4 Reasons for Abandoning New Year’s Resolutions

On one level, I have no specific objection to New Year’s resolutions. Any opportunity for change and improvement is a welcome occasion.Evidently, countless cultures have thought so as well. As far as I can tell the practice goes back to the Babylonians and has been renewed somewhere in the world ever since.From a Christian perspective, however, there are good reasons to be a bit skeptical (apart from the statistics that suggest we aren’t terribly good at following through on the reso … [Read more...]

3 Reasons Why Clergy Shouldn’t “Friend” the Members of Their Churches

In class a subject surfaced that I don't recall ever hearing discussed in seminary: “Should pastors be their parishioners' ‘friend?’”The conversation began when one of my students noted that a member of his church had decided that, after some deliberation, "they could be friends." My student noted that he understood that his parishioner meant this as a form of affirmation, but he also noted that it made him uncomfortable. Why, exactly, he wasn’t sure.The class offered a number of perspect … [Read more...]

3 Things Religious Leaders Can Do in the Wake of the Massacre in Orlando

Reflecting on the terrorist attack on “The Pulse” in Orlando, columnist, Bruce Bower, notes that the events “’shocked’” some politicians. “’Who would have expected such a thing?’ people kept asking.”Bower observes something that I’ve thought for some time as well: “Actually, I’ve been expecting just such a thing for years. The only shock was that it took this long for some jihadist to go after a gay establishment. Islamic law, after all, is crystal clear on homosexuality, though the various … [Read more...]

The Making of Donald Trump and the Unmaking of a Nation

As Donald Trump steamrolls through the primary season, the question many are asking is, “How could this possibly happen?”The man’s life is a bundle of contradictions. His speeches, while mercifully brief, are also devoid of content, apart from sweeping promises no one could reasonably believe he will fulfill. He is often crude, insulting, and vulgar. Nonetheless, his campaign thrives without spending significant sums of money to make it happen.Some theorize that Trump’s success has to do … [Read more...]

7 Ways to Prepare Spiritually to Vote

The election of a new President comes into sharper focus next week with the primaries.We’ve been polled, encouraged, recruited, and berated.   We have been told that we are better than we are and we’ve been told that we worse than we are.Now it’s time to begin weighing the real-world consequences of our vote.It is also time to consider our spiritual obligations.So, how do we make a decision about voting marked by thoughtful, deliberative, and spiritual preparation?Here are som … [Read more...]

Christmas Autopsy: 5 Thoughts about the Death of Christmas

The war on Christmas has become an annual topic of conversation.This year The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger even declared that Christmas is dead.Is it time for an autopsy?Scanning the store windows up and down New York’s Fifth Avenue, Henninger chronicled the ways in which major commercial outlets had erased even the most sentimental traces of Christmas from their windows, replacing Santa Claus and his elves with palm readers; the Roman god, Neptune; and the inebriated and se … [Read more...]

3 Things Francis Taught Us Today about Politics

The address that Pope Francis gave this morning before Congress was holistic and pro-life.  He spoke to the needs of the poor, the dreams of the common man and woman, the preservation of the creation, the devastating impact of violence, the danger of fundamentalism, the fragile nature of the modern family, the death penalty, and the need to protect the unborn.  He pointed us to the contemplative, Thomas Merton, and the activist, Dorothy Day.  He spoke to the example of Martin Luther King.  In sho … [Read more...]

Saved — But from what, by whom, how?

In his book, Divine Teaching, Mark MacInosh outlines the analogies or metaphors that the church has used to try to explain what happens from Good Friday through Easter Sunday.The medical metaphor for salvation emphasizes healing -- deep healing that touches the whole of our existence.  The saving work of Jesus restores harmony to our lives, beginning with our relationship with God.  It touches us deep within and it touches our relationships with others.The legalmetaphor takes its point o … [Read more...]