26 Oct 2020

The Longest Lent

Lent began eight months ago today.   Eight months ago I was in a cool, dark sanctuary, listening to my vicar say “You are going to die.” I didn’t know how accurate that statement would be for this year. We rose, row by row. Ashes were traced across my forehead, I returned to my seat. We rose, row by row, again going forward—this time to receive the bread, the wine. In darkness we stepped into

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20 Oct 2020

William Temple’s Vision for a Truly Catholic Church

Anglicans and the Catholic Church There is often confusion about the meaning of the word “catholic” within the Christian religion. Used as a common adjective, the word simply means “universal.” This seems to be what the Apostles’ Creed refers to when it speaks of the “holy catholic church.” It is also the meaning that Protestants tend to prefer when they use the word. On the other hand, throughout most of church history, Christians have also

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03 Oct 2020

Round Table: Free Speech

“How should Christians think about free speech?” We asked three of our editors to reflect on this question. Their essays raise fundamental issues Christians must wrestle through if we hope to facilitate real dialogue in our increasingly polarized society. These reflections center on the definition of free speech, when free speech becomes a problem, and what sort of action ought to be taken in our current moment. In the spirit of Christian charity, we have

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02 Oct 2020

Free Speech Roundtable: Speaking Freely in Christ

Let me begin with a confession: I do not know how freedom of speech should be legislated in a modern, democratic nation-state, and I will not do my readers the disservice of pretending otherwise. It seems probable to me that, in a fallen world, John Ehrett and Barbara White are correct: a largely unrestricted understanding of free speech is a substantive moral good and provides important safeguards against our sinful desire to control, coerce and

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01 Oct 2020

Free Speech Round Table: The Quiet Courage of Free Expression

Nobody likes free speech. This may seem incongruous or even controversial in a theological roundtable dedicated to weighing the relative merits and Christian response to issues of free speech, but I am convinced that it is true. Free speech guarantees that you will hear something you don’t like, or even that deeply offends and troubles you. You have to listen to mean people tell lies, sometimes about things you believe in. And despite this, I

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30 Sep 2020

Freedom of Speech Round Table: Revising Our Definition of Freedom

As Christians, our relationship to freedom of speech is complicated. On the one hand, it is certainly a gift. C.S. Lewis once remarked in Mere Christianity that it’s good Christians cannot impose their views of marriage onto non-Christians, because Christians would not want Muslims to forbid drinking alcohol. In an ever-secularizing world, freedom of speech is a necessity: I have to be okay with the existence of acts of speech like “Immersion (Piss Christ)” by

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09 Sep 2020

Immeasurable Grace: How a Buddhist Reformer Led Me to the Gospel

The summer after my freshman year of high school, my family vacationed in Lahaina, a picturesque town on the western side of Maui. My parents and brother were drawn to the beach, but I was pulled in a different direction. There were Buddhist temples in town, and I was a starry-eyed, self-proclaimed admirer of Buddhism. One afternoon, my mother and I slipped away to take a tour of the closest temple I could find: the

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27 Jul 2020

How the Liturgy Saved Me: A Psychologist Discovers the Solution to a Problem He Didn’t Know He Had

Liturgy is one of those things that can divide Christians. Some think of liturgy as rote prayers for people who are religious but don’t really know the Lord. I had one person leave the Anglican church I was pastoring because she could no longer pray liturgical prayers, including the Lord’s Prayer, unless she knew she could consciously mean every word. By this, I understood that she thought her mind had to be fully engaged as

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01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

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04 Jun 2020

The Desecration of St John’s

Many of us have encountered the frequently quoted phrase, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” But this prophetic statement has never rung more true than on June 1st, 2020, when United States forces used tear gas and other violent methods to clear out St John’s Episcopal Church yard so that President Trump could stage a photo-op in front of it, Bible in hand.  These past

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15 May 2020

None for Me, Thanks: The Challenge of Reaching the Unaffiliated 

Let’s talk about the “Nones.” The term refers to those who have no formal religious affiliation, and the group’s rapid growth has been the source of much hand-wringing in Christian America in the last decade. In 2014 the Pew Research Center’s study on religion in America showed that Christianity, which is still the dominant religion in America, was shrinking. Subsequent reports have shown that the decline is happening even faster than was initially indicated. A

