[Christianity Today, March 2006]Selected for Best American Spiritual Writing, 2007 If you hang around with Christians, you find that the same topic keeps coming up in conversation: their worries about “the culture.” Christians talk about sex and violence in popular entertainment. They talk about bias in news reporting. They talk about how their views are ignored or misrepresented. “The culture” appears to be an aggressive challenge to “the church,” and Christians keep worrying over what to do about it.
[Books & Culture, March-April 2004]* Selected for Best Christian Writing 2006* Most movies wait till after they're released to stir up controversy, but Mel Gibson's “The Passion of the Christ” has been preceded by nearly a year of fisticuffs. It provided an unusually rich opportunity for people who don't know what they're talking about to do just that. I'll continue that tradition by admitting that, as I write this, I still have not seen the film. I expect it will be good movie-making, a powerful example of the artistic possibilities of film. I hope it will stir up old faith in Christians, and break forth new faith in unbelievers.
[From “The Illumined Heart”, Paraclete Press, 2001]* Selected for Best Christian Writing, 2004* The first time Jesus appears, in the first Gospel, the first instruction he gives is “Repent.” From then on, it’s his most consistent message. In all times and every situation, his advice is to repent. Not just the scribes and Pharisees, not just the powerful—he tells even the poor and oppressed that repentance is the key to eternal life. In an incident that would make modern-day spin doctors frantic, Jesus even advises repentance in response to a horrifying atrocity. Some in his audience tell him that Pilate has murdered some Galilean worshipers, spattering their blood on the animal sacrifices. Shockingly, Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Apparently he is not concerned about how this will play on Mt. Peor.
Few book titles have had the sticking power of Richard Weaver’s “Ideas Have Consequences.” Even people who’ve never read it find the blunt title instantly compelling. Weaver’s thesis was that the ideas that we absorb about the world, about the way things are or should be, inevitably direct our actions. Though the book was published in 1948, before many current bizarre ideas had fully emerged, the thesis is an eternal one. It sets people to wondering which ideas were the seeds that sprouted our present mess, and which new ideas might be helping us out of it — or further in.
[Christianity Today, July 14, 1997]* Selected for Best Spiritual Writing 1998 * As I saw my children swept up into the night sky I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I held the baby in my arms, but the two older ones--Megan, 7, and David, 4--were locked behind the bar of a ferris wheel in a shopping-center carnival. They had begged and clamored until I agreed to let them board the contraption but now, as they rose into the night, they panicked and began to scream. David's little legs were kicking as he skidded sideways on the slick metal seat. I saw how easily he could slip beneath the narrow bar and fall to the asphalt below.
[Beliefnet, December 22, 1999] * Selected for Best Christian Writing 2000 * On a cold day in December a mother gave birth to a baby boy. Seventeen years later he sat in her kitchen with a towel around his neck while she trimmed his hair. When a boy reaches a certain age he doesn’t like his mother to touch him any more. This is as close as she’s likely to get, circling him, nipping behind his pink ears with scissors.