Lectionary Commentary: “Practicing Transfiguration”

What can we do beyond merely admiring Jesus’ Transfiguration? Said differently, what could it mean to practice Transfiguration? I owe my title to a 2010 sermon of the same name by one of my mentors, Dr. Bruce Epperly. His angle of approach reminds me of Wendell Berry's injunction to "practice Resurrection" from one of my favorite poems "The Mad Farmer's Liberation Front" -- although I could also credit Harry Potter for an entirely different meaning of practicing transfiguration!Before pro … [Read more...]

Oscars: A Last-minute Guide to an Informed Opinion

I would normally approach an Oscar blog for Patheos from an explicitly spiritual perspective. However, with the Academy Awards less than three days away, I want to offer you something more pragmatic: a guide to catching-up on films you’ve missed before the big night. Emergency Rooms use a process known as “triage” in order to treat the most critical patients first, and I’ll use a similar process to help you be best informed about the films you will most likely enjoy in the limited time period bet … [Read more...]

REVIEW: Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist

From the title alone I was intrigued to read Brant Pitre's new book Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist: Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper. As a Christian minister, who is married to a Jewish woman and who is writing his dissertation on the topic of Communion, I have a vested interest in the Jewish roots of the Eucharist. While reading, I was continually struck by the dual realization that, on one hand, the book is interesting and internally consistent; but, on the other hand, I co … [Read more...]

Celebrating Evolution Sunday

Happy Evolution Sunday! Or "Happy Evolution Weekend," as the event is coming to be known. For the past five years, an increasing number of individuals, churches, and faith communities have recognized the Sunday closest to Charles Darwin's birthday (February 12) as an annual opportunity to reflect on what religion has to learn from science, in particular how Christianity can embrace the insights of evolution.In recent months, perhaps the most exciting dialogue between Christianity and … [Read more...]

Welcome Imbolc

In our pluralistic world, Christians are increasingly open to supplementing their faith with lessons from other religious paths. My understanding of prayer has deepened through practicing Buddhist meditation techniques. I've learned how to celebrate Sabbath more joyfully from Jews. The Muslim commitment to pray five times a day has challenged me to be more regular in my own prayer practice.Most recently, I have become more attuned to the Pagan notion of the Wheel of the Year, which invites … [Read more...]

Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt

My most personal connection to Egypt is spending a few days in Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula during my junior year of college. We spent six weeks on an unforgettable travel study through Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Italy. But we started our journey in Cairo, and I will confess that -- as amazing as the rest of the trip was -- it was all downhill after seeing the Pyramids on day one.Walking in the sands of Giza, in the shadow of the only remaining of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, I … [Read more...]

Justice, Kindness, God: A Lectionary Reflection for the 4th Sunday after Epiphany

In the Hebrew Scripture reading, the prophet Micah is asked how to worship rightly, but he’s not asked just one question; he’s asked four questions:“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before God with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”The questio … [Read more...]

New Governor Gets MLK Exactly Wrong

Governor-elect of Alabama Robert Bentley, speaking Monday on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in none other than Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where King himself was once pastor, said the following, less than one hour after taking office: anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother. Not surprisingly, news headlines almost immediately exploded. MSNBC's website posted in bold: New … [Read more...]

On What Facts Are Your Opinions of MLK Based?

Last week at an event commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., Department of Defense General Counsel Jeh Johnson said the following: I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack.... Every day, our servicemen and women practice the dangerousness -- the dangerous unselfishness Dr. King preached on April … [Read more...]

Freudian Slips, "Mecca of Prejudice" and "Blood Libel"

Almost every angle of last Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson has been parsed to the minutest degree. However, I have heard almost no commentary on Sheriff Clarence Dupnik's use of the word "Mecca" when he described Arizona as "the mecca for prejudice and bigotry." I happen to agree with most of the sheriff's remarks at that press conference, so I am mostly observing that, when speaking extemporaneously about the the recent tragedy, he -- perhaps more unconsciously than consciously -- used the … [Read more...]