Read this before you burn that picture of Jesus

Where's Jesus?

Around Christmas time it's impossible to avoid pictures of Jesus. But Megan Hill is still trying.According to her recent post in Her*meneutics, Hill has asked teachers to excuse her kids from coloring nativity scenes and says she covers books depicting Christ in brown paper. To be clear, Hill has nothing against Jesus. She seems quite devout. Rather, her beef with his image comes from a conviction that Christ should never be depicted.Arguing for her view, Hill says her "objection … [Read more...]

Why it’s good to remember our sins

Remembering our Sins

Over the course of several books, crime novelist Philip Davison gave life to his character Harry Fielding, an operative in British intelligence tasked with undesirable jobs. A small train of colorful characters orbit through Harry's universe, including his flamboyant aunt Kate.At one point in the final Fielding outing, A Burnable Town, Kate wants her nephew to go to church."Oh God," Harry exclaims. "I don't have to contemplate my sin, do I, Kate?"She answered with "a very … [Read more...]

Fun things you find at a Christian publishing house

Old book of Russian Orthodox canons

Earlier today I walked into a friend's office and saw a very old book. It was leather over boards with broken brass clasps. Here's a picture."What is it?" I asked."A Bible, I think," said my friend, Rod, adding that his wife picked it up on a sojourn in Russia.I asked for a gander, and he graciously set the book on the desk in front of me. It didn't exactly look like a Bible, but I didn't know what to make of it. It did look Russian -- Slavonic. But that's where my smarts … [Read more...]

Why you need the church to read your Bible

'Shady Characters' by Keith Houston

It's easy to bash the church, and there are many that do. Of course most bashers are blithely unaware of the countless things they owe their battered victim, everything from doctrinal formulations they mistakenly assume are plainly explained in the Bible to holidays. What makes December 25 so special, anyway? You'll need to consult the church on that.I grew up around Christians who thought that all they needed for their spiritual life was a Bible. Not all of them, of course. But there … [Read more...]

Why did God create us? Consider the orange peel

Orange peel, more than it seems

Though some orange varieties favor the late spring, most ripen in the fall and winter. I mention that to set up a quote from Robert Farrar Capon's book The Supper of the Lamb, which could have have added significance as you next reach for an orange.Whether you rip off the peel in chunks or carefully remove it in a long ribbon, "[n]othing is more likely to become garbage than orange rind," he says; "but for as long as anyone looks at it in delight, it stands a million miles from the trash … [Read more...]

When good things happen to bad people

Nobody sits easy when good things happen to bad people. In George Eliot's novel, The Mill on the Floss, Edward Tulliver is so miffed about an enemy he dictates a curse he wants inscribed in the family Bible."It's wicked," his daughter objects."It isn't wicked," Tulliver snaps. "It's wicked [that] the raskills should prosper."Though we might not dare (or even think) to memorialize it in our Bibles, we've all felt Tulliver's indignation. And the anger makes sense. Often enough the … [Read more...]

Windows to heaven: Icons in church

My church, St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, has completed the first part of a lengthy iconography program. Here's a wonderful time-elapsed presentation of the work behind the altar.In time, it will look something like this church. It took Fr. Theodore Jurewicz six years to properly adorn St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Lackawanna, New York. The results of such efforts, as one monk commented, are "not like Rembrandt. It's other worldly." The icons are "supposed to transport you to another … [Read more...]

I like the Christian life: The Byrds’ Hillman talks about his faith

hillman

This is the coolest thing I've seen all day.The backstory goes like this: I was talking with Ken Mansfield, author of The White Book and Stumbling on Open Ground. He mentioned Chris Hillman, one of the founding members of the Byrds, and said he was a Christian. I've been a fan of the Byrds since I was a kid and knew Roger McGuinn was a believer, but I didn't know about Hillman. Ken told me to check out an interview Hillman did with CBN. Here's the video. You'll only need one guess as to why … [Read more...]

The problem with virtual communion

Ready Player One

Ernest Cline's New York Times bestselling sci-fi adventure Ready Player One imagines a future in which the majority of people live in a virtual world called the OASIS. As fortunes in the real world dip, the immersive simulations of the OASIS become the all-consuming preoccupation for anyone who can manage to log in.Everything happens in the OASIS: business, entertainment, love, even religion. The first-person narrator describes one "super-religious" side character who "spent most of her … [Read more...]

Meanwhile, St. Basil describes the Christian blogosphere

This morning I cracked open Basil the Great's slender book, On the Holy Spirit. Writing during a period in which the nature of the trinity was hotly contested, Basil started by describing the state of the debate. Addressing his treatise to one Amphilochius, he says,I admire your proposing questions not for the sake of testing, as many now do, but to discover the truth itself. For now a great many people listen to and question us to find fault. . . . [T]he questions of many contain a … [Read more...]

5 reasons you should write in your books

Marginalia!

I've been thinking recently on an important topic for bibliophiles: Should you write in your books? The answer varies for every person, but as for me and my tomes: Yes. Scribble away, especially with nonfiction. Here are five reasons I believe defacing an author’s work is warranted.1. Back up for your own faulty memoryThe first reason is memory. Theologian and controversialist Rousas Rushdoony reportedly read a new book every day. And not just read -- which, if true, is remarkable e … [Read more...]

What we can learn from Augustine’s mom about community

When Augustine’s mother Monica moved to Milan, she was concerned about fasting. The practice was universal in the church from the beginning, but it differed in places. In Monica’s hometown the church abstained on Saturdays, but not the church in Milan. What should she do?Augustine, then a catechumen, had no idea; so he put the question to his bishop, Ambrose.“[W]hatever church you come to, conform to its custom,” said Ambrose. Even as a bishop he said that he observed the same rule (Let … [Read more...]


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