The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod has elected the denomination’s director of disaster response as president, a candidate backed by its more conservative members. Matthew Harrison received 54 percent of the vote for the three-year term, defeating three-term incumbent Gerald Kieschnick, who received 45 percent.
How is God involved in our lives? We often have difficulty answering this question. And when we do answer it, our ideas tend to be simplistic. We either think of God as an alien, almost magical force that immediately and directly intervenes in our lives, or we think of God as an enhancement—a better and larger version—of our natural capacities.
A half phrase from Augustine has challenged and inspired me for a half century: “God is like the nature he made.” It appears as a virtual throwaway line, quoted in José Ortega y Gasset’s History as a System (1941), in which Ortega adds a flourish connecting ideas about God with ideas about humans: the human “likewise finds that he has no nature other than
As a pastor in New York City, I've found myself challenged to think more deeply about “stuff." I've come to believe that the truth about what we too casually name “materialism” is not so simple. It ought to be clear, after all, that God doesn’t hate stuff. Witness the creation story. God invents stuff. At the end of each of six days, God engages in self-congratulation, pronouncing serial evening benedictions on the stuff created that day: “Good!”
In 2006 Charles Roberts walked into an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, shot and killed five schoolgirls, injured another five and then took his own life. The Amish community immediately declared that it forgave Roberts for his heinous acts, and some of them reached out with compassion to Roberts’s mother. Roberts’s brother Zachary is now working on a documentary called Hope, focusing on his mother’s journey since the shootings. “How does the mother of a mass murderer move forward?” he asks. Forgiveness and faith have been the key ingredients in her life (Huffington Post, November 17).