Doves and Kisses–A Reading on Betrayal

Judas betrayal

I sat down this morning to read Psalm 55: "Oh, that I had wings like a dove. I'd fly away and be at rest." But it's holy week, with Maundy Thursday tomorrow--Judas Iscariot's big day--so I couldn't read Psalm 55 without one eye trained on Jesus' betrayal. As I read Psalm 55, I couldn't shake the rhythm of betrayal in the gospel of Mark. So I turned from Psalm 55 to the gospel of Mark. As I followed the story of Jesus and Judas, I couldn't help but trace the movement of Psalm … [Read more...]

Intimacy with God and a Blindfolded Boy

Vineyard

After the evening’s lecture, I trundled off to the men’s room. When I returned, not five minutes later, nearly everyone had gathered at the front of the room. People were praying for each other, laying hands on each other, talking quietly with each other, while a pianist played riffs lightly in the background. This is the quintessence of the Vineyard movement, which began under the leadership of John Wimber in the 1970s. It’s a strange—and inviting—mixture of Pentecostal and Quaker … [Read more...]

Asses to Ashes: How to Rescue the Rest of Lent

gravestone beloved

We're more than halfway through Lent. It began on Ash Wednesday, March 5th. It ends on Thursday, April 17th. And how's that self-denial going? Have you kept up your Lenten pledge? You know what I mean. Giving up chocolate was the choice for Lent among the Holy Family Catholic school kids I grew up with in Levittown, New York, in the 60s. This year, one of our Seattle Pacific University students has given up his cell phone for Lent. A few years ago, our daughter Chloe gave away one piece of … [Read more...]

Cars, Planes, and Gospel Grenades: the Technological Tactics of Women Evangelists

Florence Crawford

Last week, I asked Priscilla Pope-Levison, author of Building the Old Time Religion: Women Evangelists in the Progressive Era (NYU Press, 2014) to contribute a post for Women's History Month. Here is her second post, a riveting account of the entrepreneurial spirit of Florence Crawford, whose evangelistic association is alive and well today. ________________ I thought I’d seen it all: Maria Woodworth-Etter, who fell into forty-five minute trances with her right arm raised above her head, … [Read more...]

Making America Christian: a forgotten history

Evangeline Booth

It's Women's History Month, so I've asked Priscilla Pope-Levison, author of the new book, Building the Old Time Religion: Women Evangelists in the Progressive Era (NYU Press, 2014) to contribute a couple of important posts. (I just happen to have an in with her!) Here is her first post, with a photo of Evangeline Booth, who was for 30 years commander of the Salvation Army in the USA. _________________ Visit dusty archives around the country, even into Canada, and you’ll discover a slew … [Read more...]

Some Pretty Good Advice from Ecclesiastes for Valentine’s–and Every Other–Day

old couple

I just wished a faculty colleague Happy Valentine’s Day and told him, as I put it, “I’m writing exams, but at least I’m doing it across the kitchen table from the woman I hold dear.” That made me think about living in the moment. About living into the moment. Yesterday, I taught on Wisdom Literature. Proverbs. Ecclesiastes. Job. Song of Songs. We talked about how the Teacher (the main figure in Ecclesiastes) tears apart cheap, simple, and ultimately unsustainable formulas. “A … [Read more...]

My Dad’s Old Purple Dinosaur Tie and the Creation-evolution Debate

DSC_0567

My wardrobe (if you could call it that) is, well, outdated, so Priscilla and I took the plunge and went to Nordstrom, where a guy named Nick helped me figure out what to do. I brought old slacks, old sports jackets, and about a dozen old ties. Natty Nick went nuts. He loved the old ties—silk ones that belonged to my dad, a gray knit one, paisleys in purple and light blue. Natty Nordstrom Nick even liked my purple dinosaur tie. No, not Barney, but a purple tie with brontosauruses—or is it … [Read more...]

An Ambiguous Little Trickle of the Holy Spirit

Cover with words

A snippet of my latest book, Inspired: the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Faith, to whet your appetite for more. Priscilla and I bought our first house in a sketchy corner of Kansas City, about a mile or two from the seminary where I taught at the time. It was a big old house with a grandiose stone front porch, rich wooden beams, and small crystal chandeliers. We had failed to notice that the electricity was outmoded, the basement walls porous, the roof leaking, a ceiling sagging, and the … [Read more...]

Simeon’s Song and the Clarity of Christmas

Simeon Rembrandt

We are obsessed with power, but the story of Jesus begins in the corridors of powerlessness—in the Jewish temple, though not among the hustle of priests and the din of the Pharisees’ discussion of Torah, but at the seemingly insignificant fringes of Jewish life, in the world of widows and old men. The scene is prompted by the appearance of peasant parents from Galilee who are so poor they can't afford the offering of sheep for purification after the mother gives birth; this peasant couple … [Read more...]

Thankful Thanksgiving, Black and Blue Saints

bread and wine

The Greek word, eucharistia, from which we get the English word, eucharist—the breaking of bread and drinking of wine—means, at its core, thanksgiving. Today, as you eat and drink, remember that you are participating in a sacred feast. Every meal is a eucharist—a cause to give thanks—today, especially. The lines between sacred and secular, between mere food and sacred feast, are blurred in our earliest Christian records. Shortly after Pentecost, the birth of the church, the earliest … [Read more...]