Sinéad O’Connor, Anne Lamott, and the many names of God

Sinéad O’Connor is bringing the gospel to the Lincoln Center Festival, presenting a set of spiritual songs tonight and Saturday.If her public statements are anything to go by, she's pretty excited about the opportunity. "In terms of maintaining my relationship with the Holy Spirit," she said, "that's going to be the biggest moment of my life, to be able to stand there and thank it."It?That nondescript, divine presenceDoing religious music well is a big deal to O'Connor, who sees l … [Read more...]

The monk who wanted to live in the sky

I am utterly captivated by this story. In the country of Georgia stands a 140-foot rock pillar, crowned with a small hermitage. Hermits have lived atop the Katskhi Pillar in ages past, doing little more than praying for the life of the world. But no one has lived there in 600 years. That might change someday soon. Watch this:Fr. Maxim has fixated on living atop Katskhi Pillar since he was a boy, something that is undoubtedly hard for most of us to appreciate. He's been painstakingly … [Read more...]

Want to see how un-Christlike you are? Try raising kids

If you're looking for a gauge to measure how un-Christlike you are, try raising kids. At least that works pretty well for me.In The Four Loves C.S. Lewis speaks of "the bad manners of parents to children." Ahem. Guilty.The other day I spoke harshly to my son. An hour later he was rude, and Megan corrected him. "In our home we honor each other with our words," she told him. And I had to interrupt and apologize right there, lest I make her a hypocrite. I had not honored my son in my … [Read more...]

Porn and the contemplative life

They don't mix, if you're looking for the answer up front. There are perhaps several reasons for this, but Alain de Botton offers one in The Wall Street Journal worth considering.Certain kinds of suffering are beneficial, even necessary for human flourishing, he says, particularly struggling through periods of anxiety and boredom.Porn diverts us from those struggles. "Our anxious moods are genuine but confused signals that something is amiss," he says, "and so they need to be listened … [Read more...]

Christians under attack in Syria, Iran, N. Korea

"O Lord . . . for thy sake I bear reproach." --Jeremiah 15.15An Algerian Christian faces five years in prison for the crime of sharing his faith with a Muslim. Authorities claim that Karim Siaghi insulted Mohammad, something he denies.His appeal is being heard in Oran, a costal city just 600 miles away from where Augustine once presided as bishop. There has been a lot of history a between that moment and this, much of it going against Christians, but for me that geographic realization … [Read more...]

There’s no such thing as private prayer

Modern Christians have a tendency to view their prayer life as a private matter. But as I discovered while researching my book Lifted by Angels, our counterparts in the early church assumed the active participation of angels in believers’ prayer lives. “[T]he angel of each of us prays alongside us,” wrote the third-century theologian Origen in his primer on prayer. How do we know when angels are present? Feelings of comfort, humility, and joy indicate their presence. When those feelings c … [Read more...]

The sound of (blessed) silence

How often do we listen for God, hear the thoughts of our hearts, reflect, and pray?Our days are hurried, and that's problem enough. But noise is a real problem too. I'll speak for myself here -- you'll have to weigh how much of an issue this is for you -- but noise for me is nearly constant.My car stereo plays jazz, rock, folk, classical, audio books, and podcasts, but it always plays. My iPhone often doubles as a Spotify and Pandora jukebox when I'm not talking, and my iPod spins the … [Read more...]