In the days after my grandmother died, my aunts introduced me to Iris DeMent's song “Let the Mystery Be." As is true for many people, from the early years of Christian faith, the loss of one dear to me sparked wonderings about what happens after death. I have fuzzy, 15-year-old memories of one of my aunts thinking aloud about the possibility of reincarnation, and older family members assuring us all that my grandmother was sitting at the feet of Jesus.
If you’ve heard of The Fault in Our Stars, the recently released movie based on John Green’s bestselling book, you’ve probably heard that it’s about teenagers with cancer. And while this is true—the main characters, Gus and Hazel, meet in a teenage cancer support group—one of the movie’s greatest triumphs is not letting the characters be defined by their cancer.
Years ago I was very good at hope. I could hope for a more celebrated position, flatter abs, or to cross the finish of Ironman. I was also good at setting goals to achieve these ends: I put my head down and knocked them off.
The elation of accomplishing these goals and garnering a little attention for my efforts was a great high, but unfortunately it did not usually last long.
The swift and unexpected political demise of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) at the hands of his own party’s primary electorate last night has already called forth endless analysis. Beaten by an economics professor who ran on a shoestring and whose major source of institutional support came from talk radio hosts, Cantor has been charged variously with focusing too much on preparing to be the next House speaker, with running an ineffective campaign that spent no money on voter contact but $200,000 on steakhouses, with being too soft on immigrants (Cantor proposed a path to legal status for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children), and with being too negative and unfair in his campaign ads. There is even speculation that Cantor was defeated by Democrats voting in Virginia’s open primary.
Whatever the mix of factors, the primary defeat of a House majority leader—something that has apparently never happened in the 115-year history of that office—indicates a politician, and a party, caught sleeping by a restless electorate.
As I prepared to be ordained recently, my mind kept returning to the people in my life who might be perplexed by this decision. I have friends and colleagues who wonder, quite justly, what the church has to offer that one cannot find elsewhere. I thought about how I might describe what pulls me toward ministry and the church in particular.
I frequently speak to church groups about pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I speak as a pilgrim, but the conversation often turns to politics. Inevitably someone will ask about our denomination’s position on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There’s no simple answer.
On Monday evening, my daughter and I joined several hundred others outside the Capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina. We were there for the latest in a series of Moral Monday rallies organized to oppose the legislature’s policies toward (among other things) social programs, education, environmental legislation, and voting rights.
The statehouse is a solid 90-minute drive from our house, so it makes for a long evening on a school night.
Representations of Christian life that are sympathetic, plausible, and interesting are rare enough in popular media to deserve notice. That’s one reason to be a fan of the British series Call the Midwife, now in its third season on public television.
This month, the Federal Communications Commission voted to open debate on new rules regarding net neutrality, the idea that Internet service providers (Verizon, Comcast, etc.) should treat all data equally, regardless of its source or destination. Net neutrality advocates argue that the Internet is best when it operates on a simple first-come, first-served basis.
The FCC's proposal, however, includes provisions for ISPs to allow "paid prioritization," otherwise known as an Internet "fast lane," when such service meets a threshold of "commercial reasonableness." This means that ISPs can negotiate massive payments from large-scale purveyors of online bandwidth.
The shooting that rocked California last week raised questions about treating the mentally ill and why there are so many semi-automatic weapons on our streets. But what caught the nation's eye this time around was that the shooter made clear his motives: Twenty-two-year-old Elliot Rodger hated women. He wrote a manifesto announcing his intention to reap vengeance on women for denying him the sexual attention he believed was his entitlement.