17 Jun 2022

Tradition is the Answer to Questions We’ve Forgotten We Have

If you are a publicly confessing Christian for long enough you will likely encounter an interesting event: at some point a secular friend will ask for your prayers. It is often the same one who gets annoyed when you can’t make brunch on Sunday morning, or who was obviously uncomfortable at your church wedding. Generally the request for prayer follows a moment of immediate need: a scary medical diagnosis, or a layoff with impending financial

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20 Dec 2021

In . . .

In all of my inadequacy I stand, Eyes cast down, chin quavering, salt trails glistening   In all of my paucity of soul I come, Weak-willed, straining to have what I want and to do what You want   In all of my scarcity of mind that streaks my days with fear and grasping, I hide from the world   In all of my insufficiency I kneel, with downcast eyes and open hands, letting go

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24 Sep 2021

God of Spirits and All Flesh: The Grace of Prayer for the Dead

In a culture that likes to pretend death does not exist, there are some vocations which don’t have the luxury of ignoring the most unavoidable aspect of human existence. People who work in law enforcement, medicine, ministry, and mortuary services experience death as a regular, if not constant, companion. Of those four, it is the minister and the mortician who are most often called only after a person has died. We show up when the

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03 Sep 2021

Prayer

Lord, help me . . . save me from the world outside of me, trying to crush me and push me into its mold. But Lord, I have swallowed the world and it is inside of me. Save me, too, from the world within. . . . The world that burns, that eviscerates, that kills like an ever-spreading cancer. Save me from being eaten alive, emaciated, and gutted. Save me from being drowned by the

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02 Jun 2021

Keep Scholasticism in the Schools

He was in Logick a great Critick Profoundly skill’d in Analytick. He could distinguish, and divide A Hair ’twixt South and South-west side: On either which he would dispute, Confute, change hands, and still confute. – Samuel Butler The title of this post is purposefully ambiguous. I could mean by it that contemporary academic theology—theology done in universities, seminaries, divinity schools—suffers from a neglect of scholastic theology, as it was developed and practiced in the

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07 May 2021

Jean-Louis Chrétien and the Wounded Word

Photo: Paul Gauguin, “Vision of the Sermon” (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), https://www.nationalgalleries.org/art-and-artists/4940/vision-sermon-jacob-wrestling-angel …what would prayer be without this inward combat with the dumbness in us? This prayer that is so violent and at first uttered against our will— who can say if it is authentic or inauthentic? Jean-Louis Chrétien, “The Wounded Word” In his provocative essay “The Wounded Word: The Phenomenology of Prayer,” Jean-Louis Chrétien argues that prayer is the “religious phenomenon par excellence,”

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08 Jan 2021

A Year of Revelation

It is (nearly) universally acknowledged that 2020 was, to put it technically, a dumpster fire. A global pandemic, economic turmoil, political chaos, isolation from loved ones, and massive loss of life across the globe combined to make 2020 one of the most difficult years to live through, both literally and metaphorically. In this short reflection I would like to focus, though, on what we can take away from this year. To be clear, this is

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02 Dec 2020

Bonaventure on Prayer

Bonaventure’s entire theological project is deeply prayerful, and many of his most famous works are bookended by prayer. This is nowhere more evident than the Itinerarium, which begins by advising souls seeking peace to cry out in prayer, and ends with David’s words from Psalm 73—invoking mystical “passing over” into Christ through death. To read Bonaventure rightly is to stand in humility before God, the immeasurable Creator Whom no one can see and still live.

