Long before Sarah Palin met CPAC and the Duck Dynasty clan discovered A&E, George Gallup Jr. famously declared 1976 the “Year of the Evangelical.” Subsequent commentators often pluralized “evangelical.” They might have done the same for “year,” too. In many years hence—1980, say, or 2004—it was 1976 all over again, to judge from the headlines. Those election years highlighted the Christian Right, a force that was not on Gallup’s radar screen back when Jimmy Carter was the prototypical evangelical in public life.
The years of the evangelicals were not only about campaign politics, however.
I recently spoke at a stewardship conference. I always learn a tremendous amount when I speak, and that conference in particular was full of insightful people who inspired me to think theologically and practically about stewardship.
I was sitting in a seminary classroom, taking part in an internship program, and the professor was waxing eloquently about calling. It was all good. She was quoting Frederick Buechner and Howard Thurman, and describing vocation as our deepest joy and what makes us come alive.
In her Motherlode post “I Refuse to Be Busy,” K.J. Dell’Antonia mostly bypasses some of the complaints of working mothers. She doesn’t, at least not in this post, discuss the pressures on parents who are pressing their kids toward the best school, the best jobs, etc.
I ran into Ralph at the café. Ralph is a retired paper mill worker, a Vietnam vet, and a self-proclaimed “wise sage” who drives everyone in the café crazy with his incessant theological chatter. He always interrupts my sermon preparation. He wants to talk about God or Jesus or numerology or the chickens he’s raising. But most times, I come away from a conversation with him having yielded a little jewel of insight.
Caravaggio painted his The Incredulity of St. Thomas sometime around the turn of the seventeenth century. Jesus (in white linen) stands to the left, Thomas is next to him (in a thread-bare red shirt), and Jesus is guiding Thomas’s hand as Thomas places his finger in the wound just under Jesus’ right breast. Two other disciples, also in red, hover in the scene
First, you get a question. “What is God's will for my life?” or “Are my parents really in purgatory” or “What about babies who die before they are baptized?” or “What about all those people who lived before Jesus was born?” or any one of a number of questions you get when you wear the funny shirt with the little white tab in the middle.