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Nov
26

C.S. Lewis, my spiritual conductor

C.S. Lewis, my spiritual conductor November 22 was the day we remembered C.S. Lewis in the Episcopal Church calendar. To honor him, I decided to write of his influence on me.
Nov
25

The baggage of evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail

The baggage of evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail Fortunately or unfortunately, there still seems to be an ever widening stream of ex-evangelical converts to Anglicanism, sometimes to the mutual benefit of those involved, but often to the loss of evangelical denominations.
Nov
24

Goodbye to my guitar hero

Goodbye to my guitar hero I am overwhelmed by Bruce Cockburn’s preference for ideological purity over doctrinal clarity, his contempt for conservatives, and his follow-your-bliss sexual morality.
Nov
21

Quiet reforms: the Vatican and priestly marriage

Quiet reforms: the Vatican and priestly marriage Without announcement (and with almost as little notice), a Vatican reform was published in the official directory of the Holy See: it plain states that the Eastern churches in Communion with Rome may have a married presbyterate anywhere in the world they happen to be.
Nov
20

The precariousness of Christian lives in some regions

The precariousness of Christian lives in some regions The headlines reporting this story seem as though they are reaching for a way to absolve the murderers of guilt.
Nov
19

The contradictions of Paul Moore

The contradictions of Paul Moore Paul Moore was bishop of New York for almost twenty years, the capstone on an illustrious life in the ministry. But his sexual life more or less left behind a long wake of emotional destruction, the brunt of which was borne by his two wives.
Nov
18

Congregations rule

Congregations rule The bottom-up, congregational model is legally mandatory in Texas. So, a professedly Methodist congregation is only connectional if it chooses to be so and signs legal documents to that effect.
Nov
17

Graveyard homes

Graveyard homes My wife and I are raising our two sons in a graveyard. For the churchyard is clearly a place for the living, as well as the dead.
Nov
13

Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm Samuel Johnson’s 1755 The Dictionary of the English Language defines “enthusiasm” in this way: "A vain belief of private revelation; a vain confidence of divine favour or communication." I admit that I am an enthusiast.
Nov
12

Henri de Lubac and human nature

Henri de Lubac and human nature A key contribution of Henri de Lubac is his argument against "pure nature," the notion that we could conceive of human nature independent of its created end and goal. But creation is never independent from her creator.
Nov
11

Changes at the helm

Changes at the helm He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens.”  (Luke 13:54 Looking simply at the sheer number of turnovers in leadership at Episcopal seminaries in the last three years suggests that change is in the wind. The recent debacles surfacing at General Theological Seminary and before that, at Episcopal Divinity...
Nov
10

The not-so-reverend Reverend

The not-so-reverend Reverend Some of us need to be reminded that, while the Church is indeed a divine institution, it can oftentimes be all too human.
Nov
7

Sacramental depth in difficulty

Sacramental depth in difficulty Might it be that theological insight is most likely to occur in the state of “vulnerability and unprotectedness,” in those moments that seem very dark indeed? There might be evidence for this in the thought of Bonhoeffer and Merton.
Nov
5

Ebola anxiety, West Africa, and the quality of mercy

Ebola anxiety, West Africa, and the quality of mercy I am only doing small, specific things that I can easily do. You too can do some small, specific things.
Nov
4

Liturgy and becoming a “less bad” person

Liturgy and becoming a “less bad” person One thing that I’ve noticed on this blog is a willingness to criticize inflated claims for the liturgy. But, properly chastened, can we make claims that the liturgy "works," making you a better person?
Nov
3

Church of the Japanese holdout?

Church of the Japanese holdout? Hiroo Onoda spent twenty-nine years fighting a war that had been over for a long time. Is this an analogy for the Church?
Oct
31

Halloween thoughts

Halloween thoughts What is the connection between devils, witches, goblins, and All Saints, and is it pernicious to participate in the revelries of the Eve if one is a believer who honors the Day?
Oct
30

Liturgy, language, and reliving Christ’s life

Liturgy, language, and reliving Christ’s life I had grown up as an evangelical, so it came as a surprise that I ended up in an Anglican church in college, but I discovered gifts of church tradition there that I had never encountered before.
Oct
29

No one is a no one

No one is a no one There is not a man, woman, or child that we will not declare a no one if it suits our interests, that we will not drive to the brow of the hill, so that we might hurl them off the cliff. But no one is a no one.
Oct
27

The art of prayer

The art of prayer Prayer need not be elaborate to be powerful. Like art, prayer expresses the inner yearning of the human soul, and our souls reach out toward God as God reaches toward us.
Oct
24

