Sand in the Gears

Archive for the ‘Faith and Life’ Category

On the separateness of preaching and healing

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 2 Comments »

Preach and heal. This is what Christ asked of his apostles, before sending them out in pairs: "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out ...

Phantom limbs and other lost things

Friday, February 22nd, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off on Phantom limbs and other lost things

Some of you may like my essay at Good Letters. An excerpt: "Sometimes this broken world hacks away at our flesh. Other times it hands us the blades, and we sunder ourselves. Drink down whatever forgetting medicine invites you and the ...

Winton’s Children

Friday, February 15th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life | 2 Comments »

In case anybody ever tells you that one average joe can't make much difference: Winton's Children   UPDATE: If you'd like to see someone deserving win the Nobel Peace Prize for a change, you might consider signing this petition.

Hell and Christmas

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 23 Comments »

There is nothing to be done but weep. Cry out for the children with bodies shattered, for the ones covered in blood not their own, for the ones who didn't die instantly. Cry out for those who fell protecting them. ...

Childlike

Friday, November 30th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Back when I thought I knew something about God, I sought arguments. God is this, and God is not that, and those scriptures you think say one thing actually mean something else, don't you know. I thought her simple and ...

Question of the day

Monday, November 26th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Maybe you are like me and you are like most of us and so you imagine that your looks and your brains and your accumulations matter. Sometimes this works well for us, because if nothing else we can imagine the ...

On the virtue of burning things down

Friday, September 28th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

Some of you may appreciate my latest Good Letters post over at Patheos, in which I make the entirely reasonable suggestion that Penn State's football stadium be leveled, as a small act of communal repentance. "The forgetting can’t happen soon enough, ...

The Collapse of Western Civilization Begins in Your Dentist’s Chair

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off on The Collapse of Western Civilization Begins in Your Dentist’s Chair

Some of you may like my latest offering for Image -- an homage, if you will, to those noble members of the political, legal, financial, and insurance professions to whom I sometimes refer in the collective as "that bunch of ...

A pox on this house

Monday, August 20th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | 3 Comments »

The last fortnight was chicken pox time for the Woodlief boys. I have acquaintances who are apostles of all things scientific and modern, and who are therefore appalled that my boys never received the chicken pox vaccine. It seemed like ...

Silence

Thursday, July 26th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off on Silence

Some of you may appreciate my essay at Patheos about the long silent witnesses to Jerry Sandusky's crimes against children, and the propensity for most of us to avoid the courageous and costly choice. Here's an excerpt: "We all imagine we’d ...

A prayer for the lying

Saturday, June 9th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

My children woke me to pray this morning at 5:45 a.m. Actually, they woke me playing Legos and making the range of dramatic voices and sound effects that are, apparently, part of early morning Lego play. But then I pleaded with ...

Ambergris

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 6 Comments »

Some of you may like my latest essay at Image, which I fear once again scandalizes some good Christian folk with a naughty word. But some words are apt and true, even if George Carlin used them. Here's an excerpt: "'And ...

Listing

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 7 Comments »

If you were to write down the names of everyone you trust -- truly trust -- what size paper would you need? I needed the back of a receipt. There are ten names on this scrap of paper. Ten people I ...

The Art of Disappointment

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 1 Comment »

Some of you may like my latest essay at Image. Others of you may hate it, depending on your view of property rights, downsizing, and confrontations. Also, there's a cuss word. An excerpt: "Owning others’ unhappiness is why I’m accommodating, and a ...

A boy grows

Sunday, February 12th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Yesterday was Stephen Caleb's birthday. He's twelve, and there are now only 364 days between him and the onset of teenagerism, which I associate -- at least among American kids -- with sloth and self-indulgence, ignorance and idiocy and all-around ...

More than bread

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | Comments Off on More than bread

When we don't think we can control some things we take charge of what we can. This is why the functionary fastidiously maintains a constant distance between his stapler and his tape dispenser, and why the abused child has a ...

Death-defying

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

Some of you may enjoy my latest post at Image. Here's an excerpt: "I told Caleb about the time when he was two, and he fell from a second-storey porch to the hard-packed earth below. I told him how I turned ...

Valley’s Light

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 22 Comments »

This morning I drove past the house where she died. The light today is the way it was then, a light that doesn't warn you how peace comes at a cost this day, how once she's sleeping she won't wake ...

Holy cow, a whole bunch of words that don’t direct us to something Tony wrote somewhere else!

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 36 Comments »

I realized this morning that part of the reason I haven't written here in so long, the reason I balk at the thought of it, is that I got the most hate-filled letter I've ever received, back in July, in ...

Father’s Day

Sunday, June 19th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, The Art of Parenting | 1 Comment »

There's certainly no distinction to breeding, and so Father's Day must be intended to celebrate something other than one's ability to procreate. It began in tragedy, which is maybe the truth of too many things, the world's way of daring ...

Heaven presses in

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 13 Comments »

I was asked to speak to some graduates last week, and so I spoke to them about finding their place in the world and about endurance in the face of suffering and about decisions that once we make them can ...

The ladder

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 6 Comments »

Some of you may appreciate my latest essay over at the Image Good Letters blog. Then again, some of you may not. I thought including kittens might make this one a little lighter than much of my recent writing, but ...

Friendship

Friday, May 6th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

I am rarely humble yet often humbled, which is maybe the surest sign that God has not given up on me yet. I remember, years ago, standing in judgment over a friend who came to me seeking grace. I offered ...

Good men

Friday, April 29th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 5 Comments »

Someone told me recently, "You're a good man, Tony." This made me think of a James Taylor concert I heard about once. In the hush between sets, someone in the audience shouted, "I love you, James!" Taylor stepped to the microphone and replied, ...

Gladness

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 3 Comments »

Some of you may appreciate my latest essay at Image's Good Letters blog. An excerpt: ". . . I offered him my experience: we accumulate suffering as we grow older, so that the things which once brought us happiness no longer ...

Incarnate

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 3 Comments »

Some of you may enjoy my latest essay at Good Letters, the Image blog. The title is "In the Flesh," and here's an excerpt: "These are the sweeter moments, but the rare ones; more often than not there is tugging at ...

The girl who is gone

Monday, March 7th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 31 Comments »

I don't know the first thing about how to be a father to a fifteen year-old girl. Today is her birthday and if she had lived I would be puzzling this out, what I think about clothes and boys and ...

Sanctuary

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 21 Comments »

Sometimes I am overwhelmed, as I stand with my sons in the cathedral, by the feeling of safety. It's not something I ever felt in church as a child. In those days I felt out of place. I thought I ...

How we bless

Friday, February 4th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 2 Comments »

I'm happy to announce that every couple of weeks I'll be writing essays for Good Letters, the blog over at Image. Some of you will recognize Image as one of my favorite literary journals, and so you'll know how honored ...

Intentional heart

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life | 16 Comments »

I started a garden last summer. It went to weeds, and then the weeds grew parched under the relentless Kansas sun, and then they withered and died. I traveled more than I'd anticipated, and when I was home other things ...