Hallowed Be Your Name

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Luke 11:1-4

by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones

First Central Congregational Church

6 October 2019

 

 

            The Lord’s Prayer is most familiar to us from the version in the Gospel of Matthew.  Today, we hear Luke’s version.

           

Luke 11:1-4

 

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”

 

He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”

 

For the Word of God in scripture,

For the Word of God among us,

For the Word of God within us,

Thanks be to God.

 

            To dig more deeply into the phrase “Hallowed be your name,” we are going to begin in what you might consider to be a strange place—we are going digging in dirt, to look for fungi.

            According to naturalist David George Haskell in his book The Forest Unseen, “Fungal threads cover most of the soil like a subterranean spiderweb.”  “A thimbleful of soil may contain a hundred feet of” fungal threads, known as hyphae. 

            What is all that fungus doing there?  In a forest, the fungus is married to the trees.  Listen to this description:

 

The fungus and the [tree] root greet each other with chemical signals and, if the salutation goes smoothly, the fungus extends its hyphae in readiness for an embrace.  In some cases, the plant responds by growing tiny rootlets for the fungi to colonize.  In others, the plant allows the fungus to penetrate the root’s cell walls and spread the hyphae into the interior of the cells.  Once inside, the hyphae divide into fingers, forming a miniature rootlike network within the cells of the root. 

 

Haskell then remarks at how strange this seems.

 

This arrangement looks pathological.  I would be a sick man if my cells were infested with fungi in this way.  But the ability of hyphae to penetrate plant cells is put to healthy use in this marriage with roots.  The plant supplies the fungus with sugars and other complex molecules; the fungus reciprocates with a flow of minerals, particularly phosphates.  This union builds on the strengths of the two kingdoms: plants can create sugars from air and sunlight; fungi can mine minerals from the soil’s tiny crevices.

 

            Recent science is leading to the conclusion that individuality is an illusion in plant communities, as the rhizosphere makes such intimate connections.  We may need to think of a forest as an organism.

            Haskell writes, “We are explorers standing at the edge of a dark jungle, peering at the strange shapes in the soil’s interior, naming a handful of the most obvious novelties but understanding little.”

            But even from our limited knowledge of the ground that supports life on this planet, we can draw some conclusions.  Haskell says,

 

The more we learn about the life of the soil, the more apt our language’s symbols become: “roots,” “groundedness.”  These words reflect not only a physical connection to place but reciprocity with the environment, mutual dependence with other members of the community, and the positive effects of roots on the rest of their home.  All these relationships are embedded in a history so deep that individuality has started to dissolve and uprootedness is impossible.

 

           

            In my office hangs a painting by Joyce Wilson of the roots of trees deep in the ground, connecting around rocks.  I saw that painting once when I visited her studio and Michael bought it for me for my birthday that year.  I wanted it, not just because I liked it visually, but because of its rich theological imagery.

            How are tree roots and dirt “rich theological imagery” you ask?

            Listen to these words of the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart:

 

Now know, all our perfection and our holiness rests in this: that a person must penetrate and transcend everything created and temporal and all being and go into the ground that has no ground.  We pray our dear Lord God that we may become one and indwelling, and may God help us into the same ground.  Amen.

 

            Eckhart uses the ground as a rich metaphor to explain our relationship with God.  God is the ground of our being, and we sink our roots deep into the mysterious otherness of God, where, much like the tree roots, we are nurtured and sustained.  God’s ground is our ground and together we are fused.  Eckhart would have reveled in the discoveries of modern biology.

            As I’ve moved fully into middle age I have found that gardening is one of my delights.  Here at the church I have a vegetable plot in our community garden and at home I have cultivated flower and herb beds.  My domestic chores now flow to the rhythm of the seasonal cycles of growth.

            When I garden I rarely wear gloves.  I like to get my hands really dirty.  That may be a little bit of the kid still a part of me, but I’ve also read that there are actual health benefits, including for fighting depression and anxiety, in getting one’s hands dirty. 

            It’s also because I’m a fan of Meister Eckhart’s image of our relationship to God, getting my hands dirty feels like a form of prayer and communion.

