For well over a thousand years November 1, or All Saints Day, has been marked in red on the Christian calendar. The meaning behind the celebration speaks to our time, especially when distinguishing between saints and celebrities, and remembering Karl Barth's word about reading the Bible with the daily newspaper in hand. The latter tells of celebrities, the former offers saints.
I Had a childhood friend whose mother yelled at her a lot. Her mother's ravings, however, were rarely attached to identifiable offenses. Asked why she was yelling, she'd snarl, "On general principles!" It was a free-form thing. Sometimes she'd yell about real crimes, but Tina was innocent of many of them. Her mother was unbowed.
Devout christians often appropriate the Bible's language and patterns to frame their spiritual experiences. When feeling dry or abandoned, we speak of exile or desert sojourns. Prodded to an unknown destination, we invoke the memory of a wandering Aramaean. After long vigils, when we finally know, we say we've heard a still, small voice.
The deacons of a well-off parish announced that they would give grocery vouchers to strangers who dropped by the church office. The vouchers could be used for food, but were "not valid for alcohol, lottery tickets or tobacco." The congregation was thrilled. Cash handouts were making them uncomfortable.