Since starting seminary I've had the opportunity to read
through the Old Testament with a thoroughness I haven't used since my
evangelical youth group days. While building biblical literacy is something
evangelicals do very well, reading the Old Testament now reminds me how my context
shaped how I read the Bible. And it all had to do with sex.
I grew up around evangelical church leaders who were hardcore
about spiritual fasting, sometimes going a week on just water or 40 days on
just fruit juice. (I never made it more than a day.) When I started running in mainline
circles, I was thrown by the way people used the word "fast" to mean giving up
chocolate or beer or television.
On Ash Wednesday, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a bill banning capital punishment. A member of my congregation offers a powerful Lenten lesson for the year the death penalty was abolished in Illinois.
An elementary school in Baltimore is sending children who misbehave to a Mindful Moment Room. In a room with lamps, decorations, and plush pillows, the students are encouraged to use breathing and meditation practices and to talk through the incident that got them sent to the room. There were no suspensions at the school last year. A nearby high school used the same approach to discipline problems and saw a decline in suspensions and an increase in attendance rates (Upworthy.com, September 22).