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03 Jun 2020

Crisis Calls Us to Continue Community

This article is an adaptation of a sermon delivered on Mother’s Day as part of a “COVID Christianity” series at Rooftop Church in St. Louis, Missouri. Even when life is normal, mom-ing is hard—it calls for spending all day with tiny people who are cute, yes, but who are also demanding and exhausting. Moms need time with fellow adults, moms need time with friends: moms need community. Of course, what’s true in normal life is

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18 Oct 2019

How to Become a Friend of God

The Scriptures are clear: “Abraham was called the friend of God” (James 2:23) … A Sunday School teacher told me once that we should read the Bible every day, and I was an intense, introverted child: I followed her advice, opening my third-grade presentation edition after my evening shower, my hair dripping dimples onto the onionskin pages. Jesus, on the cusp of his crucifixion, called the disciples friends, not servants (John 15:15). I was raised

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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

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08 May 2019

Broken Silence: A Lament for Rachel Held Evans

God of the margins, We encounter you in the ostracized, in the liminal, on the outskirts of town. We encounter you in the pariah, the reject, the apostate. Sometimes we are the pariah, plagued by the ghosts of failed expectations. Of merciless accusations. With no consolation but your deafening silence. Sometimes we find you again. In a fellow outcast whose words spark hope. Whose vulnerability is magnetic. Whose inspiration is contagious. Their voice reverberates with

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01 Apr 2019

Thomas Merton and Why I Quit Facebook

About five years ago, I sat in a coffee shop reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. During the preceding weeks and months, I considered deleting my Facebook account on several occasions but never found the courage to follow through on my thoughts. I graduated from college in 2005. Somewhere around the second semester of my junior year, Facebook made its first appearance on my college campus. At that time, only users with a valid

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13 Mar 2019

A Place of Love and Community: Some Reflections on Taizé

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend a week in Taizé, an international, Christian ecumenical community in central France that is known for its meditative prayers and chants. It was a powerful experience, to say the least. Before visiting, I knew that Taizé was an international destination for pilgrimage, but it wasn’t until actually visiting that I understood why. Taizé was founded by Brother Roger, who came upon the village of Taizé

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29 Aug 2018

On Beginning

Everyone experiences new things. By nature of who we are and the world in which we live, no one lives a completely sedentary life. From new jobs to new cars, from getting married to buying a house, from having kids to moving across town, we all encounter newness. This is especially true at this time of year, when college freshman move onto campus for the first time and neighborhoods suddenly become more quiet as children

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24 Aug 2018

The Unity of Justice

As most of you are aware, there has been a recent sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. To say that it is devastating, for both those inside and outside the Church, would be an understatement. The Catholic Church serves as one of the stronger authoritative voices for Christianity in American culture, which means that this scandal not only undermines the Catholic Church’s internal authority, but also impacts the credibility of the Church as

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18 Jul 2018

Why Is Christian Liturgy So Repetitive? An Insight from Derrida

Christian liturgy involves cycles of repetition. We have recurring liturgical calendars, weekly gatherings of worship, the Eucharist, and the recitation of important prayers. The repetitive nature of Christian worship is, in my experience, one of its greatest strengths. It is through such liturgical repetition that we engage in disciplined spiritual formation, remind ourselves of the gospel, and actively engage in historic practices of the Church. But what is happening when we engage in these repetitive

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02 May 2018

Miracles and Modernity

Signs. Wonders. Inbreakings of the divine into the mundane. Transcendence foisting itself upon the natural order of things. Is this what Christians are talking about when we describe miracles? People often think of miracles and magic as synonymous. From this standpoint, miracles rupture the fabric of reality—poking holes in a static backdrop of predictable causes and effects. But reality is not as static or predictable as we assume. In his book Historical Consciousness, John Lukacs

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21 Mar 2018

The Mystery of Honesty and Truth

“I hate going to Confession,” I told my father-confessor recently. “As long as you keep on going,” he responded. Then he added, “Of course you do. It’s not easy admitting to failure.” I grew up in a dysfunctional household where disapproval reigned. Expecting chastisement or even condemnation is a hard habit to unlearn. I’d been anxious enough about making my first Confession that I had postponed my Chrismation and entry into the Orthodox Church for

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28 Feb 2018

Thoughts, Prayers, and Platitudes

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action,

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