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26 Sep 2014

Tending the Tree of Friendship

Think for a moment of the most famous friendships in history and literature. What names come to mind? For me it is always King David and Jonathan; Frodo and Samwise; and Anne and Diana. In my own life there are nearly a dozen soul-knit friends, kindred spirits, whom God has seen fit to bring into the dark places when all other lights go out. Usually they come singly, but sometimes in pairs. Always they bring

Johanna Byrkett 0
25 Sep 2014

Our Tower of Babel

Probably no story from the Bible better exemplifies human arrogance than that of the Tower of Babel. This story, found in Genesis 11, tells of a time when the entire world was united by one language and a single race. In that time of unity, the people built a great city and attempted to construct a massive tower capable of reaching heaven. For this monumental delusion of grandeur, God humbled the people by “confusing their

Chris Smith 2
24 Sep 2014

Participatory Community

Community. It’s one of today’s popular catch phrases. Thanks to that popularity, though, its meaning is a bit fuzzy. It usually seems to refer to an ideal interaction with others. What that ideal is, though, is hard to pin down. Recently reading Bonhoeffer and Lewis brought additional clarity to this puzzle for me. This clarity came from their comparison of heavenly and hellish forms of community. Bonhoeffer set the stage with the suggestion that, “The

Jeff Reid 2
23 Sep 2014

Speaking Through Stories

A friend of mine recently commented that he sees too many references to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien in the blogging world. As someone who tries to stay connected to the conversations of the interwebs, I can confirm that there are indeed a plethora of perspectives penned on these great 20th century authors. Indeed, hardly a week goes by without seeing an article evaluating what Lewis would have thought about this, or

Jacob Prahlow 2
22 Sep 2014

Julian of Norwich, Margery Kemp, and English Vernacular Mysticism

Most historians of Christianity will note that mysticism peaked in the later centuries of the Middle Ages. Christian mystics experienced direct encounters with God, often through ecstatic visions of heaven and the divine. In relation to the increase in literacy of the laity during these centuries, many mystics wrote in their vernacular languages and gained followings among the laity. Thus mysticism itself bears different traits depending upon the region and language. Furthermore, while there were

Laura Norris 2
19 Sep 2014

The Ethics of Evil

Because religious institutions have placed such emphasis on avoiding evil, those who never do anything good consider themselves to be moral people. Contemporary understanding of ethics demonstrated by mottos of “Do No Evil,” “Just Say No,” or “DARE to Resist…” highlight certain actions that should definitely be avoided. However, the very act of defining something as off-limits often stirs a desire within human beings to cross that line. What is worth protecting with these rules?

Charles Heyworth 0
17 Sep 2014

Books, Film, and Christian Propaganda

Some thoughts are too big for fiction and movies. I was thinking that when I watched God is Not Dead for the first time a few weeks ago. Yes, I put it off for as long as I possibly could. As much as I like to support Christian films (I am a film script writer, after all), I find that I cringe my way through many of them. Though there were some commendable points to

Amanda Hill 12
16 Sep 2014

Diary of a Part-Time Chaplain Impersonator

On a typical day, I find that the hospital smells a bit like the last moments of my life are being wiped up by a janitor with a clean rag and a gallon of disinfectant. Today, it smells less like finality and industrial cleaner and more like an outhouse. This is because an uncapped and not-quite-empty urine jug is about a foot beneath my nostrils. When I asked the patient if he wanted to pray,

Chris Casberg 2
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