06 Aug 2021

Godforsakenness and Redemption PT. 2: The Cry of Solidarity

“Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani?” by Ann Kim Oil Stick on canvas, 1998, 50″ x 70″ link In my previous article I examined the linkages between crucifixion and lynching made by theologian James Cone, and his argument that Christ’s crucifixion opens up the possibility of redemption despite atrocities like lynching that were designed to demonize and devastate the very humanity of Black people. In this article I move beyond Cone and investigate an experience I refer

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24 Feb 2021

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

The fact that I cannot sing in worship this Lent has not stopped the words of Isaac Watts’ beloved masterpiece, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, from rattling about in my mind. Throughout this incredible hymn, Watts speaks powerfully of Christ’s atoning death. He draws us into the pathos of the Crucifixion, and he causes us to reflect on the somber majesty of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. At the same time, Watts also invites us

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04 May 2020

The Pandemic and the Wrath of God

In dark moments, I have sometimes wondered whether, when disaster struck, I might lose my faith. Perhaps my God of unbounded kindness would fall away in the face of crisis—shown to be phantom conjured up by an over-hopeful imagination—sand leave me alone in the universe. Yet as it has turned out, the real danger was of this God morphing into a god of wrath, his face twisting into stern, unfamiliar expressions. In this midst of

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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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30 Jan 2020

Jeremiah and the Burden of Being

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth! a man of strife and contention to all the land! Because I bore your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit celebrating in the circle of merrymakers; Under the weight of your hand I sat alone because you filled me with indignation. Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,

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05 Dec 2019

Endgame and the End

With the arrival of Disney+, my family and I have been binging Marvel’s Infinity Saga films, beginning with Iron Man and culminating in last year’s mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame. I only saw it once in the theater and while I immediately formed a positive opinion of the capstone movie (up to this point) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I typically try to reserve final judgement of a film until I have watched it at least twice.

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21 Aug 2019

Book Review: The Sparrow

Why is it absolutely essential that you read two books about Jesuits encountering aliens? I will begin to answer that question in part one of this (largely) spoiler-free review. Deus Vult? A Review of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow The Sparrow’s opening pages describe a Jesuit mission to an alien world gone horribly wrong. We hear the story from Emilio Sandoz—the book’s protagonist and the sole survivor of a small group who first visited the

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06 Mar 2019

Compendium of Round Table Responses

Below, you can find an up-to-date catalog of my responses to various Conciliar Post Round Tables, as well as links to where they originally appeared. I pray that these thoughts will be helpful to some, and will encourage all to delve further into the mysteries of faith. September, 2019: The Knowability of God “[The LORD] made darkness his covering around him…” –Ps 18:11 Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of discursive practice in Christian theology:

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03 Oct 2018

A Life Without Suffering

A life without suffering is no life at all. Like many of a certain age here in America, my childhood seemed perfect. I had everything I could ask for—from a supportive family to a consistent stream of toys, video games, and collectibles to keep me occupied. I had money of my own to spend (mostly from generous relatives) and an excess of unearned confidence derived from the many who praised my “talents.” When I think

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11 Jul 2018

Round Table: Euthanasia

The 2016 film Me Before You stars Emilia Clarke as an awkward young woman who needs employment to help support her poor working class family. After losing her job at a local bakery, she applies to become a caretaker for the adult son of a wealthy family. The son, played by Sam Claflin, was an active and successful young man before being injured in a motorcycle accident that left him as a quadriplegic. The two

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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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19 Mar 2018

Troubles and the Life of Faith

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins (Psalm 25:16-18; NRSV). Preachers on television constantly promise their viewers lives of health, wealth, and welfare. If you are sick, you will be healed. If you are struggling financially, a material blessing is headed your way. If

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06 Feb 2018

Holy the Firm

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

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11 Oct 2017

Purgatory and the Playboy: Remembering Hugh Hefner

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

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23 Jun 2017

May We Be Selfless

Loving God, Our walls are too high Our gaze is turned inward We avert danger at the expense of love We seek ourselves to the extent of losing identity We focus on living so much that we never truly exist May the example of your Son be seen among us May his life be dramatized in the play of our lives May we improvise according to the story of the suffering king May we be

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12 Apr 2017

Holy Week

Holy Week This week there is another, one more child lost within the darkness of my womb. How I have tried to care for them, and carry them, my life’s portion, delicate burdens, slowly forming crosses to bear–or prove unable to bear. As Mary watched her womb’s fruit, ripe in its own blood, fall on the road to Golgotha– once, twice, a third time, cords lashing around His crippled form, until it was impossible to

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02 Feb 2017

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 2

As discussed in part 1, proper expressions of suffering and grief (spiritual and physical) seem to be largely discouraged in modern evangelical churches. Unfortunately, this trend may be less of a recent phenomenon than we think. Pastor Tim Keller has bemoaned that early Reformed and Lutheran churches may bear some responsibility, despite Martin Luther’s efforts to correct the medieval church’s promotion of stoic-like endurance in the face of suffering.1 Luther argued that Christians need not earn

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09 Jan 2017

The Key to Christian Growth

The Key to Christian Growth “If man were happy, the less he were distracted the happier he would be, like the saints and God. Is therefore the man who finds delight in diversion not happy?” Blaisé Pascal, Pensees As most battle-hardened christians know, seasons that contain suffering and hardship can produce vast amounts of growth in one’s life. In a sense, suffering and hardship are simply the lock on the door which leads to Christian

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suffering round table
02 Sep 2016

Round Table: Suffering

“Why does God permit human beings to suffer and die?” There is no simple or easy answer to this question. Perhaps the best response is to pray, with Jesus Christ: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). Our Lord experienced the groaning of creation (Rom 8:22). He shed immortality and impassibility to take the form of a servant (Phil 2:7), to identify

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