False Selves

In 1960 D. W. Winnicott published what appeared to be an inconsequential article describing “the false self.”  Winnicott argued that, in self-defense, we all build versions of ourselves.  Those “false selves” are designed to offer a version of ourselves to the world that keep us from being hurt and promote public civility, ordering our impulses and the ways in which we act on them.  Winnicott argued that in those who are emotionally troubled, the false self looms so large that… Read more

Restoring the Wounded

An ancient story from the Talmud offers an answer to the question, “Where will I find the Messiah?” A Rabbi asked Elijah, “When will the Messiah come?” Elijah replied, “Go and ask him yourself.” “Where is he?” “Sitting at the gates of the city.” “How shall I know him?” “He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds.  The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again.  But he unbinds one at a… Read more

Just Forgive?

I have been in more than one setting recently in which people have urged one another “to just forgive.”  The incongruity of the pain people have described is jarring when compared with the easy, definitive guidance that others have offered that advice.  Running over the questions of how fresh the wounding might be or how long the healing might take, they are like a Nike commercial, “Just do it.” Forgiveness is the point of departure, the first step in our… Read more

Be a Prayer

Should we say our prayers or read them? Some fairly strong opinions on the subject have driven people one direction or the other in their search for a place to worship.  Baptists will extol the virtues of extemporaneous prayers.  Catholics will celebrate the written prayers of the church and rely on them with regularity.  Other denominations are scattered across the spectrum in between. People can also be fairly passionate about their commitments.  For some Episcopalians the Bible is just The… Read more

The Dangers of Domesticating God

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… Read more

Hijacked or Sold Out?

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 noun in that… Read more

Anti-Catholic Prejudice in a Mad Max World

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 while… Read more

Jesus>Religion

To any rap tune of your choosing: I want to say, There’s a big payday For the ones who say There’s just no way That Moses, Jesus, and Martin Pissed on religion But there’s just no way To make a case for that vision Yet 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… Read more

From the Hand of the Sculptor: Gib Singleton

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… Read more

Washington “National” Cathedral

I love it. It’s a great space. I worked there for three years.  We shouldn’t be spending federal money to repair it. But according to the Los Angeles Times, Mayor Vincent Gray is seeking 15 million dollars in Federal Emergency Management funds to help the Cathedral make the repairs needed after an earthquake rocked the limestone perched high above our nation’s capitol. Why not? One: the separation of church and state Far too many interpret the freedom we allow for… Read more




Browse Our Archives