06 Nov 2020

The Books That Save Our Lives

Book lovers develop their own shorthand for the books that stand out from all the other books they have ever read. This compliment of compliments is unique to each bibliophile. For some it is “books I’ve read more than once.” For avid ebook readers (I have yet to actually meet one but I hear they exist) it may be “books worth owning in hardcopy.” Closely related is “Books I would pack and move across the

9
17 Oct 2020

Pensées, Reality, and le Coeur (Part Two)

In Part One of this Pascalian reflection, we considered Pascal’s first step in the path of the spiritual quest. At nearly every point of his Pensées, Pascal goads his readers to pay close attention to the movements of the soul in response to the wonders of the created world. There, he insists, you will find flickers of light, glimmers of reality breaking through the darkness. Those sparks, however, are the beginning, and not the end.

0
16 Sep 2020

Pensées and a Course in Reality (Part One)

In The Hare with Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal measures the relative space of a collection of small sculptures. Small. A few inches at most. And though there are 264 of them, they could all be put in an average-sized box and stored away on a shelf somewhere. De Waal recognizes, however, that these wee pieces, called netsuke, take up considerably more space than their actual size. Paraphrasing Lord Digory, they’re bigger on the inside

2
26 Aug 2020

Work and Rest

This article was adapted from a sermon delivered at Rooftop Church (Saint Louis, MO) during a series on Faith and Work. As Americans, we’re obsessed with being busy. Even during a pandemic, we’re preoccupied with how much we’re getting done. Our culture fixates on and rewards efficiency and productivity, even at the expense of our own health and relationships. It’s even how we talk to one another. People always ask, “What are you doing this

0
A large suburban house with professional landscaping
19 Aug 2020

The Pandemic and the Experience of Vanity

The words of the Teacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,     vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil     at which they toil under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes,     but the earth remains forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:1-4 NRSV) A month or two ago, I was speaking with a friend about the extra personal time I gain working at home.

0
31 Jul 2020

What Beauty Lurks in the Hearts of Men? Thoughts on Premium Bibles and the Men Who Love Them

My father still remembers listening to old episodes of The Shadow, a popular radio program about a mysterious crime fighter with the unique ability to cloud human minds and render himself invisible. When the mood strikes him, my dad will imitate the gruff voice and ominous laugh of the hero and regale us with the famous opening lines of the “Detective Story” radio hour: “What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

3
29 Jul 2020

It is a Sin Not to Wear a Facemask

Anyone perusing social media these days will be well aware that the latest politicized controversy dividing American society is about wearing facemasks during the COVID-19 pandemic. One cannot make a simple trip to the grocery store without becoming bogged in a morass of invisible social pressure, judgment, and labels regarding whether one decides to don a face covering or not. Christians and Christian Churches are divided, largely along political lines, as to the compulsoriness of

1
17 Jul 2020

Covenant, Ascesis, and the Wedding Industrial Complex: Confessions of a #COVIDBride

I’ve attended a dozen weddings over the past decade. I’ve been a bridesmaid five times (and a grooms-maid once), so if there is a trend in modern weddings, I’ve probably seen it. Before I started planning my own wedding, I was frequently judgmental of the large, ostentatious weddings with six-figure price tags. When Joshua and I got engaged last October, we knew we wanted what I called an “overtly religious high-church wedding.” I was more

1
24 Jun 2020

Podcasts in Review, Two

One of our most popular posts is Podcasts in Review by Eastern Orthodox poet Kenneth O’Shaughnessy. I now present this compendium—with its shamelessly-stolen title—by Roman Catholic non-poet Benjamin Winter. 😊 My qualifications? Since 2014 I’ve listened to podcasts for at least an hour each day. That’s a bit scary when you do the math! They are my constant companions from car rides to laundry-folding sessions, and I fall asleep to them most nights. The recommendations

3
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

1
03 Feb 2020

Beauty in the Everyday: Living Aesthetically

For anyone who grew up with a religious background similar to mine (Southern Baptist with a Reformed bent), art was considered as either dangerous or irrelevant to one’s spiritual life. Imagination and experience and creativity were little regarded, while discipline and right-belief were considered the important things for spiritual thriving. But somewhere along the way someone suggested to me that truth, goodness, and beauty all go hand in hand. How, exactly, the three relate I

0
Indigo bunting in a field at sunset
14 Oct 2019

Trusting in God

“Some who think they trust in God actually sin against hope because they do not use the will and the judgment He has given them. Of what use is it for me to hope in grace if I dare not make the act of will that corresponds with grace? How do I profit by abandoning myself passively to His will if I lack the strength of will to obey His commands? Therefore, if I trust

0
07 Oct 2019

Withered Souls

“There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”[1] Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What happens when one consistently ignores their conscience? What kind of damage might that do to a person or people group? These are questions Martin Luther King Jr. took up, specifically regarding white people. King recognized that from the

0
16 Sep 2019

The Phantom

What is the artistic spirit within us that arises, unannounced, to haunt our homes? Today I saw my daughter pounding furiously with pencils upon paper. Brow furrowed, she inordinately assembled a haphazard diaspora of points by means of pummeling. Unsatisfied with one color, she expanded the oeuvre to encompass black, green and grey. The shimmering graphite reflects blindingly into my eyes as I gaze now upon the paper, turning it in my hands and observing

0
16 Aug 2019

Welcoming The Stranger

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. . . Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:13, 21, NIV). I was looking for a good devotional last year over Christmas and found a hidden gem in a used bookstore. It’s called You Are The Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living, a compilation of Henri Nouwen’s writings by Gabrielle Earnshaw (Convergent Books, 2017). Nouwen has some timely words

0
19 Jul 2019

Letter to My Son Abraham

Abraham, my eldest, my firstborn, the one who taught me that I have enough goodness in me to help produce life. I love you. I want you to know that—and I want to live my life in a way that you have no question that this is true—that I will do everything in my feeble, human frailty to show that I love you and that there is nothing you can do that would make my

0
08 Jul 2019

Christ and the Future

When we commune with another, we forget self. We are opened to transformation. Change appears on the horizon of ego. It has deemed itself insulate, indomitable—impermeable to all that derails continuity. Yet in beginning and end, life is a gift. We receive our being from another. And we must all give up our being to another, placed under the care of those who will lead us where we do not want to go (John 21:18).

0
04 Jul 2019

God Bless America

The 4th of July is an interesting American holiday; one celebrating both legal separation from Great Britain and the approval of the Declaration of Independence. American yards and beaches transform into gathering places for smoking grills, waving flags, and smiling faces. The night’s sky glistens amongst stunning aerial displays of light and color—symbolizing the hard-fought victories of our forefathers. Yet one particular—seemingly innate—aspect of the July 4th holiday has, for me, become problematic: The phrase,

0
24 Jun 2019

The Importance of Hospitality

The book of 3 John is both one of the shortest books in the Bible and one of the most unique. Being short, the letter is easy to read straight through, and one can easily grasp the basic themes. Being addressed directly to “the beloved Gaius,” the book is unique in that it is a personal letter (3 Jn 1). In the opening, the author, John, identifies himself as “the elder” (Gk. presbuteros). In the

0
29 Apr 2019

L’Arche and Being Human

For the last five years, I have taught an introduction to humanities course at a local community college. Each semester I begin and end the semester with the same question, “What makes us human?” I ask students to think about a pet dog or higher primate like the gorilla. Certainly, we have some characteristics in common with other members of the animal kingdom. Yet, in spite of these similarities, our human intuition imagines that there

3