The reason we endure trials

Bricks

The other day my son was going on about bricks. He had seen a documentary and was eager to report that firing bricks in a kiln made a stronger product than merely drying them in the sun.My mind jumped to a stretch I spent in Uganda. Megan and I saw giant stacks of bricks along the roadside most everywhere we drove. To make them locals molded sloppy wet clay and set the shapes out to dry. Next they arranged a large makeshift kiln from the dry bricks, crammed it with wood, and set the fuel on … [Read more...]

Fifty Shades of Let’s Get Serious

Fifty Shades of Grey

E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey sold over 10 million copies in its first six weeks here in the U.S., according to the publisher.If you're close to the publishing business, you know that number is high enough to induce acute tachycardia. Precious few books ever sell such quantities. But this book and its companion volumes are hardly precious, and there are some serious reasons to be concerned about the phenomenon.I've now read several exchanges among Christians in the blogosphere and on … [Read more...]

Fighting Downton Abbey passions

Matthew and Mary

At the dawn of the surprise-hit series Downton Abbey Mary Crawley has a momentary and tragic fling with a guest staying at her family's estate. Opportunity presents in the form of the dashing Turkish envoy, Kemal Pamuk. Lust prevails, and her moral failure and the threat of its scandalous exposure form a good bit of the dramatic pulse that drives the story forward … [Read more...]

Testing in the Christian life

MforMarcus, Flickr

My son Fionn held up two toy cars. "Which one is faster?" he asked. I gave him my answer and he said, "No. Neither is faster. It depends on who is driving them." Trick question. I confess to being a little irritated in that moment by this answer."Then why ask me which one?" I asked.Oblivious to my irritation, Fionn answered with a question: "What's the point of a test if you don't learn something?"That's an interesting answer. We are used to thinking of tests as a way to measure what … [Read more...]

Less happiness, more joy

Less happiness and more joy

There has been a lot of serious psychological and neurobiological research on happiness in recent years, sussing out and measuring its elusive components. The findings are occasionally popularized for lifestyle magazines and newspapers; though if you desire to really stay abreast you can subscribe to peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journals on the field.I’m sure some of this works is quite good and helpful, but I’m also pretty sure that we’re too focused on happiness, particularly at the popu … [Read more...]

The slow-drip destruction of sin

One drop at a time

The Christian walk is strewn with snares and pitfalls, many of which are placed in our way by the enemy. “No one who has experienced the conflicts of the inner man,” says Abbot Serenus, a fourth century desert father, “can doubt that our foes are continually lying in wait for us.” The devil wants us to fail and fall.But the devil has little power that we do not cede to him. As Serenus says, the devil can only encourage us to do evil, not force us. “[N]o one can be deceived by the devil but one … [Read more...]

No progress without resistance

No Progress Without Resistance

"Lot of things can get in the way when you're tryin' to do what’s right." —Bob DylanNobody enjoys difficulty. No one likes opposition. No one appreciates pain. But they are necessary to progress. You can see it in business; competition and problem-solving drive innovation. You can see it in history; the great creeds of the Christian faith developed to refute heretics. The truth is that if you’re paying attention, you can see just about anywhere you look.I recently heard a sermon by Fr. Patri … [Read more...]


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