December 5, 2019

I haven’t posted anything political here in a while; it’s Advent, and I’m trying to stay in the “Advent Zone” that I described in last Sunday’s post. But in the aftermath of Wednesday’s first impeachment hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee, I’m choosing to briefly step out of the zone for a few observations. The witnesses at the hearing were four academic, legal experts on all matters concerning impeachment. One of them, Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, has… Read more

December 5, 2019

For the past several years, I have had the privilege of giving a sermon at the Episcopal church I attend during Advent season. Four years ago, I gave this sermon; I called it “Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.” Over the past several weeks I have been working through the second draft of my current sabbatical book project; as I completed each chapter draft I had Jeanne, who is my “go to” reader for everything, to give me her impressions. After finishing… Read more

December 3, 2019

Almost three years ago, the Oxford Dictionary named “post-truth” as its 2016 word of the year, an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” But those of us who pine for the good old Comedy Central days of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” followed by “The Colbert Report” know that the Oxford Dictionary is a decade behind the dictionary times. The… Read more

December 1, 2019

In Philosophical Fragments, 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard tells a lovely story about a powerful king who falls in love with a lowly maiden. The maiden is unaware of the king’s love, and the king is worried. Knowing that love is built on equality, how is the gap between his royal greatness and her humble maidenhood to be crossed? He does not want to coerce her into loving him by revealing his love in all of its splendor, nor would elevating her… Read more

November 29, 2019

Today is Black Friday, the unfortunate beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Apparently in service to the holiday spirit of capitalism, some stores opened in yesterday’s evening hours, forcing their employees to interrupt their Thanksgivings in pursuit of increased sales. It is also the beginning of this year’s skirmish in the much-hyped “War on Christmas.” This is a “war” allegedly being waged by all sorts of non-Christians in this country, a war whose continuing battlefields include the apparent prohibition against… Read more

November 27, 2019

Advent begins this coming Sunday. I was raised in a version of Christianity that had no sense of the liturgical year. I have often described the landmarks of my Baptist youth as Christmas, Easter, and everything else. I knew nothing of Advent until my twenties, and loved its energy, its carols, its texts–it still is my favorite liturgical season decades later. Inwardness, reflection, anticipation, and patience–Advent is for introverts. Many of my best Advent memories are related to music. Charles… Read more

November 25, 2019

I have a Facebook acquaintance, a fellow graduate of St. John’s College, who posts five things she is thankful for every morning. I admire this and am always glad when I bump into her daily post on those mornings I’m on Facebook as well. It is a practice that I have told myself many times that I need to develop, but have so far have failed to do. But as we approach the best holiday of the year, let me… Read more

November 23, 2019

Over the past several years on my campus, events called “Difficult Dialogues” have regularly been scheduled. These are moderated conversations on controversial topics, the sorts of topics that tend to drive people into entrenched corners from which they yell across the conceptual divide at those with whom they disagree. Faculty, students, and administrators are invited to think ahead of time about current controversies on campus before coming to a “Difficult Dialogues” event—these topics have tended to be related to race… Read more

November 21, 2019

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with a young man named Hayden Bruce on Skype a while ago. He has a podcast called “Pragmatic Christian”—he found my blog and was attracted to a number of things he found there. Our conversation lasted almost two hours—the link is below. Toward the end of our conversation, he asked me what advice I might have for a person going through a crisis of faith (he called it a “deconstruction”… Read more

November 19, 2019

In the liturgical cycle, we are headed toward a new year that begins on the first Sunday of Advent—the first season of the liturgical year—on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Advent is a season of hope and expectation, items that are in noticeably short supply these days. I was the lector last Sunday at church; the assigned reading from the Jewish scriptures came from Isaiah 65. It’s a beautiful text, a vision of a better world in which God is delighted… Read more

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