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...]

Where Our Treasure Is

Not long ago my wife had a conversation with a financial adviser   She'd worked for many years at a large non-profit and they'd been putting money aside for her in a 401(b) (the non-profit version of a 401(k)).  She hadn't paid much attention--statements came, the account kept growing.  Then she left that work to spend more time with our daughter and she started getting letters that said that it was time for her to find someplace else to put her money--an IRA, etc.The trouble is that we're th … [Read more...]

Training in Christianity

Several years ago I started doing triathlons.  It was a completely new sport, with lots of challenges, but I was ready to get in shape and this seemed like a good way to do it.  I signed up for a sprint triathlon and found a training plan online to get me to the finish line.  Since that time I’ve used many trainging plans and mixed and matched them as I’ve come to understand how the different elements are meant to interact in creating more endurance, more speed, greater aerobic capacity, etc.  Th … [Read more...]

Cell Phone Free

Thursday night my cell phone died.  I'll get it repaired or replaced and be back and connected, but for now I walk around without the buzz of emails or texts or the ring of the occasional call.  Yesterday because of several meetings and travel I went until three o'clock before checking email and I didn't actually miss anything critical or important.  This is the case most days and yet I want to know what's in my inbox every fifteen minutes.  This is a kind of sickness and it permeates our soc … [Read more...]

St. Nicholas and a Season for Sledgehammers

St_Nicholas_Paleh

I'm considering a war on Christmas.  Not because I don't enjoy Christmas trees and gifts and the time spent with family, not because I'm against a religious holiday playing large on a national scale.  I'm increasingly against Christmas because I love it--this is a sort of kill it to save it strategy.In a recent survey 45% of Americans said they would rather skip Christmas.  Why?  Because of the financial and personal stress.  Being overwhelmed with shopping and economies of obligation is no w … [Read more...]

Fast Day

Today try fasting from all food or caloric drinks, but also try to fast from busyness.  A day of fasting is a day for quiet and contemplation--a kind of rest day for the body and mind.  In this time of frantic holiday life it is a good time to move into this kind of rest. … [Read more...]


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