February 15, 2023

The Genesis flood: one of the archetypal stories of the Jewish and Christian scriptures. A text that’s been used to trace the beginnings of races, to combat scientific theories of evolution, and to demonstrate mysterious connections between distant religions and peoples of the ancient world. The flood. We’re only 5 short chapters into the book of beginnings, and suddenly it all has to come to an end. God’s grief opens the gates of earth and the windows of heaven, and... Read more

January 5, 2023

The Prophetic Books are Faith-Forming Reading the prophets of Israel is tiresome work. I’m 31 chapters into Jeremiah, and I feel a bit like I did a few years ago at mile seven of a half marathon. The prophet has us listening in on metaphors that don’t quite land. I will dash the people of Judah against each other like . . . jars of wine? We hear of symbolic action that seems over the top. Wear a loin cloth,... Read more

December 28, 2022

Now and then I post annotated bibliographies of the reading I’ve doing lately. Here are the books I’ve spent most of my time with in the last few months. Fiction Children of the Arbat, by Anatoli Rybakov I can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but its publication was a major event of the Gorbachev era during the Soviet Union’s twilight. Partly autobiographical, it follows a compelling cast of young adults from Moscow (Arbat Street) as they choose—or... Read more

December 13, 2022

Advent, the Christian liturgical season leading up to Christmas, is the time when songs and sermons about hope fill churches of all denominations. We read prophecies about the beating of swords into plowshares. We sing “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” with confidence that his coming will “hope to all the world impart.” Sometimes we’re even more directive in our petitions. “Give them vict’ry o’er the grave;” “death’s dark shadow put to flight.” Those are but two of the hope-bathed lines... Read more

November 23, 2022

As I load the car, like millions of other Americans, for a long road trip to see family this week, I find myself contemplating a theological reclaiming of Thanksgiving. Holy Days All holidays were once, as is more or less obvious, “holy days.” Even as those days enter into secular civic space, the “holy” backgrounds remain part of what makes them meaningful for many people. Thanksgiving, though, is problematic. Is there really an old holy that we are celebrating? Most... Read more

November 14, 2022

Hello readers! I mentioned earlier in the fall that I’d be stepping away from my regular posting rhythm so that I could work on a new book of ecotheology. Well–I kept my promise! The book, in draft form, follows my sabbatical journeys, and my meditations on the God of life and place that I encounter. Here’s a sample from a backpacking trip I took two weeks ago to Big Bend National Park. A meditation on naming creation. Morning in the Mountains... Read more

October 2, 2022

If you were to look through my journals over the last few years, you would see a pretty good little collection of diagrams, complete with quadrants and arrows. These are a part of my practice of spiritual growth and self-awareness. It’s a process my colleague Steven Tomlinson recommends for crafting a rule of life. A rule of life is a term from the monastic tradition for a practice of intentionality for a life of faith. Steven teaches a process he... Read more

September 26, 2022

The Nazarenes and Wesleyans who first gave shape to my faith taught me to care deeply about holiness. When I was reconverted, as a young man, it was largely through the discovery of a deep and rich language of holiness in Saint Augustine. “Seek his face always,” says one of his favorite Psalms (105:4). I became convinced that the features of holiness that comprise God’s face are the same features that can come to shine out from the lives of... Read more

September 21, 2022

I am, like many of you, watching The Rings of Power, basically as soon as Amazon releases each episode. So far I’m loving it. I want to reflect a bit here on “resonating,” a practice that comes up in Episode 2.  Getting Tolkien Right Getting Tolkien right matters. It matters especially to many of my generation, for whom the books became a kind of well-shared secret passport to a magical world. We’re all still a bit scarred from the havoc that’s... Read more

September 7, 2022

How about another list of books I’ve been reading? But first… Why Read Books? Like many of you, I have a lifelong habit of reading. I think it’s a good habit to have, though I suspect that sometimes I go after it like a shark who can’t stop swimming and feeding. My habit began as a child, reading The Boxcar Children, then sports biographies, Anne of Green Gables, anything by Lloyd Alexander, the Tolkien books, Charles Dickens. I had a... Read more

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