The Mantle of the Prophet


The first book of Kings describes the word of the Lord coming to Elijah at Horeb. The LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.1 So Elijah went and did what he was told. So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of Continue Reading →

A Voice Criying In the Desert Make Straight the Way

As I write this, I’ve been living in the desert now for over 8 months. Yes, we have pretty houses and gardens and swimming pools and everything; but it’s still the desert. After these 8 months (I’ve been through a summer and I now consider myself a “desert rat”) I can honestly say that “I get it.” Right now, I’ve been away from it for a few days and I long to be back to what is now “home.” I miss the parched, dusty earth that you can let pour through your fingers like water. I miss the scraggly creosote Continue Reading →


This morning (June 11: the feast of St. Barnabas), I was thinking about the story of  Barnabas of Antioch, the Christian apostle and companion of Paul of Tarsus, and how the two of them went around preaching and converting people to Christianity just a handful of years after the events of the crucifixion of Jesus. I thought about the concept of “conversion” and the sorts of proselytizing that continues to go on all around us, a couple of millenia  since then. I’m reminded of the line from the movie, Princess Bride, where Inigo Montoya says, “I do not think that means what you Continue Reading →

Prophetic Voices


Ever heard of “literary forms”? Sure you have. You probably know at least two different forms: poetry and prose. Of course, these are not the only literary forms in existence. There are plays, fiction and non-fiction, songs (a subset of poetry, perhaps?), history, fables, myths, etc. There are even blogs. There are literary forms that we use today and forms that went out of style centuries ago. When we look at the writings accepted by the Judeo-Christian communities we can see many different literary forms. Don’t forget: we’re considering a library of writings, not just one big one. Different writings Continue Reading →

God Is With Us

God with us

If you haven’t had a close call (or two) in your life, then you haven’t lived long enough. Sooner or later, everybody at some time walks away from a situation saying, “Whew! That was a close one!” Of course, sooner or later, we all face a situation that we don’t walk away from . . . but that’s a subject for another post. It’s when we have one of these close encounters with our own mortality that a lot of the superficial stuff that encrusts our lives gets (sometimes painfully) stripped away and we find ourselves staring into the face Continue Reading →

. . . and God said . . .

and God said

So far in our wanderings around the subject of faith, we have come to appreciate that God — the Transcendent — is also the Unknowable. If we think back to our example of the chimp learning calculus, we can recognize that the poor chimp would have no idea where to begin. The chimp would be utterly lost. But what if a very patient and kind person were to start teaching the chimp the fundamentals. Of course, under present circumstances, the chimp could never be taught higher mathematics. But, that’s because the animal’s instructor couldn’t get inside the chimp’s head. What Continue Reading →

I’m Not Religious


Yeah, I hear it all the time. “I consider myself a spiritual person, but I can’t stand religion.” On one level, it makes me cringe every time I hear it; on another level, who can blame them? After all, the worst enemies of religion are most definitely its defenders. The same thing goes for the “defenders” of God — they’re exactly the people to run farthest away from. If we really understood what ‘religion’ means, we’d all want to be known as religious people. As for the “defenders” of God: well, God needs neither defense nor promotion and with friends Continue Reading →

What the Meaning of ‘Is’ Is


“It all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,”1 said President Bill Clinton during testimony for his impeachment hearing. It was a statement that echoed around the world and caused much scorn to be heaped upon him. The statement may be typical of legal hair-splitting, but, in the world of Understanding, that statement is absolutely critical. It does all depend on “what the meaning of ‘is’ is!” The verb ‘to be’ (‘is’) is at the same time both the simplest and most complex concept. It is a verb and so it refers to an action — the action of Continue Reading →

Shockingly Wrong?


If you were from another planet and were exposed to Christianity for the first time from all the available media, chances are excellent that you’d think Christianity was an ethical system that focused on good and evil, right and wrong. You’d be in some very good company, too, without a doubt. From the time that Christianity started to spread over the Greco-Roman world, apologists have been trying to use Christian “principles” to influence human behavior. This is not to say that even the Christian Scriptures aren’t replete with moral guidance: they are. Yet, sadly, when Christianity is distilled down to Continue Reading →