 

            The twentieth-century Russian theologian Sergius Bulgakov uses a similar imagery to Eckhart’s.  He wrote, “The roots of a person’s being are submerged in the bottomless ocean of divine life and get their nourishment from this life.”

            For Bulgakov this nourishment of our roots in divine being is closely associated with prayer.  “Prayer is a form of direct synergism, a living meeting of God and man.”  “In prayer . . . human beings are permeated with life in God.” 

            As I read those words, I’m drawn back to the description of the tree roots and the fungus entangling and permeating one another and passing nourishment back and forth.  Where deep histories and intimate connections of mutual dependence dissolve individuality.  In prayer, the roots of our being entangle with the living God, and we are permeated with the divine life and energy.  Sounds a little bit like communion as well.

 

What nourishment do we then draw from this ground of our being, from the Holy God who is the Source of our life? 

            Timothy Bradshaw answers, “Prayer counteracts the corrosive fear and worry common throughout our culture, by steady contemplation of the source of all Being.”

He explains how this contemplation works:

 

This orientation of the self to holy Being, in praying ‘hallowed be your name,’ opens it up afresh, effectively dispensing with the attitudes of cynicism and despair which afflict [us]. . . .  To pray in this regard, sinking one’s will again into the divine life, deliberately giving up one’s idols, refocusing on the generous love and holiness of God, is to go more deeply into the springs of trust and honesty, away from hardness of heart and hiddenness. 

 

To experience the Holy God is to have “an invigorating encounter and challenge” he writes.

Prayer does something to us.  It nourishes and sustains us with the divine life, so that we might joyfully and wonderfully live.

 

This week in my reading I followed rabbits down various holes, one of which led to reviewing the writings on prayer and holiness of the great Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards.  According to Edwards, when we pray “Hallowed be thy name,” clearly we are not informing God of anything.  We are instead “preparing us to receive the blessings we ask.”  According to Edwards, we are affecting our own hearts. 

            He writes that “true religion, or holiness of heart, lies very much in the affection of the heart.”  And so “True saints have their minds . . . inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and amiable nature of the things of God. . . .  It is the joy of their joy . . . a ravishing entertainment . . . in the view of the beautiful and delightful nature of divine things.”

            To declare God’s holiness is to declare God’s worthiness, God’s beauty, God’s glory.  It is to experience awe and wonder at the source and renewal of our life.  And this experience of awe and wonder draws us forward into gratitude, praise, and joy.

            Edwards declared, “The Holy [Spirit] being the love and joy of God is [God’s] beauty and happiness, and it is in our partaking of the same Holy Spirit that our communion with God consists.”

            When we encounter the Holy God in prayer, we experience beauty and joy, and these work upon our affections, healing our pain and suffering, drawing us into communion, and giving us happiness.

             To declare that God is holy is to claim that God is unique and transcendent.  And yet, we experience God not as remote and set apart but as the very source of our life and wonder and joy. 

           

            When we pray, we enter into relationship with a loving and holy God.  Praying is like sending our roots into the soil to be nourished.  In that ground we grow intimate connections, and individuality begins to dissolve into communion.  In that ground we experience beauty and joy that transform us. 

            God is not out there, remote and distant.  God is deep in us, the source of our life, the breath of our breath, the joy of our joy. 

So, let us pray as Jesus taught, “Hallowed be thy name.”          


Your Kingdom Come

Your Kingdom Come

Luke 17:20-21

by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones

First Central Congregational Church

13 October 2019

 

 

            As we continue our series on the Lord’s Prayer, today we come to the phrase, “Your Kingdom Come.”  Our Gospel reading is another passage in the Book of Luke where Jesus addresses the coming of the kingdom.

           

Luke 17:20-21

 

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’  For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

 

For the Word of God in scripture,

For the Word of God among us,

For the Word of God within us,

Thanks be to God.

 

           

            A few weeks ago in the philosophy class I teach at Creighton University, we discussed Aristotle’s views on government.  Aristotle was a critic of democracy because he felt that the masses were selfish and could not be trusted to be good and wise.  Instead he defended monarchy as the best form of government, but he had a few important qualifications he put on that.  Monarchy is the best form of government only as long as the ruler is wise and good and always put the interest of the people ahead of the monarch’s own.  Now, even Aristotle was quick to admit that monarchy could devolve into tyranny when the ruler became self-interested, and tyranny he thought is the worst form of government.  I always point out to my students that one reason the founders of our nation were so critical of monarchy is because they had a couple of thousand more years of empirical experience than Aristotle did to draw upon, and they knew that his idealized form of monarchy was so rare as to be almost nonexistent.  Monarchy turns quite regularly into tyranny. 

