For seven splendid years (1953-1960) I studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Someone told me that visitors to the seminary were occasionally brought around to the tutors' office, where I worked as a graduate student, in order to glimpse "the Barthian"—of which species I was apparently the only one in captivity in that place.
The paradox of being a writer is that you are more likely to get outcomes when you let go of getting outcomes: it frees you from the ego's grip. There is a parallel here to the faith journey: seek your life and you will lose it, lose your life and you will find it.
John Calvin grounded our need to know God in our createdness: "What is the chief end of human life?" he asked, and answered, "To know God by whom we were created." This yearning is not the same as our need to "know" other human beings.
Along America's highways, wooden barns used to reign, and blue or white silos stood like sentries. Today those wooden barns and silos are decaying, their wooden ribcages emerging like skeletons after years of neglect, and slowly being replaced by low steel buildings. Under this seemingly innocuous change in architecture lies a great American drama.
Plant a garden. Listen to birdsong. Sit quietly in a park without checking your phone. These activities are examples of ecotherapy, a form of mental health treatment based on the idea that nature has healing powers. “If you hold moist soil for 20 minutes, the soil bacteria begin elevating your mood,” says Craig Chalquist, an innovator in this new field. “You have all the antidepressant you need in the ground.” Chalquist maintains that it helps even more to give something back to nature—not just looking at trees, but caring for them (Atlantic, October).