucking company where I serve as a corporate chaplain.  The mantra, I’m discovering, holds equally true whether we’re talking about marriage or parenting or writing.

Woody Allen put it another a way when he said “95% of success is just showing up.”

Which is why I loved stumbling upon this post by another aspiring writer, who made her own discovery about what distinguishes great writers like Ray Bradbury from the rest of us.  “Showing up to write,” she seems to conclude, is more important than the talent with which one is born.

I can’t help but think the same might be said of following Jesus.  It’s not a one-time act.  It’s a habit, 95% of which is as simple as just “showing up,” even when you’re not feeling like it.

 

The Problem of Athlete’s Foot

One look at this case of Athlete’s foot is enough to convince anyone with half a brain to wear their Tivas in the locker room. Gross!

Yesterday’s pool excursion with my son, Cameron, may have been a big divine hint that I need to do more preparation for Sunday’s small group discussion on the nature of evil.  My son, afterall, unlike me or my esteemed cohorts, is not a self-described cynic, skeptic or religious misfit.  He is just a mostly typical five-year-old boy, who simply prefers running barefoot over the dubious looking, cement floors of the women’s locker room at our local public pool; this as opposed to the alternative of laboriously strapping on his Tivas: whereas by now Cameron knows how to put on most shoes, his Tivas remain a bit of an enigma, his right Tiva still often appearing on his left foot, and vice versa.  This process seems to demand too big of a withdrawal from my son’s reserves of humility, patience, care and openness to correction- reserves, which, for a little boy who likes to go, go, go constantly and has an ego that, I’m hoping, a few years of growing up will massage into manageability, are frankly not great in size.  (To give you an idea of what I mean by “ego,” a few days ago, Cam strolled into the bathroom and said, “Am I the most handsome boy in the world?,” at which point I exclaimed, “No, you are most definitely not the most handsome boy in the world!  But I think you’re very handsome.”)

All of this to say that an effort to persuade my son to wear his Tivas in the locker room resulted in the following conversation:

Mom: Cam, it’s important to wear your sandals here, because if you go barefoot, you might get something called “Athlete’s foot.”  Do you know what that is?

Cam: Yes, I remember Bopa (Albuquerque granddad) said something about it.

Mom: I’ve had it before, and it’s really itchy and sometimes painful and (a mother’s attempt to issue compliance by appealing to the gross factor now) once it got so bad that the skin on the bottom of my foot began to peel off and I had to go to a doctor who had to cut off the rest of the skin. (Sorry.  Honest-to-God truth from a life-long swimmer.) It really hurt.

Cam (looking solemnly pensive now): But how do you get Athlete’s foot?

Mom: You get Athlete’s foot by walking on floors at places like this where a lot of people have been walking and the floors can become unclean and get germs on them.

Cam (frustrated): I know, but how do you get Athlete’s foot?

Mom: Do you mean, how do you get Athlete’s foot scientifically speaking?

Cam: Uh huh.

Mom (thinking she wished she had paid more attention in high school biology): Well, there are certain live bacteria, tiny, tiny creatures you can’t see, that like to hang out in places like this and eat the skin off the bottom of your foot.

Long pause before the bomb of a question drops.

Cam: Did God make Athlete’s foot?

Mom (realizing that if my son’s question had been on my ordination exams six years ago, I may not have passed): Hmm.  Well, I guess God made the live bacteria, so yes, I guess God made Athlete’s foot.

Cam (thoroughly aghast): What?!!

Long pause.  I’m realizing that if what I just said hasn’t held theological muster with my five-year-old, I better get my ducks in a row for Sunday.

Mom: Well, actually, Cam, it’d be more correct to say that when God made the bacteria, God made them eat other things, so they didn’t have to eat peoples’ feet and cause Athlete’s foot.  (I’m trying to imagine a family of live bacteria happily snacking away on their form of “ethical” food.  Just what such food would be, I have absolutely no idea, but I’m pretty convinced that it would not include the sweaty underside of my feet.)  But then when human beings began to do bad things and sin, that changed, and all creation began to seem different after that.  That’s when the bacteria began to eat people’s feet and cause Athlete’s foot.  (In the passage from John 11 that I preached from a couple weeks ago, Jesus grows “angry” when his friend Lazarus dies; so if God gets mad about death, why can’t God be at least a little annoyed by Athlete’s foot?  Further, Augustine described evil as the “absence of the good.”  By that definition, Athlete’s foot most certainly qualifies as “evil.”)  Does that make more sense, Cam?

