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

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My wardrobe (if you could call it that) is, well, outdated, so Priscilla and I took the plunge and went to Nordstrom, where a guy named Nick helped me figure out what to do.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 bro … [Read more...]

An Ambiguous Little Trickle of the Holy Spirit

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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 ne … [Read more...]

Simeon’s Song and the Clarity of Christmas

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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 brings … [Read more...]

Thankful Thanksgiving, Black and Blue Saints

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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 followers … [Read more...]

The Spirit & the Dreamer

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On Wednesday night, my Hebrew class translated Genesis 41—the dead center of the story of Joseph. The word plays in Hebrew are hilarious and skilled, the storyline suspenseful yet playful. In one verse, the seven scrawny cows of Pharaoh’s dream devour seven pleasantly plump cows, but you can’t tell because the skinny cows come to "the innards” (kidneys, livers, tripe—food thought to be delicacies by everyone but me during my Cambridge days), gobble them up, and stay scrawny. As one student puzzle … [Read more...]

Passing on the Faith in a Makeshift Choir Stall

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Uncle Willie had a mellifluous voice. On Sunday mornings he could be relied on to fill our little church with sweet tones, while the rest of us screeched old, familiar gospel hymns with grainy and gritty voices, accented by the harsh sincerity of New Yorkers. Uncle Willie was old—really old, not just old from the perspective of a young boy. And how Uncle Willie could sing—he single-handedly carried our choir of six. Uncle Willie could laugh with me, as if he too were twelve years old, as we sha … [Read more...]