September 6, 2019

Just a few minutes ago, I received news that a long-time member of our church— he claimed that his mother while pregnant first brought him in her womb to the place over 72 years ago—has died in a Cincinnati hospital where he was admitted last week suffering from pneumonia. He was on a long road trip with his wife, something he dearly loved to do, but became ill with what he thought was a terrible cold, but was in fact… Read more

September 5, 2019

As often happens to me, I too soon found myself without something to read on a recent vacation. I leave on a trip and am convinced that I have sufficient material to last the whole of the time away. I am almost always wrong. My wife, Diana, warns me again and again that the long book I have with me simply will not fill my reading days as completely as I imagine. So, I often take some time in one… Read more

September 4, 2019

There are any number of modern religious public speakers who fancy themselves to be prophets. They and I use that term in its clear biblical sense. The Hebrew word translated “prophet” literally means “mouthpiece” or “spokesperson”. A prophet, in the biblical sense, means someone who imagines themselves speaking on behalf of God, one able, or “called” in its most religious meaning, to bring the divine word into a contemporary setting. In a world of democratic openness to practically anyone claiming… Read more

September 3, 2019

Jewish rabbis throughout the ages have loved this text, while many Christian readers have been bewildered by it. The reason for each reaction is not difficult to discern. Jewish readers of the Bible have regularly been more than willing to allow the very words of the text to guide their thinking about it, even if the road they feel called to traverse often is rich, rare, and exceedingly strange. In short, Jewish men and women are wildly open to new… Read more

September 2, 2019

I recently returned from a plane and cruise trip to and from Alaska. The entire trip began in Anchorage, whence we traveled on land for four days, and then boarded a cruise ship—Celebrity Line—for a seven day float on the inside passage from Juneau to Skagway to Icy Straight Point to Ketchikan, ending in Vancouver BC. On the trip, my wife, Diana, and I led a five-session lecture series on wilderness and its connections to the Bible. In addition, and… Read more

August 13, 2019

I know deep in my soul that I am a racist. No, I do not overtly despise persons of races other than my white one, though it is now loudly debated whether “white” represents any sort of race at all. At least, in my case, when I have to fill out one of those forms I invariably choose “Anglo” or some equivalent thereof. Now that I live in California those ubiquitous forms ask me if I am non-Latino, or Latinx… Read more

August 10, 2019

I have spent my entire scholarly, preacherly, and pastoral life in love with the Hebrew Bible. I was enraptured by these ancient books in seminary, thanks to a superb teacher of the Hebrew language and his great affection for the texts in which that language was presented. Nearly everything we have in classical Hebrew is to be found in the pages of what we Christians long named the Old Testament, save a few cave inscriptions and a jar handle or… Read more

August 7, 2019

Today I thought it would be interesting to discuss a book that is not in the Protestant canon, though it has long been part of the Apocryphal literature that our Roman Catholic colleagues have used more freely that we Protestants have. This is not to say that even the Roman Catholics have not used this material somewhat sparingly, preferring to employ the 66 books far more than those books that are often placed either between the two familiar testaments (as… Read more

August 6, 2019

I have loved the plays and poems of William Shakespeare since I first took him seriously during my sophomore year of High School. Our teacher, in actuality a deeper lover of Jane Austen than the bard of Avon, assigned our class the task of presenting snippets of the plays that we performed for one another. My group chose “The Tempest,” and I chose (or was assigned?) the role of Caliban, that crabbed monster, both fish and man, who first lived… Read more

August 5, 2019

It has always been slightly amusing to me (I am easily amused, of course!) to watch the battles of the so-called “worship wars,” those struggles in the churches of the 21st century to capture congregations by means of the right music, the right liturgy, the right sorts of sermon presentations, from conversation to interaction to puppet-supported dramas to wild surges of preacherly track meets across the front of stages. My own church here in Los Angeles has a form of… Read more

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