I grew up around art and a few artists. I looked to people who had a reverence for the world at large. A natural contemplative awareness developed, as in many children before it is covered over. Call it awe, which Abraham Heschel describes as an “intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme.”
No wonder I became both a photographer and an Episcopal deacon.
The long line snaked past the shoe cubbies and head-covering bins. It terminated well outside the exhibit hall as hundreds of people ate—or waited to eat—lunch. Arriving a bit earlier or a bit later would have made no difference. Everyone wanted to be part of this spiritual practice, and we were no exception. Friendly young adults, dressed in white, moved down the line and cheerfully explained the history of the event. Soon enough, we were seated in a row on the floor. Another row of people sat facing us. One by one, servers brought trays: rice, curried vegetables, water, salad, a cup, utensils, mango lassi. Second and third helpings ensured that no one left hungry.
The Sikh community offered langar, which means “common kitchen,” to all 9,000-plus registrants at last week's Parliament of the World’s Religions.
In his recent address before Congress, Pope Francis invoked the spiritual legacy of Thomas Merton and in particular his "capacity for dialogue and openness to all." This ostensibly fond recollection of Merton is emblematic of the kind of talk that has endeared many liberals, Catholics and others, to Pope Francis: papal language that instills hope for eventual doctrinal change in the
On the radio last week, I heard a police officer being interviewed about the shootings in his town of Roseberg, Oregon. He said something like, “We’re just in shock. Things like this always happen somewhere else, not in a town like ours.”
I was surprised to hear this. I take it for granted that, someday, a public shooting is going to happen in a town, school, or church near me, maybe at a time when I happen to be there.
So far, this presidential campaign season has been dominated by the narrative of the steadfast outsider. A July poll found that more than three-quarters of Donald Trump’s supporters like him because he stands up to the media and isn’t interested in political correctness. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, a secular Jew and registered Independent, is energizing the Democratic base—not by minimizing his European-style socialism, but by shooting straight. “He’s so authentic, he’s hip,” wrote Steve Winkler in the Guardian.
Then there’s Joe Biden, who hasn’t said yet if he’ll run.
I recently had the honor of sitting down with a fourth-generation Mississippian who knows a thing or two about racial injustice because he’s spent his life fighting it: Duncan M. Gray Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi from 1974 to 1993.