Go ahead, try failure! The spiritual virtue of blowing it

The economist Thomas Hazlett once told a story about the father of his high-school girlfriend. "I must say," the man boasted, "that in my dating days, I never once asked a girl out who didn't say 'yes.'"Hazlett figured the brag was calculated to make him feel insecure. But it didn't really work. "Even as a callow youth," said Hazlett, "I knew the answer to his hollow boast: He simply hadn't asked out enough girls."Hazlett's observation about his girlfriend's dad jumps past economics and … [Read more...]

The Prodigal Son and our journey back to the father’s house

Eastern and Western Christians celebrate Easter on different dates, and that means that our lenten schedules don't mesh either. Orthodox Christians are just now wading into the season, and today is the second of several pre-lenten commemorations, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. The church points us to Jesus' parable to remind us that we are all on a journey back to the father. Here's the story retold in the 1977 feature, Jesus of Nazareth:That same year, 1977, Christian musician Keith … [Read more...]

What a garden can teach us: A lenten reflection

I spent some time this weekend gardening. Megan and I recently purchased a new house -- actually, a very old one -- and it was evident that the yard work had slipped. So after mustering up the resolve, we sallied forth with clippers and rakes in hand.And what did we have to show for our efforts besides seven bags of leaves and clippings and one rather large pile of branches and scrub?As I trimmed and pruned and cut and dug, I reflected on how gardening helps us better understand certain … [Read more...]

The consolation of the cross

Orthodox Christians this week mark the Sunday of the Holy Cross.At the midpoint of Lent, the church makes a special point of placing the cross before us to console and embolden believers en route to Pascha, or Easter. Through its veneration and contemplation we gain strength for the journey, its upthrust beam like a staff of support. And yet, the cross is a tool of death. Why turn our minds and hearts toward such a dread instrument?C. S. Lewis once observed that "crucifixion" and … [Read more...]

The gangster, the cardinal, and us

In You've got Mail, Tom Hanks's character says that all of life's questions can be answered by reference to The Godfather. Not quite, but close. For instance, just ask yourself why in a supposedly Christian nation things are so decidedly unchristian. There is a scene in The Godfather: Part III which provides an answer. … [Read more...]

What’s the point of Lent?

Lent is the time we’re supposed to forgo things, right? Television, alcohol, Facebook, dessert. We’ve all heard the commonly asked question, particularly at the start of the forty-day fasting period: “What are you giving up for Lent?”But why? What’s the point? For some, it’s personal. Fasting exercises a rarely used muscle in the human will—self denial—and giving up a self-indulgent activity can help build character and possibly bring us closer to God.For others, it’s health. Inspired by … [Read more...]