Strive to enter that rest

Strive to enter that rest The Daily Office requires each Christian to begin the day by reciting Psalm 95, meditating on the profound similarity between Israel's rebellion and the rebellion that lurks deep in every heart.
Oct
23

Throwback Thursday 1: “Rebooting Anglican communication”

Throwback Thursday 1: “Rebooting Anglican communication” "We have lost the capacity to receive what is new," says Michael Poon. Hip as we are here at Covenant, we thought it might be fitting to tap into the general cultural expectation around Throwback Thursday, but subvert it a bit, highlighting some past contributions of enduring value.
Oct
22

Worship, law, and “my personal Jesus”

The idea of a personal relationship with Jesus that lacks the experience of grace as command is just plain silly. Like sex without committed fellowship under God, it ain't the real thing.
Oct
21

Health

Health Good structures are necessary but not sufficient conditions for healthy churches in the twenty-first century.
Oct
20

O Lord, open thou our lips

O Lord, open thou our lips I grew up in the Pentecostal Church, which is another way of saying I grew up in a tradition where we go to church to sing. This value for singing and musical expression was ubiquitous. On our way to church, we would listen to praise music; in church, I would tarry at the altar call singing “Let It Rain,” “Oh The Glory of Your Presence,” “I Just Can’t Stop Praising His Name,” and, “I...
Oct
17

Sanctified wealth

"You cannot serve God and wealth." But God has an inheritance for us. And surely our institutions and their wealth are part of this, as they are placed in the service of sanctification, holiness, by God’s grace.
Oct
16

Seeking the Lord’s face and seeing his back

Seeking the Lord’s face and seeing his back On Monday, July 21, the Word of the Lord came to me. Sort of. But I only recognized him when he had already gone.
Oct
15

The next culture war?

The next culture war? What are the beliefs that are so integral to our faith that we must act upon them, even in the face of laws that allow no room for religious exemption? What are the convictions we hold in common that we can act upon together, even in opposition to the cultural consensus?
Oct
14

More Catholic than the Pope

More Catholic than the Pope “That’s no way to talk to the Pope.” This gratuitous and immature comment was my lame attempt at humor. The occasion was the reading of the notorious incident in Syrian Antioch, narrated by St. Paul in Galatians 2:11-14, Paul upbraiding Cephas.
Oct
13

Transitions: the search process

Transitions: the search process Pastors come and pastors go. I am in the middle of that at this moment, an experience that many of us have had on either side of the pulpit.
Oct
10

Christian worship is boring

The Holy Eucharist is supposed to be boring. So claims the Catholic theologian James Alison. He says, “When people tell me that they find Mass boring, I want to say to them: it’s supposed to be boring, or at least seriously underwhelming. It’s a long term education in becoming un-excited.” He’s right, I think. Let me explain. Alison’s claim about the Mass being boring or unexciting...
Oct
9

My son’s autism is making me holy (and I hate it)

Our lives center around my son’s autism. It is the compass that keeps us ever pointing away from ourselves and towards some unknown horizon.
Oct
8

Living water

Living water A few weeks ago, the city of Columbia suffered a break in the water line near my house. For the next two days, I didn’t shower.
Oct
7

Ecclesiometry

Ecclesiometry The Constantinian synthesis has run its course. One might well ask, then, in a world of apostolic mission, what might be the most helpful measure of ecclesial health and vitality?
Oct
6

Your own personal Jesus

Your own personal Jesus A relationship with Jesus that purports to be without rules, without "religion," will turn out to be not a relationship but a fantasy.
Oct
3

Formative literature 1

Formative literature 1 The Facebook thread: books that changed our lives (or some such). Mine tilt heavily toward the modern and contemporary, but God, in the form of truth, meets us through our loves and fears. He finds us where we are, having arrived himself in advance.
Oct
2

The unashamed Anglican: Stephen Sykes, 1939–2014

The unashamed Anglican: Stephen Sykes, 1939–2014 Do Anglicans have doctrines? Or is Anglicanism an empty container, into which one can pour whatever one likes?
Oct
1

Blood on my hands: being a hunter and a Christian clergyman

Blood on my hands: being a hunter and a Christian clergyman A foray into vegetarianism during high school was inspired by Tolstoy. His argument ran as follows: you know that you can be perfectly healthy without eating meat; so, if you eat meat, you are doing it to gratify your appetite at the expense of the lives of animals.
Sep
30

A plea for intellectual honesty

A plea for intellectual honesty Academic discourse ought to be the last place where anything is ever considered settled.
Sep
29

Searching for light: another word on TREC

Searching for light: another word on TREC Larger ecclesiastical structures are of course inevitable, but they aren’t of much interest until it’s clear what difference they make on the front line.

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