Sand in the Gears

Of mice and men

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | No Comments »

The mice think I am a god. Not the God, but definitely a god. Their tithe is a fresh-hollowed hazelnut, rolled into the center of my floor every morning. The nuts come, no doubt, from the two-pound bag they stole last ...

The poor fisherman

Thursday, June 11th, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off on The poor fisherman

From my latest essay at the Image Good Letters site: I am a tense and irritable man with occasional bouts of cheerfulness tempered by fatalism. I am a hard man with whom to live. I spent yesterday griping at my kids ...

Legos in the Deep

Friday, May 1st, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life | 2 Comments »

Like many, I passed this spring through Lent. It felt longer than in past years, because there has been a kind of Lenten work being done within me, it seems, since last fall. Nothing terrible, nothing traumatic, just a gradual ...

When He is Silent

Friday, January 30th, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life | 27 Comments »

A reader whose younger sister recently died wrote me to ask how I endured, during the time of my daughter's sickness and death, the silence of God. It's something I've written about here and here, and in my book. I've talked ...

Temple of bones

Monday, January 19th, 2015 Posted in The Sermons | 10 Comments »

Every baptism in the Orthodox Church entails an exorcism, as I learned last Easter when I was baptized into the Church. It was nothing desperate and dramatic like some of us remember from The Exorcist; in truth the devil and ...

Fair

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 17 Comments »

I've been working on contentment, which mostly means I've been praying for God to help me be content in whatever circumstances I find myself, then griping at him when I face trials that might help me learn contentment. But I'm ...

Lament

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 26 Comments »

When we tucked what remained of that little girl into the earth, I was relieved it was over. I was filled with something that felt like transcendence. We had weathered the storm, we had kept the faith, we had given ...

The sickness

Thursday, March 20th, 2014 Posted in The Sermons | 33 Comments »

I write this on the day Fred Phelps, pretender to ministry, hater of gays, vitriolic picketer of soldiers' funerals, has gone forth into the Judgement he welcomed for others. In the days leading up to his demise there was talk ...

Past where legs can carry

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 Posted in Faith and Life | 21 Comments »

The day after an amazingly talented actor pushed heroin into his vein and died, I saw yet another study purporting to show that we live in the best of times. It's hard to disagree. Infant mortality and poverty are plummeting. Our ...

Eulogy for Mama

Friday, October 11th, 2013 Posted in Faith and Life, The Sermons | 13 Comments »

My mother was born on April Fool’s Day, and I know there were times when she felt like the world was playing a joke on her. A more selfish woman might have considered me such a joke. My mother was drawn ...

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 ...

Hell and Christmas

Sunday, December 16th, 2012 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 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. ...

On the passing of Sheriff Andy

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 Posted in Fatherhood, The Artful Life | 3 Comments »

My first miserable year in graduate school I got a used television and paid for cable so I could watch four episodes of The Andy Griffith Show a day. My apartment mate, a math whiz with perfect board scores from Harvard, ...

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 ...

Valley’s Light

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Greatest Hits | 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 ...

Heaven presses in

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 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 girl who is gone

Monday, March 7th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 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 ...

On suffering

Monday, January 10th, 2011 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 6 Comments »

If you believe God loves His children, and then you suffer something terrible and tragic, you have to face head-on the question: Is there God? Close on its heels comes the second query, just as hard: Why does He sit ...

Remembering Caroline

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Fatherhood | 10 Comments »

Tonight is the night she shuddered out her last breath and left us holding the shell of a girl. I thought for a time it was to make me better, consumed as I am with me, and I thought maybe ...

Every day a memorial day

Monday, May 31st, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life | 4 Comments »

Yesterday the Eastern Orthodox celebrated the saints, and today many Americans celebrate fallen soldiers, and in the midst of remembrances of saints and soldiers I find myself thinking on a little girl who fought a great battle, and endured worse ...

On the facilitation of murder

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, Theology | 6 Comments »

Reading Bruce Falconer's article in last month's Atlantic, about Swiss suicide facilitator Ludwig Manelli, I was struck by a husband's repeated employment of animal metaphors to justify his wife's poisoning. "You wouldn't leave your dog on the kitchen floor when it can't ...

The risen King is love

Sunday, April 4th, 2010 Posted in Theology | 4 Comments »

Leave it to John Piper to devise an Easter message without using the word love. It's from 1983, and to his credit by 2009 he comes up with an Easter sermon that does use the word, though not applied to ...

Fourteen

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 Posted in Fatherhood, Snapshots of Life | 10 Comments »

You would have been fourteen today. Amidst the chaos of cobbled-together derby cars and robot obstacle courses and four sweaty boys we might have made a cake just for you. I would have made you spaghetti, because it is your ...

The weeping Christ

Thursday, March 4th, 2010 Posted in Theology | 2 Comments »

From David Bentley Hart's First Things article, "Tsunami and Theodicy," rightly called once again to our attention, in light of recent disasters, by Civitate: "I do not believe we Christians are obliged -- or even allowed -- to look upon the ...

Of God and Baal

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 Posted in The Artful Life, Theology | Comments Off on Of God and Baal

The great division within man is rooted not in ideology or religion or tribe, but in darkness and death, counterposed against light and life, which comes not from man but is placed within him. The line separating dark from light ...

Steadfast to this turn

Monday, January 4th, 2010 Posted in Faith and Life, The Artful Life | Comments Off on Steadfast to this turn

This in memory of Peggy Rabb, who I knew only a little and a little while, but who was all kindness to me. In our first conversation we talked about things I have written and things she has written and ...

Caroline

Monday, October 19th, 2009 Posted in Snapshots of Life | 21 Comments »

Her suffering ended ten years ago tonight. A decade can take forever to pass, with each day stretching into the next into the next, yet you can come to the end of it and feel like all those things you ...

The Glass Child

Monday, June 29th, 2009 Posted in The Artful Life | 5 Comments »

If you're looking for a counterweight to my usual cheeriness, you might get yourself the latest issue of Ruminate, which has my short story, "The Glass Child." Here's the opening paragraph: This is the blood, David tells himself. He twists open ...

Here and gone

Saturday, March 7th, 2009 Posted in Snapshots of Life | 8 Comments »

The sky is steely grey, with sunshine spilling through where it can, at odd angles. It always finds a way through, this sun. She would be thirteen today. I can't imagine that little girl as a teenager. She has a house full ...

Movies don’t kill people. . .

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009 Posted in Faith and Life | Comments Off on Movies don’t kill people. . .

Recently we all saw the horrific murders at a Belgian nursery. Now there are reports that the young killer made himself up in a fashion eerily similar to Heath Ledger's Joker, and was obsessed with horror movies. Cultured people will ...