The Center that Holds

doubting-Thomas-DuccioIt is a familiar gospel, a well-known story. It is an episode of “Doubting Thomas.” The one held up for us as an example of what not to be – the one who doubted Jesus. “Don’t be a Doubting Thomas!” we are warned because that leaves you one step away from being Judas.

What other gospel stories do you know about Thomas? Sadly, most people only know this one episode. This is the same Thomas who otherwise is depicted in the Gospel according to John as authentic, straight-forward, sincere, and even courageous. In the 11th chapter of John, Thomas is the one who urged all the disciples to go with Jesus to the home of the now-deceased Lazarus even thought it might mean their deaths (Jn. 11:16). And in chapter 14, when Thomas doesn’t understand Jesus’ metaphorical speech about the place he is going to, Thomas does not do the holy nod – you know, “Jesus said it, I don’t get it, I am not even curious, so I will just nod.” Thomas asks the practical: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Even when he doesn’t get it or knows the consequences, Thomas is faithful to Jesus and the mission. And then Thomas’ world crumbles: Jesus dies on the cross.

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One nation, indivisible

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Familiar words from the Pledge of Allegiance. It the ideal to which we commit ourselves as a reminder to ourselves and a light held up to the world.

We are more than a little divided these days. Pick a demographic quality – almost any quality and there are divisions. Not the normal distinctions that are part of the melting pot uniqueness that makes our nation vibrant, diverse, and gives us an amazing array of cuisines, celebrations and customs. I mean some of the divisions are hardline separation, with-us-or-against-us discord in which friends and families are broken and subsumed into a deepening silence. The words “e pluribus unum” (out of many, one) seems a distant echo.

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Not yet….

popeTwo days ago, the 256-page, 60,000-word papal exhortation, The Joy of Love, was released to the waiting world. Since then, I have been asked for comments, quotes, opinions, and insight. Here is about all that I can respond: “Thanks for asking, but I haven’t had the chance to read it.” … or think about it, or pray about it, or muse about its content. So, have I read Pope Francis’ exhortation? Not yet. Continue reading

Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_4On Good Friday, April 12th in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested with Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth and other marchers in Birmingham, Alabama. At about that same time eight Alabama clergymen, while in some support of the goals, wrote a common letter decrying the methods and tactics of Dr. King and the movement for Civil Rights. Dr. King’s response was completed within days.  My favorite section follows: Continue reading