            After teaching on the subject, I ask my students on a quiz which form of government they prefer and why.  Of course, most students defend democracy against its criticisms; which is ideally what I’m looking for.  But there are a handful of students who agree with Aristotle and defend monarchy.  This always surprises me when I see it.

            This semester, a few days after that quiz, I read an article published by the Guardian entitled “The Americans who think a monarchy would solve their political problems.”  Apparently there is a growing online community of American supporters of monarchy.  The article quotes a Wharton professor who has studied the trend and tries to explain it:

 

“I think it’s nostalgia,” . . . . “They like the pomp and circumstance,” he said. “Maybe they’re traditionalists, and they like something that provides continuity.” He also pointed out that Hollywood, and specifically Disney, with its famous princesses, has been culturally influential when it comes to the public perception of a monarchical government.

 

            Given that our son is currently in a Disney craze--Tangled, the Rapunzel film is his favorite of the moment—that alarmed me just a little. 

            As an avowed believer in democracy, I find this attraction to monarchy both puzzling and a little concerning. 

And, yet, almost every day I pray for a kingdom to come.  What, exactly, am I praying for?

 

            The kingdom of God was one of the central tenets of Jesus’ teaching, and as a concept and image it has retained its influence and power upon the Christian tradition. 

            But we generally are not praying for some human being to crowned monarch.  When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are speaking in metaphor.  A metaphor that Jesus used before us. 

In recent decades other words have been used because of our discomfort with “kingdom.”  You’ll hear people say the reign, rule, or dominion of God.  I often use reign, but that’s really not substantially different.  It’s still smacks of monarchy. 

Some people say “kin-dom of God.”  That word does express some of Jesus’ idea, but it misses the political element, which seems essential to Jesus’ teaching.  If Jesus wanted to talk about the family of God, he could have done that, but he did not.  He explicitly chose a political metaphor.  Plus, I find “kin-dom” to be cute, in the pejorative sense of cute.

What, then, are we praying for when we pray “Your kingdom come?”  What does the metaphor mean?

 

Well, let’s first try to understand what Jesus mean when he used it.  He spoke about it often, sometimes in his straightforward teachings.  Sometimes he spoke of it obliquely in parables, such as saying the kingdom of God is like hidden yeast or a mustard seed.  Sometimes it was part of his warnings and proclamations of the coming end of the world. 

            The Southern Baptist theologian W. T. Conner in his book The Faith of the New Testament has a thirty page chapter discussing the various ways Jesus uses the image.  Conner begins that chapter by exploring what the phrase would have been before Jesus, in the Hebrew scriptures, particularly the prophets, and in first century Judaism.  Conner finds three general uses for the phrase in the culture of Jesus.  People were looking forward to a new political order, when an independent Jewish state was restored.  These are the folks who were in fact praying for a human ruler to be crowned.  But Conner points out that some others were looking forward to a restoration of proper religious order.  While others dreamed of the end of time when God would deliver all people, judge the oppressors, and set the world right. 

            What all of these have in common is that they look forward to “the good time coming.”  I’ve always liked that description of the kingdom of God.  The good time coming.  Easy for us to grasp what is meant on the most basic level.  But then we do have to explore the details of what that good time is.  This was the general meaning in the time of Jesus, but when Jesus himself prayed, “Your kingdom come,” what did he mean?  Did he want to crown a new ruler, establish a political order, look forward to the end of time, or something else?

 

            Well, you might not be surprised that scholars disagree on that point.

