The Spirit Moves Us to Places of Pain

“To be wounded by the suffering of others is a gift of the Holy Spirit.”Gregory Baum The Spirit moves in places of pain. Not because suffering is sacred, but because people are sacred. And in that movement, there is an invitation to compassion, for us to suffer with the sufferer. My heart swells with a mix of sadness and anger when I remember that the word “compassion” has, for so many, become a merely sentimental idea. An ephemeral word about feelings in the moment. A sort of cathartic wave of piteous fondness that leaves as quickly as it arrives, like … Read more

Salvation Versus Liberation: Where is the Focus?

A few weeks ago, I made this tweet and it sparked a lot of debate. In some ways it was too simplistic, not every instance of “soteria” should be translated “liberation,” but that wasn’t the point. The point was to critique the way that our English translations use theologically saturated words that no longer reflect the original meaning. The word “salvation,” although technically an accurate translation, has come to mean spiritual salvation from hell and is only occasionally used metaphorically for physical salvation. However, the use of “soteria” in the Bible is rarely (if ever) actually about the afterlife. This … Read more

The Breath of God

In time primeval the Spirit, the Breath of the Creator hovered like a wild bird over the dark deep. And it was this same Spirit that, as a warm moist breath, flowed past God’s lips into the nostrils of a lifeless doll shaped of dust and clay. The doll shuddered and was named “Adam.” The world teemed with life. At first, Adam was just a part of it, the first of a new kind of life that knew it’s place within the pattern of Creation. But as humanity grew, alienation and death emerged within the pattern. The Hebrew scripture remind … Read more

Brother Juniper and the Pig’s Foot

I wrote a piece about the tradition and vocation of “holy fool” for a recent issue of Geez Magazine. I’ve written an accompanying piece here, focusing on my favorite holy fool in Western Christianity. To me, the classic example of holy fool within the Western Christian tradition is Brother Juniper. Born in the late 12th century, Brother Juniper was an early follower of Saint Francis of Assisi. Francis was himself a holy fool, having famously renounced his inheritance by stripping naked, kissing lepers, preaching to forest creatures, and living a life of such stark simplicity and deep generosity that it sparked … Read more

Queering Jesus

“Queer” started as a slur against folks whose sexuality or gender “deviated” from the norm. In the late 1980s, various people and groups started embracing the word as a sort of self-identifier. A way of challenging mainstream society and its assumptions about what is “normal.” Today it is often used as a “catch all” for those who don’t identify with the dominant assumption that the “normal” way of being human is to be cisgender (a person whose gender identity conforms to the sex they were assigned at birth) and heterosexual. Many people turn to the Bible to reinforce the idea … Read more