Last week country and western artist George Jones died. He was a hard-living kind of a fellow, according to the reports, carousing so hard and heavy that he was often too sick or bleary-eyed to appear at his concerts.
Earlier this week I had the privilege of conversing with a Boy Scout executive who is a friend and fellow Rotarian. As an Eagle Scout and Explorer who received my God and Country Award, I have a deep, lifelong appreciation for Scouting.
Yesterday an interfaith worship service was held in Boston to begin the process of healing across our nation in the aftermath of the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon.
It is disconcerting to contemplate the amount of stuff that middle class Americans own. Whereas the average size of an American home in 1960 was 983 square feet, that average home had mushroomed something like 250 percent in 2011 to 2,480 square feet, even while the average number of people living in the home shrank. My own family history closely mirrors this trend. My parents raised four children; the six of us lived in a three-bedroom, one-bath house with incredibly small closets. I could not imagine now living in such a home. It couldn’t contain all our stuff.
Those who return to church this Sunday will note that their places of worship aren’t full like last Sunday. They will notice less crowded parking lots, nursery and pews and mournfully ask, “Where is everybody? Why can’t we be as full as we were last week?”
Before we rush to Easter — and with good cause the Christian world anticipates that glorious day with its splendor, pomp and elation — let us tarry in other places with Jesus.
Headlines continue to announce the paranoid, bellicose behavior of the isolated and impoverished nation of North Korea, truly one of the pariah nations in our world. This rogue nation, erratic and unpredictable, now apparently has nuclear weapons of at least a primitive nature with which they threaten to incinerate the United States.
How can one dwell on anything other than issues of Catholicism this week? The cardinals of the church gathered in Rome at the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope and this Sunday is St. Patrick’s Day commemorating one of the great saints of the church.
I’m suffering through the third day of a miserable head cold with the consequent aches, stuffy head, puffy eyes and runny nose. I catch this stuff rarely, but when I do I am convinced I may not survive.
Most pastors are able to pray through almost anything. Offering public prayer in a variety of settings toughens one’s resolve to stay the course when invoking the divine. Every pastor has prayed through buzzing wasps, crying babies, ringing phones, crashing thunder, wailing trains, sonic booms, insistent sirens and bored parishioners.
The newspaper headline regarding the desired skill set for the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church intoned, “Charisma, Management Skills Sought in New Pope”. I’m sorry, but this headline and the article itself was less than groundbreaking.
Earlier this week, the 40-day season of Lent began with Ash Wednesday when worshipers gathered in churches to receive from priest or pastor a smudge of ashes on the forehead signifying godly sorrow, repentance and one’s mortality.
There is much intriguing data in a comprehensive religion survey released last summer by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
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A couple of weeks ago I watched Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit at an IMAX cinema with Dolby sound and 3-D glasses. It was a pretty powerful movie if you like non-stop action where good wins out. As you might know, The Hobbit was written by J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the trilogy Lord of the Rings, too.
Most of us crave the daylight, finding ourselves challenged during these long winter nights. In December and January one hardly arrives home before darkness sets in.
In the shadow of the fiscal cliff, Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid and Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl are cooperating to introduce a law to expand online gambling and create an Office of Online Poker Oversight.
One hears the phrase “fiscal cliff” so often these days that I now find myself looking for guard rails on every street and avenue, even though here in Savannah there’s no such thing as a cliff within a good day’s drive.
The recent revelation of adultery by retired four-star General David Petraeus is tragic. Confessing to the betrayal of his wife of 40 years General Petraeus submitted his resignation as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He not only tarnished his family, career and reputation, but he could potentially — because of his sensitive role — have placed our nation in a vulnerable position.
Hubris has been in abundant supply at both presidential debates and one suspects that the honking sounds at next week’s third debate will be both candidates tooting their own horn. If this election is as close as polls indicate, the first candidate displaying any sincere evidence of humility might gain the advantage with that dwindling group of undecided voters.
Although Methodism have been established in Georgia for at least 225 years, its continuing presence in Savannah, where I serve the church, is 200 years old this year.
The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, opened in August 2012 after enduring two years of controversy, perhaps bringing to a close the vandalism and violence that has roiled both the structure itself and people of this middle Tennessee city of 100,000 citizens.
I’m not sure whether to file this column under the sports page or the faith and values section, but there’s an intersection here, as there so often is, between sports and religion. I’m referring to the “replacement referees” now being employed by the owners of the National Football League (NFL).
This week’s column is offered as a public service to readers who intend to pack your pistol to next week’s worship service at the mosque, synagogue or church.