Cam (looking satisfied now): Yes.

Phew.  Tough one.

Got some wise, theological reflections to share on the nature and problem of evil as it manifests itself in sickness and natural disaster?  Send your helpful distillations along before Sunday and I’ll be delighted to hear from you.  Send them along after Sunday, and I’ll be mildly grateful for your response.

“Did God Help Gabrielle Douglas Win?”

Gabrielle Douglas gestures to the crowd after winning the women’s all-around. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles)

Did God help Gabrielle Douglas win?  That was the question posed by Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams in a recent piece penned for the magazine and forwarded by fellow saint and sinner Irene Lin.  It’s an interesting question, one that Williams poses with a bit of heartburn:  the “clearly authentic image of a hardworking girl with strong values makes her a natural icon to her fellow Christians,” Williams concludes, “just as it makes the somewhat less faithful [presumably like Williams] uncomfortable.”

And to be sure, the sixteen-year-old U.S. gymnast Douglas, who is the first African American (not to mention American) to win team and all-around gold in the Olympics, is reportedly unbashful about attributing her wins to the God she knows and worships in Jesus.  After her win last Thursday, Douglas was quoted as saying, “I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”

There is something deeply moving here.  A young, graceful athlete giving her Maker the credit brings to mind associations with another Olympic great.  Eric Liddell, whose life inspired the film, “Chariots of Fire,” was one of my heroes.  Whenever I heard the soundtrack to the movie, I, as a competitive, all-year-round swimmer growing up in southern California, would be stirred to endure more sore muscles and early morning practices.  If God was on Eric’s side, God might also be on mine.

And here is where I think an answer to Williams’ query can only be at best speculative.  Did God help Douglas win?  Maybe.  Quite possibly even.  But this would also mean that God let other competitors, some of whom worship the same God in Jesus, lose.

And at first glance this is deeply discomfiting.  Scripture only amplifies the discomfort.  The God of the Old Testament, the God who the New Testament Jesus represents, is often invoked by God’s chosen people, Israel, in far uglier “competitions,” like near-genocidal battles between warring peoples.  The whole “God-helped-me-win” refrain is a pretty common one in Scripture, often invoked by Israel after they have just violently trampled and mercilessly slaughtered their enemies.  (Is anyone else getting heartburn here?)

But with the victories, there have also been the defeats.  Just this morning, I was reading from Isaiah 39, where the prophet Isaiah warns King Hezekiah that Hezekiah’s descendants will be defeated and taken into captivity by Babylon- and sure enough, this is exactly what happens.  Winning is not the only so-called “blessing” God’s people receive.  So are captivity, humiliation, pogroms and most horrifically the Shoah, years later.

The thing that intrigues me most after reading Williams’ article is this: Williams admits to discomfort over a divinely orchestrated victory for Douglas, but I can’t help but wonder if Williams is actually more disturbed by something else- namely, that Douglas is “so, so, so into Jesus.”

And if this is the case, Williams is only giving voice to most of us.  Most of us, I suspect, are comfortable with a “God of the gaps.”  Whenever some national tragedy occurs, like the recent shootings in Aurora and Milwaukee, we are quick to go to our divine “emergency contact” with questions about why such terrible things could happen and with prayers for healing and deliverance.  The soul searching and the prayer vigils are a manifestation of this turning to the God of the gaps.

And, this God of the gaps to whom we turn is the politically correct God.  Even the most hardened atheists, I suspect, in crises that hit close to home, is programmed to pray these prayers of desperation.  But when God, especially a personal God in Jesus, is publicly invoked in other times, not in the crises but rather in the celebrations and in the main of life, we naturally become uncomfortable.  If a God like this is Douglas’ helper in the main of life, that means God might also be our helper- and most of us don’t usually want or feel like we need a helper.

There is another issue here that can cause discomfort, one that is difficult to disentangle from the possibility that there is a personal God invested in the main of life, not just the gaps.  It has to do with how we talk about Jesus in the public sphere.  I, too, become a bit uncomfortable when various athletes and celebrities prattle rather loudly on about their “Lord and Savior Jesus.”  It is enough to become a bit nauseating actually.  Giving Jesus the credit publicly is one thing; but I’m inclined to think that tooting the Jesus horn every time there is a sound bite opportunity, regardless of one’s authenticity, is not a very effective form of witness in the context in which we live.  Building authentic, long-term relationships is better.

