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Grace in Practice

Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Our friend/favorite/conference speaker John Newton’s newest book Reckless Love: The Scandal of Grace in a Performance-Driven World puts at odds the reality of the grace we receive daily with the ways we think grace is supposed to work. Instead of something given in return for our own goodness, grace can cause outrage by the abundance with which God gives it and in the way that he “refuses to love selectively.”

Read an excerpt below:

The tax collector and all the other disreputable types in the Gospels loved Jesus’s program of forgiveness. It was the religious establishment that gave Jesus pushback. Forgiveness struck…

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Judged by a Jury of Peers: How Much Repentance Is Enough?

Judged by a Jury of Peers: How Much Repentance Is Enough?

Depends who you ask, of course. But truth be told, no one really asks this question. Repentance just isn’t thought of as a quality which has shades of meaning; either one repents or one doesn’t, and there is nothing in-between. If there is a debate about repentance, it has to do with its definition. Is it a change of mind, as the etymology of the Greek might indicate (μετά-νοια, after-thought)? Or is it an abrupt and radical break with one’s past, a conscious walking in a new direction entirely? When has “hearty repentance and true faith” occurred? Is it real repentance…

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PZ's Podcast: Sanctification (Is Making Me Late)

PZ’s Podcast: Sanctification (Is Making Me Late)

EPISODE 249

Ellis Brazeal recently pointed out a clear-and-present fact about what we call “sanctification”. Ellis observed that the moment we begin to think we have it, or have made it, it is completely nullified. In other words, the only actual sanctification at which one ever arrives is un-self-conscious.

Another way of putting this would be to say that no amount of or “espece de” virtue-signalling will ever cut it. The moment you draw attention to your “growth” or “discipleship”, at that exact moment it gets disqualified as evidence of moral improvement. The only material sanctification is, to the evincer of it,…

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Change is the Worst (and the Best?)

Change is the Worst (and the Best?)

The months of May and June—well a solid portion of 2018, for that matter—have been marked by a whole lot of change. My sister graduated from high school, making my parents empty nesters. Dear friends and roommates have moved away. New roommates are moving in. And that’s just the beginning.

I hate change, like really hate it. As a creature of habit and lover of routines who is severely lacking in spontaneity, change is the enemy, and I typically don’t handle it well—God bless my parents for graciously answering their phones to listen to me process it all. For the past…

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Summer Bucket Lists and Taking a Seat at the Table

Summer Bucket Lists and Taking a Seat at the Table

I ended the school year a few days ago by high-fiving my seniors au-revoir at their graduation and have now set about making lists of #allthethings I hope to do with my girls this summer. Enter: the Summer Bucket List. In sharing my ideas with friends and building said list, I was motivated by two things.

An authentic hope for my girls to have a fun summer, one characterized by laziness and rest as well as active play, adventure, and unstructured time with Mama and Dada.
A tangible way for me to literally check things off and accumulate motherhood points to win…

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J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

J.B. Roane and the Case of the Belated Apology

This is the first in an ongoing series of original short stories featuring the Rev. J.B. Roane.

Thornton bought me a cup of coffee at the same Dairy Queen where he found my business card the previous day, pinned up a little crooked on a bulletin board next to the men’s room.

J.B. Roane – Pastor for Hire.

Available for odd jobs of a spiritual nature.

Thornton’s coveralls looked like they’d seen more than a few errant drips of coffee and splashes of ketchup. The small talk we tried to make was awkward. He struck me as a direct man, momentarily at a…

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PZ's Podcast: Dead Reckoning

PZ’s Podcast: Dead Reckoning

EPISODE 248

Pastoral experience in hospital pre-op units provides abundant evidence for the existence of the soul. I first saw this evidence in Birmingham years ago, when someone we knew and loved was having to go into the operating room twice the same day, because the first “pass” that morning had failed. The situation was in fact do-or-die, and I had never before seen the look of fear which had come over the patient’s face as she was being prepared for her second procedure.

Then another time, in Washington, as the gurney was being wheeled out to surgery, a kind of fluttering…

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For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

For Those We Love, A Healthy Dose of Pessimism

Alain de Botton explains why we are cruelest to the ones we are closest to. Most of it has to do with the fact that we have such devastatingly high expectations for them to meet our devastatingly deep neediness. A section on “Pessimism” from The School of Life’s book, Relationships. 

No one can disappoint and upset us as much as the person we’re in a relationship with–for of no one do we have higher hopes. It’s because we are so dangerously optimistic that we call them a c***, a s***head, or a weakling. The intensity of the disappointment and frustration is dependent…

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I Think We're Alone Now

I Think We’re Alone Now

We live in an age of loneliness.

As David Zahl pointed out at the recent NYC Mockingbird Conference, the age of anxiety has given way to an age of loneliness, the effects of which can be felt by everyone.

The U.K. has appointed a Minister of Loneliness.

We are divided from each other in myriad ways. We have built silos inside our silos and now we are all standing alone wondering where everybody else went.

The problem of loneliness is not a simple one and it does not have a simple solution. While some are quick to blame social media and technology, I…

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Stupid Kids Doing Stupid Stuff

Stupid Kids Doing Stupid Stuff

This little piece comes to us from the Rt. Rev. Scott Benhase.

In the film “20th Century Women,” there’s a compelling scene between a mother and her teenaged son. The mother has just brought him home from the hospital; he was rushed there after playing a game with his friends that went wrong. The game involved him hyperventilating while another boy stood behind him, wrapping his arms around his torso, and squeezing. Which caused him to pass out. Normally, a person comes to just a few seconds after this, but in this case, the boy remained unconscious. By the time his distraught…

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Why Is Jesus Slumming with That Denomination?

Why Is Jesus Slumming with That Denomination?

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.

Even the most unrealistic optimist doesn’t believe this will improve. After all, we’ve been on this kick for 965 years. Humpty Dumpty has been on the ground for a long, long time. And all the king’s councils and all the king’s ecumenists, aren’t putting him back together again.

What we…

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The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon - New Edition Available Now!

The First Chapter of Bed and Board by Robert Farrar Capon – New Edition Available Now!

And now we present an excerpt from the most recent addition to our Robert Farrar Capon series, his greatly esteemed work Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage. An essential book for any Capon-lover, this was Robert’s first bestseller, and you’ll see why in this introductory chapter, reproduced below.

“Bed and Board is necessary and offensive in the best possible way.” – Sarah Condon

“…sage wisdom, biting humor, uncomfortable truths…never a page that must be forgiven for pedantic, sawdusty prose.” – Chad Bird

I.

ABSURDITY

The author celebrates the Holy Estate of Matrimony, professes disillusionment with the usual advices about it, and gives…

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