A view of a tiffany stained glass window with repeating scale-like tiles in a rainbow pattern, seen from below.

God and us

A prophet’s true greatness is his ability to hold God and man in a single thought.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Category: GodAndUs

  • Come away

    Come away

    The Hebrew scholar Naham M Sarna notes that there’s a crescendo that happens when God tells Abraham to “go.” God lists all that Abram would be leaving behind in increasing intimacy, increasing seriousness. “Leave your native land, leave your extended family, leave your father’s house. I am taking you somewhere new.” Quite a big ask, considering all Abraham has to go on is a promise from a God who had been silent since long before Abraham was born. If I’m totally honest, I can’t imagine that I would obey that kind of a command from God.

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  • Dominant powers versus ultimate powers

    Dominant powers versus ultimate powers

    It was starting to feeling like maybe, just maybe, the bad guys didn’t have to keep winning. Maybe giants could fall. Maybe, as the Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber says, dominant powers would not turn out to be ultimate powers. The next Halloween, for my work’s costume contest, I dressed up for Halloween as a cell phone with 10 missed calls from Ronan Farrow and a text message saying, “care to comment?” I told folks I was keeping track of who thought the costume was supposed to be a scary costume versus who thought of it more like a “super hero” costume. For the record, I was only halfway-joking with that one.

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  • The things we hold in common

    The things we hold in common

    Some translations use the word “generosity” instead of simplicity, and that’s because the word we’re looking at is somewhere between idiom and metaphor in the original Greek. The word is “aphelotes” and its literal translation is something like “the opposite of stubbing your toe.” It’s something you do on accident, without even realizing it until you feel its affects later. The historian is describing a simple-heartedness, a tenderness. It’s the kind of tenderness that makes you take off your coat and gently drape it over your partner’s shoulders when you see they’re cold, without even having a moment’s thought about how cold you’ll now be. They gave to one another in the way you “give” to your spouse; the way you “give” to someone who’s so intimately tied to you that it doesn’t even feel like giving so much as transferring from one account to another.

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  • By faith,

    By faith,

    For example, there’s this one woman, Priscilla. In the Book of Acts, in the Epistle to the Romans, in the 1st letter to the Corinthians, and in Paul’s 2nd letter to Timothy, she’s described as a colleague to the Apostle Paul, a collaborator, an equal. She even went on to have churches named after her. As Christian communities got big enough to move out of houses and have their own buildings, one of the first ones in Rome was called the Church of St. Priscilla. But throughout the next few hundred years of Christian history, there’s evidence that Christian leaders, as their religion got attached to the power of the Roman Empire and grew from a minor almost cult-like religion into a proper institution, started to suppress the history of women’s involvement in the church.

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  • What you get when you sell all you have

    What you get when you sell all you have

    One of the most respected dictionaries of ecclesiastical Greek tells us this is often used as a foil to the “fragmentary and frail” life of this world, that it’s something you seek to acquire now as much as in the future. It’s sort of an exchange you make, where you give up attachment to the “time is money” economy and are given power over the forces of death and sin, in this life and the “life to come.”

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  • Assistant Regional Managers of the planet

    Assistant Regional Managers of the planet

    God made sky and water and earth and heaven and birds and fish and beasts and creeping things and plants and called all of it good. Then, to top it all off, God made humans. God said “let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, the whole earth, and all the the creeping things that creep on the earth.” God says “just like I rule the earth, I want these humans to rule it.” God names humans like, Assistant Regional Managers of the planet.

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