Sand in the Gears

A Darkness That May Be Felt

Monday, March 9th, 2015 Posted in The Sermons | Comments Off on A Darkness That May Be Felt

Some of you may like my latest essay at Image, about the 21 young men murdered by ISIS in Libya. Here's an excerpt: These stories are now fantasy to us, or nearly so. Abraham holds the knife to Isaac’s throat, Jacob ...

On just saying no

Friday, July 18th, 2014 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 1 Comment »

Related to my previous post, I have an essay at Good Letters digging into the hypocrisy of evangelicals, as represented by the American Family Association, who simultaneously support the Drug War while demanding that we reject child refugees from that ...

Thy kingdom come

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 Posted in The Sermons | 50 Comments »

I don't think they love their children any less than I love my own, which tells me something about what their lives must be like, to send their babies away. Their children stream northward in droves—as many as 60,000 this ...

Easing the burden

Friday, March 14th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 18 Comments »

"I'm sorry I shot you in the face with my Nerf gun. Do you forgive me?" My son knows he is supposed to ask for forgiveness, just as his brother knows that sooner or later he will be expected to say ...

The Cave of the Heart

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 Posted in The Sermons | Comments Off on The Cave of the Heart

Here's an excerpt from my Christmas Eve post over at Good Letters: When I read about the boy hiding under his bed, first inviting the world he knew to watch him die, then hiding from it in that darkened place, I ...

The obscured man

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 Posted in The Sermons, Theology | 31 Comments »

This is not a comment about the reasoning of a Slate essayist, who wrote recently that the white Santa is outdated. This is not a comment about the Fox News talking head who took umbrage, asserting that not only Santa, ...

Gentle disagreement

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 Posted in Theology | 1 Comment »

I've been wrestling for weeks with how to be at peace with fellow Christians who also happen to be harmfully heretical (and popular) teachers. On the one hand, we're all supposed to love one another and get along. On the ...

On feeling Godforsaken

Friday, March 29th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 3 Comments »

Some of you might like my meditation on what Good Friday means to the parent of a dead child. Here's an excerpt: "It is a great mystery to me, how God can know what it means to be forsaken, and because ...

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 ...

On false compassion

Monday, March 4th, 2013 Posted in Theology | 7 Comments »

The challenge when debating a liberal Christian is that he is bound by neither Scripture nor tradition but sentiment. He is therefore free to embrace both sin and sinner, and thereby appear more loving, more magnanimous, than his opponents. This magnanimity ...

The scandal of the evangelical intellectual’s mind

Thursday, February 21st, 2013 Posted in Curmudgeonry, Theology | 1 Comment »

A reasonable response to the accusation that the evangelical mind is insufficiently expansive is to ask to what dimensions its critics would like to see it expanded. That question springs to the lips when considering Biblical scholar Peter Enns's contention ...

In defense of The Hobbit

Thursday, February 7th, 2013 Posted in Redbox Reviews, The Artful Life | 4 Comments »

Look, it's not like The Hobbit is Holy Scripture. It's not even, last I checked, part of the Apocrypha. It seems to me that the standard for judging Peter Jackson's film rendition, then, ought to be whether it succeeds as ...

The Christianity of Chris

Thursday, February 16th, 2012 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | 4 Comments »

This is not one of those reflections on the death of Christopher Hitchens, in which the writer labors to bolt his meager little meteor to that man's literary supernova. I've read enough of those to make me retch, if not ...

More than bread

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood, 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 ...

On the virtue of getting over being offended

Friday, October 29th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 1 Comment »

The AP headline is certainly startling: "41% OF NON-CHRISTIAN AF CADETS CITE PROSELYTIZING" My goodness, the reader is invited to think. What's going on in Colorado Springs? Are little bands of dogmatists policing the halls like a pro-Jesus Taliban, seeking out bearers ...

