Embodying the Word

How is it that the word becomes flesh?  We may find some help toward an answer in a post at the New Yorker in which Brad Leithauser reflects on the importance of memorizing poetry, even in an age of smart phones and instant Google access.  We should memorize poetry, he concludes, because doing so is a way of making the words of poetry a part of the body. The best argument for verse memorization may be that it provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety: yo … [Read more...]

Why Does God Need the Church?

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Theologian Gerhard Lohfink asks a provocative question: “Does God need the church?”  In his book titled with that question, he answers with a resounding “yes!”  The church, he argues, is essential to God’s mission and work in the world.  But for those of us sitting in many churches on Sunday morning it is hard to see how God might need us.  We look around at our half empty pews and we see a dying church, an aging congregation.  Then we go to a vestry meeting and look at our church budget where we … [Read more...]

Running is Spiritual (Emergent Reactions)

“Running is spiritual” Doug Pagitt argued during his six minute, forty second Pecha Kucha talk at the Emergent gathering last weekend. For such a short talk, it has stuck with me more than any part of the hour long lectures.  It stuck because it resonated deeply—it said what I’ve also been experiencing.Pagitt gave the presentation wearing a can’t-miss-it orange Nike shirt that said in big letters “Running Sucks.”  He then told the story of how he started running, like most of us, because he w … [Read more...]

Church as Counterpublic? (Emergent Reactions)

For the past couple of days I've been listening to Phyllis Tickle and her friends explore the landscape of Emergence Christianity.  There was much provocation, a lot of questions asked and answered, and some deep and meaningful insights that I'll be carrying with me for at least the coming weeks, if not longer.  For the next few days I'll be unpacking some of my thoughts in response to the conference as I work through them.  Today's post, then, is sort of the first in a series.I'm not an Em … [Read more...]

In Praise of Single Function Devices

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I’ve been wearing a watch recently.  It’s nice—it tells me the time.  I’ve also been carrying a pocket calendar.  It has dates with space to put in appointments and a few blank pages for notes.  I also have a phone I’ve been using.  It has internet access if I absolutely need it, but a painful pared down version—it is not “smart.”  I text now only for critical messages, my phone's non-QWERT keyboard is too cumbersome.Shortly before Christmas my iPhone broke, so I pulled an old phone from my d … [Read more...]

Stories of Heroic Nonviolence (or No Hero with a Gun)

Many of the responses to the Sandy Hook shootings, with their suggestions of armed guards and defensive weapons, played upon a common theme in the stories we tell about heroes.  Heroes in the American mind don’t die, they kill, or if they do die they do so while killing the bad guys.  This is comic book fair and it is also the vision put forward in most our movies and television shows.  When NRA’s Wayne LaPierre said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he was me … [Read more...]

Relevant Idols

The church is meant to be an icon--a picture of what divine love looks like that sparks a vision beyond itself.  The opposite of an icon is an idol.  An idol takes an experience of divine love and tries to codify it, make it concrete and turn it into solid, trustworthy, but lifeless, stone.There's a lot of talk in Christian circles about the decline of church in America.  The number of people in the pews are declining and the outlook for many denominations is not good.  In response many ask, … [Read more...]

Knowing Names

This morning I began a bird list for 2013.  I went to a nearby park, listened and watched through the cold fog, and started to tick off the birds I saw: White-throated Sparrow, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Dark-eyed Junco.  So far I've seen twenty species--by the end of the year I hope to have seen over two hundred.I didn't always birdwatch and so I didn't always know the names of the birds I saw.  There were blue birds, red birds, small birds, and big bi … [Read more...]

How to Turn a Cheek

On Wednesday Robert Seigel gave a sharp interview with Richard Land, director of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In the interview where he advocates getting rid of gun free zones because "Law-abiding citizens who are armed are the best last ditch defense against the kind of horror that we've just experienced," Seigel has to press what should be Land's central concern--the Christian response be to such a shooting. SIEGEL: What's the New Testament j … [Read more...]

The Old Story Made Real and New

Bethlehem, we often forget, is a real place where people are still born and grow up and go to work and die.  It is a city in Palestine, and like it was in Jesus' day, it is occupied and controlled in large part by a foreign power.  Last year a group from St. Paul's Church in Auckland, New Zealand created a tremendous video that reminds us of the place--real, physical and historical--where Christ was born.  It is by looking at that place, with its current concerns and problems, that we come to se … [Read more...]


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