I Dare You! A pre-Lenten Challenge

seattle

Though they roll their eyes, I love to tell my kids about the Heidi Bowl. I was 12 at the time—November 17, 1968. The Oakland Raiders were playing the Jets--my team--with Broadway Joe Namath at the helm. At 7 PM, with a minute left, the Jets ahead 32-29, NBC cut away to the film Heidi. During that minute, the Oakland Raiders scored two touchdowns and beat the Jets 43-32. (Crazy, I know, but I had it backwards until I just looked it up on Wikipedia; I could have sworn the Jets won! Wow, am I a l … [Read more...]

Life After a Shooting: The Metamorphosis of a College Campus

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Recently, I published this essay at Huffington Post. I republish it here, in case you haven't read it. It is June 5th, 2014, a Thursday night, 7 PM. My daughter and I walk onto campus. We are numb. The auditorium is packed, so we walk along the side row to the front stage, where we sit, facing out, peering over an altar of candles, at a sea of faces. They are numb, too. Just hours earlier, a shooting took place on our campus, and we have gathered to pray, to grieve, to grapple. We … [Read more...]

Before Bethlehem

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The joke is told about a priest, Father Murphy, and little Eileen O’Connell, a third-grader in his catechism class. Father Murphy was explaining one day that Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. Jesus was born a Jew, lived a Jewish life, and died a Jew. The implacable, red-haired Eileen O’Connell shoved her freckled arm into the air and shook it violently. “Yes, Eileen,” the unflappable priest responded, “What is it?” “Well, Jesus may have been a Jew, Father Murphy, but his mother was a Catholic!”* … [Read more...]

Part Two of the Curious Case of the “Kick Ass” Messiah

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Last week, I gave Christian Piatt a hard time. Why? Because I thought he oversimplified the world of Jesus. As Christian put it, in his typically vivid way, Jesus offered salvation, but “not in the way they [the Jews] had expected. They longed for a conqueror to ride in, kick ass, and take names, but instead he arrived as the Suffering Servant” (page 47).The Jews wanted a “kick ass” messiah, but Jesus came as a suffering servant.This isn’t true.If this isn’t true, then what is? Well, … [Read more...]

The Curious Case of the “Kick Ass” Messiah

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Don't be surprised if, during Advent, you hear a sermon that goes something like this: The Jews wanted a political messiah, but Jesus brought a peaceable kingdom.The Jews wanted someone to destroy Rome, but Jesus came to make peace.The Jews wanted a military ruler, but Jesus inaugurated a spiritual reign. I’ve heard this formula so many times that I’ve developed a gag reflex to it. Yet it keeps coming up. I was reading Christian Piatt’s Postchristian, for example, and came across this s … [Read more...]

You’re Welcome

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Some places I just want to pass through.Toll booths, for instance. Call me predictable, but I’ve never had a hankering to hold onto my money, incline my seat back, and sit under the neon lights of a toll booth.Dental chairs, too. Not my style to sit there longer than I have too, even with those nifty spittle-dotted sunglasses on. (I’ve tried to get my dentist to offer mani-pedis during cleaning visits, but he won’t bite.)Drivers’ license offices don’t invite me to settle into those pl … [Read more...]


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