Final Lessons: A Tribute to Rueben P. Job

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In the fall of 2013 when I was installed as the first holder of the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical, I understood well that I was not only assuming responsibilities for my students, but that I was shouldering the on-going work of the man whose name graced the chair that I hold.  His prayerful, measured, and visionary leadership stretched across six decades, touching people in the Dakotas, the Armed Forces in Europe, and Iowa.  His work on behalf of the United M … [Read more...]

We need a Francis

As I follow the news about the ministry of Pope Francis, I’m often struck by the way in which people project their personal expectations on his ministry.  People seem to expect him to function like a progressive Protestant or hope that he will.That, it seems to me, is unrealistic.  His training and orientation to the world is decidedly Catholic, which should be no surprise, and he was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.  His position in the Catholic Church also requires far more of him than … [Read more...]

No Cause for Celebration: Question Three, “Can I avoid using stained-glass language?”

Introduction to the seriesMy brother, Dave, battled a fatal brain cancer for nearly eight years and he died in January of 2013 as the result of a fall that was due in large part to his illness.  In reaction to Dave’s quest to find a durable faith and supportive friends, I wrote a book calledThe Dave Test. The book distills Dave’s quest into ten questions that any of us can ask ourselves, when we are in one of life’s hard places or when we are trying to support those we love.  Whether that har … [Read more...]

Prejudice and the Partisan Future

 The lasting concern over the hacking of email at Sony Pictures will no doubt revolve around the question of what the perpetrators do with an early script from the James Bond franchise.But what we should be paying attention to is the evidence of prejudice that thrives behind closed doors among the Sony leadership elite.  Co-chair Amy Pascal and Producer Scot Rudin are, it seems, capable of the same childish, mean-spirited prejudice that some would have us believe thrives only on the … [Read more...]

Seminaries and the Unthinking Future

I've thought a lot about the future of theological education this semester. Some of that thinking was inevitably a product of engaging the task itself. Some of it was associated with my responsibilities as a member of The Episcopal Church's Board of Examining Chaplains, and some of it emerged from watching the situation at General Theological Seminary. Here is what has crystallized for me: One: While the situation at every seminary is different and many seminaries (my own included) are secure … [Read more...]

No Cause for Celebration Taking The Dave Test during the holidays Question Two

“Can I give up my broken gods?” Introduction to the seriesMy brother, Dave, battled a fatal brain cancer for nearly eight years and he died in January of 2013 as the result of a fall that was due in large part to his illness.  In reaction to Dave’s quest to find a durable faith and supportive friends, I wrote a book calledThe Dave Test. The book distills Dave’s quest into ten questions that any of us can ask ourselves, when we are in one of life’s hard places or when we are tryin … [Read more...]

No Cause for Celebration: Taking The Dave Test during the holidays, Question One

Question One: “Can I say life sucks?”Introduction to the seriesMy brother, Dave, battled a fatal brain cancer for nearly eight years and he died in January of 2013 as the result of a fall that was due in large part to his illness.  In reaction to Dave’s quest to find a durable faith and supportive friends, I wrote a book calledThe Dave Test. The book distills Dave’s quest into ten questions that any of us can ask ourselves, when we are in one of life’s hard places or when we are trying to … [Read more...]

“Done” with the wrong kind of Church

Mark Sandlin recently wrote a telling article on the rise of the “Dones,” people who have been active in the church and their departure.  The article hit a deep nerve and a number of people declared themselves among this new, disaffected tribe.  Sandlin lays the blame at the church’s doorstep, noting that the church has “killed spiritual community.”On one level, I agree, but reading the church’s failure against the backdrop of over two thousand years of history I could have hoped for a bit mo … [Read more...]


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