The Privilege of an Inner Life

The Privilege of an Inner Life

I’ve always understood that my education, beginning with my mother’s early tutelage, was a privilege. This week my gratitude—and perspective—deepened significantly as I read, along with a class of college senior English majors, Michelle Kuo’s wise and generous memoir, Reading with Patrick.

Postcards from Festival 2018 (So Far)

Postcards from Festival 2018 (So Far)

This is just a tiny sampling, and I’m only one person. I’m scribbling in my notebook as fast as I can, and I’m not even telling you all the clever jokes and tender stories and dear human connections I am witnessing in this extraordinary space.

Holy Saturday for the Reformed and/or Task-Oriented

Holy Saturday for the Reformed and/or Task-Oriented

No lights were on, not even a candle. The dusk of the day through the opaque glass ceiling over our chancel area yielded just enough light to see, but all the color had drained from this familiar worship space, leaving nothing but grays.

High-Performance Christians

High-Performance Christians

We know what it’s like to be on display all the time, to be ever the responsible example, to be always leading and mentoring and discipling, striving never to fail anyone in the quest to model spiritual excellence. It’s a blessed life, of course—a privilege for sure—but our laughter was an admission: sometimes it just feels exhausting.

Pious Petunia Puts on the Ashes

Pious Petunia Puts on the Ashes

After a long hiatus, guest columnist Pious Petunia returns with wise and timely guidance along the Lenten pilgrim path.

The Festival Geek Recommends: 2018 Edition

The Festival Geek Recommends: 2018 Edition

It’s time to “Make Reading Great Again” at the 2018 Festival of Faith and Writing. Every two years, the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing and the Calvin English Department host a three-day celebration of books, writing, publishing, reading, and faith.

Supersubstantial Bread

Supersubstantial Bread

Now that I know about this tradition of interpretation, though, I would like to recover it for us children of the Reformation. I mean, why choose? The term epiousios is multivalent and spacious, wide enough to embrace both meanings, maybe made up precisely to do so.

Can We Retire the Word “Bias”?

Can We Retire the Word “Bias”?

Here’s how it works. If you don’t like what a person or news article or books says, you pronounce it “biased,” and you’re done. You have destroyed the person or source’s credibility. No need to consider what is being said on its own terms. End of discussion.

Austerity Measures

Austerity Measures

Bare pots of dirt: that’s my preferred symbol this Advent. Bare trees, dead leaves, winter stillness. It occurred to me the other day, stopping and starting in dense holiday traffic, that we could opt out of Christmas completely. Some people do. We could just skip it. With that thought, I felt a momentary lift of freedom—which exposes all the cultural pressure to clutter our lives with Christmas crap as the ridiculous burden it is.

Zechariah’s Dream

Zechariah’s Dream

One night, I dreamed it wasn’t just me. Every other old codger had gone silent. It seemed that any man over about age 50 could no longer speak or write or even type. Not the women, just the men. So weird. Us older guys shuffled down the grocery store aisles, nodding at each other helplessly. We couldn’t even say “you too” when the teenage cashier told us to have a nice day.

I have published books on motherhood, Christian spirituality, and language in worship. I write regularly about all sorts of topics for The Twelve, and I teach literature and writing at Calvin College, where I have served on the faculty since 1996.

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