The Spiritual Dimension of Music

Music

Some years ago I had the privilege of chairing a search committee charged with the task of identifying a new professor sacred music.  As lover of music of all types (or most of them, anyway) and as someone who had been surrounded by the best of musicians and choristers at the National Cathedral, I accepted the responsibility with relish and enjoyed every minute of it --- not least of all, the conversations with the candidates themselves.We had great success.  We invited a fine musician to j … [Read more...]

The Unspoken Prayer

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Formulas and language are so much at the forefront of our conversation about prayer, that the mystery of a conversation with the living God is all but lost.  Add our preoccupation with intercession and petition and the mystery disappears completely.  God has become like a stranger --- accosted on the sidewalk --- forced into our homes without prelude or introduction, without relationship or experience, gang-pressed into service, meeting our needs.Don’t get me wrong.I am not opposed to pra … [Read more...]

Venomous and Poisonous

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My wife is reading a novel --- a novel about Scots and the English.  So, the author cares about language and along the way he makes some pretty fine distinctions.  One of them, she tells me, is the difference between venomous and poisonous.They might appear to be the same, but they aren’t.  If something bites you and it makes you sick, it’s venomous.  If you bite into something and it makes you sick, it’s poisonous.  In one fairly humorous passage a snake escapes into the privy and there’s a … [Read more...]

The Dangers of Domesticating God

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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

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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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