  1. T. Conner argues that Jesus did not long for a new political order. Instead, Jesus took this image and gave it new meaning.  Jesus’ unique contribution was to add an inner, spiritual dimension to the idea kingdom of God.  And in support of that interpretation, W. T. Conner references the passage from Luke I just read, wherein Jesus says that the kingdom of God is within and among us.  Conner describes this as the “spiritual reign of God in the hearts and the lives of” humankind.  The kingdom comes within us when we do the will of God, which is to love God and one another.  Conner further emphasizes that as a spiritual kingdom, it is an already present reality.  Followers of Jesus may exist within the troubled political realms of this world, but they also live within the spiritual realm of love inaugurated by Jesus.

            But other writers have rejected that Jesus’ idea was so spiritualized.  They contend that Jesus wasn’t offering a radically new understanding of the kingdom of God.  Instead, what he meant was something that fit the traditional ideas of the Hebrew prophets.

One of the best examples of this interpretation is the Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder who in his great book The Politics of Jesus argued that the kingdom of God in Jesus’ teaching relied upon the priestly vision of the Jubilee when all debts were forgiven.  We will get more into the idea of the Jubilee in a few weeks when we come to the part of the Lord’s Prayer about forgiving debts.  But to put it simply, in the book of Leviticus, the Hebrews were instructed by God to celebrate a Jubilee every fifty years.  Debts were to be forgiven, people were to be restored to the property they had lost, and prisoners and slaves were to be set free.  Basically, it is a chance for the entire society to start over again once every generation. 

It is this idea of the fresh new start for society, which Yoder argues influences Jesus’ idea of the kingdom of God.  So Yoder describes the coming kingdom as “a visible socio-political, economic restructuring of relations among the people of God, achieved by divine intervention in the person of Jesus as the one Anointed . . . with the Spirit.”

Very different from W. T. Conner then.

Spiritual kingdom on one end of the spectrum, new political order on the other.  Any options in between you might ask?  Well, of course there are.

 

            John Dominic Crossan describes the kingdom of God rather vaguely as “people under divine rule, and that, as ideal, transcends and judges all human rule.”  Not very helpful, actually.  But from that vague start, Crossan draws upon the life and teachings of Jesus to develop a rich understanding of the image. 

It is a “kingdom of nobodies and undesirables,” as Jesus works to embrace and include the sorts of people normally left out of meaningful roles in society—the poor, lepers, prostitutes, children, etc.  Crossan convincingly argues that Jesus did have a radical, political vision.  But Crossan also writes that Jesus’ view was not only that.

            Crossan argues that for Jesus the kingdom was not a dream of the world to come at the end of time, instead it is a world is possible here and now.  Crossan describes this as an “ethical kingdom,” “an ideal mode of human existence.”  He writes, “One enters that Kingdom by wisdom or goodness, by virtue, justice, or freedom.  It is a style of life for now rather than a hope of life for the future.” 

Crossan makes an interesting point that we don’t simply pray for the kingdom, we perform the kingdom.  The kingdom comes when we live it here and now. 

            So, when we pray, we are committing ourselves to an ethical idea.  This ethical idea is rooted in a radical, political vision, but has personal, spiritual implications.

 

            My own thinking has been richly informed by each of these writers, all of whom grasp various nuances of this idea.  But this week I was most drawn to what Marcus Borg wrote about the kingdom of God.  He said, “It is God’s dream, God’s passion, God’s will, God’s promise, God’s intention for the earth, God’s utopia—the blessed place, the ideal state of affairs.”  And that ideal state of affairs, as made clear in the prophets before Jesus, is “a transformed world, a world of justice and plenty and peace, where everybody has enough and where” no one shall be afraid.  Think of the beautiful words of the prophet Isaiah that we read earlier in the service.

            What is your ideal state of affairs?  What would a transformed world look like for you?  When you pray, “Your kingdom come,” you get to dream what that means. 

            Borg calls this “participatory eschatology.”  We aren’t just awaiting some divine act at the end of history, we get to participate right now in making the kingdom of God a reality.  Borg concludes his discussion of the idea with these words:

 

Jesus’ message about the kingdom of God, it seems to me, is not that complicated.  God’s will for the earth, God’s passion for this world, is very different from what we see around us.  To his hearers [Jesus] said, ‘Can you see that?’  And he sought to open the eyes of the blind, to set free the captives and oppressed, to proclaim the jubilee of God.

 

 

            Can you see that God’s will for the world is different from the status quo?  I bet you can.  I hope you can. 

