Tag Archives: Chicago

Presence

God becomes a human being so that human beings can become like God.

And this happens to us anywhere and at any time. Whether you are surrounded with loved ones, or stranded away from home, or simply without close family or friends. Whether you have a stocking full of old family traditions or whether you didn’t even grow up with a tree. Whether you know the songs or not. Whether you’re at a festive gathering or whether you’re at an all-night diner, with only those other people who have nowhere else to go.

Sacred Signposts Events in Chicago

I’m excited to be visiting two Chicago churches in October to talk about Sacred Signposts: Words, Water, and Other Acts of Resistance. First up will be Augustana Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry in Hyde Park, a place that’s very important to me. The Wednesday night services in Lent brought me to worship for good, […]

My Conversation with Metropolitan Nathanael

It’s important not to expect the wrong things from a Q and A between some guy and the shiny new bishop, so if some questions or demurrals go unanswered, I hope you’ll be indulgent. But we were able to have a friendly and serious conversation about topics facing his community and the church writ large: bioethics, racism, the place of churches in society. 

Flight

I didn’t stay there. If I were assured of a hundred more years to live I don’t know that I would ever read Niebuhr again. Part of the problem with the blazing sunset era of high Protestant theology was that its authors sought to provide us with a place to stand–where faith and reason, revelation and science all worked together–when all they could offer was a point of transit. From the perspective of one moving out of Christian faith, however defined, those points of transit seem feeble and dishonest. For one moving into it, they can seem necessary and providential. Christians have a tendency to ask for kinds of assurance, whether from theological faculties, great collections of bishops, or second-century papyrus, that none of these can give. Our needs and our doubts give shape to the theories of revelation or ecclesiology or whatever else that we may then point to in order to meet them.

Doubting Thomas: Believing Without Seeing

In America the past becomes history very quickly, at least for some of us. By the time I was growing up, Martin Luther King, Jr. was an official symbol of the nation, which he still is today. I learned about him in school in a town that had deliberately excluded African-American homeowners into my lifetime. What was left out of the picture I was given was the profound hostility many people, north and south and everywhere else, felt toward him at the time of his death. What I had to learn later, on my own, is that he spent the last years of his life warning about the danger posed to American cities, and to the American soul, by generations of oppression and deprivation; that he spent those years trying hard to prevent chaos and violence; that he was not heeded by politicians or public opinion; and that the chaos and violence came, most explosively after his own murder. No one who was living in Chicago in 1968 can forget that.

I Like Politicians

The loss of this mode of politicking is the less-seen shadow side of the dysfunction and looming institutional crisis created by extreme gerrymandering. Once you know with a mathematical certainly who you don’t need, and where you don’t ever have to go, you are just wasting your time trying to hear out and nod along with some random collection of constituents. You have to tend to your party’s nominating voters and your funders, and they don’t care whether you’re able to empathize with whatever marginal voter you’re chasing at the mosque or the deli or the tavern. 

Chicago Diarist: A Priestly People

(Note: I wrote this in January 2011) Back when I was just getting started in ministry, early in my seminary career, Christmas was a high point of the year. There is a strange thrill in doing something, as it were, from the inside out–in knowing the alleys that connect the gleaming storefronts, in working while […]

Chicago Diarist: Happy Birthday to Ya

(Note: I wrote this for my blog in January, 2008) Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. at church. The pastor switched the appointed Gospel reading with a passage from the Sermon on the Mount and, between the readings and the children’s sermon, we listened to an excerpt from one of King’s […]

Come First, Then See

(Note: I preached this sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church on the Second Sunday after Epiphany 2018).  Sisters and brothers, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. I want to note two special prayer concerns for today, one of them sorrowful and one joyful. First, I have added […]

Chicago Diarist: Waiting

(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 […]