Jottings from Assisi on Jon Sweeney’s When Saint Francis Saved the Church

assisi

I read this book about St. Francis of Assisi all wrong.I should have read chapter five, Through Personal Poverty, in the Piazza del Vescovado, where St. Francis stripped himself naked and defiantly returned the clothes he had taken (read: stolen) from his father’s shop to distribute them to the poor. Instead, I read chapter five--on poverty--in the basilica of St. Francis, whose grandeur might have embarrassed him, according to Sweeney.I should have read chapter six, By Developing a New S … [Read more...]

Ebola, Faith, and Friends of Ours

Hawthornes

Yesterday, Anderson Cooper interviewed Nancy Writebol and her husband. Nancy is an American ebola survivor and a missionary, with her husband, in Africa. Her interview is moving--full of realism, compassion, and faith.This interview reminded me of another missionary couple--also with SIM--we've known for more than thirty years. I describe Steve and Mary Hawthorne on page 71 of Inspired: the Holy Spirit and the Mind of Faith. I think you should know them, too, because they share a faith with N … [Read more...]

Mark Driscoll Needs a Prophet of His Own

driscoll

For thirteen years, I've worked at a college that lies a stone's throw from Mars Hill Church, where Mark Driscoll holds court. Now that court is crumbling amidst charges of financial impropriety and abuse of power.Driscoll has said he's changing. No more social media. No more funneling funds to become a best-selling author. No more "angry young prophet.” More accountability to trusted friends.The first three suggestions are absolutely necessary. It's the fourth suggestion--more a … [Read more...]

A Wee Little Man and a Big Insight

zaccheus

Last weekend Priscilla and I flew to Dallas to teach in an organization called United Methodist Women. We’d written the 2014 spiritual growth study, How Is It with Your Soul?, so they asked us to teach. We had a wonderful time with a remarkable group of people who share an equal amount of hunger for scripture and for justice.I arrived late. Priscilla and I were scheduled to leave at 6:45 AM on Thursday, but it was not to be. Jeremy graduated on Father’s Day, and our whole family, one by one, … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Antics and the Church in Antioch: Reflections on Generosity

mercedes benz

Last Saturday, my wife and daughter held a garage sale. I wasn’t there because I went with my son to his college orientation. When I arrived home, Priscilla couldn’t wait to tell me this story.Mid-morning a woman drove up in a late model black Mercedes Benz. She nosed around then offered Priscilla and Chloe a quarter—that’s twenty-five cents—for a brand new bulletin board they had priced at a buck. In the spirit of garage sales, Priscilla countered, “50 cents!” The woman hesitated then packed … [Read more...]

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 55.Rather t … [Read more...]