Bishop as Composer

The above is a setting of the Psalms known as the “songs of ascent” (or similar titles), by Russian Orthodox bishop and composer Hilarion Alfeyev. Below is his setting of St. Matthew’s Passion. And here is his Christmas Oratorio:     He is also the author of numerous books…   [Read more…]

Netanyahu vs. Jesus

There is a long history of uncritical support for Israel among American conservative Evangelicals. Somehow the fact that the prophets criticized ancient Israel for wrongdoing, and that the Bible depicts obedience to God as essential to possessing the land, is lost on them. But perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement will change this. Because now it is not [Read More…]

A Nativity Minus the Migrants and Middle-Easterners

The title that the above was given when I first encountered it was “A nativity scene without Jews, Arabs, Africans or refugees.” The question of where the magi came from is left out – Persia (modern day Iran), perhaps, which may or may not be considered the Middle East, depending on where one chooses to [Read More…]

Jesus’ Sermon at Ground Zero

I confess that when a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to an article about a Bible that was found fused to a piece of steel in the wreckage from the collapsed Twin Towers after 9/11, I hesitated to click, and expected it to be the kind of thing that disturbs me rather [Read More…]

The Parable of Two Sons

My church building hosts not only the American congregation Crooked Creek Baptist Church (which is itself quite diverse in interesting ways), but also two other congregations, one Hispanic and one Congolese. There have been challenges related to the differing cultural assumptions of the various groups, and that has at times led to tensions. And so I thought it [Read More…]

The Trumpitudes

Matthew Distefano crafted a parody of the Sermon on the Mount, reenvisaged as it might have gone if Donald Trump had delivered it. Click through to read it. There is no need for anyone to say “blessed are the successful” or “blessed are the rich” or “blessed are the powerful.” It is typically a given, an [Read More…]

Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, and the Synoptic Problem

Everyone is talking at the moment about the plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech by Melania Trump. Here is the evidence, in case you haven’t seen it: So that's pretty blatant, right? pic.twitter.com/EPnHME7afV — Mike Hearn (@mikehearn) July 19, 2016 One of the ironies, of course, is that many of the people who applauded the [Read More…]

The Politics of the Cross

Allan Bevere wrote the following in a recent blog post: No amount of interpretive gymnastics can soften Jesus’ words here in the Sermon on the Mount. Essentially he is saying, if you are going to follow me and love the way I insist you should love, you have to love in a way quite different [Read More…]

Church of the Beatitudes (No Guns, Please)

I was really struck by the juxtaposition of two signs on the site of the Church of the Beatitudes:   “Blessed are the Peacemakers” is one of the beatitudes. Most of the people who visit the site are Christian pilgrims. Isn’t it jarring – even to gun-loving American Christians – that visitors to the site [Read More…]

The Pilate Stone

Here is a photo of me next to a replica of the Pilate Stone, in the place where the inscription was found, Caesarea. Sites like this are also important for the way they give a different picture of Herod the Great that is crucial for those whose impression of him is shaped wholly by his [Read More…]