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The Axe and the Frozen Sea

Back when my two daughters were listening to Green Day, 98 Degrees and Blink 182, they had all the feelings surging through that music–anxiety, excitement, pouty anger, self-consciousness and of course an enormous need to be loved. Pop music gave voice to all those inexpressible feelings. As a father I often felt helpless to reach…

You Are Not Going to Change the World

Advent is about to dawn, and when it does it leads us into quietness and expectation. Basically, Advent has one message in two parts. (1) A savior is coming. And (2) it’s not you. That is why the images and language of the season seem passive and weak. We are asked to stand down, to…

The Blood of Christ in the Dialysis Center

I have a confession to make. Often the Eucharist does nothing for me. It could simply be a case of liturgical bingeing. After all, I celebrated that sacred meal four times on Sunday. That’s enough to make anyone ask to see the menu again. Sometimes I catch myself in the middle of the Great Thanksgiving…

Radical Amazement

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement,” said Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “. . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” When I…

Debunking the Violence Myth

Some years ago Pam and I were invited to a brunch on Easter Sunday morning. A happy crowd of families gathered, fresh from the morning’s buoyant celebration of the resurrection. When it was time to eat, I was deputized to go find the kids. I went downstairs and found them huddled around a computer. I…

To Hallow Time

Every noon as the clock hands arrive at twelve, I want to tie the two arms together, And walk out of the bank carrying time in bags. -Robert Bly As if our relationship to time weren’t crazy enough, we deliberately throw off our clocks by an hour. Twice a year. You’ve heard about the health…

The Bridge

“August 10, 2008, Saturday afternoon at 1:40 PM. A young woman 300 meters from the south end of the bridge climbed onto the bridge railing. I immediately started my moped, but because I accelerated too quickly, the moped leaked oil and ignited. I had to run to her, but when I was 200 meters away,…

There Are No Silly Love Songs

The greatest human problem is a want of love, and the simplest antidote is confessing our love—telling people, “I love you.” Why does anyone need to restate the obvious, since everyone already knows it? Paul McCartney sang, You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs I look around me and I…

Ash Wednesday and the Reluctant Blesser

I didn’t really want to put on my white robes, slash a purple stole across my body and stand with an ash pot on the train platform before dawn. I don’t enjoy standing in public looking odd—no one does—but it’s more than that. I’m worried that no one else wants to do something “religious” out…

How Tasting Wine Can Improve Your Prayer

What can a wine tasting tell you about prayer? Plenty, it turns out. I was sitting at a table with twenty other would-be oenophiles, four glasses placed in front of me. I was to number them. In glass number one the sommelier poured Sauvignon blanc. I picked up the glass like a clod and made…

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