"Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep.” So begins one of my favorite prayers, from the service for compline in the Episcopal prayer book. What a good thing it is, before going to bed, to remember those whose rest comes with the dawn.
I have read most of what Harvey Cox has written over the decades. One sign of Cox’s longevity is the relative price of his books: my dog-eared paperback copy of Secular City bears a printed price of $1.45. The Future of Faith, published last fall, which I just finished reading, cost $24.99.
Sometimes life in a big city can feel impersonal, almost inhuman. On the streets the taxis vie for pole position at the stoplights and cut one another off to get to a fare. On the sidewalks people beg for money, holding signs that say things like “Homeless. Hungry. Help.”
One night years ago, when there were such things as open tickets on airlines and one did not have to establish identity to get through security, my wife and I left $900 worth of tickets on the back seat of a cab from O’Hare Airport to our home. It was two a.m., we were tired from crossing time zones, and we were careless.
This portion of the narrative is a continuation and expansion of what has just preceded. The other ten disciples are jealous, are angry with James and John because they have pushed Jesus—successfully—to give them a preeminent share in his destiny. Jesus has not criticized or dismissed their insistent demand but has lovingly transformed it from a desire for glory into a willingness to suffer. Still, why should some of the disciples be granted privileges over the rest?
"I have a philosophy about life,” a friend said recently. “The world would be a much better place if people took a moment to let people know about the positive impact they have had on others’ lives. Too much time is spent on negativity. The good in people simply isn’t recognized; too often it is taken for granted.”
That the phrase “Minnesota nice” is considered an insult by many says a lot about contemporary culture. I’m sure Minnesotans are as capable of acting on their original sin as are citizens of other states. But just often enough numbers of them behave in ways that startle non-nice Americans.
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