My grandmother died in 2005, on the eve of the feast of Saints Mary and Martha of Bethany. The next day I went to the weekday eucharist at St. James Cathedral in Chicago, and the story of Martha and her sister brought me instantly to tears. Like so many women of her generation (and not only hers), my grandmother was deeply identified with her hospitality and service. She was a lot like Martha, and I loved her for it.
I am more troubled now than I was then at the way this story is gendered in our reading.
On a busy day recently I pulled into a gas station and filled up my car’s gasoline tank. As I stood next to the car, I noticed that metallic stickers on the gas pump verified that the state department of weights and measures had tested the gasoline and approved its sale.
Amos is a difficult prophet to preach because he is so little interested in the possibility that the fate of the people may improve if they return to God. Yet the encounter between the prophet and Amaziah the priest in today’s lesson is thrilling, even cinematic.
When I was in high school I was fascinated with the field of evolutionary psychology. With the help of authors like Robert Wright and Richard Dawkins, I believed that I could see through the veil of what we humans do and what we say about what we do and then discover what was at the heart of our motivation.
In The Sea and the Mirror, W.H. Auden audaciously wrote new poems in the voices of each character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, all set after the action of the play concludes. The result is a work both wonderfully reverent and plainly modern—you might even call it modern in its reverence.
I would have hoped that anyone presuming to put out a book called A New New Testament would borrow Auden’s approach and give us a genuine literary and theological invention.
On Sunday night I went to hear Dan Savage speak about the It Gets Better Project. The last time I saw him was 2003, if memory serves, in front of a crowd of perhaps a hundred. At one point Savage took a break from promoting his new book Skipping Toward Gomorrah to refer his audience to the now-famous New Republic cover story "The Liberal Case for War" (against Iraq).
It was a good talk, funny and engaging, and it made a striking contrast with his Sunday appearance.