Neo-Christian Myth #4: The Sweet Tooth of American Christianity

  When we study church history, the prevailing tension is one between continuity and ingenuity—between preservation of the gospel tradition and the adaptation of it to new languages and cultures. Sometimes that tension collapses when we entrench ourselves in the “this is the way we’ve always done it” syndrome, and invariably those ruts embed us [Read More…]

Neo-Christian Myth #3: Muddling Music

Lest I offended preachers everywhere by my last post, I’ll take a moment here to honor them with a word of recognition… before I go on to tackle another touchy issue. Preaching is hard work and to be done well it requires faithful study, prayer, reflection, and listening (both to God and to the circumstances [Read More…]

Neo-Christian Myth #2: the Preaching Pickle

Poor Donald Miller has been web-torched for his post. It has, at this writing, 479 comments, and let’s just say some of them are not very nice. (In fact, he wrote a follow-up post as a defense, which you can read here. Believe me, though, he’s loving the traffic, even if he is in Yoda-with-a-light-saber [Read More…]

Six Neo-Christian Myths: Exiting the Arc of Christian History

Today I ran across a post by Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz fame and more. I do not follow Donald Miller much or read his work—not out of any protest or high-minded posture, but, well, you have to pick and choose. I don’t have anything much to say about Donald Miller at all, really, [Read More…]

Cancer and Divine Immanence

Last week I read Michael Hannon’s reflection on “Cancer and Divine Transcendence” and simply could not stop thinking about it, partly because it began with a story of suffering love and partly because it said something about God that I’m wrestling with. If I understand Hannon, he’s arguing that our empty platitudes in the face [Read More…]

A Single Great Prayer

He prays unceasingly who combines prayer with necessary duties and duties with prayer. Only in this way can we find it practicable to fulfill the commandment to pray always. It consists in regarding the whole of Christian existence as a single great prayer. What we are accustomed to call prayer is only a part of [Read More…]

A Traveler’s Song

I am deeply appreciative of the contributions of some powerful contemporary Christian authors (like N.T. Wright and Dallas Willard) who have refocused our attention on the meaning of salvation as a living, vibrant wholeness in the here and now, not just a one-way ticket to a beatific Bahamas in the sky by-and-by. All the worn [Read More…]

Impossibilities

“It is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult…” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke Sometimes it seems that Christian faith is all about endurance. When I [Read More…]

We Are Saved by a Work

I’ve been pondering a troublesome passage—James’ harangue about works (James 2.18-26). It’s not a passage I particularly like. It’s prickly. You can tell he has someone in mind, some shocking example of an argument when someone shirked a work of kindness or generosity and begged off with, “Well, I have faith. And that’s all that [Read More…]

Expiration Date: A Short Story

This is an experiment. This is only an experiment. If this were not an experiment, you would be given further instructions. As it is, you’re on your own. **** The twirled tissues screwed up into my nostrils make it difficult to breathe, but at least my nose isn’t running anymore, down around my lips, salting [Read More…]

Finding the Way, and Loving the Journey

(A Book Review) As someone who has lived in a one-mile radius for thirty years, the idea of life as journey requires some imagination. Yet the journey image, or the notion of life as pilgrimage, has a long and venerable history because it resonates with each of us, no matter the external structure of our [Read More…]

Mean St. Francis

I’ve never seen a St. Francis statue like the one that sits in our back yard amidst the periwinkle, under the embrace of the Loving Tree. He doesn’t look anything like the one I’ve posted here. My St. Francis is a bit alarming. His super-sized hands hold a bird that, despite its stone composition, fairly [Read More…]