Did God help Gabrielle Douglas win?  If an answer to this question will inevitably be speculative, what I’m more sure of is that God is on everyone’s side, both the winners’ and the losers’, and that God’s ways and God’s “blessings” are often inscrutable in real time.  Often it is only in hindsight, looking back, that we really can see the blessings to be had- even, and sometimes more so, in losing.

I’ll be curious to hear what Douglas says about the God she worships the next time she loses.

 

 

A Riot in the Cathedral

Seven members of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot. You go, girls!

Have you been following the story of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot and their so-called “punk prayer protest” against Russian President Vladimir Putin? The band, whose highest-profile members are three young women now facing a three-year prison sentence, has vowed to continue its protests against the Putin regime despite harassment from the Kremlin and church authorities.

The story fascinates me on several levels.  First, the group itself is just bizarre.  They wear brightly colored balaclavas, short skirts, mismatched tights, use nicknames and invoke plenty of shocking profanity to cause most any babushka (grandmother) great distress.  Then, there are the strangeness and shock value of their form of protest.  In February, they protested Putin’s re-election by showing up at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour of the Russian Orthodox Church and performing a politically provocative song and dance.  Having myself visited this hallowed, tourists’ pilgrimage site and marveled at the beautiful intricacy of the architecture and the prescribed holiness of the building’s interior, I can only begin to appreciate the glaring shock of the scene in such a revered place.  In their song, the women asked “Theotokos,” or the “Mother of God” (the Virgin Mary) to “chase Putin away,” and accused the Russian Patriarch and head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kirill I of Moscow, of believing in Putin rather than in God.

Wow.  The question is, is this courageous protest or sheer “hooliganism,” as some have called it?  Maybe the line is somewhere in between, but I’m inclined to think there is more of courageous protest here than of the latter.

The interior of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, in Moscow, Russia.

Because at heart there is something in this story that invokes another narrative some of us have read before, about a young boy, David, and his sling and stone, and a great, big Philistine giant: three young women, still “adolescents” by modern-day standards, facing up to a powerful, middle-aged dictator who runs his country with an increasingly tighter iron fist; three punk rocker girls whose only “weapon” are their music and their voices and a video camera, facing up to a church hierarchy that throughout Russia’s history has almost consistently colluded with corrupt governments: from the Stalinist regime to earlier tsars before Stalin, the Russian Orthodox Church has been as “religious” about being on the side of governing power as it has been about its icons.

Now these punk women have earned the epithet of “anti-religious” from the church hierarchy- and I can’t help but applaud them for it!  If it is “anti-religious” to protest a church that throws its weight so squarely on the side of the Caesars of this world, rather than rendering to such Caesars only what is their due, not more, then I hope Pussy Riot wears their new epithet with pride.

To be sure, the women’s protest in some cases has been laced with profanity.  Whether or not such R-rated material is necessary to issue a real wake-up call against the injustices of an autocrat, I don’t know.  But,  another question is this:  is it possible that this sort of punk rocker performance actually constitutes “prayer” (hooded singers in mismatched tights, singing and dancing around a cathedral, asking for divine intervention to remove Putin)?  If prayer can be a form of social action, can it not also be social protest?  If so, what might this look like? Is a “riot in the cathedral” one incarnation?

What do you think?  Leave your thoughts below.

 

The Spirituality of Vacation

One of many spectacular vacation views from the coastal Route 1, just south of Mendocino, California.

It’s good to be home! I’ve missed you all, and I’m glad to be back at this intersection between life and God for anyone converted, unconverted or under conversion.

Ten serene days of vacation have inspired some reflections this morning on the difference that leaving one’s work, routine and home (for me, these are all muddled together) makes in changing perspective.

Perspective.

After a break, those little things that describe home, that when added together in the thickness of life can drive me to sighs, or complaints or escapes in day dreams, attain an endearing sweetness.  They haven’t changed; they are still there.  The mounds of unfolded laundry on our living room sofa, left hurriedly en route to the airport, tokens of my daily routine as a wife and mother.  (“Yea, though I walk through the valley of underwear and socks, I will fear no evil.”)  The lone tennis shoe lying on our front lawn- discarded remains of my daughter’s pre-school experiment in growing parsley, tragically cut short by our puppy Roosevelt’s implacable teething interests.  Our “cozy” (in other words, cramped) kitchen, its drawers and cupboards stuffed to overflowing, often prompting expressions of annoyance varying in furor whenever we host a dinner party.

