November 7, 2019

Let me begin with a note to my readers. I propose for the next year to use the relatively new Narrative Lectionary as the basis for my essays. I have been writing this blog now for over six years, and have well over 300 separate pieces on my site for Patheos. Thus, I have addressed the Revised Common Lectionary texts for the Hebrew Bible, and on occasion the Book of the Acts, at least twice. My comments on those texts… Read more

November 5, 2019

Though I am in the main a very positive person, seeing the good in nearly everyone and everything (though Donald Trump strains my positivity to the limit!), I do tend to worry about many things. I often wake early in the morning—5AM or so—and attempt to solve all the problems that I know I must tackle when the sun finally does come up. Of course, it is quite absurd to wrestle with these problems that only a hands-on approach can… Read more

November 4, 2019

If one follows the lectionary readings as a basic source for one’s preaching, it is obvious that we Christians are approaching Advent, because the Hebrew Bible texts begin to sound rather predictive of the coming Christ, or at least indicative of what we may expect in his coming. Let me clear at the outset: I do not hear these texts as predictive of the coming of Jesus into the world, though I understand that many believers still do. I simply… Read more

October 31, 2019

Recently, my wife and I attended a performance of Gustav Mahler’s massive Symphony #2, known as the Resurrection symphony. By any measure this is a monumental work, requiring an extraordinarily large orchestra with multiple percussion (including steel rods (!) and a huge bell), 6 French horns (plus two more in an offstage ensemble), and on and on. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the baton of the venerable Zubin Mehta, now 83 years old, played the work beautifully, especially the shattering… Read more

October 28, 2019

The prophets of the Hebrew Bible spend the bulk of their spoken and written words on accusing and indicting their people with the myriad ways they have not done what their God has asked, begged, cajoled, and demanded that they do. YHWH commanded them to be just, to care for the widow, defend the orphan, love and protect the stranger, thus creating a society of genuine righteousness where all have full access to rich life, grand hope, a society characterized… Read more

October 21, 2019

What is it about the mountains? I have long been a lover of mountains, have for decades longed to see, live in, be surrounded by mountains. Then, by a cruel trick of fate, I found myself living for 40 years in Dallas, Texas, which by most calculations is at least 400 miles from any serious mountains. I used to gaze longingly at various cloud formations on hot summer days, imagining them either to be mountains or perhaps to hide mountains… Read more

October 17, 2019

I have been using a lectionary list that includes two complete Hebrew Bible texts, so this week I want to address an enormously influential pericope from a book I know very well. I wrote a long, and essentially unreadable, dissertation on the book of Job in 1974, published a book, Preaching Job, in 1999, and have spoken about the book in numerous settings throughout my scholarly life. I absolutely love this book, and regret very deeply that it has played… Read more

October 16, 2019

If any preacher needs reasons to understand why the prophets of the Hebrew Bible are nearly absent from 21st pulpits, Isaiah 1:10-18 would be a prime example. I well remember when I was in seminary, now 50 years ago, books about preaching the prophets were ubiquitous. How about “The Prophets on Main Street” or “The Prophets Speak to Us Today’ for catchy and memorable titles? It was the day of the Vietnam War, the continuing racial divides, the sexual revolution,… Read more

October 15, 2019

I am a great lover of opera. This has been a fact since Diana, my wife now of 50 years, gave to me a copy of Puccini’s “La Boheme” on long-playing 33 1/3 vinyl records. The performance included one of the 20th century’s finest tenors, Nicolai Gedda, who possessed one of opera’s purest and easiest voices, proclaimed in any one of the six languages he spoke! I was hooked, and over the past 50+ years since Diana’s gift, she and… Read more

October 14, 2019

Many years ago, I had an exceptionally bright student who, upon his graduation from our seminary, was assigned by his bishop to a small congregation in East Texas. In the fall of that same year, he wrote me a heartfelt letter—this was well before the advent of computers and e-mail, so it was an actual letter, written in pen on a piece paper, placed in an envelope, embossed with a postage stamp, and mailed to the school. (If this concept… Read more

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