In 1984, Marvel Comics created a new nemesis for Spider-Man. The character would be a symbiote, inspired by what parasitologists call the weaker of two organisms inhabiting the same space. The weaker organism can draw life from the stronger, and in the most dramatic cases it siphons off its host’s nutrients before the host realizes what’s happening.
In this issue, Krista Tippett recalls that as a teen she was eager to leave Oklahoma and a Southern Baptist grandfather who represented a “small, closed world defined by judgment.” According to him, “Every Catholic and Jew, every atheist in China and every northern Baptist in Chicago, for that matter—every non–Southern Baptist—[wa
My grandfather was the Reverend Calvin Titus Perkins, known as C.T. He was a Southern Baptist evangelist—a traveling preacher in Oklahoma, the former Indian Territory. He arrived in a covered wagon as a very young boy, and the famous Oklahoma dust seems embedded in the black-and-white photos I’ve seen of him. He was a man of passion but also a lover of order, a believer in rules. The bare bones Calvinism that flourished on the frontier offered him not only a faith but a way out of chaos and poverty.
It takes a certain level of self-deception to be a lukewarm evangelical. Intense piety is in the tradition’s DNA. The need for not only a conversion experience but a life in which the gospel is internalized and alive and demonstrated in the world has given evangelicalism an impressive vitality.
The conversation at Caesarea Philippi is a defining moment for the synoptic Gospels, although only Matthew and Mark name it as the location for Peter’s confession, “You are the Messiah.” For the Gospel narratives as post-Easter interpretations, reflections and perspectives, who Jesus is constitutes the most important question for those early communities that claimed belief in
In the South Side Chicago neighborhood where I grew up, if one of the men on the block found himself stymied by City Hall bureaucracy, he would talk to Louie. I was never quite sure what Louie did for a living.
I saw my father preach the other day. His hair is now white, and the skin on his face has loosened with age, but this is the same man whose face I saw above the pulpit throughout my childhood. He stood like a captain in the bow of the ship that he loves, confident that the vessel would rise and fall with his voice and break the waves of human need as it sailed to the promised land.
Prior to the Allied campaign in North Africa, GIs were issued handbooks designed to prepare them for the strange new lands in which they would fight: “Don’t refer to the people as heathen, they are very religious.