I readily admit that readings such as today's gospel make me a bit
uncomfortable. When Jesus starts talking about being "cast into hell"
or how "whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be
forgiven," I struggle to fit this in with other images of Jesus eating
with tax collectors and sinners, with his call to love and pray for
your enemies. Perhaps, as a modern "liber
This past Saturday, I attended John Stackhouse’s
lectures on faith, reason, and the new atheism down at the Vancouver
Island Conference Centre. Evidently, there is still some interest in
this topic as the event sold out—even in hyper-secular Nanaimo!
My friend, Larry Kamphausen, posted an interesting essay on his blog recently. You can read it here. He's struggling publicly with what it means to be stuck, caught between two (or more) ecclesial realities. He says:
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.
I prayed with a young man today for healing - specifically healing from the bondage of evil spirits - which doesn't happen a lot in my ministry.
He is from Congo - more fluent in French than English - which also took
some careful listening. As he told his story, it became clear that his
concerns are real and deep and have wounded him for a long time.
A friend of mine realized that she only had one friend who went to
church. As someone who cares deeply about the church, she wondered why
it was. And so she began to ask them, “Why don’t you go to church?”
The answers startled her. It wasn’t what she was expecting at all.
The number one answer that she received was, “I can’t afford it.”
enemy curses me. No enemy raises fists at me. No enemy persecutes me.
No enemy hates me. I doubt anyone in the enemies of my state - Taliban
or Al-Qaeda - care much about a stay-at-home dad living in a suburb of
nothing in Texas. Frankly, I'm not important enough to have enemies in
this world, and I'm not doing anything important enough that might make
me any, either.
I just spent the last three hours trying not to cry my eyes out in
pastoral care class. The topic this week was funerals. I rightfully
anticipated a swell of emotions and prepared my heart accordingly. But
in class the conversation the stories drifted towards the death of
children, the most precarious moment of pastoral engagement.