June 9, 2023

Are you into Enneagrams? Over the past few years I have heard people throwing their Enneagram number around in general conversation with more and more regularity, in much the same way that people have shared their Myer-Briggs four-letter personality fingerprint for decades. The Enneagram diagram has always looked New-Agey with a shade of witchcraft to me, and I solidly identify with my Myer-Briggs INFJness, so I’ve never felt the need to take yet another serious personality test. But a few... Read more

June 8, 2023

Three summers ago, after three delays (one our fault, two their fault), our house got a new hat. We had known for a couple of years that our roof needed to be replaced. We bought the house 27 years ago; the roof had been replaced the year before we purchased the house, so this was a first-time experience for us. Upon hearing about the event, a friend posted on Facebook that getting a new roof is like getting new tires... Read more

June 6, 2023

So here we are in Ordinary Time, the longest liturgical season that will stretch until the Sunday after Thanksgiving when Advent begins. I noted in my Trinity Sunday essay a couple of days ago that for several reasons this has never been my favorite stretch of the liturgical calendar. But I recall someone in the Living Stones discussion group saying last year at this time that in a post-Covid19 world, “ordinary” seems more attractive than usual. A few years ago,... Read more

June 4, 2023

It’s Trinity Sunday. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to explain that very strange Christian doctrine—the one that has caused non-Christians over the centuries to occasionally accuse Christians, who claim to be monotheists, of being polytheists. In my youth, none of the things I was supposed to believe as a budding Christian was more confusing than the Trinity. I was familiar with “3-in-One Oil,” but this seemed different. “Think about an egg,” my Sunday School teacher suggested. “The egg... Read more

June 2, 2023

Last week I participated in a two-day end-of-the-academic-year workshop with a dozen fellow faculty in the Honors program on our campus. As always, the discussions were excellent and invigorating; the Honors workshops are the one annual event that I can depend on to be non-ideological, collegial, text-based, and affirming of all the aspects of the academic life that deserve and need to be affirmed for insiders on a regular basis.This year’s workshop was bittersweet because it marked the end of... Read more

May 31, 2023

The last three weeks, although a bit windy, have been beautiful bike riding weather here in Rhode Island, timed perfectly for the end of the academic year, moving into summer, and the beginning of the fourth sabbatical of my career. I’ve been on my bike every day but two of the last twenty, riding between 10 and 25 miles per day. Jeanne has joined me on a couple of weekends to ride on some of the beautiful trails our state... Read more

May 29, 2023

Memorial Day is a day for solemn remembrance. Memorial Day is also a day when many Americans express their patriotism with flags on their lawns and with slogans like “America First” and “America—Love it or Leave it,” expressing their support and love for a country that, according to many of the same Americans, was “founded on Christian principles.” How should those who profess the Christian faith think about American exceptionalism and exclusivity? Around this time a few years ago, I... Read more

May 27, 2023

Jeanne and I once watched a documentary called “Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action,” created, filmed and directed by a man with the fabulous name “Velcrow Ripper.” He is the cousin-in-law of a colleague and friend of Jeanne’s who made the recommendation. The movie was beautifully constructed and filmed, as well as being very thought-provoking. The central thread of the documentary traces various ways in which people seek spiritual growth and reality that are seldom located in traditionally religious frameworks. All... Read more

May 25, 2023

One of my two sabbatical book projects is tentatively titled The Freelance Christian’s Guide to the Liturgical Calendar. It is in its initial stages, but I already know that it will be dedicated to the Living Stones seminar group that I have had the privilege of leading monthly at Trinity Episcopal Church in Pawtuxet, Rhode Island for more than twelve years. Here’s why. The Bible is filled with rocks. The patriarchs pile rocks up every time they want to remember a place... Read more

May 23, 2023

Providence College’s commencement exercises were two days ago. As I walked out of the Amica Mutual Pavilion (the AMP) at the ceremony’s conclusion, I thought to myself “I am now officially on sabbatical.” That’s not technically true; my Fall semester sabbatical begins with the start of fall classes the last week of August. But I won’t be back in the classroom until the day after MLK day next January, so for all intents and purposes I am on sabbatical. This... Read more

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