memoirnature

Pitcher’s Thistle

What is the value of a thistle? We don’t entirely know. I suppose God does. I suppose the little prickler gives praise to God in its own thistly way, just by being itself in cooperation with other nearby creatures being themselves. Is that enough for…
mm
August 18, 2018
naturereview

Climate Fiction: Three Vectors

As you spend a few last hours this summer in your Adirondack chair under a shady canopy of leaves—with that feeling of autumn’s imminence causing you to contemplate decline, aging, and the end of civilization—you might consider distracting yourself with some “climate fiction.” Sometimes short-handed…
mm
August 4, 2018
spirituality

One Day on the Mount

But amid all your advice about clothes and food, I notice you’re saying absolutely nothing about government corruption and malpractice, ongoing racial hatred, mass incarceration, resurgent misogyny, torqued-up geopolitical tensions.
mm
July 21, 2018
cultural commentarypolitics

The Semiotics of Protest: A New Primer

Since we have entered the Age of Resistance, it’s important to keep one’s protest muscles well-toned. With all the marching, kneeling, standing, sitting, walking out, gesturing, and pumping of hand-lettered placards up and down—not to mention furious typing on Twitter—ordinary citizenship in the United States…
mm
May 26, 2018
memoir

Birdsong

Suddenly I’ve realized how stupid I am. I’ve lived in this climate and latitude most of my life, surrounded by these fellow creatures going about their quick, fluttery lives, and I know almost nothing about them, not even how to recognize their voices.
mm
May 12, 2018
review

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.
mm
April 28, 2018
memoirspirituality

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…
mm
March 3, 2018
spirituality

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…
mm
January 20, 2018
liturgical yearspirituality

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…
mm
December 23, 2017
liturgical yearspirituality

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…
mm
November 18, 2017
review

Discovery: A Report from the Final Frontier

I hereby provide a public service by filing this scouting report for those of you wondering whether the new Star Trek series, airing on the subscription service CBS All Access, is worth the investment of your time and money. The answer is: maybe.
mm
November 3, 2017
silly

Inappropriate Halloween Costumes

Hence, I set all niceties aside and present my suggestions for inappropriate Halloween costumes especially for church people. Deploy these with relish on that most wickedest of holidays, All Hallow’s Eve, and join in the gasp-inducing fun.
mm
October 20, 2017
arts

Ecumenism, Art, and Hope

One finds good news where one can these days, and here comes some good news for the church: the work of ecumenism thrives in the field of theological aesthetics. Granted, we’ve had to float into a rarefied atmosphere to recover this news, but what’s going…
mm
October 7, 2017