On what we know, don’t know, and think we know

Thursday, September 30th, 2010 Posted in Theology | 10 Comments »

I suspect the reality about American religious knowledge is actually better and worse than the results indicate. The internet is crackling with a minor fire about the results of a Pew survey which, as many news outlets put it, indicates ...

Blood and mystery

Monday, April 26th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Theology | 7 Comments »

One of G.K. Chesterton's arguments in Everlasting Man is that the ancient pagans never really revered their petty gods and spirits and magical tree stumps nearly as much as the modern humanist, overflowing with tolerance and reverence for any belief ...

Christian America?

Sunday, February 14th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 4 Comments »

Maybe instead of pouring all this energy into haggling over claims in watered-down, non-primary source, lowest-common-denominator, utterly de-contextualized, ponderous textbooks, we ought to try harder to get kids to read more, and read more of what matters. Does anyone really think that ...

Quietly amazing

Friday, February 12th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 2 Comments »

Caleb is now ten. He's a "ten-ager," as he likes to say. The boys come to work with me on their birthdays. I don't know what they'll do once I'm a world-famous author who writes full-time for a living. Perhaps sit ...

Book it

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 Posted in Redbox Reviews | 6 Comments »

I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the unofficial New Yorker film critic handbook there's a rule that goes something like this: If Christian faith is central to a film, don't be afraid to stoop to name-calling and character assassination. Thus ...

Old, old, old school

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | 1 Comment »

"There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books . . . This mistaken preference for the modern ...

Short-sighted

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 7 Comments »

If this really is "...the best example of violation of the separation of church and state in this country," then I think we're all going to be just fine. And I have trouble seeing how a coded Christian verse on ...

Pat Robertson, pagan

Thursday, January 14th, 2010 Posted in Curmudgeonry, Theology | 17 Comments »

Believing, as Pat Robertson does, that the suffering of those you despise is inflicted by a god on your side, and that the suffering of those you pity is the result of a devil's curse, seems to come awfully close ...

Happy sappy Christians

Friday, January 8th, 2010 Posted in Theology | 4 Comments »

The thing is, I despised the happy sappy Jesus talk before I became a Christian, and I still do. You know the lingo: My personal relationship with Jesus will see me through any storm; Jesus is bigger than any of ...

Don’t do as I do, do as I say

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010 Posted in Theology | 1 Comment »

This news from the BBC, about a rise in the number of pagan winter solstice celebrants in the UK, is disturbing. How could people raised in the Christian West miss the point that Christmas is about shopping until your debt rivals ...

Because circles, for the love of God, aren’t square

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 Posted in Theology | 68 Comments »

My family and I were on vacation, and so I missed the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth. I mean, July 10th happened where we were, it's just that he wasn't on my mind. I used to be a Calvinist. Many ...

Damned if you do…

Friday, April 17th, 2009 Posted in Curmudgeonry | 9 Comments »

Let me see if I've got this straight. We don't want Obama to speak at Notre Dame, because we don't want the Church associated with his support for abortion. So we're outraged about that. But we do want him to ...

Faith no more

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 Posted in Curmudgeonry, Theology | 10 Comments »

I couldn't believe, when I first read it, that Harvard's chaplain is an atheist. Then I felt stupid for being surprised. That die was likely cast when Harvard's overseers struck Christo et Ecclesiae from its place surrounding Veritas on the university's seal. ...

Christ v. Christian

Monday, March 19th, 2007 Posted in Curmudgeonry | Comments Off on Christ v. Christian

Though I expected Michael Lewis's Blind Side to do for football what his Moneyball did for baseball, I found my stomach churning as I read the story of Michael Oher, a black child neglected for years in the slums and ...

Nice Church

Monday, February 19th, 2007 Posted in The Sermons | Comments Off on Nice Church

An acquaintance once told me about a wealthy benefactor in his church, a man who likes to point out that he "isn't one of those Bible thumpers." He just believes that it's a good thing for families to go to ...