When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are acknowledging that all is not right with the way things currently are.  We are imagining and dreaming what a world transformed and blessed by God would look like.  We are praying for justice, peace, and plenty. 

We are also praying for ourselves to be transformed by those very dreams.  For us to be inspired and encouraged by those ideals.  We are, thus, praying for the kingdom to come within us, for the spirit of God to take hold of us.  We are committing ourselves to a way of life.

            The kingdom of God is a dream, a goal, and a present possibility, that entices us to be our very best in service to God and one another.

            Then, let us pray, as Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come.”


The Holy Spirit & Preaching

The Holy Spirit & PreachingThe Holy Spirit & Preaching by James Forbes
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed hearing Dr. Forbes on a handful of occasions, and especially the time I ate breakfast with him when he was last in Omaha sponsored by mine and another local church.

Yet, I did not get much out of this book, the published version of his 1986 Lyman Beecher lectures. The key idea can be summarized in this quote, "The anointing of the Holy Spirit is that process by which one comes to a fundamental awareness of God's appointment, empowerment, and guidance for the vocation to which we are called."

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The End of Memory

The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent WorldThe End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World by Miroslav Volf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A profound theological exploration of remembering and forgetting.

Volf was at one time a prisoner of the communist forces of his native Yugoslavia, where he underwent interrogation that was a form of psychological torture. What should he do with those memories? What should all people do with memories of pain, trauma, and suffering?

A deeply personal book that draws from the rich wells of the Christian tradition, literature, and philosophy, Volf considers how we should remember and remember well and when and how we should forget, including how forgetting is connected to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Volf's ideas are filled with hope and healing for a broken world. I found the book not only intellectual stimulating, but personally helpful.

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Our Father

Our Father

Matthew 6:9-13

by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones

First Central Congregational Church

29 September 2019

 

 

            Today we begin our Autumn worship series which will be an in-depth study of the Lord’s Prayer.  We will take the prayer, line-by-line, to better understand it and to explore its spirituality and theology. 

            This morning, for our Gospel lesson, I will read the prayer as presented in the Gospel of Matthew, and I will read it from the King James Version—the translation of the prayer that many of us likely memorized.

           

Matthew 6:9-13

 

After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.

 

For the Word of God in scripture,

For the Word of God among us,

For the Word of God within us,

Thanks be to God.

 

            “Our Father, who art in heaven.”

            The opening line of the prayer that we pray in our worship most weeks immediately invites us to consider, “Who is this God we pray to?”

            And we are immediately plunged into a vital issue—"By what name are we going to call God?”

 

            This week, preparing for the sermon, I reviewed the major works of Feminist theology by writers like Mary Daly, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Mary Grey, and Sallie McFague.  A generation and more ago these writers and their sisters brought to our attention in vivid and eloquent writing that the church had long worshipped an idol, with devastating effects upon women and the oppressed.

            Here’s Mary Daly in from Beyond God the Father,

 

The biblical and popular image of God as a great patriarch in heaven, rewarding and punishing according to his mysterious and seemingly arbitrary will, has dominated the imagination of millions over thousands of years.  The symbol of the Father God, spawned in the human imagination and sustained as plausible by patriarchy, has in turn rendered service to this type of society by making its mechanisms for the oppression of women appear right and fitting. 

 

            This church and many others wrestled with these revelations a generation ago.  And we continue to live in the early decades of a new Christian consciousness that has opened up our imaginations.

            So how are we to address God in this most common of prayers?

            Some take the lead from the Easter Orthodox tradition where Father has always been understood as a name, not an abstract title.  When Sebastian calls me “Dada,” he isn’t reverencing a title, but expressing an intimate relationship.

            But this alone does not answer the feminist critique, for they were very clearly that what names we use is precisely the issue.  Yes, they can acknowledge that Jesus called God by the intimate name of “Father,” but must we do the same?  As Sallie McFague wrote, “We must look at [the ways we name] carefully to see if they heal or hurt.”

            In her groundbreaking book Models of God, she proposed a new Trinitarian formula of God as Mother, Lover, and Friend. 

            I and many of my colleagues have adopted Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, particularly in our baptismal formula.

