Zero Tolerance and the Kingdom of Heaven

I recently became involved in a situation in the schools here where a student rightfully deserved disciplinary action for an inappropriate behavior. Everyone, parents, teachers, administrators, even the student, agreed the behavior was wrong. Everyone agreed that there needed to be connection between action and reaction. But there the agreement ended. The parent and I both felt the context had not been fully taken into account, that the context itself provided significant mitigating factors and that the disciplinary action levied,… Read more

“A Better Life?” or “A Coddled Life?”

“We want a better life for our children.” I wonder how many times this phrase has been spoken by the various political candidates as the presidential race goes into hyper-speed. Each time, I also wonder what that means. I know I have said the same thing—I too want a better life for my children. Or at least I say I do. But what is it that I want to be better? If it means a safer, more physically comfortable one,… Read more

Lies or Truths: Hagiography and the Prosperity Gospel

There is a form of literature called “hagiography.” Somewhat like a biography, it is the telling of the story of a person’s life that deliberately accentuates his or her sainthood, or special gift of goodness and closeness to God. That kind of writing idealizes a person. No one can tell the full story of someone in a biography, but the hagiography intentionally picks and usually exaggerates the supernatural connection and decisions and accomplishments that seem beyond those that most normal… Read more

Homework and Grace: The “Do-Over”

School has started and we’ve all seen much buzz about the Dallas Independent School District’s new grading policy. My first reaction, like so many others, was simply one of horror. It looked like school administrators were removing any incentive for students to complete homework on time—or even bother to turn it in–or study for tests the first time around, knowing they could take them later without grade penalty or other repercussions. Later, however, I took the time to read the… Read more

Church At It’s Best: Transition Moments and True Grace

Why bother with church? Why take the time to get involved in something that seems to have little practical value, takes up time, requests your contributions, and asks you to offer worship and praise and adoration to a Supreme Being whom you cannot see or touch and who often seems confusing and invisible? Well, I can think of dozens of reasons for all people to engage in the discipline of good faith development, but there is one that has particularly… Read more

The Holy Meal, the Family Meal

I recently heard about a movie named “Kids” where, according to the reviewer, “a band of teen-agers forages for sex, drugs, and booze on New York City streets.” Daily, the kids drank and smoked, and grabbed the always available fast food. The young people portrayed in this movie were apparently not an underprivileged group. Money was freely available. What they didn’t have, and what particularly troubled the reviewer, was the experience of regularly sitting down to a family meal. Meals… Read more

The Courage to be Light

I learned earlier this week about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s death and offered prayers of gratefulness that such a man of courage and integrity could emerge from the corrupt regime of the former Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin’s reign of terror. Solzhenitsyn fought in WWII as a Soviet Officer, and was held in high regard by his fellow officers. However, he, as did thousands and perhaps millions of others, landed in one of the many prison camps set up by Stalin. Solzhenitsyn,… Read more

In the Midst of Sorrow

“In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help?” Those are the words that begin a Service of Committal, the time after death when the loved one is either buried or cremated. “In the midst of life, we are in death.” How true those words are, first written in a ninth century prayer book. So where does our help come from? The service goes on to read, “Our help is in the name of… Read more

Still Drugging Our Children

A few months ago, I wrote about my concern that normal teen-aged rebellion is now being considered a mental illness to be treated with drugs that would make youth more compliant. In a recent news release, the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that children as young as eight start routinely being given cholesterol-lowering drugs, and that babies as young as one year old be switched over to lowfat milk. By the way, they also note this: “The academy has… Read more

Afflict the Comfortable

“Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That phrase often serves as a succinct job description for those who serve as church pastors. The “comfort the afflicted” part is easy to understand. But the “afflict the comfortable” part carries complex implications. One of which is that most pastors could easily be considered “comfortable” so any affliction we think we are to put upon others should rightly land in our own laps as well. While the Bible abounds with words of… Read more

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