The Republicans have had their week in Tampa, Fla., and the Democrats will have theirs next week in Charlotte, N.C., a back-to-back prospect prompting all but the most hardened political junkies to pray that the deity might send hurricane winds to cancel both political pep rallies.
How does a Christian relate to his or her culture in the Muslim world? I’ve been thinking about this after reading a recent Wall Street Journal article (Saturday, Aug. 11-12) about the struggles of the Christian faithful in Syria.
What would you do if a group of punk musicians rushed to the altar area or claimed the pulpit in your church and began singing protest songs in the middle of a Sunday morning worship service?
Being a pastor means one is never caught up with pastoral care. At least in the United Methodist Church, people place a fairly high priority on pastoral visitation, and Methodists can sometimes be heard yearning for a pastor who knocks on doors more frequently.
A nation-wide leadership search is taking place in the United Methodist Church this week in three locations where church delegates are electing eleven new bishops.
The Rev. LeeAnne Watkins, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, Minn., wrote a thought provoking article describing how the church continues to invest in activities that no longer produce results. (“This Just Isn’t Working,” Christian Century, June 13, 2012, p 10-11).
Here are some things I’ve been thinking about the relationship between church and state:
Have you ever sung the words of a hymn while simultaneously thinking about something else?
This week in New Orleans, La., delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention made history by electing the Rev. Fred Lute as the first African-American pastor in their long history to serve as their president. Luter, the charismatic pastor of a New Orleans' Lower 9th Ward mega-church, ran unopposed.
I recently reflected on the importance the church practicing the highest standards of honesty and transparency by citing public allegations of influence peddling in the Vatican.
The headline in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention: “Facebook and Twitter Postings Cost CFO His Job.” Rachel Emma Silverman reported (May 15, 2012, B-1) that 63-year-old Gene Morphis was fired because he showed no restraint on Facebook and Twitter.
The most valuable possession the church has, something so invaluable it could never be insured, is the trust of its church members and the larger society.
When Charles Colson died in April, age 80, it was the first time in 34 years that he did not spend Easter Sunday preaching to prisoners.
Back in March, 10 Amish men traveled to Frankfort, Ky., to plead their case before the Kentucky Supreme Court, hoping to persuade the justices to exempt them from the regulation to put an orange safety triangle on the back of their horse drawn buggies.
Pastors struggling with proper attire.
Notice to all middle-aged, middle-class women looking for a little excitement! North Georgia real estate developer Greg O’Leary is riding to your rescue with a proposal to expand Georgia gambling. Mr. O’Leary, according to reports, has been working on a proposal for eight years to build a casino along the interstate in Norcross.
The New York Times carried an article, March 31, 2012, about one of three real estate agents in the U.S. who deal exclusively in the sale of church buildings. Reporter Mark Oppenheimer’s story about David and Mary Raphael of Azusa, California, “Building a Business on Churches for Sale”, carried enough fascinating material in it for numerous columns.
Here are some reports and comments from the world of religion:
There is something quite egalitarian about a sunrise service. You might be an unemployed carpenter sitting right next to the CEO of a major bank. There might be people whose total repertoire of church music would be “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace” standing right next to a person who knows their church hymnal frontward and backward.
I recently heard a wise hospice counselor clergyman speak movingly about grief. Practically everyone faces grief either for the death of a significant person, a dearly loved pet or even the death of a cherished ideal.
A non-event may become the most noteworthy event of the March 23-29th Pope Benedict XVI visit to Cuba and Mexico.
Author Jonah Lehrer has written a book on how to foster and encourage creativity. As one who preaches and writes weekly I need all the creativity I can get and someday I may pick up his book, though it would have been sooner except for one unnecessary word in the book’s excerpt in the March 10-11, 2012 Wall Street Journal.
I’ll eventually order the book because of the absolutely creative title: “Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor” by Jana Riess. Ms. Reiss focused on a different spiritual practice each month for a year, documenting her failures and successes in this book.
Sometimes it takes a long time for a story to develop and what looks bleak at the time can turn out very differently.
How many controversial topics can one list regarding faith and values right now? It’s enough to make one want to crawl in a cave until the presidential election is over.
The national health insurance plan has created another controversy with the Obama administration’s proposed rules mandating that charitable religious agencies (hospitals, colleges, etc.) provide preventative women’s health options (contraceptives, morning-after pills). Religious people with strong opinions are angry, indignant and inflexible. (Take the Quik Quiz by going to Creede Hinshaw's column.)