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!”
I’ll always remember the day last July when John Henry Newman’s beatification was announced. My family and I were en route to Heathrow Airport, barreling along in a van driven by my fearless godmother, who had promised we would not miss our plane. Her mobile phone signaled a text message, and from where I was sitting, clutching my seat, I had the chance to read it aloud.
Former Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, in an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (August 14), says the liberation of Israel from violence and insecurity lies in the liberation of the Palestinian people from armed occupation. Tutu condemns Hamas for its missile launches against Israelis, but defends Palestinians’ right to struggle for freedom from occupation. “Peace requires the people of Israel and Palestine to recognize the human being in themselves and each other; to understand their interdependence.”