Carlyle Marney said that each of us is like a house, with a
living room where we entertain and a dark basement where we store the
trash. And each house has a balcony with all the people
who have influenced and inspired us. The way to
celebrate All Saints Day, he said, is to step out onto the front lawn
and salute the people on your balcony. One of my balcony people
I used to sit on the front porch with my grandmother, otherwise the
gentlest, most unconditionally loving person in my young life, while
she regaled me with stories about what was going on under the dome of
the Roman Catholic cathedral one block away. They're storing guns in
the basement, Grandma assured me, and I imagined that the windows in
the dome were gunports through which "they" planned to fire on the rest
of the city.
The rest of the world calls it “the beautiful game,” and for a month of World Cup soccer competition Americans get to see it on TV—the moments of explosive action and the constant flow of movement from one end of the field to the other, with hardly any commercial interruptions. More Americans (19.4 million) recently watched Ghana eliminate the U.S.
In this issue, Krista Tippett recalls that as a teen she was eager to leave Oklahoma and a Southern Baptist grandfather who represented a “small, closed world defined by judgment.” According to him, “Every Catholic and Jew, every atheist in China and every northern Baptist in Chicago, for that matter—every non–Southern Baptist—[wa
After reading Walter Brueggemann’s review of Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate (March 23), I ordered a copy. Eagleton teaches at the University of Lancaster, England, at the National University of Ireland and at Notre Dame.
There is no excuse or justification for the flotilla incident in which Israeli commandos boarded six ships bearing humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people in Gaza, sparking a violent confrontation that resulted in the deaths of nine people. More details about the incident are bound to come out and ultimate responsibility for it will be fiercely debated.
I was out of the country recently when a member of my congregation died. When this happens I feel the pain of being unable to do anything helpful, and a little guilt as well. That’s when I relearn a basic lesson in ecclesiology: I belong to a community of faith that knows how to be a church in my absence.
Every spring when our church confirms members of our confirmation class, I reflect on my own experience of joining the church. I don’t think we called it confirmation back then—that was something the Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans did. We Presbyterians simply joined the church when we arrived at seventh grade. The point was to be able to take communion.
By all accounts, the crowd that gathered outside the temporary quarters of the Roman governor in Jerusalem on a Friday morning 2,000 years ago whipped itself, or was whipped by skilled political operatives, into an angry frenzy.
I ordered Garrison Keillor’s Life among the Lutherans as soon as I heard about it. Who could resist a title like that? Besides, in a way, it is a description of my life. Lutherans consistently have been important in my life.
I read The Catcher in the Rye when I was in college. J.D. Salinger’s book, published in 1951, has sold more than 65 million copies and still sells 250,000 a year. Catcher became required reading for a whole generation. The antihero of the book, Holden Caulfield, remains a cult hero for some.
Whenever talk turns to how dreadful health care is in countries where the government has a large role in it, I think back to a summer spent in Scotland. Our young son began to suffer from what seemed to be a virulent new allergy, and after sleepless nights and several days of sneezing, we went to the local infirmary, part of the national health plan.
In time for Holy Week, this issue features David Cunningham’s essay on the destiny of the “other thief” who was on the cross beside Jesus. It also contains William H. Willimon’s witness to the radical news of Easter.
I have read most of what Harvey Cox has written over the decades. One sign of Cox’s longevity is the relative price of his books: my dog-eared paperback copy of Secular City bears a printed price of $1.45. The Future of Faith, published last fall, which I just finished reading, cost $24.99.
A recurring challenge for preachers, teachers and readers of the Gospel of John is making sense of its references to “the Jews.” At Jesus’ sentencing Pilate goes “out to the Jews” to tell them that he finds no reason to crucify Jesus (18:38).
I regretted to see in the January 2 New York Times that Peter Steinfels was writing his final “Beliefs” column. I’ve rarely missed a Steinfels column over the years. They were consistently respectful and totally devoid of either simplistic advocacy or simplistic criticism. Steinfels attempted to understand and analyze the complexity of religion in contemporary America.
Part of the continuing education for religious leaders of all types ought to involve occasional Sunday mornings spent not in church but observing the way that an increasing percentage of Americans spend their Sunday mornings. I came upon this idea some years ago when I found myself at home on a Sunday with reasons not to show up at church, since everyone was expecting me to be away.