Not long ago I had a small epiphany at the airport. I was removing my jacket and boots, attempting to unzip my carryon and extract a laptop while checking my pockets for metal and nudging gray plastic bins toward a conveyor belt. I was trying not to hurry the person in front of me or delay the person behind, who waited grimly with shoes in one hand and an iPad in the other.
One hears a lot, these days, about the virtues of doubt. There is much talk about creating space for doubt, encouraging doubt, dignifying doubt, about how doubt is preferable to the illusory certainties of faith, about how doubt can even be an important part of faith.
My dad’s been a church musician for years. I cut my musical teeth filling in where needed: whichever instrument, whichever voice part. Also: whichever role in the large-scale musicals the church staged, where I was an odd combination of ringer and gofer. Sometimes I sang the role that was too high or too difficult for others.
Not since Kony 2012 has my Facebook feed been awash in such a prolific meme: red Human Rights Campaign equal signs. I’m not exaggerating when I say more than half my Facebook friends (with recent updates) either have changed their Facebook profile pic or shared and/or liked the image. We discussed the fad in my Faith and Leadership class yesterday. After that conversation, I’m somehow both less cynical about social media and more convicted about the power for meaningful conversations face-to-face.
Apparently the term “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin phrase “mandatum novum” meaning “new commandment.” The reference is to John 13, which features the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, followed by his statement about a new commandment he has given them, to love one another.
We actually reached this passage in my class on the Gospel of John yesterday, and had an interesting discussion about whether this commandment is “new,” and if so, in what sense.
Americans have always believed that the devil likes to play politics. Colonial leader Henry Hugh Brackenridge claimed in 1778 that Satan inspired George III’s allegedly ruthless policy toward the colonies. Two decades later, Federalists claimed that the nascent Democratic Party had put forward the antichrist as a presidential candidate in the form of Thomas Jefferson. Later Jedidiah Morse, inventor of Morse code and end-times enthusiast, explained to audiences the Devil’s role in Jeffersonianism. He even claimed to have a list of Democrats who belonged to the Illuminati (though like Joe McCarthy, Morse never showed anyone his proof).
The History Channel miniseries The Bible has been alleged to continue this trend.