The Situation If there’s one thing we don’t like thinking about, it’s death. Yet there is nothing more important, nothing that more defines who we are and how we act, than our approach to death and our understanding of its significance. “Look to the end,” Thucydides and Herodotus remind us, to determine the utility and worthiness of a human life. “Persevere to end,” the martyrs and saints remind us, to gain the crown of life
If the average Christian were asked to identify the essential roles in Christianity and pre-Christian Judaism, he or she would probably name the pastor, the apostle, the prophet, the priest, and perhaps also the king. Depending on the person’s denominational affiliation, he or she might mention the pope or the musician or the nun. Few members of any denomination, I think, would mention the historian—a figure lamentably seen by many as merely providing additional support
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
To immanence, to the heart, Christ is redundant and all things are one. To eminence, to the mind, Christ touches only the top, skims off only the top, as it were, the souls of men. -Annie Dillard, Holy The Firm, (Harper & Row: New York, 1977), 80. Is it possible to live in this tension? Can humans achieve the “peace that passes understanding” (John 14:27, Phil 4:6-7) in a world that appears increasingly chaotic and
A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, Their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; But the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:6-8). On Sunday and Wednesday evenings, we attempt to have family devotions during dinner.
On October 31, 2017, Protestants around the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The occasion created an opportunity to reflect on the many notable contributions of the Protestant Reformation to world history. The many benefits of the Reformation are undeniable–literacy, religious freedom, individual rights, the value of the human conscience, vernacular worship, the five solas, and many others.1 This year, as Protestants celebrate their heritage, I propose that we also stop for
Purgatory and the Playboy: Remembering Hugh Hefner Two weeks ago today, Hugh Hefner died at the age of 91. Almost immediately, writers rallied to denounce (or acclaim) the fraudulent idea of his “legacy.” What he left behind him can be called a legacy only in the same sense as the aftermath of a disaster. My hope is that his life’s work, like that of the Marquis de Sade, will fade to the point that while
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42; NRSV).” Acts 2:41-47 provides us with an important window into the Jerusalem mother church, the source of all holy, catholic, and apostolic churches in the world today. Given that nearly 2,000 years have passed since the day of Pentecost, modern Christians do well whenever they re-investigate the roots of their own faith and practices. When we
As I sit by my daughter’s bed at 2am – teething, I’ve been told, will eventually pass – a number of thoughts traverse my tired mind. Most are muddled. What day is it? Did the Cubs win yesterday? What is the meaning of life? But I keep returning to one thought in particular: life is so complex. Doing some self-psychologizing, I came to realize a couple of things about this thought. Firstly, it’s not truly
I1 am nearing the end of a really beautiful book, called Dimitri’s Cross.2 Right now I am reading the letters he wrote his wife, Tamara, from his first place of imprisonment. I already know, from reading this book, that he is later sent to Dora, a camp called the “Man-Eater” where Fr. Dimitri is forced to work in horrid, extreme conditions, ages quickly, becomes very ill and at the end, speaks of feeling the abandonment of
Your view of the afterlife affects how you live now. That’s something we can learn from Nietzsche. So, do you believe in heaven, or the resurrection?
About an hour into a conversation with a friend, we began discussing the death of Lazarus and Jesus weeping with Mary. Jesus had purposely waited to come to his friends that he might glorify the Father through the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus said to Martha, “I myself am the resurrection and the life.” He knew he was about to push death right out of a man, to make him what he should be: fully alive.
In a recent interview with The Telmarine Times, award-winning scientist and disgruntled Black Dwarf, Richikins, declared the resurrection of Aslan at the Stone Table “an impossibility, a silly load of you-know-what the size of a satyr, a myth for small-minded-fluff-for-brains nincompoops like Fauns and Giants.” He continued, “It is clearly a violation of nature to arise from the dead. I have personally squashed hundreds of bugs in my little dwarf hands and studied them for
Living in a fallen world such as we do, death unfortunately remains a fact of life. We have all experienced the loss of loved ones, all struggled with the spectre of death. But what happens when people die? Do they go to heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Limbo? Furthermore, do all dogs really go to heaven, or is that merely the childhood fantasy relegated to the dumpster of bad theology? This month’s Round Table discussion reflects on
You are ugly. I’m sorry, but it is true. I have no idea what you look like, but I can say with absolute certainty that you are an ugly human being. This is because ugliness is inherent to being human in this fallen and sinful world and is completely independent of what you look like. Your body is broken and dying. With every passing moment you grow closer to the day when you will shut
There is a God. There is a person at the back of the universe, fiddling with things for the benefit of people who are listening to him, even in the midst of horrific things. And this person, who apparently doesn’t attach as much importance to life and death as we do, is nevertheless intensely interested in us as people. And if we doubt him, he stands back and lets us doubt, until we are ready
“When students are first introduced to the historical, as opposed to a devotional, study of the Bible, one of the first things they are forced to grapple with is that the biblical text, whether Old Testament or New Testament, is chock full of discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable…. In some cases seemingly trivial points of difference can actually have an enormous significance for the interpretation of a book or the reconstruction of the history of
This week, Western Christians celebrate Holy Week, the last days of Jesus Christ on earth before his crucifixion at the hands of Pontius Pilate, torturous suffering on a cross, and death. Of course, the story of Christ does not end there, but continues on Sunday with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This act—the defeat of death—became the launching point of the Christian faith, the linchpin of the Gospel: God has come to earth and he
For years I’ve dreaded February as one of the hardest months of the year. Maybe it’s because Christmas cheer is by now a distant fog, or because the weather acts like a hard-bitten old man. Maybe it’s because of inner maladies—winter blues and the like. February was my personal season of spiritual crisis for some time. I recently learned that early February is part of the liturgical season of Epiphany. Not having grown up paying
‘Tis the Christmas season. Our music, parties, concerts and plays, nativity scenes, lights, eggnog, and (if you’re lucky enough) snow tell us that Christmas comes swiftly. Gifts are being purchased. Plans to see family are being finalized. The busyness and joys of the Christmas season are pervasive, even for those who don’t celebrate Christmas. But why do we celebrate Christmas? The “Christmas Wars” rightfully remind us the real reason for the season: the birth of