Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison comes under the category of “Books to Be Read on an Annual Basis”—like Augustine’s Confessions, King Lear, or anything by Flannery O’Connor. In general, we read too many books and return to too few.
Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Augsburg Fortress). I would bundle this latest Lutheran hymnal with its earlier iterations, the most important being The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941, as well as The Daily Office, published in 1965.
Not long ago the New York Times carried a story about a California congregation that maintains three separate bands: one specializing in soft rock, one in hard rock and one in classic rock. It effectively recruits its members, all 8,000 of them, according to their taste in Christian rock music.
According to new findings in the Pulpit & Pew National Clergy Survey, a solid majority of clergy is deeply satisfied with the pastoral ministry. Seven out of ten of those surveyed report they have never considered abandoning their vocation. In other words, most pastors claim to have found happiness in the ministry.
One of my favorite lines in modern "religious" fiction comes from Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. The redoubtable country preacher, Hazel Motes, informs his landlady that he is a preacher in the "Church Without Christ" ("where the blind don't see and the lame don't walk and what's dead stays that way").
Forty years ago on a sweltering August day in Washington, the Baptist preacher and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the defining speech of his generation and the most famous oration of the 20th century.
Preachers are like comedians. They are always looking for new material. If the recent spate of articles on preachers plagiarizing in their sermons is any indication, the production of the weekly sermon in the face of limited time and a challenged imagination has become the overriding issue for busy ministers.
This splendid and judiciously selected collection of sermons begins and ends in the promised land. Puritan Robert Cushman's sermon is the earliest extant sermon preached on American soil and the first to be printed. Given in Plymouth in 1621, it launches the American quest for the promised land with a heartfelt appeal to communal love and care.
Why is it so difficult to sit down at a computer and write a piece about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? Is it because belief in the resurrection and dependence on technology are incompatible?
A stranger approaches Jacob's Well at high noon. He is tired and thirsty. There he meets a woman who has come to draw water. Something happens between them. . . . The original readers of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman must have felt themselves on familiar ground.
One of the disadvantages of being both a Lutheran and an academician is that you hear so few good conversion stories. The weight of my tradition identifies regeneration with the work of God in baptism. Those who tell their conversion stories with great gusto or whose spiritual c.v. runs on for pages (or hours) are automatically suspect in my denomination.
In 1932 my father met my mother by means of one of the great pick-up lines of their era. After a "young people's" social at their Lutheran church, he followed her along the park on the near north side of St. Louis to the streetcar stop. When he caught up to her, he said with the savoir-faire of a Lutheran Cary Grant, "Say, do you go to movies during Lent?"
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