January 6, 2016

The way the world’s supposed to be. Is there a world like that? Do we know? How would we? What does it mean? These are the greatest questions of life, and ones that we answer very differently, given our deepest commitments about the meaning of life, our beliefs about God, the human condition, and history. For some, it is a clear “no,” sure as we are that no one knows, and no one can; so it is arrogance to assume that… Read more

December 30, 2015

“If these shadows remain unaltered by the future….” Of all the scenes in A Christmas Carol, the visit of Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present with the Cratchit family, is perhaps the tenderest. It is, after all, where we hear Tiny Tim say, inimitably, “God bless us, everyone!” So very human, full of hopes and heartaches it is. Mrs. Cratchit and her children are busy with preparations for the holiday meal, and Bob, the father, is off to Christmas Day worship… Read more

December 23, 2015

All of us have antennae. We watch for things, hoping that what we see and hear is more truthful than not. And when we sense that something is being said that is not quite true, we cringe; we may even cry out in dismay or disgust. I am that way about Christmas. While I love the heart of what it means, I hate much of what it has come to mean. Whether our Grinches are from Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens… Read more

December 16, 2015

“What are the Japanese peasants looking for in me? These people who live and work and die like beasts find for the first time in our teaching a path in which they can cast away the fetters that bind them…. for a long time they have lived in resignation to such a fate.” The Washington Post called Silence by Shusaku Endo “a profoundly moving, a profoundly disturbing book”— and it is that, from beginning to end. One of the most difficult books… Read more

December 2, 2015

“At crucial moments of choice, most of the business of choosing is already over.” There are some truths that are true across time, perennially true. Year after year, generation after generation, century after century, civilization after civilization. In a sentence, the Oxford moral philosopher Iris Murdoch captured the heart of our humanness. We see out of our hearts, and we hear out of our hearts— and so we choose out of our hearts, making decisions that either take us more… Read more

November 25, 2015

Neighbors by choice. There is nothing magic about it, though I am sure there are mysteries in it. Mostly it is about ordinary people who have ordinary lives who live in ordinary places, like many, many other before us. For most of life, Meg and I have lived this way, choosing our neighbors before we have chosen our houses— from our first decision as newly married folk, on through the moves we have made over the years, even into the… Read more

November 18, 2015

Falling, falling, falling…. and finally, he fell. When the clock struck 9:30 pm or so, with our bowl of popcorn between us, we spent many evenings looking in on the strangely sad life of “Mad Men,” the storied series about Donald Draper and his fellows, men and women who populated the advertising world of Madison Avenue during the late 1950s through the early 1970s. And with a weekend in New York City, this seems a good time to ponder the… Read more

November 11, 2015

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Consumerism Gone Wild. Read other perspectives here. Can business ever be just about business? or politics just about politics? or the arts just about the arts? or education just about education? The wisest wisdom has always said no. Life is too complex, for all of us. One area of life is connected to every other area of life— by the very nature of the universe (“uni”verse that it… Read more

November 4, 2015

The most beautiful, and the most broken, all together— making sense of both is the question of my life, and of every life. A little while back I was in Dallas, Texas, taking part in the Gathering, an event that is hard to describe. It is difficult to even imagine that it happens. Once a year several hundred people with hearts longing to offer their resources to address the complex aches and pains of the world, come together to deepen their… Read more

October 28, 2015

What makes good work good? A lot could be said, and has. But it’s a question I’ve been asking for most of my life— because it matters to all of us, for all of us. In every time in every place, human beings give most of life to labor. What do we do? and why do we do it? and why does it matter? To put bread on the table. To pay the rent. To have money for my children… Read more

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