As if it weren’t enough that a monumental solar eclipse is one week away, the world is abuzz with ominous predictions of a looming nuclear war with North Korea. None of us might live to unwrap our Christmas presents this year. We might all be blown to smithereens. We might all die in nasty, horrible ways. The world might end in one gigantic kaboom.
Grace is uncivilized and rebellious. We make rules for it and it breaks them. Grace is a constant embarrassment to the prim and proper religiosity of the squeaky clean. It is what Brennan Manning called "the furious longing of God."
Someone was once asked to pen a six-word novel.
They wrote: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
Many, including me, could have written those sad, six words.
When you complete an ATM transaction, you expect cold hard cash to come spitting out of the slot. Not a handwritten note that reads, “Please help. I’m stuck in here, and I don’t have my phone. Please call my boss."
There are times when a man and a woman, even though they’re good people, even though they’re both married and committed to their respective spouses, even though these spouses love them, find themselves falling in love with another person whom they think is their soulmate.
You know the stock phrases spoken at funerals.
“Her sufferings are now over,” we say of the woman who’s long been ill.
“He’s in a better place,” we say of the guy whose heart suddenly gave out.
“I’m so sorry for your loss,” we say to grieving parents or the spouse.
Browse through the Hallmark section of Father’s Day cards and you’ll discover that every father is above average. The Bobs, Jasons, and Charlies of this world get up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, and put on their capes before they leave the house. We are evidently overrun with heroic, god-like dads who compete in out-fathering everyone else.
Frank was a one-eyed dwarf who was raised by an abusive alcoholic father in a small coal-mining town where the unemployment rate was 18%. His wife of seven years left him the day before Christmas in 2008 after he lost his janitorial job at the local high school for smoking pot during his breaks.
We envision life as a series of steps toward independence. As newborns about all we can do on our own is cry and poop. As we mature, we learn how to use a spoon, put our pants on, and wobble about. But we’re still completely dependent upon others to cook our food, wash our clothing, and pay the mortgage on that house in which we wobble about.
When reading a book, especially a controversial one, it’s useful to treat it like a house we’re considering buying. From the curbside, it may bedazzle the eyes, but there’s more to a house than its walls, windows, and roof. So we step inside. There too we may see some attractions: fresh paint, new flooring, fancy fixtures.
In conversations with other Christians about the vast number of world’s religions, I usually encounter two different convictions.
Let’s start with the obvious: Christianity is an outwardly fractured religion. You’d think Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world and bloody each other’s noses over, like, Every. Single. Thing.” Just for perspective, note that there are far more denominations than there are languages spoken around the globe. We’ve out-Babelled Babel.
Two weeks ago, in a small Texas town, a mother closed her car door and walked away, forgetting about her child in the car seat. Five hours passed. Finally she remembered. Her little boy would have turned two this month. And we say, “I would never do that.”
We talk about having personal things. We employ a personal trainer to help us shed pounds and get that coveted beachbody. We open a personal bank account to manage our finances. And, please, keep your hands off our personal property and your eyes out of our personal diary.
I remember two things about Ms. Sally: she wore a hat to church every Sunday and the grownups were always whispering serious things about her.
This is the night when the earth is without form, and void, and darkness is over the face of the deep.* And the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters. Then God says, “Let there be light,” and there is light. The seal of the darkness is broken and the morning of the first creation breaks forth out of night.
On Good Friday, Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps 22:1). When you hear those words, what do you think of?
In this article we follow the wise counsel of Lewis by giving ear to the past. We encircle the cross with a few of the church fathers. Stand between Justin Martyr and Cyril of Jerusalem. Listen for a few moments to Augustine and Irenaeus and Gregory.