The Curious Case of the “Kick Ass” Messiah

hulk

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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 ne … [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 brings … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X