Here temporarily

futurepastpresent

Once, while the great Jewish sage, Honi, was walking along a road, he saw an old man planting a carob tree.  Honi asked him:  “How many years will it take for this tree to give forth its fruit?”  The man answered that it would require 70 years.  Honi asked:  “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?”  The man answered:  “I found a fruitful world because my ancestors planted it for me.  So, too, will I plant for my children.”  (Babylonian Talmud, Ta’a … [Read more...]

Demon Possessed Politics

Demon-possessed

In the wake of yesterday’s tragic shooting of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords no small number of commentators were quick to lay blame for the climate in which this kind of thing could happen at the doorstep of millions who differ with Ms. Giffords’s views.  I find that troubling --- not because I share those views --- but because it points to a general decline in thoughtful, judicious political conversation.The murderer who perpetrated these crimes is, by all accounts, criminally insa … [Read more...]

Words to live by

words-words-words

I love aphorisms --- short, pointed, insightful observations.It all started with writing speeches for the Optimist Club.  They once sponsored “oratorical contests” and I loved competing in them.  Each year they advertised a new topic and the assignment was to write, memorize, and deliver a speech of five to seven minutes in length.  The first year the topic was “Optimism, youth’s greatest asset.”It seems kind of corny now, but it prompted me to think, read, and build my vocabulary.  I don’t r … [Read more...]

Which New Year?

newyear

We’ve celebrated two new years now…one driven by the calendar, the other driven by the liturgical year.  The liturgical year, which you can think of as the year, structured by the Christian story began at Advent in the beginning of December and takes us imaginatively through the story of Jesus’ life and the lives of the early apostles.  Apart from other things, it is a cycle designed to remind the church of its responsibilities and, more importantly, the work of God in our lives.The two “new ye … [Read more...]

Hitting a religious nerve

Atheism

In a recent column written for the Washington Post, I commented on religious displays in public spaces.  As is the case with articles of that kind, the Post went for a title that would match other contributions to the symposium that they were featuring.  Their title for the article was “The Scandal of Atheist Campaigns against Christmas” and, predictably, it attracted a different audience.The change in title was a bit unfortunate, because I’m not sure that there is a campaign against Christm … [Read more...]

Something new for Christmas

tabernacles

One of my students recounted a story that, I’m told, is widely known in Roman Catholic circles.  So the story goes: A little girl was sitting with her mother in church and asked,“Mommy, where is Jesus?”Deeply formed by her faith, the little girl’s mother pointed to the Tabernacle where the reserve sacrament is kept.The little girl was silent for a moment and then declared,“When I grow up I’m going to buy him a bigger box.”This Christmas, consider getting something that cost you nothing, … [Read more...]

Always a pilgrim

Wisdom

I had the privilege of addressing the “Gusto!” group at King of Glory Lutheran Church here in Dallas.  As the description of the group might suggest, the class is largely (though not exclusively) made up of folks who have retired.  And the subject that they wanted to explore dealt with God’s will.One of the people who attended admitted that she really wasn’t sure that there was much for someone her age to gain from a conversation of that kind.  But, thankfully, I did a bit of “profiling” and ch … [Read more...]

What do you need to hear?

St.Anthony

My wife and I recently spent a day at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth.  In the permanent collection is what may well be Michelangelo's earliest painting, "The Torment of St. Anthony" --- a vivid portrayal of St. Anthony's struggle with temptation in the desert.  It got me thinking...Our inner lives are too small.They are cluttered with the kind of distractions that they sell in tourist traps --- pot metal and plastic, cheap construction, loud colors --- here today, gone tomorrow, about to b … [Read more...]


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