Second Opinions and the Will of God

Second Opinion

My brother is a surgeon and he understands the desire for second opinions.  When a procedure is complicated or the implications are far-reaching, it can be important to get another point of view.  If the second opinion confirms the first one you received, it’s also reassuring.  But when patients look for a third, fourth, or fifth opinion, he has also learned that his patients are probably looking for the opinion they want, not the opinion they need --- or they don’t want to make a decision at all … [Read more...]

The Happiness Index

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In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal James Brovard reported:In recent years, numerous experts have declaimed that the gross domestic product is a flawed measure of whether citizens are truly thriving. President Obama's designee for World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, for example, warned that "the quest for growth in GDP and corporate profits has in fact worsened the lives of millions of women and men."  In light of this growing concern, the Obama administration is financing … [Read more...]

False Selves

In 1960 D. W. Winnicott published what appeared to be an inconsequential article describing “the false self.”  Winnicott argued that, in self-defense, we all build versions of ourselves.  Those “false selves” are designed to offer a version of ourselves to the world that keep us from being hurt and promote public civility, ordering our impulses and the ways in which we act on them.  Winnicott argued that in those who are emotionally troubled, the false self looms so large that the “true self” is … [Read more...]

Restoring the Wounded

An ancient story from the Talmud offers an answer to the question, “Where will I find the Messiah?” A Rabbi asked Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?”Elijah replied, “Go and ask him yourself.”“Where is he?”“Sitting at the gates of the city.”“How shall I know him?”“He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds.  The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again.  But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, “Perhaps I … [Read more...]

Just Forgive?

I have been in more than one setting recently in which people have urged one another “to just forgive.”  The incongruity of the pain people have described is jarring when compared with the easy, definitive guidance that others have offered that advice.  Running over the questions of how fresh the wounding might be or how long the healing might take, they are like a Nike commercial, “Just do it.”Forgiveness is the point of departure, the first step in our own reconciliation with God.  In God’s … [Read more...]

Be a Prayer

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Should we say our prayers or read them?Some fairly strong opinions on the subject have driven people one direction or the other in their search for a place to worship.  Baptists will extol the virtues of extemporaneous prayers.  Catholics will celebrate the written prayers of the church and rely on them with regularity.  Other denominations are scattered across the spectrum in between.People can also be fairly passionate about their commitments.  For some Episcopalians the Bible is just T … [Read more...]

The Dangers of Domesticating God

One of my friends was attending a monastic convocation, when one of his brothers handed him a coin sold in the monastery gift shop.  Passing it to him with one side turned upward, he read the famous Pauline maxim, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”  But the other side of the coin referred to a Christian cheerleaders’ training camp.  My friend found it very difficult to focus before they began praying again.For any number of reasons, spiritual and theological, I am a gre … [Read more...]

Hijacked or Sold Out?

Hijacked

In Hijacked Mike Slaughter and Charles Gutenson make a fairly detailed case for arguing that the ground has shifted in the church and that political, not theological language now dominates the way that Christians talk about their faith.Clearly, I am sympathetic, as any casual reader will have realized by now.  I’ve marveled at the way in which Christians will take pride in calling themselves “Christian, this-that-something or other-Republicans or Democrats.”  Have they registered that the only … [Read more...]


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