Life of Faith
Benin. Some rights reserved by Ferdinand Reus.
I have returned again and again to Letters and Papers in search of insight into what it means to do theology today, especially in my own South African context. Whether my interest and inquiry has focused on theological issues, on the renewal of the church and its public responsibility or on history, literature, art and aesthetics, this remarkable collection has always provided much practical wisdom for people living in tough and uncertain times.
How do you know that God is great? You study the things God has done! You might even call it data-collecting concerning God's salvation.
Many of the recent articles about clergy burnout suggested that it's a symptom of cognitive dissonance: pastors think their job ought to be a particular kind of work and are frustrated when it ends up involving something else. None of the media coverage, however, offered a compelling description of the call to ministry itself.
In his love for the law, the psalmist is effusive and sensual; with a few word changes, verse 103 could be said to a lover.
So most Jews know where Jesus was born, even though few Christians know much about Buddhism. Jesus makes the cover of one general-interest magazine or another ever month or so, and it only takes a couple shopping trips between Thanksgiving and New Year's to accidentally memorize the words to "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
It's easy—from the comfort of my desk, where I’m healthy, well fed and securely employed—to experience a sense of "enough," as I wrote last week. It’s easy to champion compassion, justice and peace (what's not to like?), even when it puts me at odds with a few biblical texts.