The Ebola outbreak is centered in three West African countries where almost 4,500 people have died; 17 people have been treated for the disease in Europe and North America, most of whom are health and aid workers who contracted the disease in West Africa. Americans are vigorously debating whether to place a travel ban on anyone trying to enter the nation from affected regions. Advocates of interreligious engagement—through their willingness to move across dangerous boundaries—show us how exchange does not necessarily beget vulnerability; it can bolster our humanity.
Among the more delightful and rewarding tasks of managing a blog is dealing with the blight upon digital existence that is spam. My blog platform’s spam settings are usually pretty reliable, but occasionally either a legitimate comment is labeled spam or something gets through that shouldn’t.
For mainline pastors, the Driscoll saga—the conflict at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church leading to the resignation of superstar pastor Mark Driscoll—can seem like a number of things: an entertaining but irrelevant sideshow, a distraction from the real work of God’s kingdom, or the long-overdue fall of someone whose theological views and ideology are so different from ours. We feel so distant from Driscoll and what he stands for that we can almost watch with bemused smiles.
And it’s just this sense of distance that might keep us for seeing this situation the way we should: as a cautionary tale.
We were talking about health and mental health the other day in staff meeting, and I asked why mental health issues couldn’t just be called health issues. After all, many of the diseases that affect one’s emotional life are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, a physical thing.
The narrator of one of Alice Munro’s short stories described a middle aged woman this way: “Here she sat and saw her day as hurdles got through. Not much to her credit to go through her life thinking, Well, good, now that’s over, that’s over. What was she looking forward to, what bonus was she hoping to get, when this, and this, and this was over?” (Selected Stories, 1997).
Have you ever been inordinately annoyed by someone else's clothing? I have, and in my experience this is a classic indicator of what this week's Leviticus reading calls “hating someone in my heart.” When I'm repressing anger or frustration, I suddenly notice the hideously out-of-date belt my relative is wearing, or the way-too-short-in-every-inseam pantsuit my co-worker has on. The clothes are never the true offense, of course, but they send off alarms: time to speak up.