“Woman, you have great faith!”: Our Christian Memory

Whenever I teach a survey of Church history, I include at the very beginning some comments about the extraordinary growth rate of the Christian community in the first century. Some historians suggest that in less than three centuries after Christ, more than 10% of the Roman Empire’s population was Christian. Scholars attribute this rapid spread [Read More...]

The Government Is Not Going to Do Kingdom Work

It’s been nearly two years since the full intensity of the last presidential campaign, but I’m still stewing over the uneasiness it created in me. I’m not making any political comments here, only ecclesiological ones. The campaign may or may not have been more vitriolic than most, though it does seem like civility is giving [Read More...]

The Taxi to Hell

I caught an episode of “The Apprentice” this weekend. Sixteen hopefuls lined up respectfully and submissively before Donald Trump and his lieutenants, who happen to be Ivanka and Donald, Jr., his children. This season, apparently the would-be apprentices are all victims of the economic downturn – they’ve already all been fired or let go or [Read More...]

Doubt ~ “Could Be Wrong … but I Don’t Think So.” (Third time’s the charm.)

I don’t know anything at all about hunting pheasant. But I can imagine myself in the quiet mists of morning out in the wide open fields of Nebraska, standing beside the pick-up, tightening the boots, downing the last sip of coffee, loading up the guns and strapping on the orange vest, watching the dogs pace [Read More...]

Doubt: “Just the Facts, Ma’am” – Second Thoughts

The show’s dramatic theme song prepped the audience for a thrill; the deep voice announced the following: “The story you are about to see is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Sgt. Joe Friday, confronted with auto theft, kidnapping, and murder, pursues the villain through clues and terse interviews – “just [Read More...]

Letter to My College-Bound Son

Dear Riley, Though this is not the first letter I’ve written to you, this is the first letter I’ve ever written to my son who is leaving home for greater adventures. You’ve always been an Adventurer – full of curiosity, passion, and an incomprehensible cheerfulness about getting up at o’dark thirty. God knows I’ve tried [Read More...]

Doubt, the Great Jeopardy? — First Blush

Doubt is on my mind. It really feels like an autumn topic, I think – best suited for cold winds and browning leaves and dark, heavy clouds. Not a spring topic, which seems like it should be all about cheery faith and warm devotion. But seasonally correct or not, it’s all around me. Perhaps, however, [Read More...]

The Inadequacies of Motherhood

We’re wrapping up the childhood years.  Long ago we moved on from play dates and zoo adventures and Baby Beluga. I didn’t have much time to mourn all that because we were soon deep into baseball games, track meets, driving lessons, and orchestral performances. But now we’ve gone to our last back-to-school night; we’ve sent [Read More...]

Lenten Letdown

The season always starts out with such zeal. About two days into it, I’m beginning to revise my expectations seriously. By now, mid-Lent, I’m barely holding on. Do not misunderstand. It’s NOT that my Lenten disciplines are so arduous. Not at all. It’s just that my very real confrontation with the futility of them disheartens [Read More...]

Ashes and Guilt by Association

I walked into the noon service today, and felt a great sense of comfort at this great annual shift into Lent. The purple cloth over the cross, the silent gathering, the smell of burned palms, the flecks of ash on my nose – these lured me into the quiet and contemplation of a season of [Read More...]

On Earthquakes and Providence

Normal days beg no explanations. Daily life asks no questions that the newspapers, Internet, or personal opinions cannot answer. But natural disasters – earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes – these demand justification. On November 1, 1755, a massive earthquake hit Lisbon, Portugal. Modern geologists estimate it was nearly 9.0-magnitude on the Richter scale. It was 9:20 [Read More...]

Gratitude — a Risky Business

November is the month of Thanksgiving. We’ve exorcised our Halloween personas and we’re suspended between round, orange jack o’ lanterns and round, red Santas. Halloween universally permeates the various religions, but then in December we splinter off into our assorted winter celebrations – Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Advent/Christmas, etc., and, trumping them all, the secular holiday of [Read More...]