The Hygiene Hypothesis: How fear and anxiety are creating a toxic faith

Every March I'm reminded of the reality that allergies are a big deal in our culture.  This is the season when people are carrying around inhalers, getting shots, taking drugs, and drinking all kinds of juices in order to combat their body's own overreaction to harmless substances.  This time of year it's pollen, but for some it's not just pollen; nuts, animal hair, dust, milk, wheat, year around.  Yuk.This article explains the theory that allergies are on the rise because of our obsession wi … [Read more...]

Torn and Tattered: mutual brokenness as the basis of friendship

"I needed to be back on track. Pity is the last thing you need. Pity is hopeless. Pity is what someone gives you because he is afraid to take care of you. I didn’t need that", said Phillipe regarding why, in spite of 90 highly qualified applicants, he hired an ex-con with no experience to be his care giver after his paragliding accident which left him a quadriplegic.  The story of his relationship with his caregiver, Abdel, nicknamed Driss, is explored in the marvelous movie "Intouchables", pr … [Read more...]

Redeem Everything: Learning from St. Patrick

As the weekend of green beer and cabbage approaches, it's appropriate to consider the rich heritage most of enjoy without even knowing it, passed down from the Celtic Christian communities of Ireland and Scotland during the dark ages.  You can learn about through a favorite book of mine, "How the Irish Saved Civilization", whose thesis is that when the Roman empire collapsed and the west was plunged into centuries of barbarism and fear, the bastions of sanity were the Celtic monasteries.  This i … [Read more...]

Keeping on…because life is like snow; and rain

it was there, but I haven't seen it since November

You're in a relationship with a particularly annoying family member or coworker.  You're doing your job at work, but nobody seems to appreciate or notice, even when you go the extra mile.  You're trying to feast on Christ (like I speak of here), as you seeking to develop some habits of Bible reading or prayer, but most of these meetings your mind is elsewhere, because the Bible is, let's face it, hard to understand.   You're exercising and eating right, and have been at it now for, let's say, tw … [Read more...]

The best question to ask when you are overwhelmed and stressed

Standing at the base of something as big as Mt. Rainier can seem overwhelming and impossible, but lessons learned there can help us navigate the realities of life and leadership because you don't climb a mountain with a leap; you climb it step by step.  Here's what I mean:Taxes.  Job stress.  Family dysfunctions.  Broken appliances.  Big decisions.  Illness.  Car problems.  Commuting stress.  World news.  The sum of all this is stress, and unless it's dealt with the stress itself will become … [Read more...]

Powers and World Forces: Sugar, Salt, Fat, Coke, Kellogs, Kraft, Coke.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness...." Ephesians 6:12This story on NPR caught my attention yesterday because it came just as I was doing something I rarely do anymore:  stuffing my face with chicken McNuggets from McDonalds while I was driving home from a study day in the mountains.  It wasn't the best of days.  Forgetting the computer cord meant was I done studying (or at least writing my sermon) earlier than I … [Read more...]

Quitting Religion for Lent?

"I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your assemblies.  Even though you offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offering of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them"  Amos the prophetIt happens to all of us at times;  Events and moments which, in better times, would be pregnant with joy and meaning, are reduced to obligations.  "Off to church with you" your mind says, on a Sunday morning, and so there you go.  Singing; che … [Read more...]

If you fail at falling, you’ll fail at everything.

Eric Fromm, in his classic "The Art of Loving", writes that a healthy environment for growing up would include parents who, between them, would receive both an unconditional love and a very conditional and demanding love.  That sounds controversial of course, and probably is.  But I wonder if there isn't some merit in thinking about it a bit before dismissing it outright.  After all, Jesus, we're told, was full of grace and truth.  He told his followers that they needed to be perfect, and the roa … [Read more...]


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