Best Armed and Most Violent

American inventor Dr. Richard Gatling patented his most famous invention in 1862. The Gatling gun was the first rapid-fire weapon. Ironically, Gatling wrote that he created it to reduce the size of armies and thus reduce the number of deaths by combat and disease, and to show how futile war is. The tragic irony of [Read More…]

Lord’s Prayer

In worship around our place, we have been praying a contemporary version of the “Lord’s Prayer” from the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer, which interprets it this way: Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven: [Read More…]

President’s Day

Today is President’s Day in the United States. When I was growing up we remembered the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but now it is just another reason for some people to get a day off and another excuse for sales. This is not surprising in a country in which we celebrate the [Read More…]

St. Valentine

Today is, of course, Valentine’s Day. In the wonderful book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, the preface to this day’s prayers reminds us: A Christian priest in Rome (d.269), Valentine was known for assisting Christians persecuted under Claudius II. After being caught marrying Christian couples and helping Christians escape persecution, Valentine was arrested [Read More…]

Race Riot of 1908

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established on this date in 1909. This followed a race riot in Springfield, Illinois. In the rioting, a crowd of 5-10,000 white men destroyed 35 black-owned businesses before moving on to burn and destroy homes in the predominantly African-American part of town. By this [Read More…]

Civil Regression

I am depressed. I have spent four decades in the South fighting for civil rights, equality, social justice, compassion for the poor, inclusion, welcoming immigrants, etc. Okay, so I could have moved to a “blue state” at any time, but I’ve stayed. I’ve stayed, and I’ve not been silent. (I know you can’t imagine me [Read More…]

Salt and Light Under the Covers

Yesterday, the assigned Gospel lesson included the passage “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” I had many important things to say, but, afterwards, the only thing people remembered was a prayer that I shared that I thought they might want to pray. You’ve probably heard it before. [Read More…]

Permission to Experience

During Epiphany this year, we have been singing that little John Bell chorus “Come and Fill our Hearts.” Like the music of Taizé and some pieces of contemporary music, it is designed to be sung again and again until our left brain can sing it without words or thinking, freeing up our right brain (or [Read More…]

Understanding Baptism

After church on Sunday, I talked with a mother who wants to schedule her son’s baptism. He is not an infant and would be taking the vows for himself. I told the mother that I would want to talk to him about what he was doing, and she asked how long we would need. It [Read More…]

Soul Force

In his book, Strength to Love, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King writes about the bold courage and strength that Jesus is trying to call us to in the Sermon on the Mount. Nonviolent resistance is not timid cowardice. Indeed, it may be the most courageous position we can take. Dr. King writes: We shall match [Read More…]