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...]

Anti-Catholic Prejudice in a Mad Max World

When the editors at Patheos posted my column on “Protestants and the Catholic Bishops” a week ago, they hi-lighted the passing reference that I made to the role that anti-Catholic prejudice might be playing in the article’s tagline.  Based on the work of Baylor’s Philip Jenkins, who describes anti-Catholicism as America’s last acceptable prejudice, I was fairly certain that it was at least one factor at work in shaping Protestant responses.But I winced at featuring the observation, because whil … [Read more...]

Jesus>Religion

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To any rap tune of your choosing:I want to say,There’s a big paydayFor the ones who sayThere’s just no wayThat Moses, Jesus, and MartinPissed on religionBut there’s just no wayTo make a case for that visionYet another ill-informed commentator with a camera, a really great leather jacket, and a nice make up job has declared his preference for living down and dirty with the outcasts, choosing Jesus over religion.  It’s a great piece and really compelli … [Read more...]

From the Hand of the Sculptor: Gib Singleton

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An art form that has captured my interest in recent years is sculpture.  There is something about the ability to craft a freestanding, three-dimensional object out of raw material that fascinates me.Any piece of art is, no doubt, born of the ability to imagine another world, but to nurture something that occupies our own space in height, breadth, and depth is born of a very specific genius.I am also struck by the hands-on nature of it all.  Unlike most forms of painting, a sculptor’s work inv … [Read more...]


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