It’s summer, a time when most preachers are lucky enough to enjoy an extended Sabbath. For me, summer affords the opportunity to do the kind of reading I know I need to do but am not able to get to in the midst of the normal schedule. I save major works to take with me on summer vacation.
In times of crisis, churches rise to the occasion. Rich Preheim’s article about ministry on the Gulf Coast makes me proud of the often-maligned institutional church, which has poured dollars and volunteers into the disaster-struck areas.
Everything that Jürgen Moltmann writes is worth reading and thinking about, beginning with his Theology of Hope (1964) and its compelling message that Christianity is deeply and essentially about hope—not optimism, but hope based on trust in God’s redeeming activity even in the midst of dreadful circumstances.
My interest in books leads to odd behavior sometimes: checking out the content of the bookshelves when I am visiting someone’s home or a colleague’s study, sneaking a look at whatever my airplane seatmate is reading, poring over the list of ingredients on a cereal box when there is nothing else at hand to read.
In terms of commercial activity, Mother’s Day is the third-biggest holiday in the U.S., with 140 million greeting cards sold and $7 billion spent on presents and meals—and 60 million roses. Robert Fulghum assembled this information for his book It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It two decades ago, and I rediscovered it in my “Mother” file.
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.