I was visiting the traditional site of Good Friday and Easter: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, an imposing, exotic, heterogeneous amalgam of interconnected buildings in the Old City of Jerusalem. Oversight of the building complex is rationed out to the Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Coptic, Ethiopian and Syrian Orthodox communions.
years ago I received from a parishioner a "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season"
cookie tin. Every time I reached for a piece of Doris's divinity, I had to read
that cheery-angry motto of Christian moralism.
Not long ago, a retired pastor and theologian who had lived and taught in Buenos Aires in the early 1970s came back to visit. He had some pressing questions: What does liberation theology mean to you people today? What authors do you read in your seminary classes? What aspects of liberation theology still seem relevant to you?
The birth of Jesus contradicts the idea of a God who "lay above the earth like a layer of icy cirrus." The birth means that we encounter God, not only in elegant theology but in work and in our enjoyment of beauty, friendship and love—in love particularly.
I am an unwilling explorer of cyberspace. For years I managed not to go there. My handwriting was adequate for everyday purposes, my avocado green IBM Selectric sufficed for more formal projects, and I happily received my mail through the post office.
I live in a city of candles. At one end of Main Street, there’s a little jewel box of a shop that sells pure beeswax candles along with aromatherapy supplies, bath salts and hand-milled soaps that promise to impart an aura of serenity to the mundane affairs of the daily toilet. A few doors down, perfumed candles fill the New Age bookstore with the scent of generic spirituality.
Deep suffering makes theologians of us all. The questions people ask about God in Sunday school rarely compare with the questions we ask while we are in the hospital. This goes for those stuck in the waiting room as well as those in the hospital beds. To love someone who is suffering is to learn the visceral definition of pathetic: affecting or exciting emotion, especially the tender emotions, as pity or sorrow; so inadequate as to be laughable or contemptible. To spend one night in real pain is to discover depths of reality that are roped off while everything is going fine.