            Mary Daly proposed that we follow the lead of the Hebrew name of God and quit using nouns.  She proposed, “Why not a verb—the most active and dynamic of all?”

            Rosemary Radford Ruether made clear early on that she thought “we have no adequate name” for the divine.

In a much later book, Mary Grey surveyed the work of an entire generation and concluded: “The very inexhaustibility of this mystery admits the possibility of new imagery, new naming, fresh and startling experiences of the divine.”

 

A few months ago, on the Sunday following the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, for our worship we set aside the Lord’s Prayer we normally recite and instead prayed a version from the New Zealand Prayer Book.  I have always loved how that version of the prayer expands “Our Father, who art in heaven” to this:

 

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven.

 

           

            And so, we have listened to the revelations of these and other theologians, and for many decades now our worship has been shaped by a consciousness of the language we use, particularly in naming and referencing God, that our words should be healing and not hurtful, and that they should model the coming reign of God.

            Yet, most Sundays we pray the Lord’s Prayer and we say together, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  I know a few of you say something else, but why do we continue to use this name?

            The simple answer is most likely familiarity.

 

            So, if we are going to continue to pray “Our Father,” what do we mean?

            For one, I believe we have learned the lesson that this is not the Patriarchal Father.  This is not God, remote in heaven, issuing commands and judgments and supporting a hierarchical human society that excludes and oppresses.  We reject that image as an idol unworthy of our worship.

            We take our hint from Jesus himself.  As Mary Grey points out, “Jesus himself . . . entered the process of ‘new naming.’”  By teaching us to pray “Our Father,” Jesus was both drawing upon the rich tradition of the Jewish people and naming God in a new way, insisting upon an intimate, personal relationship. 

I like the way theologian Timothy Bradshaw describes it—“the desire for confident and rejoicing relationship with those who enter into the movement of praise and trust established by Jesus, the beloved son.”

When we pray, we pray to the God revealed in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the God who Jesus had an intimate, personal relationship with, the one whom Jesus called “Father.” 

So through Jesus we learn who God is.

And in this prayer we encounter a God who is (to borrow Timothy Bradshaw’s description) “enacted holiness, living goodness, the source of forgiveness and recreation.”

 

If we continue to pray using the name “Our Father,” then the image of Father we have is centered on Jesus.  And his revelation of a God of intimate, personal relationship.  We look, therefore, at the best aspects of fatherhood as we understand that in the twenty-first century.

Sebastian has been taking dance class from Marian Fey the last year.  A few times my mother has been with us when we went to dance class.  The first time she marveled at something.  Almost all the kids in Sebastian’s dance class were brought there and watched over by their fathers.  Mom said, “Your Dad would never have done that.” 

So if we are going to continue to use the name “Our Father,” I’m going to picture the kind of Dad who takes his child, of any gender, to ballet class. 

The Dad who cooks supper and does the laundry and mows the lawn and fixes the car and cleans the scrapped knee and hugs and kisses and reads books and is sure to say many times every single day, “I love you.”

 

But even this image, this name, cannot and should not and will not be the only name.  For God is Mother, God is Lover, God is Spirit, God is Creator, God is Artist, God is Pain-bearer, God is Wellspring of Joy, God is Mighty Fortress, God is Wisdom, God is most likely the most dynamic of verbs, for “the very inexhaustibility of this [divine] mystery admits the possibility of new imagery, new naming, fresh and startling experiences of the divine.”

All of that.  I mean all of that and so much more when I bow my head and begin to pray, as Jesus taught me to pray.


The Wrong of Rudeness

The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese PhilosophyThe Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy by Amy Olberding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Olberding develops her argument carefully and subtly. The slow and gentle steps mimic the politeness and civility she is arguing for. The book works quietly upon you, persuading you and drawing you in. One wishes that more people will read the book, so that it might work upon the public consciousness.

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Kings of Broken Things

Kings of Broken ThingsKings of Broken Things by Theodore Wheeler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I timed the reading of Wheeler's novel to fall this week as Omaha observes the centennial of the lynching of Will Brown, the event that climaxes this story.

Wheeler's writing has influences of DeLillo, as he follows a handful of teenagers and young adults, mostly immigrants, in World War I era Omaha.

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