Halfway Through the Hail Mary

A Methodist friend of mine has always been puzzled by the emphasis Catholics place upon ready-made prayers. She considers recourse to the Hail Mary to be little more than prayer on autopilot, the rote droning of words learned and memorized as children. How, she wonders, can it possibly produce an . . . . Continue Reading »

Pulpit Economics

In debates between Christian theologians and economists over the nature of capitalism, facts and figures count for almost nothing. At times the two seem to speak separate languages—perhaps most strikingly when they use the very same words. On the one hand, economists purport to be practical . . . . Continue Reading »

The End of Magic

Of a fair evening in the mythical but true world of Middle Earth, towards the end of the Third Age, a young hobbit named Frodo is holding private counsel with Galadriel. She is the queen and lady of Lothlórien, the most secret and beautiful reserve of the Elves. Frodo has been gazing into her . . . . Continue Reading »

Augustine of Hippo: A Biography

My worn and heavily marked copy of the original hardback edition of Peter Brown’s biography of St. Augustine, its binding held together by sturdy book tape, sits on a bookshelf close to my desk as it has since it first appeared in 1967. On the inside cover I have a little note, “Reviewed in . . . . Continue Reading »

J. S. Bach in Japan

Twenty-five years ago when there was still a Communist East Germany, I interviewed several boys from Leipzig’s Thomanerchor, the choir once led by Johann Sebastian Bach. Many of those children came from atheistic homes. “Is it possible to sing Bach without faith?” I asked them. “Probably . . . . Continue Reading »

“Father, Forgive Them”

The first word from the cross: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Christians call them the Triduum Sacru, the three most sacred days of the year, the three most sacred days of all time when time is truly told. Maundy Thursday, so called because that night before he was betrayed . . . . Continue Reading »

The Radical Orthodoxy Project

Novelty provides cheap thrills, and a student of Christian theology is rightly skeptical of agendas and programs that claim to renew Christian faith and practice with new concepts, new paradigms, and new theologies. Much that modern theology has hawked as “new” and “renewing” has led to . . . . Continue Reading »

Saving Chicago

When I heard that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) planned to send 100,000 volunteers to Chicago next summer to evangelize the city, my first reaction was, Good luck. (Perhaps I have been living in New York too long.) Evangelism, of course, is essential to Christianity. The Great Commission . . . . Continue Reading »