This past Christmas, I wished for and received a chainsaw. On New Year’s Eve, while I was engaged in a woodworking project, the chainsaw slipped, grabbed my left sleeve, threw me to the ground, and in a matter of seconds dug into my arm, cutting my hand and wrist to the bone for about six inches. I began bleeding profusely.
Barbara Blodgett, director of supervised ministries at Yale Divinity School, has written what may be the best book yet on the crucial issue of pastoral trust. She defines trust as an act, a practice, something that we choose to do in relationship. But she doesn’t rely only on abstract definitions.
God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer
Shortly after the attacks of September 11, President Bush declared that the perpetrators had “violated the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith” and that “Islam is peace.” On what basis did Bush make this declaration? The terrorists certainly thought they were being obedient to the tenets of the Islamic faith.
This is a book I should not have liked. It’s a story of a lonely Catholic priest trapped in a bleak little parish in a nowhere Scottish town. Of course the priest is sexually repressed and socially inept, and of course his downfall is a chaste kiss plastered on a teenager under his care. It’s a hackneyed plot that’s no longer news.
Christian Preaching: A Trinitarian Theology of Proclamation
Contemporary Christian homiletics has taken a wrong turn. Reaching out to speak to the world, we fell in—face down. Too troubled by what our audience could and could not hear, we reduced the gospel to a set of sappy platitudes that anybody could accept and no one could resist.
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus begins with the comforting word: “Do not
be afraid!” Elsewhere, he has told us not to be afraid in the middle of
a raging storm, or in the dark of night, or when he confronts us like a
ghost after resurrection.
God promises the people of Israel that he will not “pass them by.” At
the same time, God sets a plumb line against Israel, using a divine
standard to measure the fidelity of God’s people. A visit from God,
then, is presented as judgment that shall lead to desolation and
As I read through one of the epistles, with Paul hammering an early
congregation for its members’ infidelities and numerous discipleship
shortcomings, I wish I had the guts to give my people the sermonic
tongue-lashing they so richly deserve. Then suddenly, in mid-diatribe,
Paul asserts, “Now you are the body of Christ.”
Evangelism After Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian Witness
Bryan Stone’s Evangelism after Christendom is a remarkable book that was about 30 years in the making—three decades of thinking, research, experimentation and reflection on the church in post-Christendom.
It seems strange to be reading a tough text like Luke 9:51-62 during
the gentle days of early summer. Most of our congregations are in
relaxed, vacation mode. And into these mellow summer days is shoved a
gospel that speaks of the stark demands of discipleship. Jesus has set
his face toward Jerusalem, but he is no passive victim of
One of my favorite books is Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, a wild, imaginative, vicious satire about Stalinist Russia in particular and the modern world in general. Bulgakov imagines a visit by Satan to Soviet Moscow, where all dutiful members of the intelligentsia are atheist.