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My faith heritage is located in the Radical Reformation and Reason. Because of that, Holy Week is for people of similar heritage pretty much like any other week of the year. Those who come from mainline traditions may spend more days attending services this week than any other time of year.

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The telling of history is never fair. Even the best historians have their biases and agendas. Anyone who has carefully read the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Bible know that even there we find different perspectives.

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This generation is the generation which gives absolute priority to the personal and which tends in a remarkable way to withdraw into the self. This might surprise those who think of our youth as highly activist, sign-carrying protesters who stage teach-ins, sit-ins, walk-ins, and stay-ins al…

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A recurring theme in this column is that of story. We watch them, write them, tell them, hear them. We tell stories that are true, some that are made up (for all kinds of reasons). We tell short ones and long ones — funny, sad, serious, and lighthearted.

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I have done a few hikes in my time. My favorite ones have been with my family and begin at the base of a hill or mountain and ascend to a lake, a magnificent view, or just the top of the hill. About seven miles one way is about my limit, and with children under ten that was usually fun until…

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Has anyone ever had any success in handling a situation by shouting, “Everybody just calm down!” Didn’t think so.

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We celebrate the birth of Christ near to the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The light of the world shining in the darkness. This year, for many, the celebration will be either changed, muted, or nearly non-existent.

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Bad theology is everywhere. Sometimes it is blatantly obvious as when faith gets tangled up in nationalism and war and terrorism. Sometimes it is still obvious, but some people can justify it, as when faith is coopted by party political agendas. Bad theology in these categories usually leads…

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The election is over. At the time I am writing this we have a good idea of who will serve the next four-year term, but it is not yet certified. I expect this will be extended for a few more days yet. As it should be.

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I shared here a couple of years ago a story from a camp I directed for 11-13 year-olds in Wisconsin. They are two-week sessions, so there is time to take on some significant camp improvement projects for those who want to take part. One particularly warm day one of the young men said to me, …

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What I hope to do each week is to help those who read these 800 or so words to slow down enough to give thought to things we already know, along with some historical and spiritual perspective.

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There are signs that we are living in a world of emotionally charged, high anxiety. We are a glob of an emotionally entangled mess. We see this in the hyped-up presentation of news editorials. We see it in the “outrage” of people who have no idea of any facts, only the emotional content of a…

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I watched it. I watched the whole thing. I watched the worst example of public discourse (I know it cannot be called that) I have ever witnessed. There have been more colorful name-calling examples, mostly by newspaper editors or party spokespersons. One of the more famous was penned about J…

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Christian history is fascinating in every century but the transition in the fourth century from persecuted to being the official religion of the empire is difficult to top.

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I really hate to break this to all our young voters, but the current election cycle is not the most important one in our history. We are in no greater existential national crisis today than we were in the years immediately after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Or around 1812. Or …

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There is a constant fight for who gets to tell stories of the past. It is a matter of perspective. I was taught the “received story” of the United States as a child. The telling of that story has changed some since then, but it is still basically the same story.

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I do not write to pick sides, although sometimes it may be obvious which side I am on. Some people do write to pick sides. That is not my intention. I write to think on paper, and in doing so anyone that reads is carried along with my personal attempts to make sense of the world I am in. Agr…

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There will always be “glass half full” and “glass half empty” people. Both will always be right. Personally, the thing that keeps me more on the half full side are all the half empty people that spoke and wrote in the past. It is those who accurately described catastrophic events or put thei…

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Because the United States has such deep and important roots in Christianity, it is always going to be difficult to separate the two. One can make an argument that the United States is the most Christian nation on earth. (A possible exception is the Vatican). One can also make an argument tha…

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It would be foolish to compare today with the devastation wrought by the plague of the 14th century. What today we call the “black death.” Most of the destruction happened within a few years, but it recurred for at least another five decades after that. It took England 150 years to regain it…

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Eighty-seven years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln delivered perhaps the most famous speech in American History. In its text is the ironic line, “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.” This is, of course the Gettysburg Address, …

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With my schedule disrupted like most of us, I decided to take the plunge and do something I have been putting off for years. You got it. I finally picked up War and Peace. It is my nighttime reading just before I go to bed, so it may yet take me a while to get through it. Yep. Just for fun. …

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A bubbling stream, a few animals around, a partly cloudy sky, about 70 degrees and a wisp of a breeze- hopefully right after a rain. The birds are singing and there are absolutely no bugs anywhere. It is quiet. That poster says Psalm 23. (We forget about “the valley of the shadow of death”, …

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On the one hand, everyone needs to do their part and take care of themselves. On the other hand, everyone needs to look after their neighbor and take care of each other. Both of these statements are perfectly true, but if one is taken on its own without the other life would become unbalanced…

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There is an elephant in every room of our lives. It is a big bull elephant. Rather than being left alone and ignored, he is raging through the house out of control and then going after the neighbors. There is no one left unaffected, regardless of faith, work status, or income. It takes some …

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What a strange Lenten and Passover season we are finishing. I hope never to experience one like it again. We are away from our normal gatherings at this time of year. However, this one is perhaps more like those original events that any we will experience. Each family making its own preparat…

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I want to thank all of you who are reading each week. I am encouraged by the notes and comments that you occasionally send my way, even the ones that correct or challenge from time to time.

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The national efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus have played a dramatic role in changing people’s work, school and public gatherings over the past several weeks. And in response, a majority of Americans have prayed for the end of the pandemic, according to a poll from the Pew…

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This is how this always happens. This is how disaster overtakes us. We can never see it coming. We have learned to avert, be prepared, and predict a lot of things over the past centuries. But we are still surprised every ten or fifteen years or so by a disease, an attack, greed, or some othe…

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One of my favorite stories about Jesus and his disciples begins with a question about who to blame. Jesus walked by a blind man and those following him asked, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2, RSV). Jesus immediately turned from assigning blam…