Category Op-Ed

“We Didn’t Know It Was You”

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.

My Back Pages: Forgetting Advent

(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. […]

My Back Pages: Saints and Sinners

(Note: I wrote this for The Daily in November, 2011. It is no longer extant, so I am republishing it here). In America today, we may not know what it means to be a saint, but it can’t be said that we lack for opinions on what a saint is not. Or at least who […]

Memory’s Neighborhoods

I wrote about the different ways, and places, we’ve chosen to commemorate the Civil War and its aftermath for the Washington Post: The truth is that there is a great deal of history we have chosen, or allowed ourselves, to forget. The Fort Pillow garrison, I learned, consisted not only of whites and former slaves […]

My Back Pages: Pastors Hating on Weddings

(This column was published in The Daily on June 12, 2011 under the title “Tied Up in Knots.” Since The Daily is no longer extant, I am posting it here) Wedding season is a challenging one for pastors. On the one hand, we don’t mind the extra income weddings provide for our congregations and ourselves. […]

God in the Gluten

I wrote about the Vatican directives for the bread and wine in the Eucharist for Religion Dispatches: The genius of the eucharist, in strictly human terms, is in its simplicity: bread and wine, the everyday foods of Mediterranean antiquity, enter the ritual process to become body and blood. The elements are plain and common, so […]

My Back Pages: Puritans and Medievals

(This op-ed originally appeared in The Daily on May 20, 2012, under the name ‘Flunking History.’ It is no longer extant, so I am posting it here) In a 2009 foreign policy speech, Mitt Romney used the word “medieval” to deride the aims of jihad. The jihadists, he claimed, intend to drag “the entire world […]

The Lollards Were Awesome

My newest piece for the Reformation 500th anniversary edition of Let’s Talk: Living Theology in the Metropolitan Chicago Synod: And it is in this surviving vernacular literature that we can sense the real import of the Lollard movement. Wycliffe’s translations, unlike later efforts, did not return to Greek or Hebrew, but rendered the Vulgate in […]

My Back Pages: My Best Op-Ed Was About Mitt Romney

(This piece originally appeared in The Daily on July 31, 2011, under the title ‘Other/None Nation.’ It is no longer extant so I am posting it here) In a celebrated early chapter of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” the narrator, Ishmael, takes the side of a pagan companion as they go about getting hired for an […]

My Back Pages: Foster Care and John Calvin

(This piece originally appeared in The Daily on May 8, 2011. It is no longer extant, so I’m re-posting it here.) The optometrist was very generous in praising our motives, but came back to the question so many people end up asking. “It must be so hard to get attached.” I had decided to start […]