The Limits of Gratitude

Gratitude is having a moment in our culture. Lifestyle gurus, including Oprah, tout the positive effects of expressing gratitude through letters or journal entries. Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts spent 60 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and spawned journals, notepads, and other tools with which you can literally count your blessings. [Read More…]

My Christmas Pageant Moment

This post was originally published on the Episcopal Café web site on January 21, 2010, and has been reprinted in my church bulletin for several Christmases. When I wrote it, my kids were much smaller, Christmas Eve more challenging as we aimed to do all the important things—prepare food, pick up those last few groceries—while shepherding three [Read More…]

Hope is the Hard and Necessary Work of Advent

Practicing Advent hope in the face of hopelessness is the fundamental—sometimes hardest—work God has given us to do. We are tempted to either rush through the disquieting ambivalence of Advent to get to clear-eyed Christmas joy, or dismiss it all as a foolish fairy tale belied by the world’s harsh realities. [Read more…]

Spotlight: A Film About Devotion to Truth, the Church, and a God Who Shows Up in Unexpected Places

Of the many remarkable things about the new film Spotlight, the most remarkable is that this moving, engrossing, occasionally thrilling movie is mostly about a bunch of people—a team of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe known as “Spotlight”— going to work and doing their jobs. The filmmakers and actors draw us into the quiet drama [Read More…]

A Cancer Memoir that (Mostly) Gets It Right

I have rarely read a book that inspired so many different reactions, in such quick succession, as Heather King’s new memoir Stripped: At the Intersection of Cancer, Culture, and Christ. On one page, I would be nodding in recognition with gratitude for such skilled descriptions of what it feels like to confront our bodily frailties, [Read More…]

Big Gifts of a Small Life: Meeting God in Sticky Floors, Carpools, & the Needy People I Call My Own

We must believe that it’s necessary to go on with small acts of daily care even as the world seems to spin out of control. [Read more…]

Who Exactly Are “the Least of These”?

Which interpretation of Matthew 25 is more likely to inspire us to love our neighbor, to do justice, to walk humbly (emphasis on “humbly”) with our God? The interpretation that draws a line between those who have the right answer to how to live a righteous life and those who don’t, and reassures us that we are only responsible for radically loving those who have the right answer, as we do? Or the interpretation that says that every time we turn our face away from someone in desperate need, we are turning away from God? [Read more…]

It’s Still a No Brainer for Christians to Support Gun Law Reform

When it comes to many controversial sociopolitical issues facing Christians (and everyone else) today, I usually take, or at least acknowledge, a middle road. For example, on the use of genetic and reproductive technologies, such as IVF, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and prenatal screening, I write with the intent of educating people so they can ask [Read More…]