If we're following Jesus, we can't spend our lives in Galilee. We can't hide behind the popular myth that religion and politics don't mix.
On Ash Wednesday, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a bill banning capital punishment. A member of my congregation offers a powerful Lenten lesson for the year the death penalty was abolished in Illinois.
When I was six weeks into my student pastorate, I had been to exactly one funeral—when I was seven years old. But suddenly Johnny Johnson died, I was a pastor, and Pearl Johnson collapsed in my arms.
"Are we witnessing the death of America's denominations?" asks Russell D. Moore, pointing out that people tend to choose a church based mostly on the nursery or the music. This is not new information.
It is helpful to identify the formative moments in one's life.
The birth of Jesus contradicts the idea of a God who "lay above the earth like a layer of icy cirrus." The birth means that we encounter God, not only in elegant theology but in work and in our enjoyment of beauty, friendship and love—in love particularly.
I've recently read and I highly recommend the following four books. Each is different and satisfying. Each is hefty, which is satisfying in its own way—it always feels like something of a statement to travel with a hardback book that's hard to fit into an airplane carry-on bag.
I don't know what I'm going to do without Context: Martin E. Marty on Religion and Culture. Earlier this year Marty and the Claretians, who have published Context 12 times a year, announced that it was closing down. I've been in a mild depression ever since.
Following the attacks of 9/11, the congregation I serve became aware that though it has a longstanding relationship with a nearby synagogue, it has had no ongoing connection with Muslims.
Carlyle Marney said that each of us is like a house, with a living room where we entertain and a dark basement where we store the trash. And each house has a balcony with all the people who have influenced and inspired us. The way to celebrate All Saints Day, he said, is to step out onto the front lawn and salute the people on your balcony. One of my balcony people died recently.