What Is Faith? [Questions That Haunt]

In case you missed it over the weekend (since I missed my Friday deadline), on Sunday I posted my response to last week’s question, in which I argued that God is not omniscient in the way that most people think God is.

This week’s question comes from Steve, a pastor. I know that a lot of reader of this blog struggle with “faith” and “belief,” and that many of us have one foot in faith and one foot out. So it’s probably a good challenge for us to step away from the recent theological questions and ask a more personal, existential question. Steve asks, [Read more…]

The Spirituality of Gardening [Christine Sine]

I’m taking a week away from the blog, and I’ve asked some of my friends to fill in for me. Today’s post is by Christine Sine. Christine is a physician and a spiritual director, and she and her husband, Tom, run Mustard Seed Associates. But Christine and I have really hit it off over our love of gardening. Snow is still thick here in Minnesota, but it’s time for me to order my seeds. Maybe like me, your mind has already turned to Spring. Christine’s has!

Its garden season here in the Pacific Northwest and my front porch is bulging with lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and other seedlings waiting to go in the ground. Next week I will start over a hundred tomato plants and the squash and peppers won’t be far behind. Like millions of others throughout the Western world, we have started growing our own vegetables and now provide around 40% of what we eat.

I have so enjoyed watching the growth of the community garden movement. Gardens have sprung up on vacant lots, in parking strips and behind church buildings. Congregations have enthusiastically embraced the need to grow produce, often to help provision food banks and ministries to the poor.

Unfortunately there is often a total disconnect between what happens in the garden and worship inside the building. Yet it seems to me that gardening is one of the most profound acts of worship we can engage in. God’s first act after completing creation was to plant a garden – the garden of Eden. And in the first sighting of Jesus after the resurrection he is mistaken by Mary Magdalene for the gardener because that is precisely what he is – the gardener of the new creation.

So much of our garden activity is performed kneeling, in the position of prayer and supplication. I kneel to weed, to plant and to harvest and in this position often find myself meditating and praying. If I am troubled by some seemingly insurmountable problem, there is no better place to thrash it out than on my knees in the garden. If I am irritable or depressed, there is no better therapy than weeding.

[Read more…]

Roxy on Advent

I’ve been working on an answer to Rob’s question about whether he’s a Christian or not. It’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer — it’s personal, it affects a person, and I’m struggling with it. I’ve also had a trying day personally, so I have to put Rob’s question aside for the rest of today.

Instead, I offer you some thoughts from Roxy, with whom I traveled to Sri Lanka. She’s got some beautifully honest thoughts on not sleepwalking through Advent: [Read more…]

Benefit of the Doubt: A Christian Virtue

I’m not going to blog any more about what happened around here last week, at least not for a while. But this thought did occur to me over the weekend:

I nominate benefit of the doubt as a Christian virtue.

In this era in which the communication between those of us who’ve never personally met is increasing exponentially every year, we are more than ever confronted with the ideas and opinions of others. I submit the the Christian posture toward the other should always be the benefit of the doubt that the other has beneficent ends.

Whaddya say, can we commit to giving one another the benefit of the doubt?