Playing House

Thirty years ago, as her wedding day approached, Princess Diana’s uncle tastelessly reassured the curious press that she was in fact a “bona fide” virgin. Today, on her son’s wedding day, almost every press outlet has reassured us that the royal bride’s virginity is no longer an issue. No one would expect the bride and groom to “adhere to an ideal that fell out of fashion several generations ago.” … Continue Reading »

Budget Cuts of Biblical Proportions

Religious discussions of the federal budget often generate more heat than light. The debate tends to feature sloganeering (“What Would Jesus Cut? Who Would Jesus Bomb?”) and political theater (“Fasting for a Better Budget”), name calling and grandstanding (“Bully! Hypocrite!”). Just this past week, on Good Friday in fact, the formation of a “new Christian coalition, called the Circle of Protection,” was announced, intended “to resist budget cuts that undermine the lives, dignity, and rights of poor and vulnerable people.” The “Circle of Protection” refers to the sacred space surrounding “programs that meet the essential needs of hungry and poor people at home and abroad.” … Continue Reading »

Flying Hosts and Consecrated Weevils

There was a student exchange program with the Methodists and the Roman Catholics when I was at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Most guys, by my recollection, signed up for Biblical studies at the Methodist seminary, a much shorter drive. Boring, I thought. I instead hauled myself up to the Pontifical College Josephinum and signed up for Mariology in Ecumenical Dialogue and Sacramentology… . Continue Reading »

What Would Jesus Drink?

Can we be more moral than Jesus? Every evangelical I’ve ever known would consider the question absurd. With Jesus as the standard for moral conduct, it should be impossible to be more moral than he”our Redeemer. However, what we claim to believe is often at odd with our actions. For instance, while my fellow Southern Baptists consider Christ to be the Creator and Sustainer of the cosmos, we would not consider him fit to serve as a trustee for the Southern Baptist Convention… . Continue Reading »

Remembering Pope John Paul II

ROME”Strange as it may seem, I’ve been vaguely worried about the beatification on May 1 of a man with whom I was in close conversation for over a decade and to the writing of whose biography I dedicated 15 years of my own life. My worries don’t have to do with allegations of a “rushed” beatification process; the process has been a thorough one, and the official judgment is the same as the judgment of the people of the Church… . Continue Reading »

Shepherds and Stewards in the Son

In early April, the environmental group Earth Day Network sent a rather poorly written memo to parishes around the country. Signed by the likes of Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Shaquille O’ Neal and Ted Turner the thing read in part: Earth Day Sunday is traditionally [sic] falls on the Sunday closest to Earth Day (April 22nd) … we would encourage you to also consider recognizing Earth Day Sunday during the entire month of April … . Continue Reading »

Everyone Walks on the Wild Side

He was, as the newspapers always put it, born Jimmy Slattery of Massepequa, Long Island, before going to New York City and becoming Candy Darling, a transvestite star of Andy Warhol’s famous Factory. He earned a small fame in the long decade of the sixties: one of the subjects of Lou Reed’s “Walk On the Wild Side” (it is not a flattering reference) and the subject of Reed’s song “Candy Says,” mentioned by the Rolling Stones in one of their songs, the star of two of Warhol’s better known movies, chosen by Tennessee Williams to act in one of his plays, the center of a famous party attended by people like George Plimpton and the clothes designer Halston, and now 36 years after his death the subject of an apparently worshipful documentary called Beautiful Darling… . Continue Reading »

Christ and Him Crucified

Paul determined to know nothing but Jesus and the cross. Was that enough? What is the cross? Is it big enough to fill the universe? The cross is the work of the Father, who gave His Son in love for the world; the cross is the work of the Son, who did not cling to equality with God but gave Himself to shameful death; the cross is the work of the Spirit, through whom the Son offers Himself to the Father and who is poured out from the pierced side of the glorified Son. The cross displays the height and the depth and the breadth of eternal Triune love… . Continue Reading »

Suffered Under Pontius Pilate

Each Sunday Christians everywhere make as part of their confession two names: Mary and Pontius Pilate. That the former should be included as part of Christian creeds should come as no surprise. The Virgin Birth has long been a centerpiece of Christology. However, there is something jarring about the inclusion of Pilate in the creeds. … Continue Reading »

Hey, Preacher

My mother was buried Monday this week. If you are scheduled to preach on the Sunday of the Resurrection here are a few things I need to hear (and one thing I don’t want to hear) and it is up to you to make sure I hear them. I do not want to hear the word Easter. It is time to resurrect, so to speak, resurrection. Call this coming Sunday what it is: Resurrection Sunday… . Continue Reading »