April 5, 2022

Many who know about 17th-century Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer think first of his “The Girl with a Pearl Earring,” that lovely portrait of a young girl looking over her shoulder. Or perhaps they think of “The Milkmaid,” capturing the woman standing in the light of a window before a kitchen table. Both are gentle, captivating pieces that play with light and soft shadows, and they exude a spirit of peace and simplicity. This piece is entirely different. It’s complex, a... Read more

November 2, 2021

In my last post, I acknowledged the “falling apart” of our present version of American Christianity. “Fallings apart” are always painful, and this one is no different. We mourn the sense of chaos, the suffering of the faithful, the indifference of those who should know better, and, most of all, the befuddlement of those tearing down the walls all the while thinking they’re defending them. Peter Wehner sheds light on the real-time disintegration here. It’s the topic “du jour,” so... Read more

October 26, 2021

Things fall apart, we’re told. Trained as a historian, I’ve had to study many, many “falling aparts”—the Roman Empire fell apart; the Jerusalem center of worship fell apart; the Qing dynasty fell apart; the German war machine fell apart; British imperial power fell apart; the Soviet sphere of control fell apart. History is just one “falling apart” after another. Things fall apart in the religious world as well. The centuries of European Christendom have passed; Puritanism is just a section... Read more

September 22, 2021

What can we really say about the diversity of believers, the myriad ways we all walk the Way? How vast, how disparate, how incredibly kaleidoscopic are the channels of God’s grace in different lives! We who seek God in the face of Jesus Christ and the life of the Spirit all rush together in one direction, toward one Center, but our experiences and prayers and visions and standards explode with multitudinous variety. “All think they are Christians, for a proclamation... Read more

September 13, 2021

Recently, I read the online reflections of a fellow (former?) Christian who has wandered far afield in his spiritual journey. I’m not going to link to his post here, because I don’t wish to hold him up to judgment and because I’m more interested here in thinking aloud about what goes on when people abandon the Gospel. This is a blogger whose writings I have often appreciated over the years. He’s always been more “progressive” (there’s so much wrong with... Read more

August 9, 2021

I never want to disagree too loudly with Richard Rohr, Bono, Oprah, or Brian McLaren, because, after all, they’re them, and I’m just me, but Clint Schnekloth went first, so I’m just going to draft behind him. His post was triggered by Michael Gungor’s tweet, which asserted that “Jesus was Christ. Buddha was Christ. Muhammad was Christ. Christ is a word for the Universe seeing itself. You are Christ. We are the body of Christ.” With those assertions, Gungor reiterates... Read more

July 27, 2021

Book Review: Take a Larger Way: Reflections of a Dementia Caregiver by Jay Brenneman   I’ve posted twice before about my friends Jay and Janene, including Jay’s own reflections on his journey into grief. You can read them here and here. In Take a Larger Way, Jay pulls together his meditations on his experiences of loss and confusion into a book of reflections charting his and Janene’s journeys, one into wounded caregiving and the other into suffering darkness. Jay tells... Read more

July 19, 2021

Steadiness is not stoicism. I addressed the lack of attention to the emotional facet of our spiritual lives—a critical component to a “steady heart,”—but it might be wise if we considered what indeed a “steady heart” means. My reflections about the neglect of the heart generated a couple of long conversations about feelings. Readers wondered what to do with the wild emotions of real human life. Most of us can’t pull off the ice queen persona. Life—three-dimensional, non-cinematic, relational life—is,... Read more

July 12, 2021

Photo by Vidangel Studios In The Atlantic’s June 2021 article, “Christian America’s Must-See TV Show,” Chris DeVille addresses the professional and popular success of “The Chosen,” a multi-season dramatic television series about the life of Jesus. DeVille points out that the show is surprisingly compelling, has won numerous accolades, has a tremendous following (millions, in 50 different languages), and is crowdfunded as it goes. He also concludes with this rather wistful statement: “If The Chosen represents the next phase of... Read more

July 8, 2021

We all recognize that the pandemic has peeled back our self-sufficiencies and exposed our weaknesses in so many ways—political, economic, systemic, familial, communal, and personal. Over a year of reading others’ blogs, personal tweets, magazine exposés, and newspaper articles has shown us all raw emotions in ways that we had largely managed to paper over when we had jobs, health, incomes, opportunities, and family connections. What has become evident to me is how ill-prepared we are to handle crises. Christians... Read more

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