Oct 25, 2000
Those of us who preach or teach preaching are always looking for the right words to convey biblical truth. How do we do it? How do we invite congregations to “Bibleland,” that ancient world where we go week after week, and then connect them with the good news, news that is supposed to inform the way we live our lives here and now?
In 1969, I dropped out of college, moved to Racine, Wisconsin, and worked for a community action program and then for a welfare rights organization. The focus of my work was tenants’ rights—helping tenants negotiate with landlords over things like rent and housing violations. Among my many indelible memories from that year was the situation of a family with six children. A large part of their welfare check paid for the worst housing conditions I had ever seen.
A few months ago I had a visit from the college-age daughter of a friend of mine. The young woman, an exceptionally gifted linguist, had developed an interest in religion and philosophy. What books, she asked, would combine her longstanding love of Latin and Greek with her newfound desire to plumb the mysteries of the cosmos? I was just about to recommend some key works in ancient philosophy and the history of Christian thought when she told me: “I only want to study alternative religions. What I’m really interested in is magic.”