Internet Jubilee: A Holy Year of Mercy

On a recent Sunday, my pastor preached on the idea of the jubilee year as outlined in Leviticus, a time when debts are settled, slaves are set free, and land is returned to families. Last month, Pope Francis declared approximately Advent 2015 through Advent 2016 a jubilee year, the Holy Year of Mercy. “Let us not forget that God pardons and God pardons always,” he said. “Let us never tire of asking for forgiveness.”

When my pastor gave the Leviticus sermon, he said something along the lines of, “Imagine if you got a notice from the government saying that your student loan was forgiven, or your bank said your credit card balance had been paid.” Yes, thanks, that would be awesome! Yet as great that would be, an even more powerful metaphor for me was to imagine if my forty-thousand tweets could be deleted in one fell swoop, and every snarky, judgy thing I ever said anywhere online could magically disappear. [Read more...]

The Kiss of Judas

Giotto_KissOfJudasWhen Judas approached Jesus in the Garden and kissed him, how do you think Jesus responded? Oh, we know what the gospel says:

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas…arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ (Matthew 26:47-50

So Jesus responds by calling Judas “Friend.” (In every Bible translation I’ve seen, Jesus calls Judas “Friend” here.)

[Read more...]

Monasticism In Lockdown America, Part 7: Holy Fool

5411790553_3a0b63a224Continued from yesterday. 

 

Hank’s trembling confession had charged the small jail visitation cell where I sat discussing the image of God with three men from the infirmary. I pulled out the last of three “icons” and passed it around. It was a color printout of the crumbling Sphinx in Egypt—its nose fallen off, all color worn away by sand and time. “How have we, have you, become like this? If we were made images of God, works of art, how have we been defaced?” [Read more...]

Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 6: Icons

prisonThe jail staff asked if I would meet with some of the guys in the infirmary.

I sat down at the small, bare table in a cramped lawyer visitation cell, and three men in red scrubs squeezed by each other to take their seats with me. One of them was Hank, an old man with a scraggly white beard stained yellow around his mouth, gray and white hair hanging over his sagging face.

The long beard and long white hair reminded me of an abbot I know at a Russian Orthodox monastery I visit a few hours away, on a rainy, evergreen island, an abbot I am very fond of. But this man, Hank, stumbled into his seat at the table to my right. His pale and bare chest was exposed by the ratty red XXL V neck he was issued. He swore at the guard over his shoulder as she slammed shut the heavy door to our cell. [Read more...]

Girl Meets God in the Classroom, Part 2

Rembrandt-The_return_of_the_prodigal_sonContinued from yesterday.

On the first day of my class “Spiritual Autobiographies: Theirs and Ours,” a few students shared that they weren’t “spiritual people.” Why, I wondered, did they sign up for this elective class?

Some of them, I would learn later in the semester, had been deeply wounded by religion. A few said that religion had been forced on them by their parents.

At this moment of emerging adulthood, it was time to turn away, to turn another way. Neither the students nor I realized, as class began in mid-August, that some of their wounds, whether exposed in speech, writing, or—to anyone paying attention—in silence, would become sites of inquiry and that inquiry itself might begin a process of healing.

[Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X