Grade Incomplete

A couple of weeks ago I dreamed I lost my place.It started simply enough. I dreamed I was in the administration building, robing for graduation¯a natural enough dream for the late spring. As I had for twenty years, I was putting on the robe, the hood, the velvet hat . . . but the odd thing was . . . . Continue Reading »

My Church, My Strip Mall

Read Richard Mouw’s “Spiritual Consumerism’s Upside,” recently made available online at Christianity Today ‘s website. In it Mouw defends the idea of church shopping as not only inevitable given our diverse religious culture but even exciting and positive. It’s more . . . . Continue Reading »

Atheism and Violence

Books advocating atheism have recently been enjoying a modest boomlet. Sales are solid, book readings are sold out, and their authors grace the highbrow talk shows and op-ed pages in prestigious newspapers and periodicals. But their arguments are shopworn, stale hand-me-downs and threadbare . . . . Continue Reading »

Lutheran Again

Yesterday was the 476th anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession¯an explanation of the proposed Lutheran reforms of the Church, written by Philip Melancthon and approved by Martin Luther¯to Holy Roman emperor Charles V, who, facing attack from without, was eager for . . . . Continue Reading »

Waking Up to Springtime

It’s a good day to be thinking about the Christian mission, this Day of the Conversion of Saint Paul. Today is also the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an observation that has, regrettably, become more anemic in the last decade or so. In 1990, John Paul the Great issued the . . . . Continue Reading »

From the Provinces

Poor Omaha. I’ve been noticing my adopted hometown cropping up more and more frequently as shorthand. Fargo is “out there” (or, more accurately, “up there”) as a place of unimaginable isolation. Buffalo represents postindustrial irrelevance made all the more poignant by the . . . . Continue Reading »

On Being a Pallbearer

Recently, I served as a pallbearer for my grandfather on my mother’s side. I had never served as a pallbearer before. I have served as a Lutheran pastor in many funerals in the past fifteen years. I have been a son at the burial of my father. I have attended hundreds of burial services. But . . . . Continue Reading »

Apply to Be a Junior Fellow

So, if you look up higher on this page, you’ll see that First Things is beginning its search for next year’s Junior Fellows .Want to apply? These are one- or two-year internships for young writers and scholars interested in religion and public life. The positions offer the opportunity to . . . . Continue Reading »

John Cardinal O’Connor

Rocco Palmo over on Whispers in the Loggia reminds us that this week , January 15 to be precise, was the eighty-eighth birthday of John Cardinal O’Connor. Of course the fifteenth is also the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., who, had he lived, would now be seventy-seven years old. They were . . . . Continue Reading »