Tag Archives: Bible

Can Love Cast Out Fear?

Last week in this space, I suggested that most of us Americans—conservative and liberal, coastal and middle America, urban and rural—share a weird type of common ground: fear. We fear the white-hot public square, in which anything we do or say might incur wrath. We fear our leaders, our institutions, and our systems, often with […]

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Do You Have Trouble Forgiving?

So do I. Maybe it’s because of the toxic family script I inhaled as a child: “Backmans never forgive.” Or maybe, being hypersensitive in general, I’m hypersensitive to “the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” In other words, I get hurt and it sticks. I do know that forgiveness is required […]

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Hard Knocks and the Choice to Be Happy

My beloved cat is in decline. She came to us from a pet store 17 years ago, and it was her decision. We’d picked out a different cat at the store to bring home, but Madeleine would not be denied. Somehow she got into my arms and we took to each other immediately. As my […]

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Things Change Slowly Because They’re Bigger Than We Think

It takes a long time to turn a big ship. This maritime lesson keeps popping up in my life these days. It has profound echoes for much of my work: for dialogue, for spiritual direction, for our lifelong transformation from people of self-interest to people of God. It also sheds light on world affairs, as […]

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In Praise of Gossip

It was day four of a five-day retreat. We’d just finished another soul-baring breakout session, three of us practicing new interpersonal skills and getting critique from one of the retreat facilitators. The exercise would have been grueling on any day; on this particular day it came after hours of deep, intense lecture on many things […]

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Why We Must Listen, and Listen, and Listen Again

This isn’t about aural listening per se, but I think the lesson still applies. Today my church’s lectionary (a fixed order of sacred texts for each day of the year) prescribed the reading of Matthew 19:1-12, in which Jesus speaks out on divorce. In keeping with the monastic tradition that I’m associated with, Igive these […]

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Dialogue, Wisdom, and “Pondering How to Answer”

The mind of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil. —Proverbs 15:28 One marvelous aspect of lectio divina (the slow, reflective, contemplative reading of sacred texts) is that it allows “weak signals” to come to the surface—connections between words, ideas, and glimpses of wisdom we might otherwise […]

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What Good Friday Says About Dialogue

It’s hard for me to compose a blog post on Good Friday and not write about Jesus. He is, after all, the central figure of the Christian faith, and his execution on a Roman cross is a key part of the central event. In Christian theology, the Crucifixion speaks volumes—innumerable volumes—about the love of God. […]

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Christians and the Call to Dialogue

We Christians are notorious for fighting. We fight among ourselves over subtleties of doctrine. We fight with other faith traditions over what constitutes Truth. The Crusades, an extreme example of fighting if there ever was one, are a horrible stain on our history. Fortunately, some Christians have made good progress in dialogue over the past […]

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St. James on Dialogue

How do you engage in dialogue when your tongue is “set on fire by hell”? The biblical letter of James says quite a bit about the power of speech, none of it good. With the tongue we bless and curse. In our speech is “a world of iniquity.” The tongue is “a restless evil, full […]

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