chesnutt

The Encounter More Than the Cure

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24 OR 2 Samuel 1:1,17-27
Psalm 30 OR Psalm 130
2 Cor 8:7,9,13-15
Mark 5:21-43

Last year, the British Humanist Association (which lately has become, among other things, a cheer squad for Richard Dawkins) began an ad campaign on city buses in UK with signs declaring, “There probably is no God, so relax and enjoy your life.” This led, as the BHA no doubt intended, to a torrent of unhelpful comments from an array of sources – pro, con, and otherwise – claiming to have special insight on the matter. One observation, however, stuck with me: namely that signs about relaxing and enjoying one’s life were somewhat more persuasive on a bus in London, the wealthy capital of a military-industrial nation state, than they might be on a bus in the slums of Calcutta or Port au Prince.

Vic Chesnutt, the late singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia, made a much more interesting atheist than Dawkins or his BHA public relations team ever will. Read more

david and goliath

Preaching the Terrors (and Wonders)

I Samuel 17:32-49
Psalm 9:9-20
Mark 4:35-41

Barbara Brown Taylor says there comes the “time in every preacher’s life when the queasy-making parts of the Bible can no longer be ignored, when it is time to admit that the Bible is not a book about admirable people or even about a conventionally admirable God. It is instead a book about a sovereign God’s covenant with a chosen people.” The Bible, she claims, “is as full of holy terrors as it is of holy wonders,” and while we’d like “to approach the terrors as stray bullets outside God’s plan,” the fact is that we cannot avoid either the terrors or the wonders without avoiding part of the truth Read more

eyes

Eyes to See

Third Sunday after Pentecost
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
2 Corinthians 5:6-17
Mark 4:26-34

In an era with a six billion dollar election cycle and more than 90% of elections won by the candidate with the most money, these understated stories of anointed shepherd kings and mustard shrub kingdoms make little sense to our calloused senses. The prophet Isaiah warned, and Mark quotes just prior to the telling of these parables, that people would “look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand” (Mark 4:12). Read more

Paul and Jesus

And So We Speak

2nd Sunday After Pentecost
1 Samuel 8:4-11, (12-15), 16-20
Psalm 138
2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1
Mark 3: 20-35

We are in the after season now, after the great cycle of Jesus’ anticipation, life, death, resurrection and the birth of his church, after Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost. In the light of our travel once again around the life of the Son that gives us life, we pick up the continuous reading through of our Scriptures.

And we find Paul speaking. Read more

Saint_Paul_the_Hermit_-_Walters_37278

The Way the World Works?

First Sunday after Pentecost
Trinity Sunday

Romans 8:12-17

John 3:1-17

Two of our scripture passages for today – the story of Nicodemus from John 3 and Paul’s admonition to the church in Rome from Romans 8 – wrestle with the nature of spirit and flesh.  Throughout the history of the Christian tradition, interpretation (or mis-interpretation) of passages like these has led many Christians into the sort of gnostic dualism that condemns the flesh and elevates the spirit. In recent years, a subtle sort of Christian Gnosticism – that literary critic Harold Bloom has called “the American Religion” – has tempted us to be careless in our stewardship of our bodies and the creation at large (the “God is going to destroy it anyway” mentality).  In the late 1990s, for instance, one research study found that evangelical Christians tended to be more obese than other sectors of the US population, and more interestingly, that this tendency was even stronger among those Christians who claimed to read the Bible literally.

Read more