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Suffering


Our Stories of Suffering and the Presence of God

The stories we engage in novels, memoirs, films, and the stories of our lives all share common elements. Some of those elements are: a hero, a villain, a guide, a problem that needs to be solved, a solution, and a transformed hero. By the end of the story, the hero is not who he was […]

The Making of a Saint: The Music of Good Saint Nathanael 

“Grace is indeed required to turn a man into a saint; and he who doubts this does not know what either a man or a saint is.” – Blaise Pascal For many of us, sainthood, at least in the Catholic sense, is an insignificant pastime. It is the ecclesial equivalent to the Rock and Roll […]

Our Souls House Many Homes

For a period in 2013-14, I lost my sense of time and place. There had been too much travel. That spring, I’d happily but hectically gone to post-war Northern Uganda to do six weeks of fieldwork for my master’s thesis. It was one of the calmest places I’d ever been, characterized by a feeling of […]

How Depression Prepared Me for the Coronavirus or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Uncertainty

Trevor Almy sent us this beautiful reflection. For Chris Crane As we approach the end of our shelter-in-place orders, I have been reflecting on how, although I have an anxiety-based disorder, I have not panicked from the external crisis or from being sequestered. Paradoxically, the coronavirus has given me an outward threat to direct my […]

When Your Worst Day Is Preparation Day (Mark 15:43-47)

This morning’s devotion was excerpted from An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark, by Larry Parsley. Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (15:43) If true love asks for nothing in return, […]

Casket Clarity: The Muse in a Time of Chaos

This one was written by our friend, Joseph McSpadden: Muse (as a noun) is a defined as a person who is a source for artistic inspiration. I learned to trust my Muse — the Christ, many years ago. So long ago, in fact, that I can’t remember when it occurred. Music (as an art form) […]

The Light Changes (Everything)

Last week I had a panic attack. Isn’t that cute? Pulled in one direction by my eldest son, pulled in another direction by my youngest—pulled apart within minutes by the greater fragmentation caused by this extraordinary time: my own identity overshadowed by the new ones I’ve had to assume, these roles of full-time third-grade teacher, […]

More than Lament: the Strange Boldness of Christianity

Our experience of the pandemic has changed on an almost daily basis. I live in the New York area and it seems that the country has moved from laughing at the inconveniences of social distancing, to the stresses of home isolation, and now to the tragedy of knowing people who have contracted the virus, some […]

When Jesus Got Infected

This one was written by Josh Musser Gritter: Recently my friend reminded me of something Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, once said. He said that we so often live the life of faith in the world of production. We produce, work, build, make. Most of our lives are spent in the rat-race achieving rather than […]

The Hardest Moments Right Now

1. When I know my kids have been on the iPad for too long but I still have work left to do. 2. When my kindergartener gets off of her morning Zoom meeting with her class and is inconsolably sad. 3. At night when I realize I have to do the day all over again. […]

Daniel Defoe on Preaching During a Pandemic

A resonant passage from A Journal of the Plague Year 1665, in which the author of Robinson Crusoe describes some of the preaching in London during that catastrophe, ht WDR:

Neither can I acquit those ministers that in their sermons rather sank than lifted up the hearts of their hearers. Many of them no doubt did it for the strengthening the resolution of the people, and especially for quickening them to repentance, but it certainly answered not their end, at least not in proportion to the injury it did another way; and indeed, as God Himself through the whole Scriptures rather draws to Him by invitations and calls to turn to Him and live, than drives us by terror and amazement, so I must confess I thought the ministers should have done also, imitating our blessed Lord and Master in this, that His whole Gospel is full of declarations from heaven of God’s mercy, and His readiness to receive penitents and forgive them, complaining, ‘Ye will not come unto Me that ye may have life’, and that therefore His Gospel is called the Gospel of Peace and the Gospel of Grace.

But we had some good men, and that of all persuasions and opinions, whose discourses were full of terror, who spoke nothing but dismal things; and as they brought the people together with a kind of horror, sent them away in tears, prophesying nothing but evil tidings, terrifying the people with the apprehensions of being utterly destroyed, not guiding them, at least not enough, to cry to heaven for mercy.

The Book of Sarah: On Eczema and Existential Despair

About a week-and-a-half ago, my body decided to have an a-cute eczema flare-up. Having only previously ever experienced mild eczema, I could tell you about how this was far from a delight. I could tell you about how I have changed my routines to accommodate it, abandoning showers and walks, as if eczema were a […]