Everything is just as it was, just the way we left it; only now it seems different.  A renewed fondness for the idiosyncracies and imperfections that make home “home” imbues the everything with a new meaning.  The burden is lifted just a bit and in its place there is a lightness.  Somehow this act of intentional distancing- of “vacating”- has only deepened my appreciation for the messy, barely manageable life that has come to be at our particular address on our particular street in our particular city.

I realize that not everyone can have this luxury of experience.  To actually vacation, and then to vacation long enough for it to make a difference, are not things everyone can do- but I wish they could.  Because there is something deeply edifying for the soul in being reminded that when we step away from our work and simply rest and play, the world does not stop.  The traffic lights still work.  The sun still rises and sets.  The grass still grows and the birds keep chirping and the earth continues its rotation.

And this, I think, is the meaning and importance of the Sabbath; (if we can’t vacation, we can at least take a Sabbath break each week.) We are not so indispensable after all- or at least this is not why we exist.  We are, more fundamentally, simply loved apart from what we do or don’t do.  So maybe at heart vacationing is really a cultivation of humility, which is something that probably does not come naturally for most of us.

Perspective.

 

 

 

Mark Twain’s Midrash on the Creation Story

“Ooh, it’s cold!  If only I had a few leaves to wear.” – Twain’s illustration, my midrash.

Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve has been a fun and easy read here at a friend’s ranch in Calistoga, California, where I’m enjoying a few more days of vacation.  Twain wrote it in his later years, and it is a wonderful bit of midrash on the biblical story of creation and the Fall, as well as men and women and our enduring inability to understand one another.  You might call it a cleverer version of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

Strikingly, Twain seems to sympathize more with Eve than with Adam.  If Adam is a bit of a slow learner and a dolt when it comes to his newfound companion, preferring to sit around and smoke cigars on the Sabbath, Eve is a precocious explorer, waxing philosophical between occasional fits of emotion.  In short, Eve is much more interesting.  Whereas Twain attributes Adam’s eating of the apple to hunger and stupidity, Twain seems to imply that an insatiable curiosity, desire to please Adam and love of the beautiful are the source of Eve’s undoing.

Here is Eve after marveling at the moon:  “…I already being to realize that the core and centre of my nature is love of the beautiful, and that it would not be safe to trust me with a moon that belonged to another person and that person didn’t know I had it.  I could give up a moon that I found in the daytime, because I should be afraid some one was looking; but if I found it in the dark, I am sure I should find some kind of an excuse for not saying anything about it.”  Then later this:  “At first I couldn’t make out what I was made for, but now I think it was to search out the secrets of this wonderful world and be happy and thank the Giver of it all for devising it.”

If the lesson here is that even our noblest, most lovely, human impulses can be the very things that undo us, it is also this (as underlined in both Adam and Eve’s observations): that living in companionship outside the garden after the Fall is better than living alone inside the garden (the pre-Fall paradise).

 

Previous Posts

Mental Health Break—Sprawl II
My favorite band these days is Arcade Fire, and I've featured the Canadian indie rock group before at this intersection between God and life. The lead singer studied Kirkegaard in college and their songs, like this one, are often subtle but brilliant critiques of the least aesthetically pleasing thi

posted 12:58:15pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

I Can't Breathe and the Widow's Cry—A Guest Post
Fellow saint and sinner Saskia de Vries is a neuroscientist in Seattle, Washington and has posted before at this intersection between God and life. She, like so many of us, is grappling with the tragedies of Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the larger systemic problem they seem to reveal—namely,

posted 2:10:09pm Dec. 11, 2014 | read full post »

Advent and Emptiness, Via Louis CK and the Prophet Isaiah
I've been making my way through the book of Isaiah. This morning's reading was from chapter 6, where the prophet Isaiah receives his call to go to the people of Israel and proclaim God's judgment of a people who have wandered away from God's purposes for them. Isaiah asks how long God's people will

posted 11:45:39am Dec. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Advent Resurrection
It may seem strange to pair Advent with resurrection. Usually resurrection comes more naturally at Easter. But at heart the labor pangs of all creation giving birth to the Christ child are a longing for a new start. Advent is a longing to be born again. Neuroscience now teaches that every minu

posted 2:47:38pm Dec. 04, 2014 | read full post »

Birthday Cred—Ecclesiastes Via David Foster Wallace
Today I'm still (barely) on the left side of 40, and bea

posted 11:01:03am Dec. 01, 2014 | read full post »


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