Apostasy: Would You Ever Renounce Your Faith? Reflections on the Film “Silence”

Have you ever experienced such trauma in your faith that you were tempted to renounce Jesus? Have you ever wondered what it might be like for Christians undergoing severe persecution in other countries, and how they might remain resilient? What if God does not rescue them, but is silent? The newly released movie Silence raised such questions for me. Based on the book Silence (Chinmoku) by Shusaku Endo, Martin Scorsese’s film version chronicles the journey of two Portuguese Jesuit missionaries… Read more

You Get One Shot at Life. Invest Well this Year.

This is not an NRA ad advocating for more ammunition, or a stock broker commercial telling you how to invest your money. It is rather a reflection following a funeral service. What a bummer in the new year! Actually, a funeral can be a rather life-affirming rather than morbid thing to consider. Funerals, like weddings, offer us opportunities to reinvest in life and relationships with renewed vigor and purpose. Such was the case with my friend Clark Blakeman’s funeral service… Read more

Mother Mary Stands at the Crossroads of the New Year

It is fitting that the Church celebrates Mary, the Mother of Jesus, on January 1st. While Catholics and Protestants have been divided over the significance of Mary for the Church’s life, she can and does serve as a point of connection, and not simply between the old and new year. I will develop this theme of connection in what follows. Today, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, which involves honoring her as “the Holy Mother of God” (Refer… Read more

Which Will It Be on New Year’s Eve and Day—Foolish Feasting or Joyful Solemnity?

No doubt, there will be a great deal of foolish behavior on display tonight as people welcome in the New Year. For others, a joyful solemnity will mark the occasion, as people prepare for the first Sunday of 2017. For some, the solemnity includes remembrance of Jesus’ circumcision. In the church calendar, obedience marks tomorrow, as various Christian communities celebrate The Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord. The biblical background for the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord… Read more

Well, At Least It Looks As If Keith Richards Will Survive 2016.

Well, at least it looks as if Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards will survive 2016. The Internet is full of memes on Richards’ seeming invincibility. Many find it surprising given all Richards has been through—or put himself through—over the years. I’m glad Richards is still with us, regardless of whether or not he has some “Sympathy for the Devil” (the title of one of the Stones’ songs). After all, God is the grand artist and musician. If someone has a gift… Read more

Saints and Celebrities Illumine Our Path and Offer Us Mile Markers through the Seasons of Life

What is it about celebrities? Like saints, they transcend their lives, even if in the case of some celebrities, their lives lack saintliness. The week following Christmas, as part of Christmastide, many of us celebrate and remember saints of old, like St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, St. John the Apostle, and on January 1st, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This week, we also come to terms with the passing of celebrities, whose lives remain with us in our passing of time. Like celebrities,… Read more

“Silence” and the Lambs of Sacrifice: Unprecedented Suffering at Christmastide

The limited run of Martin Scorsese’s Silence that opened two days before Christmas was intended to position it for awards season. A wider launch will occur in January. A limited run at Christmas is not an unprecedented move. Something similar happened with The Revenant last year. Other than that, it might seem unprecedented to launch Silence right around Christmas. After all, the movie is based on Shusaku Endo’s classic 1966 novel about Christian witness in Eido era Japan in the face… Read more

Christmas Day Is Over, But Jesus’ Life at Christmastide Has Only Just Begun!

If we operate by way of the secular calendar, Christmas is over—except for “after Christmas” sales and returns, as well as Christmas dinner leftovers. But for the Christian calendar, Jesus’ life at Christmastide is far from over; it has only just begun! Far from being an afterglow or an afterthought, the New Testament and liturgical accounts of Jesus’ early days of life give us reasons for hope in the midst of post-Christmas blues. Christmastide, as the Christmas season is called,… Read more

Which Glory, Which Peace Will We Celebrate This Christmas?

Glory and peace go together in Luke’s Gospel. Luke 2:14 states, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14; ESV) Paul Minear sees a direct connection between the glory and peace here: “The more glory the more peace, and the more peace the more glory.”[1] It’s not any kind of glory and any kind of peace, though. So, how do we discern the signs of God’s glory and peace? For starters,… Read more

How Social Is Your Trinity? How Our Theologies May Say More About Us Than God

A great deal of talk has centered of late on social trinitarianism, which focuses on relational and social metaphors for understanding the Trinitarian life of God. Whether we are talking about psychological constructs like thought and memory, or these social notions, such images are intended to express what is meant by God being one and three at the same time. No matter the preference, it is important that we do not place God in the predicate position, and mental or… Read more

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