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.
I am by principle and often spontaneously, as if by nature, a man of faith. But my reading of the Gospels, comforting and clarifying and instructive as they frequently are, deeply moving or exhilarating as they frequently are, has caused me to understand them also as a burden, sometimes raising the hardest of personal questions, sometimes bewildering, sometimes contradictory, sometimes apparently outrageous in their demands. This is the confession of an unconfident reader.
Brian Flemming is that most dangerous of religious creatures: the former fundamentalist. He is also a gifted satirical filmmaker. The two elements collide and create sparks in The God Who Wasn’t There: A Film Beyond Belief, which is playing at selected venues (see thegodmovie.com) and banking on Internet buzz and word of mouth to gain publicity.
Children living on the edges of time zones are the ones most aware of the arbitrary nature of timekeeping. On the Western edges, they whine about being called indoors on summer evenings when the sun is still shining. On the Eastern edges, they are rightly offended when the winter sun starts to go down at 4:30 in the afternoon.
When my parents bought their home in Marshall, Texas, in 1984, there were 96 mature trees on their one-acre lot, many of them towering pines that rise 75 feet or more from the ground, covering their house with a peaceful green canopy. These giant pines are beautiful but deadly.