If you share my concern about the theological thinness of much of the
current craze of construing Christianity as a practice, get Roger
Owens's book. Even more, if you care about the theological identity of
the church, you will find The Shape of Participation to be this decade's finest work of ecclesiology.
My local Starbucks—and
probably yours too—has a large sign on each door that proclaims, "Take comfort
in rituals." When I'm being cynical, I read it as a multinational company
preying on our cultural longing for meaning by suggesting we can buy happiness
with a $4 cup of coffee.
My job often has me walking down hospital hallways. Today it was at
St Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ypsilanti where a parishioner is recovering
from pneumonia. Last week he slept as I sat in the room and worried
about him, but today he met me with a smile. He explained a procedure
I didn’t understand. Medical information seldom sticks in my brain.
Last month Slate
ran a series by Juliet Lapidos called Strictly
Platonic. Lapidos and her friend Jeffrey were born in 1983. They've been
friends since meeting at summer camp as teenagers. There were a few forays into
romantic experimentation, but today they're more like brother and sister;
Following a speech by Nadia Bolz-Weber at the First Baptist Church in Madison, Wisconsin, a woman in tears spoke up to say that she was unable to forgive herself, because she had been told many times she was unforgivable. Bolz-Weber, widely known as a tattooed, salty tongued Lutheran pastor from Denver, responded: “Maybe for as many times as you’ve been told that, you need to hear that God is gracious, and merciful, and slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and loves you as you are. And as a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by Christ’s authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all of your sins.” The congregation responded, “Amen” (Wisconsin State Journal, February 2).