A child who grows up singing “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Away in a Manger” may be forgiven for imagining that nothing could be more delightful than to be born in a stable.

(Note: I preached this sermon on the first Sunday of Advent in 2014) Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Raise your hand if you had a mother (or father) who woke you up at 4 a.m. to go to the highest hill in […]

(Note: I wrote this column for The Daily in November 2011. It is no longer extant, so I am republishing it here). Black Friday kicked off the “holiday season” last week. The pumpkin-flavored pastries and beverages have already given way to eggnog and gingerbread, while lite-music radio will be in full Noel mode until Christmas. […]

(I wrote this in December, 2009) Say what you will about cold weather, crowds, and snow or the threat thereof grinding the streets to a halt, but I kind of love Chicago in December. I love the concerts of sacred music for free or cheap, the Bavarian Christmas market at Daley Plaza (with offsetting public […]

(Note: I preached this sermon on the Feast of Christ the King in 2008 at Wicker Park Lutheran Church). Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Imagine, for a moment, that it is England in the 14th century, and you are an ordinary person […]

We have been here before, too, the great Dirtbag Cenobium where the young and artistic, seeking to escape the conventions of both their art and their society, huddle with their demimondaine muses in a gorgeous squalor suspended between fame and the gutter.

(I wrote this in March, 2013) I am no more eager than Damon Linker to rehash the arguments of the Lesser Atheism, but I don’t quite follow him this far: If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, […]

(Note: I wrote this in March, 2005. I repost it for Kierkegaard’s commemoration tomorrow) Last night a friend I hadn’t seen in some months happened to be in Hyde Park just as I was winding down from a long shift of paper-writing. Figuring that I could spare the time, we resolved to meet up for […]

(Note: I wrote this in 2011. Reposting here for Kierkegaard’s commemoration tomorrow) People have been getting beyond Christianity for a long time. “In our time,” Søren Kierkegaard wrote in 1843, “nobody is content to stop with faith but wants to go further.” It would perhaps be rash to ask where these people are going, but it is […]

(Note: I preached this sermon in May, 2007, at the University of Chicago’s Bond Chapel. I repost it for Kierkegaard’s commemoration tomorrow). A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke [9:51-62]: 51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent […]