When I was in Croatia this past May I went on a hunt for kulen, a specialty sausage found in a region of Northeast Croatia called Slavonia. You can’t buy kulen in any store, of course. To get it you’ve got to have friends in very high places—in backwater villages of Slavonia where people raise their own pigs and prepare kulen according to recipes passed on in families for generations.
I write this near the end of a doctor of ministry class at Columbia Seminary, where 16 pastors are exploring virtues for preaching. We are exploring virtues instead of skills because most of us recognize that scholarly exegesis, narrative flair and good eye contact have gotten us about as far as they will.
Calvin says somewhere that each of us is an actor on a stage and God is the audience. That metaphor has always interested me, because it makes us artists of our behavior, and the reaction of God to us might be thought of as aesthetic rather than morally judgmental in the ordinary sense.”
Infertility—a gift!? Poison and a curse—that’s how this unexplained infertility of ours felt to me for what seemed like an eternity. Nine years of trying to have a child of our own was like having to drink bitter waters from a poisoned well month after month.
In 2011, the wealthiest Americans—those in the top 20 percent of earnings—gave only 1.3 percent of their earnings to charity. Those in the bottom 20 percent donated 3.2 percent of their income. Several theories exist as to why the wealthy are inclined to give less: by their very nature they are driven to look out for their own interests, and they are less likely to be exposed to real human need. Wealthy people tend to give to institutions from which they benefit, such as universities, museums, and arts organizations, while the poor tend to give to social service charities and religious organizations (Atlantic, March 20).