In the state where I live sometimes it's hard to tell which is scarier,
Halloween or election day—a useful reminder that Christians are
constantly besieged both by supernatural powers and by the results of
our own sinfulness, whether individual or communal.
John Updike’s death in January left a giant hole in my reading life. He chronicled American culture during my lifetime in a way that I always found lucid and smart. He seemed to know about everything, from Søren Kierkegaard to Ted Williams. And I simply loved the way he wrote.
For most of canonical history, Mark's Gospel has been considered an ugly
duckling and its author a clumsy yokel. It can hardly be a coincidence
that this Gospel was recognized as a swan and its author newly
discovered as a literary genius after the development of sophisticated
cinematic technique prepared us to read it better.
It is impossible, I believe, to have another All Saints Day come and go
without recalling and giving thanks for those saints without
halos—family members, mentors and friends—who were gifts of God to us
and who now worship before the throne. Perhaps the first thing to do on
All Saints Day is to remember them and give thanks to God for their
presence in our lives.
From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Netherlands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protestant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).