August 16, 2022

  As a rule, I don’t watch stories with child stars or adults pretending to be children.  But some younger friends got me hooked on “Stranger Things”. At first what I found powerfully attractive were the friendships, alliances, and the struggle of the adults in the story to be good parents.  But over four seasons the story told by the Duffer brothers took on a surprising and deeper significance. They seemed to be telling a story about what happens when... Read more

August 10, 2022

Woody Allen best captures the modern, American attitude toward death: “I’m not afraid to die, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”[i] But if denial is the dominant approach to death, our other approach to it involves a wide array of rationalizations: “He lived a full life.” “It was a blessing in disguise.” “It could have been worse.” “It’s all a part of life.” The list is endless. Some of the rationalizations are intelligible, of course, at... Read more

August 4, 2022

No challenge takes us to that thin, fragile place in life like the neurological illnesses that rob us of speech, thought and motion, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.  When it strikes our loved ones, it is even difficult to grieve their loss.  Some of us grieve that loss when the illness strikes.  Some of us grieve when they leave us physically.  Some grieve in both moments, not quite sure what to do.  Others encounter “disenfranchised grief” and never quite find the... Read more

August 1, 2022

Seminaries are never reducible to curriculum, though the curriculum of a seminary can tell you a good deal about its goals.  They are also a powerful experience in acculturation and, therefore, in spiritual formation – even if a seminary does little to explicitly shape the spiritual lives of their students.  And that experience in shaped by both formal and informal dynamics.  In turn, that experience shapes not just the life and ministry of their graduates, but the lives of their... Read more

July 13, 2022

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is over, and it ended with a decision of greater significance than one might have expected from a meeting truncated by Covid 19.  In two sessions, the first of which was marked by both confusion and a lack of clear definitions, the House of Bishops eventually passed resolution A059 which was approved with minor revisions from the House of Deputies.  The pivotal conclusion was this: A059 would, for the first time, define the... Read more

July 7, 2022

As he was leaving for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention one of our bishops posted the thoughts of a bishop attending the Convention more than a century ago: In the coming Convention, questions of policy will be discussed, and strong conviction may express itself in strong terms. Superficial lookers-on may talk about our factions. The secular newspapers are not unlikely to regard the debates and votes as recording the triumph of one side over another. They mistakenly regard the Church... Read more

June 30, 2022

Looking back, it is hard to believe that America ever had a test pattern.  It was “a test card created by RCA of Harrison, New Jersey, for calibration of the RCA TK-1 monoscope. It features a drawing of a Native American wearing a headdress and numerous graphic elements designed to test different aspects of broadcast display. The card was introduced in 1939 and over the course of the black-and-white television broadcasting era was widely adopted by television stations across North America.”  I am quoting here because I only understand in general terms... Read more

June 26, 2022

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22-23) When I was teaching in Dallas, I used to take seminarians for a week-long experience at a Benedictine monastery in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  For almost all... Read more

June 23, 2022

  In March, the Pew Foundation reported on trends in church attendance: …attendance at in-person services – which grew steadily from July 2020 through September 2021 – has plateaued, as has the share of adults watching religious services online or on TV. In July 2020, roughly four months after COVID-19 upended life in America, 13% of U.S. adults reported having attended religious services in person during the previous month. That figure rose to 17% in March 2021 and then to 26% in September... Read more

June 13, 2022

  Rowan Williams argues that there are three approaches to theology: the “celebratory,” the “communicative,” and the “critical.”[i] The “celebratory” is the “attempt to draw out and display connections of thought and image so as to exhibit the fullest possible range of significance in the language used.  It is typically the language of hymnody and preaching,” but it can also be found in the work of Dante and Langland, Byzantine iconography, and some of “the more intelligent modern choruses.”[ii]  Williams... Read more

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