Friday, February 24, 2012


Lent is a call to renew a commitment grown dull, perhaps, by a life more marked by routine than by reflection.  After a lifetime of mundane regularity or unconsidered adherence to the trappings of faith, Lent requires me, as a Christian, to stop for a while, to reflect again on what is going on in me.  I am challenged again to decided whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ -- and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer hear the song of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me.

Joan Chittister
The Liturgical Year

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Christianity in America...

We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that it is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian tradition.... It is not so much that U.S. Christianity is being secularized. Rather, more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by quite a different religious faith.

Christian Smith with Melinda Denton
Soul Searching

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is that the best?

Some Christians believe and often repeat that all that matters is whether or not a person is going to heaven.  Is that the message?  Is that what life is about?  Going somewhere else?  If that's the gospel, the good news -- if what Jesus does is get people somewhere else -- then the central message of the Christian faith has very little to do with this life other than getting you what you need for the next one.  Which of course raises the question:  Is that the best God can do?

Rob Bell
Love Wins

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Jesus is the incarnation of God's love.... But Jesus also said he came into our world to disturb the peace -- to drive a wedge into the divided society that holds us captive.  "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth," he says in Matthew's Gospel. "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." That sword is a wedge to interrupt the way things are, not a weapon to wield in defense of the status quo. Instead of continually seeking God's will for our lives and communities, we hold the Holy Spirit captive to our own desires -- our selfish materialistic desires. We see this in the prosperity gospel running rampant through the church today. The church is called to be the prophetic voice in response to society; that's what we see in the model Jesus provided.

John Perkins
Welcoming Justice

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Invisible places

And how many such invisible, nameless, powerless places are there in this world?  All the world, as a matter of fact, is a mosaic of little places invisible to the powers that be.  And in the eyes of the powers that be all these invisible places do not add up to a visible place.  They add up to words and numbers.

Jayber CrowJayber Crow by Wendell Berry


I lost all feeling of my own identity.  I reflected on the desolation of poverty, of destitution, of sickness and sin.  That I would be free after thirty days meant nothing to me.  I would never be free again, never free when I knew that behind bars all over the world there were women and men, young girls and boys, suffering constraint, punishment, isolation and hardship for crimes of which all of us were guilty.  The mother who had murdered her child, the drug addict--who were the mad and who the sane?  Why were prostitutes prosecuted in some cases and in others respected and fawned on?  People sold themselves for jobs, for the pay check, and if they only received a high enough price, they were honored.  If their cheating, their theft, their lie, were of colossal proportions, if it were successful, they met with praise, not blame.  Why were some caught, not others?  Why were some termed criminals and others good businessmen?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Workable territory

If you imagine trying to solve all the world’s problems at once, you’re likely to quit before you finish rolling up your sleeves.  But if you stake out your own workable territory, if you settle on a manageable number of causes, then you might accomplish a great deal, all the while trusting that others elsewhere are working faithfully in their own places.


Jesus wants to engage people at their point of real concern, and he does this by asking them to articulate their need.  Is that not a better way for the Church than proclaiming dogmatic truths from a great height?  The historian Diarmaid MacCulloch wrote a piece in The Guardian addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It ended:
You will know the saying of Thomas Aquinas which a wise old Dominican friar once quoted to me over a great deal of Irish whiskey, that God is not he answer, he is the question.  As long as your church and all other churches go on asking the question, they will never die. 
from God Lost and Found, by John Pritchard, pp 26-27

Scatter, clutter, weight

The opposite of simplicity, as I understand it is not complexity, but scatter, clutter, weight.  Returning from a journey ... I yearn to pare my life down to essentials.  I vow to live more simply, by purchasing nothing that I do not really need, by giving away everything that is excess, by refusing all chores that do not arise from my central concerns.  I make room for silence.  I avoid television with its blaring novelties, and advertising, with its phony bait.  Whenever possible, I go about town on bicycle or on foot.  I resolve to slow down and savor each moment instead of always rushing on into the future.

Scott Russell Sanders
Hunting for Hope

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Bigger isn't better

Bigger is better, so we hear.  We live in a world that wants things larger and larger.  We want to supersize our fries, sodas, SUVs and church buildings.  Cities build bigger stadiums and conventions want to draw the biggest crowds.  Amid all the supersizing, I want to make a modest suggestion:  our goal should be not to get larger and larger but to get smaller and smaller.  I think of the kingdom of God as bubbling up from the bottom rather than trickling down from the top.  Contrary to the pattern of the world, it is like a mustard seed.  To enter it, we must become like a little child.  God is indeed taking over the world, but it is happening through little acts of love.