Morning Meditation: Transfiguration

[Morning Meditations, CSLewis Oxbridge Conference, Summer 2005] “We Will Be Like Him” (I John 3:2) England can be delightful in early August, when the mornings are cool and the afternoons bright. At home, on America's mid-Atlantic coast, it's so hot and gummy that the dogs are sticking to the sidewalks. This is one of those rare patches of year when Americans might like to come to England for the weather. Yet in the Holy Land it's hotter still, as any pilgrim can tell you. This year's Oxbridge conference concludes on the feast of the Transfiguration, that event which arises from the most somnolent point of summer, when August is a still lake of heat.

Encountering the Holy Spirit

[Beliefnet, May 9, 2005] When I was a kid, I had no clear idea of what the Holy Ghost was for. He seemed boring and dowdy, a leftover appendage to the Trinity. Maybe it was because the Holy Ghost was described as the Love between the Father and Son. Love is great, but it isn't a *Person*. The Father and Son came first, united and powerful, and then the Holy Ghost dawdled after, “proceeding” (whatever that means) from both, as if he were an afterthought. Pretty ghostly. I went to my Catholic Confirmation at the age of 12 prepared to receive this vague presence, feeling tensely expectant and - nothing happened. Bummer. Flash forward a decade to the mid-70's. After some unbelieving years I had returned to Christianity, and my husband and I were students at an Episcopal seminary near Washington, DC.

What to Say at a Naked Party

[Christianity Today, February 2005] Anyone who's been on a college campus lately will confirm the depressing report delivered by Vigen Guroian in his essay [about sex on campus]. As someone who does a lot of campus speaking, I've seen my fair share of posters announcing sex-toy workshops, transgender celebrations, and, on one Ivy League campus, an open invitation to a “naked party.” What's a naked party? Anybody who wants can attend, but you have to take off all your clothes to stay. It makes you want to weep for the children, for girls in particular, who deserve to be protected from this carnival of leering and molestation.

All We Can Do Is Watch

[Beliefnet, January 7, 2005] On December 26 the tsunami hit, and on the 27th I set out on a long car trip, circling through the south and visiting family. So while most of you were being continually hammered by new and terrible information, I was getting it in small, amazing pieces - a headline on a motel newspaper, a TV broadcast in a diner. The numbers mounted in a way that seemed unreal, artificial. At first it was twenty thousand feared dead, then seventy, and all of a sudden someone told me the toll was nearing 140,000.

Widowhood and Remarriage, Unbaptized Babies

[Today's Christian, January-February 2005] Q. I was widowed a few years ago and totally devastated by my loss. I am so tired of feeling lost and lonely. Lately I've been wishing I had someone to talk to in the evenings. Though I have no desire to remarry, I would like at le ast to have some companionship with the opposite sex. But these thoughts make me feel so guilty and disloyal to my late husband, though I know he has gone to a beautiful, wondrous place where matters of the heart no longer hold any meaning.

Prepare to Meet your Mocker

[Touchstone, December 2004] Recently a friend drew my attention to an exchange of letters between a mid-twentieth-century novelist and a lady. The lady thought the novelist was naughty and proceeded to lecture him about the unseemly content of his books. The novelist - and we can imagine bright, eager eyes over a mischievous grin - replied by thanking the woman profusely for rescuing him from error, and concluded by begging her to send a photo so he could see what true Christian charity looks like. A very satisfying put-down, in my friend's opinion. It got me thinking, though. For one thing, this wasn't a fair fight.

Joyous Cursing

[Christianity Today Online, October 9, 2004] As four-letter words become an ever more popular form of communication, it's hardly surprising that athletes might use them, or that one might slip out in a TV interview. NBC's Matt Yocum had just asked Dale Earnhardt Jr. how it felt to win a race at the Talladega Superspeedway for the fifth time, and he replied modestly that his famous dad, Dale Earnhardt Sr, had won there ten times. “It don't mean s---,” he said. The sky fell in.

Gay Family Member, the Sabbath

[Today's Christian, September-October, 2004] Q. Several years ago a member of my family, Eloise, a single parent who had previously been heterosexual, began to live as a lesbian. How can we show love toward her, and yet not appear to condone this decision? She was raised as a Christian, is very familiar with biblical teachings, and must know this choice is not what the Lord would want. But even though we don't agree with Eloise's behavior, we still love her and want to spend time with her and our niece.

Elder Care for Jesus’ Aging Mother

[Beliefnet, August 13, 2004] My mother lives far from me. It’s about a thirteen-hour drive to get there. She is in pain frequently now, though she brushes it off; her thinking gets confused, though she is always cheerful, in the wry and whimsical way I remember from childhood. I hear her faint voice on the phone, but she usually says she can’t hear me. I rely on my sisters, who live closer, to manage most of her daily needs. Excellent doctors, pharmacists, and in-home caregivers help to make long-distance parental care possible, if not quite perfect. Care of elderly parents has been a burden throughout human history.