The Vanities of Lent

  “We urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” (2 Cor. 6.1) As I sat in yesterday’s Ash Wednesday service, listening to the great and profound readings associated with that day—Joel’s prophetic thunder; Jesus’ call to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; David’s remorseful song—it was this simple message that struck me. Do not receive [Read More…]

Sin, History, and the False Self

God doesn’t give us much time to enjoy Eden. Two chapters of wonder and creative power and beauty, and then over 1,000 chapters of life east of Eden. And that cherubim with the flaming sword meant to guard the gates? We’ve felt the heat of that sword at every turn. I’ve been pondering my ancestral [Read More…]

Politics, Christians, and the 3rd Commandment

At the outset of the 2011 election campaigns, here’s another plea that Christians become aware of the ways we are divided by the waves of moral manipulation in the mouths of candidates of both parties. Will we find the paths of righteousness in campaign speeches? Methinks not. Nor does my fellow Episcopalian and Patheos columnist, [Read More…]

Relics Writ Small

At home in my dresser upstairs I have a wee yellow sock, about four inches long. Just one. Downstairs I have a drawer in the laundry room full of single socks, which, despite my husband’s indictment, do not lose their partners through any collusion on my part. Those socks are casualties of clothes-basket subterfuge, a [Read More…]

Is Despondency a Christian Value?

  Because I spend a lot of time reading and editing online articles on religion, and because we Americans are particularly sensitive to issues of public expressions of faith, and because the campaigning season is upon us, I also get a healthy dose of politics. The 2012 election is nearly 15 months away, and I’m [Read More…]

Coexisting in Tyre and Sidon

  The lectionary reading for this coming Sunday is from the Gospel of Matthew, 15.21-28 – the faith of the Canaanite woman. On many of my readings over the years, all I could really think about in this short story is how apparently rude Jesus is to the poor woman. First he ignores her; then [Read More…]

Rebuild My Church

As many of you may know, my passion is the Church — its unity, its sanctity, its truth. I lament the state of the Church for a lot of reasons. Here is a visual lament, beautiful and mournful: Thirty Abandoned Churches from Around the World. Imagine vital communities gathering, celebrating, remembering, worshipping in these buildings. [Read More…]

Tuck Me In

We have all seen the galling pictures of poor children in underdeveloped countries around the world, and perhaps we have become inured to their connections with real, everyday life. Photographer James Mollison has seen something else through his lens and it gets behind the stereotypical shots of poverty and privilege. His recently released book, Where [Read More…]

You’ve Got Mail: Forward or Perish

There isn’t much in scripture that seems to indicate Our Lord will be using my email habits to judge my soul. I don’t think He’ll have to look that hard. Nevertheless, forwarded emails about Jesus that demand I send them on to ten people or surrender my salvation make me nervous. “Stop what you’re doing [Read More…]

Real Transformation or a Pleasant Experience?

Today I ran across an interesting commentary on the quick fixes churches apply to the church growth problem. Dan Dick was writing about the United Methodist experience, but his comments could apply across the board. He considered the measures the denomination and local churches had taken to reverse church decline, and noted that “The United [Read More…]

Vision: A Creedal Reflection on Psalm 10

“Why, O Lord, do you stand off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” The deaths of 68 young people at a camp in Norway silences us with horror and grief. The looming menace of the federal government’s default makes us stoop with dread and frustration. The drought and famine in Somalia appalls [Read More…]

Beer Brewing and Carpentry

This week a handful of us had a lively conversation about Dorothy Sayers’ “Why Work?” essay. Written in 1942, the essay tackles head-on Sayers’ concerns about her society’s consumption patterns and what they say about our perception of the value of work. The early part of the essay considers the economic consequences of unrestrained capitalism [Read More…]