Postmodernism, God’s Silence

[Today's Christian, May-June, 2004] The Postmodern Puzzle 'Our world today is driven by post-modernism. We seem to tailor everything to best meets our needs—including our perception of God. What can we do to battle this tendency? Please help me.' —Pastor Nicholas Lolik Lemi, Church of God in Southern Sudan

Cohabitation, Laziness

[Today's Christian, March-April 2004] Q. Any advice on how I can encourage a young Christian woman that it is not right to share an apartment with a man, even though their relationship is non-romantic? --Name withheld A. I notice that it happens to be the young woman you're trying to talk to about this, rather than the young man, so let me note that women are a little slower to see the problem. Young men know that sexual desire can overwhelm them unexpectedly, and that it is hard to direct or restrain. The actor Dustin Hoffman once remarked

Post-Abortion Men, Natural Consequences

[Today's Christian, January-February, 2004] Q. If a woman commits the sin of abortion, people say that she can be forgiven. But if the father of the child wanted that child, and had absolutely no say in the child's fate, and afterwards wanted to commit suicide, would he be forgiven? I understand that a person can be forgiven for murdering an innocent life, but can a person be forgiven for murdering his own life? --a grieving father

Overcoming Sin, Unwed Birth

[Today's Christian, November-December 2003] Q. I'm a new Christian, but I still have some sins in my life that I am having a hard time getting away from. I keep trying but I feel like a failure to God and to myself every time I stumble. How do others in my situation handle this' How does God look upon people who love him and know better, but still trip along the way' --

Playing the Lottery, Idols

[Today's Christian, September-October 2003] Q. May Christians participate in state or private lotteries? Will such an act bring dishonor to Jesus Christ? --M.J.K., Republic of Seychelles A. Lotteries raise a host of related questions. Should Christians ever get involved in something decided by chance? Do you buy a lottery ticket, hoping to win the Daily Million' What about tossing a coin to see if you should take that job in Chicago? Is it OK to play bingo, if it's sponsored by a church?

Under the Heaven Tree

[Essay included in “The Church in the Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives,”Leonard Sweet, editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003)] This book contains five essays on the question of the Church’s engagement with culture, and to what extent we should change, or preserve, its message and its method. This essay was my contribution. *****Why is this essay written in question and answer format? It is intended to reference the penultimate section of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” This section, called “Ithaca,” concerns a late-night conversation between Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. It is cast in the form of a series of objective, impersonal questions and answers, for example, “What seemed to the host to be the predominant qualities of his guest?”

Confession, Good for the Soul

[Books & Culture, September-October 2003] Does being a Christian mean always having to say you're sorry? When outsiders look at the Roman Catholic rite of confession (now more often termed “reconciliation”), they suspect it is driven by feelings of masochistic self-hatred, and sustained by claims of sacerdotal magic. Why should we have to spend this life groveling over sins, if Jesus already paid for them on the Cross? Why should we speak sins out loud to another person, when it could remain between us and the bedpost? And why should we believe that a priest stands between us and God, forgiving or retaining our debts as he chooses? Two new books from Roman Catholic authors

The Bent Woman

[Beliefnet, June 2003] The topic “Jesus and Women” calls forth such a varied cast of characters that it's hard to focus on just one of them. At the forefront is his mother, of course, followed swiftly by the many young, vigorous women who served or questioned him, who were healed or protected by him. Far in the back of the crowd there is a nameless woman who is easy to miss. She is bent double with pain. Jesus heals her, but she doesn't get to be the center of attention long.