The Origin of Knowing & Doing

As I left Pittsburgh the other day, I decided to leave slowly, lingering through some of its neighborhoods on my way back to Virginia– so I got off the parkway, and drove through Oakland one more time, stopping near the Cathedral of Learning. For several years I worked and studied here, entering into the PhD years of my life. They were so very busy, so very full, and there were moments along the way when I seriously thought of stopping. Someone… Read more

To Fly, Fly Away…

“You must live in the place that is the station of your labor and your love. Down there in the swaying forests, the dark sleeping fields, the cold barren lands, and the cities of man, where the indestructible, the faithful, the true are needed.” Several weeks ago when I began packing for Central Europe, I looked for a book. Most always, I try to read something about where I am. A visit to California means a novel set in the… Read more

The Danger of Cheap Ideas

A couple days ago I talked all day long to a group of academic leaders from colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada. An annual gathering, this year they spent the day on the Visions of Vocation, and from morning to night, I talked with them about it, specially its meaning for higher education and the formation of “visions of vocation” for twenty-somethings. I began the first address remembering a conversation with a young adult in Bratislava, Slovakia two… Read more

Three Words We Should Care More About

Cult. Cultivate. Culture. About a month ago in Bratislava, Slovakia, at the conference, “Visions for the Marketplace,” in one lecture I talked about these three words. They are not only etymologically connected, but philosophically too. They define each other, each in their own ways growing out of the other. They push-and-shove each other, moving back-and-forth on each other, twining themselves in and around each other. But what do they mean in relation to each other? And why does it matter? Almost… Read more

“Joy” and the Power of a Dream

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that will not work.” Dreams are strange things. The stories that run through our souls at night are more often than not impossible to recollect; it’s hard to remember them for ourselves, much less explain them to someone else. But there are other kinds of dreams, the ones that animate us for life, threading their way through who we and how we live. They too can be difficult to discern, but… Read more

A Conversation with a Stranger and Common Grace

“It was such a dark time.” A couple weeks ago I was on a train from Prague to Bratislava, from the Czech Republic to Slovakia, which for most of the 20th-century were one nation, Czechoslovakia. Surrounded by countries we know— Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, the Ukraine —these peoples have fought for their identity over centuries. On the train it is about four hours between the cities, and for several I was working on talks I am giving in Bratislava the next… Read more

Our Moral Responsibility to Pay Attention

Pay attention. I have been teaching for a long time, and I confess that while I am always hoping that my words find a home in astudent’s heart, I never know. As the rabbi Jesus said at the beginning of his teaching, “If you have ears to hear, then hear.” That is as deep a wisdom as teachers, and their students, get. Always and everywhere, there is a responsibility for knowledge, a response built into the very act of teaching. The… Read more

Where “The Revenant” Missed the Mark

For a few years I lived my life in light of the mountain men, imagining my very ordinary days enlarged by the companionship of Kit Carson, William Sublette, Jim Beckwourth, Jedidiah Smith and Jim Bridger. Their adventures became my adventures. Long a lover of stories, and these tales told of brave men, unusual men, visionary men carving lives out of the rugged mountains of the American West. Trailblazers across the grand prairies, following the great rivers into the majestic Rockies,… Read more

When Peacemaking is Unpopular

Commonwealth is an unusual word in the modern world. Still used in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Massachusetts for the word “state,” it is a way of seeing life together, a political community founded for the common good. I thought of this a while back while listening to an Israeli, a Palestinian and a Jordanian, each one committed to the recovery of a healthier ecology for the Jordan River which runs through the valley that is home for all three peoples. That is… Read more

Sonship in Star Wars

Of the Father’s love begotten…. I do love music, and love different kinds of music. But of all the music I know, this Christmas carol is one of those I love best. That it is centuries-old is important to me, as I have consciously chosen to root myself in the deeper, longer story of human life under the sun that grows out of what is called “mere Christianity,” that central corridor of faith, hope and love that courses through time…. Read more

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