An interesting experience recently, which recapitulated two other experiences similar to it, made me want to record this cast. It is a Christmas cast, with a salute to the New Year.
In the back of my mind was the Merry Christmas greeting that Journey put out one year for MTV. Gosh, that made an impression! Since I’ve said that the one person I wish I could have been born as (other than myself) is Steve Perry, the whole thing took on increasing resonance.
With a little help, too, from Mr. Harrison (R.I.P.) and also from Mr. Dylan, here lies, well, the…
1) The New York Times has certainly hit the ground running in 2013. This one came just yesterday from John Tierney, entitled, “Why You Won’t Be the Person You Expect to Be,” and is more than just a timely treatise against New Year’s resolutions. It briefly discusses the inner-psychic myth of our own present stability. The article looks into the studies of recent psychologists who found that people, from childhood on, tend to deny their short-lived interests, goals, and anxieties, and instead portray themselves as having arrived at a kind of destination, a changeless omega-point from which they will never…
Here are some poetic words from Saint Augustine’s Sermon 69: On the same words, John 1: “In the beginning was the Word, etc.” excerpted from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff. There are some beautiful lines here on the Incarnation—the Word of God becoming flesh—that could make this a Christmas sermon.
Do not follow the current of the flesh. For this flesh is indeed a current; for it has none abiding. As it were from a kind of secret fount of nature men are born, they live, they die; or whence they come, or whither they go, we know not.…
Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.
The following is a devotion I wrote for my local seminary’s advent devotional.
Blind, prisoners, dungeons, sitting in darkness…Stay here where things are dire. Our guilty consciences, our bruised egos, our shame, our failure wants us to move on; “Let’s not talk about this… let’s get to the good news… quickly!” But, in this very last day of Advent, this is where we should be: face-to-face with the dire reality of our situation. Things are no longer “very good” (Gen 1:31) and not even a little good; they are—once again—completely “not good” (Gen 2:18). Because we prefer to dash the…
1. An uncommonly insightful piece by John Dickerson appeared in The NY Times about “The Decline of Evangelical America.” Writing as an evangelical himself, Dickerson recites some jarring statistics before launching into a sympathetic and genuinely hopeful conclusion, ht SZ:
In 2007, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, in a survey of 1,300 college professors, found that 3 percent held “unfavorable feelings” toward Jews, 22 percent toward Muslims and 53 percent toward evangelical Christians…
The core evangelical belief is that love and forgiveness are freely available to all who trust in Jesus Christ. This is the “good news” from which the…
I think this is the best-known story in the world because it is everybody’s story. I think it is the symbol story of the human soul … the greatest terror a child can have is that he is not loved, and rejection is the hell he fears.
My past two weeks, per usual, have been spent with several college students, weeping, ranting, emoting. A constant theme is the irrational fear of not being loved, of being rejected and then…being alone…forever. One student has such deep-rooted anxiety about being alone that she has panic attacks unless someone, anyone, is…
A wonderful little piece recently appeared over at The Wall Street Journal with quite a bit more year-round relevance than its title implies, “All I Want For Christmas…Is Some Space” by Sophia Dembling. Ms. Dembling comments on a form of contemporary righteousness that is increasingly filed under the Type A-Type B dichotomy, namely, the difference between extroverts and introverts. The distinction, of course, is a real one; what’s interesting/sad is how quickly it becomes a hierarchy, i.e. extroverts are good, introverts not so much. Or at least, extroversion is a desirable quality, while introversion is something that needs to be…
A couple of beautiful excerpts from the Great Reformer’s Sermon on the Visitation, in which he sounds very much like the progenitor of Alcoholics Anonymous that he is. Taken from Martin Luther’s Christmas Book that Roland Bainton put together (indispensable reading this time of year), these paragraphs are part of Dr. Luther’s exposition of The Magnificat, AKA Mary’s song in response to news delivered by the angel Gabriel:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.” (Luke 1: 46-48a)
This is the fifth installment in a look at the theological and pastoral wisdom found in the current season of NBC’s Parenthood, mostly regarding the intersection of unsuspected love in the context of suffering. It has been almost a month since I have written anything, mostly because I felt the program was in the middle of a filler-episode streak, understandably serving to carry on the narratives of its many subplots but not standing out with profound moments of grace in ways earlier episodes have. Don’t get me wrong. There were some touching moments in recent episodes like Adam caring for Kristina…
1. Another fascinating piece by Tanya Luhrmann over at the New York Times argues that “Hark, the Herald Angels Didn’t Sing.” Amidst sobering reminders from strict biblical constructionists that many Christmas details are imagined or embellished, Luhrmann advocates a middle road for how to engage the Bible with imagination, ht SZ:
I am no theologian and I do not think that social science can weigh in on the question of who God is or whether God is real. But I think that anthropology offers some insight into why imaginatively enriching a text taken as literally true helps some Christians to hang on…
The legs of the elk punctured the snow’s crust
And wolves floated lightfooted on the land
Hunting Christmas elk living and frozen;
Inside snow melted in a basin, and a woman basted
A bird spread over coals by its wings and head.
Snow had sealed the windows; candles lit
The Christmas meal. The Christmas grace chilled
The cooked bird, being long-winded and the room cold.
During the words a boy thought, is it fitting
To eat this creature killed on the wing?
He had killed it himself, climbing out
Alone on snowshoes in the Christmas dawn,
The fallen snow swirling and the snowfall gone,
Heard its throat scream as the gunshot scattered,
WHAT: Mockingbird seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.
WHY: Are we called Mockingbird? The name was inspired by the mockingbird’s peculiar gift for mimicking the cries of other birds. In a similar way, we seek to repeat the message we have heard - God’s word of grace and forgiveness.
HOW: Via every medium available! At present this includes (but is not limited to) a daily weblog, semi-annual conferences, and an ongoing publications initiative.
WHO: At present, we employ two full-time staff, David Zahl and Ethan Richardson and one part-time, William McDavid. They are helped and supported by a large number of contributing volunteers and writers. Our board of directors is chaired by Mr. Thomas Becker.
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WHEN: Mockingbird was incorporated in June 2007 and is currently in its sixth year of operation.
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