I am unapologetically patriotic by temperament and upbringing. I sing the national anthem at Wrigley Field, get chills when the navy’s Blue Angels roar overhead at the Chicago Air Show, and fly the flag on the Fourth of July. I spent some time in the air force ROTC, and some of my classmates flew missions in Vietnam. I supported the U.S.
In the days before Easter, preachers find themselves ricocheting back and forth between anticipation of full-to-overflowing sanctuaries and anxiety about being up to the task. In the case of the people who make it to church only on Easter, the preacher has only one shot; we want to make it count.
I like the title of Jon Sweeney’s book Born Again and Again, reviewed in this issue along with three other memoirs dealing with fundamentalism. My own religious experience includes several trips to the altar as a youngster, one in a Baptist church, another in a revival tent.
A generation or two ago, American novelists could assume that people would understand biblical allusions, hence titles like East of Eden, Absalom, Absalom! and Song of Solomon. That assumption is no longer valid.
Jason Byassee’s Team players is an important article for those of us who do ministry in the unique matrix called a “church staff.” When I am not behind my desk at the Christian Century, I continue to serve as pastor of what Lyle Schaller calls a “multiple-staff church.” His book The Multiple Staff and the Larger Church sit
Christmas 2005 may be remembered as the year arguments were revived over whether in the public square one should say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Target and Wal-Mart stores were boycotted by some evangelical Christians for their practice of referring to the “holiday.” Some Christians even criticized President and Laura Bush for sending out a greeting card that said “With best wishes for
Barbara Wheeler, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, tells about flying from New York to California one December to make a speech at Fuller Theological Seminary. She spent three valuable upgrade coupons to secure a first-class seat so she could work on her speech during the flight.
One of the most memorable sermons I ever heard—one of the very few I actually remember—was a Christmas Day sermon preached by Charles Leber. At the time he and Ulysses Blake were copastors of First Presbyterian Church on Chicago’s South Side. Leber’s sermon was titled “Another Roman Holiday.
This is not an easy time to be a Chicago Cubs fan. Chicago is still celebrating the stunning World Series sweep by the Chicago White Sox. Baseball championships may happen regularly in cities like New York or Los Angeles, but not here. The White Sox last won the World Series in 1917. The Cubs’ last World Series victory was in 1908.
The congregation I serve recently surprised me by publicly recognizing the 20th anniversary of my arrival. I’ve never understood why longevity in ministry is any more deserving of celebration than staying the course as a physician, teacher, police officer, plumber, homemaker or spouse. Nevertheless, I appreciated and enjoyed the occasion.
There are Beach People and Non-Beach People. Most summers I spend a week—or two or three—at the beach. Friends sometimes ask, “What do you do there?” Anyone who asks that question is not a Beach Person.
You don’t do anything at the beach, or at least not much. You look at the ocean, walk beside it, swim in it, maybe build a sand castle, take a bike ride.
For the second time in ten months our attention has been commanded by a natural catastrophe—there was the tsunami this past December in Southeast Asia and now Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. As I write, Hurricane Ophelia is bearing down on the North Carolina coast, where my family has vacationed for decades.
Some theologians seem to disdain the church as they shine their scholarly light on the church’s triviality, unfaithfulness and banality. Other theologians have the same capacity for critical thinking, but they sit in the pew on Sunday morning, participate in the liturgy, and live out their scholarly vocation in and for the community of faith.
I read over the articles in this issue on teenage spirituality while traveling to my high school reunion in western Pennsylvania. It was a happy coincidence, since a reunion offers a brief reentry to the world of teenage relationships. It is remarkable how the dynamics of personal relations reactivate after half a century.
The day always began at the Fairview Elementary School with the teacher reading ten verses from the Bible, alternating one from the Old with one from the New Testament. We bowed our heads and said the Lord’s Prayer. Then we stood, placed our hands over our hearts, faced the American flag and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
George Lindbeck’s thoughtful reflections in this issue on the state of ecumenism set me to ruminating on my own ecumenical experience. It also reminded me that this journal has been ecumenically minded from its inception. For a time it even described itself as an “ecumenical weekly” (and before that as an “undenominational weekly”).