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The Power of Awe

When they lose their sense of awe, people turn to religion. -Tao Te Ching Awe. This is the state of wonder and gratitude in which we are meant to live. To wake each day still unable to believe that we are alive. To wake each moment—if only we were willing!—and see the glory in a…

66,000 Crossing Guards

A few days ago I was sitting with a friend. “If you look at the world,” he said, “it seems to be unraveling.” There was the usual bloodshed in the Middle East, and then rival biker clans in Waco, Texas had come to blows, which escalated to chains, clubs and knives, finally to guns. Nine…

Everything Has Already Happened

We are all pro-choice. The “freedom to choose” is among the most sacred tenets of our culture. If something offers people “more choice” in some matter (Which television program will I watch? Which yogurt will I buy? What gender shall my baby be?), it’s pretty much an assumed blessing. So it caught my attention Sunday…

I Have an Appointment with April

A week ago Pam and I went out into the church grounds and clipped tall branches of brilliant yellow forsythia. We were hosting a dinner at the rectory, and we wanted to brighten the house with flowers—without spending all that money. There’s a bank of forsythia running fifty feet along the church driveway, a riot…

The Power of the Act

Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “The act teaches you the meaning of the act.” This is pure wisdom, but we have mostly counseled its reverse. We have tried to teach people the meaning first to see if we might coax them into the act. If we taught people to believe that God calls us to love…

Letting Beliefs Go

This morning I read this: A broad group of scholars is beginning to demonstrate that religious belief and factual belief are indeed different kinds of mental creatures. First of all, they have noticed that the very language people use changes when they talk about religious beings, and the changes mean that they think about their…

Fear of Falling

My father was afraid to fall. With good reason: he is 96 years old. Almost a year ago his blood pressure was so low he got dizzy and collapsed. Luckily he wasn’t injured, but he got it in his head—The most important thing is: Do Not Fall. Dad got a walker and wheelchair. He didn’t…

Monday, Monday

Easter Monday is always like the day after Christmas. The party is over. The leftover lamb is sitting forlorn on the counter top; it was not put away last night. The children’s plastic eggs lie empty and raided on the floor. The sun comes in the window a little harsh. That great victory over death…

The Cock Crows

At the heart of the “Greatest Story Ever Told” is a betrayal. No one would call their child Judas. The name is slimed with centuries of condemnation: the lily-livered turncoat who betrayed an innocent man for thirty pieces of silver. We might understand how the crowd could turn on Jesus, but how could someone from…

It Tolls for Thee

Rarely am I so moved. The funeral for my mother-in-law ended. I lined up with five other pallbearers and walked the white coffin to the hearse. We got in our car and waited for the procession to begin. Pam began quietly to weep. There is something startling about the hearse and the coffin, the physicality…

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