About 150 years ago, Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard observed,
"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know
how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming." The biblical
texts for this Sunday all have something to do with being and becoming,
with living as you are, in who and how you are, whatever the
circumstances, and in so doing, contributi
Students of Shakespeare know that the bard didn’t create his material solely out of his own imagination, but instead masterfully recrafted stories that were centuries old. And Shakespeare’s own dramas have been repeatedly reimagined in contemporary settings.
I struggle with the story of Jesus encountering the Canaanite woman. I
don’t know if it’s the lack of compassion in Jesus’ voice or the
exploitation of power or the tone of condescension, but if this were
the only story I knew of Jesus I’d be turned off.
The version of Christianity that appears in the media often embarrasses me: it’s narrow, sectarian, exclusive and sometimes mean-spirited. So it was a joy to find in the May 26 New Yorker an article by novelist Ian Frazier about a church being a church in the best sense.
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).