When I was a new pastor I imagined that I was breaking new ground, doing things differently than older colleagues. Funerals, for example—folks liked it when funerals were called “celebrations of life” and involved lots of personal stories about the deceased. “Your service was so personal,” a friend of the widow might gush.
They are overhead even now, making a racket as they chant Texas, Texas, Texas. The high cold air brushes the tips of their wings. It’s not a journey to make alone, so they stay in formation, each taking a turn as leader, honking encouragement to the leader, or drafting on the uplift created by the bird ahead.
When I was a small girl I went to an excellent Sunday school where we were introduced to lots of Bible stories with very few be-good-or-else threats attached. I learned a great many interesting things, including knowing by heart the seven plagues that were inflicted on Pharaoh and his people. This is where I first encountered locusts.
I have been thinking about Jacob a lot recently. I was commissioned to write a short story about genetic modification and chose to write about Jacob’s spotted-sheep breeding program (Gen. 30:37–43)—perhaps the oldest example of deliberate gene manipulation for profit.
Back in the mid-1990s I wrote a book on sin. Each of us knows sin experientially, of course, but few of us know it comprehensively even in that way because we are parochial even in our sinning. So I had to study sin. For a couple of years I read about sin in the Bible. I read commentaries on the Bible, theological encyclopedia articles and books on virtue and vice.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.