My Only Begotten Sin

11087699415_16fe60c2bb_zBecause I remain restless and impatient even in middle age, I am often only halfway listening to important things spoken of in church. Therefore, I can mishear what the priest is saying, sometimes to comical effect.

Like Bart Simpson, “In the Garden of Eden” becomes “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” I have heard “sex” for “sects” and “possums” for “apostles.” When I was a boy, for the longest time I thought “Agnus Dei” was the name of the woman up front who played the choir organ: “Agnes Day.” [Read more...]

Remember You Are Dust

2247224657_b244833cff_zThere is no greater materialist than a Christian observing Lent. You get ashes smeared on your forehead. You hear words like, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Those words are from the Book of Genesis.

This Biblical thought about dust and the dustiness of all living things is taken up again in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes:

I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

 For that which befalleth the sons of man befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

 All go into one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. [Read more...]

Exercises for Lent

Health Club TreadmillsAn evangelical mutt, I have only in the past few years discovered the allure of the liturgical season, and I dabble in the traditions as my whims dictate.

This Lent, I told my husband, we shall be giving up all of our little indulgences: coffees and meals out and little snacks. That should set us up for being nice and spiritual, plus it will be hard enough that we feel it, but not so hard that we are actually tempted to despair.

But, despite all of my good intentions, I kept hearing a still small voice telling me to focus on my body, on what is happening within me, for the next forty days.

[Read more...]

God For Us: An Interview with Luci Shaw

Guest Contributor

We’re proud to announce that Image, the sponsor of this blog, played a central role in the publication of a wonderful new book God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter. Co-edited by Image editor Gregory Wolfe and Image board member Greg Pennoyer, God For Us features meditations for every day of Lent by some of the most highly regarded spiritual writers of our time, including Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, Ronald Rolheiser, Luci Shaw, and Scott Cairns.

We are publishing interviews by Paraclete Press with several of the contributors in the next few weeks. Today’s interview features Luci Shaw.

Paraclete Press: How does the title God For Us apply to the weeks preceding Easter?

Luci Shaw: The term God For Us fulfills the promise revealed earlier in God With Us. The birth of Jesus was the beginning of a whole new realm of grace fleshed out in the God-man life. This life and its final years of ministry were destined to take place before the final world-changing events of Holy Week as we remember the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

The two events at the beginning and end of Jesus’ earthly life are like the parentheses of salvation. One without the other was never part of the divine plan; both were and are vital. Both were and are essential in order for the purposes of God to be fulfilled in redeeming humanity.

PP: Why is the observance of Lent spiritually necessary?

LS: Speaking very personally, I’m convinced that the observance of Lent is spiritually necessary for me, and I suspect for many others, because I am too easily occupied with other busy-making doings that distract and take up time and energy. I know this is detrimental to my soul’s health.  I need Lent in order to remind myself to slow down (I love it that the word lent in French means slow).

[Read more...]

Rodeo and the Church Calendar

Despite my Christian upbringing, I didn’t grow up with the church calendar. Easter was a single day affair involving plastic eggs hidden in hill country pastures and Sunday school handouts with coppery brads to swing a construction paper stone away from an empty tomb. The graphic was always neat and tidy—flowers and grass and “He is Risen!” written alongside.

I knew the story of the suffering, but the celebration made more of an impact.

So between Valentines Day and Easter when my elementary school started serving fish sticks at the end of each week, I asked my reluctant classmates, “Why do you eat fish on Fridays?”

“It’s bad to eat meat on Fridays,” my friend Adrian told me.

“Why?” I asked. [Read more...]


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