Hope is sinewy, tenacious, and determined. It gives us strength when ours is gone, carries us into the future when we’ve been knocked-off our feet by the disappointments of the present, and makes it possible for us to trust that God is with us even when we feel alone. We can’t produce hope for ourselves.
Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
Three years after the publication of Sabbath in the Suburbs, I continue to speak to groups about our family’s experience of taking a day each week for rest and play (which looks very different now than it did during the year-long experiment, but that’s another post). People who’ve read the book will notice that we didn’t spend the day doing “holy” activities.
God is a metaphor. Or so goes a particular line of thought, as it struggles to make the idea of God meaningful.
One afternoon I got a "friend" request from someone on Facebook. I did not recognize the name, for a variety of reasons, one of which was the name was written in Chinese script. I saw that we had one friend in common, another missionary friend of mine from 30 years ago when I lived in Japan. Still, I really did not recognize the name. I couldn't pronounce the name. I no longer read Japanese. So, I sent this person a message, asking them, "Are you one of my former students from Japan?"
It was probably one of those Internet memes that flits about the ether, and gradually enters the aggregate stream of quotes and pop inspiration that we collectively contribute to and maintain. This one, however, had the ring of truth to it. I don’t know the source, but it was something to this effect: Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
“Don’t ask what the world needs,” says Howard Thurman. “Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” This was the guiding quote of a church visioning retreat I led recently.
In what was already the most widely anticipated speech of Pope Francis’s pastoral visit to the United States this week, the Pope’s references to two American models of Christian living—the renowned author and Trappist Monk Thomas Merton and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement Dorothy Day—have surprised many.
I'm nearing the end of my time as an M.Div. student at Perkins, and I've been thinking about my the experience of taking seminary classes. Part of my own reflection process has involved reading the essays I wrote for admissions and scholarship applications from four years ago. In these documents, I almost always brought in my passion to develop my theology—I remember writing something along the lines of “our worldview shapes how we live.” I would then tie this into how admission into Perkins would equip me to accomplish this through a well-rounded, liberal education. I’m sure the admissions committee ate this up.
I'm embarrassed to admit it, embarrassed because it took graduate school to teach me something it's hard to imagine I didn't learn much earlier. I don't want to blame my teachers. I don't think of them as nincompoops. If I didn't learn what I should, I probably wasn't listening. But I'll never forget working on some graduate school research paper—probably something about John Milton—and stumbling on history so elementary I was embarrassed I didn't know it.
I have three fantastic student interns this year who are learning about the hard work of welcoming. At our college’s Presbyterian House we host a “Dinner and Devotion” program every Sunday that we advertise as “All Students Welcome.” Of course, not all students feel welcome attending a religious and spiritual life program, unless you work hard to let them know that you mean it—that they really are all welcome.