“Do Good and Lend”

“Do good and lend, without hoping for anything in return.” That is the heart of Christian ethics, according to some, and the kind of gift that Derrida considers impossible. But is this sentence, by itself, the heart of Christian ethics? If so, Christian ethics is inherently . . . . Continue Reading »

Transition in Luke 6

The transition from Luke 6:11 to Luke 6:12ff is highly significant. We know it’s significant because it is preceded by a night of prayer, as are many of the milestones in Jesus’ ministry. What is at stake in the choosing of the Twelve? Jesus has come preaching the kingdom, and the year . . . . Continue Reading »

Congressmen in Plato’s Cave

David Brooks has a typically delightful and instructive piece in the current issue of Atlantic . He points out that over four decades, 49 members of Congress have run for President, and of those exactly 49 have been beaten. The main reason, he says, is that Congressmen live in a political form of . . . . Continue Reading »

“What Vietnam Syndrome?”

In the “What Vietnam syndrome?” category, Lawrence Kaplan reports in The New Republic that opinion polls show that Americans are quite willing to go the distance in Iraq, even at the cost of considerable casualties. One poll asked people the maximum tolerable number of casualties for . . . . Continue Reading »

Wood on “Hyphenated” America

James Wood is always worth reading. His latest review in The New Republic examines the first novel of Monica Ali, entitled Brick Lane . It tells the story of Nazneen, an eighteen-year-old Bangladeshi woman who is taken from her home to an arranged marriage to a much older man in London. The novel . . . . Continue Reading »

Exhortation, September 7

The exhortation from September 7, 2003: A Pharisee and a publican went to the doctor, and both learned that they needed surgery. The publican agreed to the surgery, and, after a long and painful recovery, regained his health. The Pharisee also agreed to the surgery, but at the last moment began to . . . . Continue Reading »

Healing of the Paralytic (Luke 5)

In Luke 5, the friends of the paralytic cannot get him to Jesus, and so they lower him through the roof. As many commentators have pointed out, this situation is a sign of the paralytic’s exclusion from community. By the end of the story, though, others join with him in “glorifying . . . . Continue Reading »

Sermon Outline, September 7

Sermon outline for September 7 (though I’m reconsidering my take on Jesus’ “parable” about the wineskins). Jesus and the Pharisees, Luke 5:1-6:11 INTRODUCTION Anointed and baptized, Jesus has begun His mission of proclaiming and enacting the year of release, the great . . . . Continue Reading »

The Shield of Achilles

For several years, I have been assigning W. H. Auden’s poem “The Shield of Achilles” to my literature students, and they all have to write a paper on it. The poem is very rich, and I continue to learn new things. One student this year, for example, pointed out that the reader is . . . . Continue Reading »


Years ago, I enjoyed Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker , a superbly written account of Lewis’s years on Wall Street. His latest, Moneyball , is even better. Lewis tells the story of the Oakland A’s, and particularly of their GM Billy Beane, and how he revolutionized the way . . . . Continue Reading »