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13 May 2020

The Turbulent Life of Canada’s First Methodist Missionary

At some point in the early 1750s, travelling preachers visited the small Irish village of Drummersnave (now Drumsna), in County Leitrim. They were affiliated with an organized religious movement called Methodism, which at that point was not a denomination but rather a society that primarily sought religious renewal within the Church of England. It was characterized by strong preaching, often carried out by itinerants; the encouragement of personal piety and surrender to God; and involvement

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17 Apr 2020

Suffering Subverted: Good Friday, Easter, and Divine Impassibility

Opportunities for meditation on the nature of God’s being often present themselves in surprising places. For example, on Holy Wednesday, I was in a Zoom class at my progressive, mainline Protestant seminary. The class was discussing accessibility for disabled people in the Church. In the course of this discussion a classmate of mine posited the idea that, because God is “super able,” our theology can easily tend to exclude people with disabilities. He then followed

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19 Mar 2020

Of the Plague that Stalks in the Darkness: What Coronavirus Taught me About Faith and Fear

I faced the first weeks and months of the COVID-19 crisis with a combination of steely eyed defiance and glib dismissiveness. The media never lets a crisis go to waste, I said, and this was just another lost Malaysian airliner on which CNN was capitalizing. I blamed social media for contributing to hysteria, and for promulgating false information. I cited statistics about how many people die from the flu in America (80,000 in 2019) and

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03 Jan 2020

Mud beneath the Snow

Snow Every year, Ryan O’Neal, better known as Sleeping at Last, releases a Christmas song for his free Christmas collection. This year it was “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” from White Christmas, a dearly loved classic. However, my favourite offering is further down the list, a song simply titled “Snow.”     The branches have traded Their leaves for white sleeves All warm-blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe Scarves are wrapped tightly like

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03 Apr 2019

Ashes

The sky is the colour of ashes—       White and grey; The eaves drip icicle tears       falling away   My life is filled with ashes,       my mood is fey; Death upon death finds my heart       falling away   Across my forehead a cross      —charcoal dust— Reminds me that my frame       will soon rust   Over the shadow of death       a Cross Reminds me that life       can flame from loss   The kernel of wheat       must die,

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06 Feb 2019

An Introduction to Saints

A point of confusion and, sometimes, contention within the Christian religion is the role of saints in the life of the Church. In some branches of Christianity, such as Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, saints occupy an important place, as is evidenced, among other things, by the names of their churches—St. Luke, St. George, St. Cuthbert, and so on. In some other traditions, particularly within evangelicalism and fundamentalism, the word “saint” is used rarely and with

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09 Jul 2018

The Book of Joy

The Book of Joy chronicles a series of conversations and interactions between two of the world’s great spiritual leaders. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the world’s most recognizable spiritual icons. Desmond Tutu was the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa. He won a Nobel Peace Prize and played an integral role in helping the people of South Africa move past the era of apartheid. In

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16 Mar 2018

Keeping the “Anglican” in “Anglo-Catholic”

From its beginning, Anglicanism has struggled to establish a stable identity. Over the history of the Church of England, there have been many attempts to articulate a consistent expression of Anglicanism around a variety of movements, whether Reformed, Evangelical, or catholic in flavor. In the mid-1800s, a group at Oriel College, Oxford established a movement to restore a more catholic understanding of the faith based on the primitive and undivided Church. Members of this Oxford

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26 Jan 2018

ESCHATOLOGICAL “ANGELOID”: SARAH COAKLEY, GREGORY OF NYSSA, AND ON THE MAKING OF MAN, PT. 3

In this series, we are going to examine St. Gregory of Nyssa’s theology of gender in his work, On the Making of Man, and how the Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, is seeking to utilize his theology for her own project. If one were to follow Coakley’s engagement with Gregory, reading her academic articles and not just her books, they would see that her views of him have shifted and evolved over time. In all of

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