The reconciling power of believing you are loved

As I often do, I turned for inspiration for this essay to the lectionary readings of the day. Among them: two vengeance Psalms, a grisly murder narrative from Esther, and a fire-and-brimstone ditty from the Gospel of Matthew, with its characteristic presaging of weeping and the oddly outmoded gnashing of teeth. Among them, not one…

Love is our destiny

“The purpose of life is to be continually defeated by ever greater things.” ~Rainier Maria Rilke Fall arrives and my walk takes me past Foley Creek, the stream quickened after a week of heavy rain. The loud splash of a salmon stops me in my tracks.  At several points around my neighborhood, roadway meets creek, but at this…

We Go Together

In the intriguing book Sapiens, Yuval Harari makes the case that homo sapiens dominated all other species and left behind other early-humans because we were able to pass on shared mythologies, or sacred stories. Prior to the ability to build group cohesion in this way, through shared concepts and values, groups tended to reach a…

Who you trust determines what you believe

Lately I’ve stumbled upon articles, books, and interviews about the origin of belief, about why we believe what we believe. It seems to be a conversation in the air these days at a time marked by denial of human-caused climate-change, or the apparently widespread belief that mass shootings have nothing to do with gun access. Many…

The Surprising Gift of Failure

1 Corinthians 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools that you may become wise. In American culture, success is defined by money. Now can we just agree that the success = money paradigm has serious flaws? For have you noticed that the most…

We are Already There

Throughout his ministry, Jesus challenged every boundary people used to define and separate themselves—ethnic boundaries, geographical boundaries, purity boundaries, moral-legal boundaries, relational boundaries, boundaries between humans and animals, adults and children, men and women. Jesus didn’t stop at material boundaries, but went on to demonstrate with his life that everything is spiritual—there is no boundary…

We have a violence problem

This week much has rightfully been said about gun control and the NRA, and much energy expended in the debate. It is natural in times of tragedy to want to funnel grief into constructive actions. In fact, it may be an important way to survive collective trauma. Researchers find that people who respond to calamities…

Peace is the Way: On not becoming what you resist

Mark 11:20-25. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’…

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and the Undocumented

“Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She bore a son, and he named him Gershom [alien]; for he said, ‘I have been an alien residing in a foreign land’” (from today’s lectionary reading in Exodus 2:15-22). The Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale,” based on the…