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Janet Hagberg was the first person who defined the experience for me. I had lived through it, but I didn’t know what to call it. In a book entitled, “The Critical Journey,” Janet called the experience, simply, “The Wall.” My summary goes like this. Many people begin their walk of faith, and everything goes as they expected. Out of genuine conviction, they attend church, learn from the Scriptures, volunteer, serve, give, and become “productive, committed, faithful, Christians” (whatever that exactly means, who knows?). But somewhere along the way things go wrong. Terribly wrong.
I’ve made a habit lately of studying the Amish. I use the word “study” loosely as this is not a simple curiosity of mine or some kind of theological experiment. My exploration flows out of a deep respect and admiration for their faith and spirituality. We English (that’s what the Amish call us outside their communities) recognize them because of their familiar beards, horse-drawn buggies, fine woodworking, or barn-raisings, but there’s a lot more to this group than sturdy furniture and firm dispositions. They have a lively, vibrant faith despite their archaic lifestyles.
“Here I stand! I can do no other,” Martin Luther reportedly said as he stood before the papal commission that was investigating his radical beliefs. Taking a “stand” has been the Protestant rage ever since. We children of the Reformation, and I include myself in that family, just love to tell others what we believe.
Sharing faith, in Christian terms, is known as “evangelism.” This is the English rendering of a Greek word meaning “to proclaim the good news.” That’s a problem, because the news isn’t always good.
Last week my son asked me a profound theological question: “Why did God make stinging bugs?” Stumped, I told him to talk directly to God about it. Pausing for just a moment to consider my inadequate answer, he countered, “You know I can’t talk to God; I’m not even dead yet!” In my son’s literal but complex 8-year-old mind, prayer does not qualify as “talking to God.” Thus, his many and variegated questions about the mysteries of the universe, the meaning of life, and the purpose of wasps and biting flies, will have to wait.
I pulled from my bookshelf a few systematic theology books that I had not opened for a long time. I blew off the dust, cracked the stiff binding, and dove into the hundreds of pages filled with declarations about the attributes and characteristics of God.
There is fascinating new research now being conducted in the field of “Superior Autobiographical Memory.” Researchers have found a small group of people, only about a dozen or so here in North America, which remembers almost everything about their lives. And when I say “almost everything,” I mean almost everything.
We’re still in the season of Lent, and our 40 days of exploration into the desert regions of our hearts and lives. As we tip into the last half of Lent, we might be feeling a little impatient and ready to move on. Perhaps that feeling is born from looking ahead and planning for Holy Week, and Easter celebrations. Or maybe it’s because the weather is so perfect at this time of year, we’re restless to get moving in body, mind and spirit.
As I traveled through my home state of Georgia not long ago, I came upon a little Baptist church stuck away in the woods. That’s not unusual. At times Georgia seems to be overrun with Baptist churches; that and kudzu.
The year was 387 AD. The place was Kilpatrick in ancient Scotland. Their names were Calpurnius and Conchessa, Roman citizens living at the edge of the Roman Empire. These young Britons were gifted with a new born son. They named him Maewyn.
As a pastor to a developing congregation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I have often pondered how faith and money are linked in the way they define us as individuals.
I’m often surprised at the frequency in which I hear a Christian bring up Karma. As applied, Karma is the great balancer in the universe to right all wrongs and keep each successive day moving along as it should. It might be a warning to a person that a momentary bad deed will come back to haunt them, or an encouragement to a person wronged that retribution is on its way. Spend a few moments sitting at your local coffee shop and you’ll overhear hints of this in the conversations all around you. Whether we profess faith in Jesus or not, most of us live with a deep need for fairness in our daily lives. It’s what makes our world tick.
LOS ANGELES — With Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" and Ridley Scott's "Exodus" preparing to duke it out for Old Testament auteur supremacy, Hollywood's religious renaissance gets off to a none-too-spectacular start with a chewed-over New Testament appetizer called "Son of God." A clumsily edited feature-length version of five episodes from History's hugely popular 10-hour miniseries "The Bible," this stiff, earnest production plays like a half-hearted throwback to the British-accented biblical dramas of yesteryear, its small-screen genesis all too apparent in its Swiss-cheese construction and subpar production values. Yet while Jesus' teachings have been reduced to a muddle of kindly gestures and mangled Scriptures, the scenes of his betrayal, death and resurrection crucially retain their emotional and dramatic power, which the charitable viewer may deem atonement enough for what feels, in all other respects, like a cynical cash grab.
Benedictine University at Mesa will hold its first spring open house on March 2 from noon to 3 p.m.
I bet we all know the exclamation of “eureka” attributed to Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer, Archimedes. As the story goes, Archimedes was taking a bath. He noticed that the level of the water rose as he got into the tub, and realized in that great epiphany moment that the volume of water displaced by his body could, with a little mathematical maneuvering, be used to determine his body’s density. According to rest of the story, he was so excited he jumped out of the bath, and ran naked through the streets shouting “eureka,” which translated into English means, “I’ve found it!” History doesn’t seem to have any comment on his lack of clothing!
A state lawmaker who also is a pastor unveiled legislation Friday designed to protect him and others religious leaders from being forced to marry same-sex couples.
The newly opened Benedictine University in Mesa started classes the day after Labor Day with a touch more than 90 students enrolled.
Years of hard work, preparation and planning in Mesa will fall into place in a matter of weeks as the city’s newest colleges and universities welcome students.
Like many college students, the Rev. Dan Vanyo stopped going to church as a young adult navigating life out on his own.
Maybe Vera Farmiga unwittingly scratched a bug bite and left three claw marks on her thigh.
PASADENA, Calif. — Nick Palacios struggled to get his conservative Pentecostal parents to accept him as a gay evangelical Christian for nearly a decade before his family found a common ground through faith.
In this Wednesday, June 12, 2013 photo, straight and gay members of OneTable, from left, Samantha Curley, Chelsea McInturff, faculty adviser Glen Stassen, Marissa Nunes and Nick Palacios walk on the campus of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. Fuller, the largest multi-denominational seminary in the world, became the first such school to sanction an official student organization - OneTable - for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students earlier this year. Attempts to start unofficial gay student groups at other seminiaries throughout the country have been met with censorship and outright bans. Though the group’s approval is seen by many as progress, some argue it’s a step forward with strings attached. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
The East Valley Chorale is looking to add several male singers to perform at a variety of events across the Valley.
No public figure has clearly articulated the true lesson from the 10th anniversary of the disastrous Iraq War. That lesson is a matter of logic. In weighing the war’s costs and benefits, we reversed the burden of proof. The war’s proponents should have been presumed guilty until proven innocent. Instead, the Bush Administration reversed that proper criterion, generally supported by the national press in placing the burden on skeptics.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis is the first ever from the Americas, an austere Jesuit intellectual who modernized Argentina's conservative Catholic church.