Taking to the Street


My friend and colleague, Kevin Martin, achieves "Onion-esque" success at his blogspot with a satire that raises a serious question.  What happens when we transplant liturgical acts and sacraments from sacred space to the public domain? Baptismal Font Goes on the MoveEven though heavily endowed, Grace Memorial Episcopal Church in Kelso, Ohio, a town just outside of Columbus is facing hard times.  The Rector, an Assisting Priest, and a Deacon have only three remaining Church members.  That is … [Read more...]

The Language of Lent: Repentance

Lent is making something of a comeback as Christians who historically have observed the season bump up against those who don’t in the blogosphere.  But the language of Lent, which is rooted in larger Christian practice, often makes people uncomfortable.Of the many words associated with Lent, “repentance” may actually qualify as one of the more underappreciated and misunderstood words.  The conversation about repentance with the larger culture and, for that matter, conversations with people wi … [Read more...]

The Evolving Future of Theological Education

I have been on The Episcopal Church’s Board of Examining Chaplains now for twelve years. I’ve finished my last batch of ordination examinations and as of General Convention next summer, I will have completed my responsibilities.The examination has evolved over the last twelve years, as has the mechanism for evaluating it. I’ve been an observer and participant in the process.  I’ve heard the debates around the character and value of the examination. I’ve participated in the attendant debates a … [Read more...]

Lance Armstrong and the Meaning of Repentance

This just in from the BBC in an interview with cyclist, Lance Armstrong: Shamed cyclist Lance Armstrong believes the time is coming when he should be forgiven for doping and lying - and told the BBC he would probably do it again.  Armstrong, 43, was stripped of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned from sport for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) in August 2012.  "If I was racing in 2015, no, I wouldn't do it again because I don't think you have to," he said.  "If … [Read more...]

Remembering Marcus


When I first arrived at Oxford, my supervisor, George Caird, suggested that I read the work that one of his students had done. That student was Marcus Borg. At the time Marcus was yet to publish his dissertation and he had returned to the United States without a teaching position. But his dissertation, which illuminated the teaching of Jesus against the backdrop of first century Judaism and Roman domination was a brilliant piece of work. I spent weeks on end, poring over his thesis in the … [Read more...]

Remembering King


Image source: Wikimedia Commons Years ago…I visited the Martin Luther King Center and purchased a children’s biography of King for my six year-old daughter.  This led to a collection of King biographies that over the years [grew] in sophistication.  When she was nine, she played on a frequent basis with a large number of other children in the cathedral close in Jerusalem.  Among her friends was Jamie, a younger Canadian boy, and Alex, an American who had a reputation for being something of a bul … [Read more...]

“Je Suis Charlie”


I am not a huge fan of satire.  Oh, admittedly, when it's done well, I do laugh.  But the difficulty with satire is that, by nature, it exaggerates and relies on caricature.  So, while the avowed purpose of satire is to offer up a subject up for examination, it almost always invites ridicule as well.  There is little room for conversation, nuance, or true bridge building, when an individual or a group of individuals is belittled.That said, satire and many other forms of speech are protected, … [Read more...]

Final Lessons: A Tribute to Rueben P. Job


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...]