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...]

Vocation and Jobs

I've been through two employment crises. Three if you include the uncertain business of doing doctoral work against the backdrop of a changing academy and a shrinking church. This is a piece of what I have learned: Focus on vocation -- on God's calling on your life. That calling won't have a title or a job description attached to it. You won't find it on an "org chart." It might not even be one in the same with your "day-job." The key to discovering your vocation lies in asking what do I do, … [Read more...]

Throw Like a Girl: The Power of Enacted Contradictions

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In a world fraught with an increasing number of bitter debates over what is theoretically possible, the best antidote to prejudice may still be the enacted contradiction.  That, at least, is one of the lessons to be learned from the Little League career of pitcher Mo’ne Davis who pitches at 70 mph and just threw history’s first shut out for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons. She shatters sexist assumptions about what it means to “throw like a girl” and she does it all with composure that most adults f … [Read more...]

A prayer and benediction for Robin, child of God, and for us all…

CarpeDiem

We are saddened and rendered fearful by the loss of one with so much energy. We watch the news that tens of thousands --- hundreds of thousands --- have died and hardly register the loss. But, then, someone who has lived so publicly, so fearlessly, so vulnerably, and joyfully dies and the dimensions of human loss are crystalized, brought to bear on a single life, a single loss, an individual tragedy. In response, we rehearse his gifts. We scour his life for an explanation. The most fearful among … [Read more...]

Sobriety: “Guardian of the spirit”

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Dictionaries capture the impoverished meaning of the word “sobriety” in modern, American parlance.  One on-line dictionary, for example, offers three possible meanings:The state or quality of being sober. Temperance or moderation, especially in the use of alcoholic beverages. Seriousness, gravity, or solemnityBroadly speaking, however, the popular understanding of sobriety often amounts to little more than freedom from the influence of addictive substances (though some AA sites d … [Read more...]

Burning Snow

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Saint John Climacus, a seventh century monk at the monastery on Mt. Sinai was admired for his spiritual depth. As a result, a neighboring monastery asked him to serve as their spiritual director.  We don’t know much about Climacus, but it is reasonably certain that the one book he wrote, The Ladder of Divine Ascent was written in response to that request.Consisting of thirty chapters that allude to the life of Jesus and the Old Testament story of Jacob’s ladder, the book consists of three sec … [Read more...]

When a Fast is not Fast

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I realize that I risk appearing to be a "traditionalist" --- gasp! --- i.e., someone who believes that Lenten fasting has a specific purpose, defined by the history of its observance. But it does. Kallistos Ware puts it succinctly and accurately: "The primary aim of fasting is to make us conscious of our dependence upon God. If practiced seriously...The purpose of this [fasting from food] is to lead us in turn to a sense of inward brokenness and contrition; to bring us, that is, to the point … [Read more...]

Lent: It’s more fun and alleluias than you think

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If you spend any time with social media, you probably noticed the number of Facebook postings that featured Puritan Valentine’s Day Cards.  The artwork wasn’t very elaborate, as should be the case with Puritan cards.  But I loved the sentiments.  One card read:“You’ve bewitched me.  There’s no other explanation for the gophers in my garden.”Another announced:“I thought to write you a love poem.  For that thought I have beaten myself with a rough branch each night hence.”And anothe … [Read more...]


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