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Saints

Mother Teresa: Incarnate Theologian of Advent's Longing

Mother Teresa: Incarnate Theologian of Advent's Longing

I discovered a woman far more complicated than the mythos that generally surrounds her and abstracts bits of her life into sermonic quips and sentimental memes. I encountered a “saint of darkness,” indeed: not only one who willingly struck out into the unknown…

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Sufferer, Saint or Sinner? Johnny Cash and the Gospel

Sufferer, Saint or Sinner? Johnny Cash and the Gospel

Here’s the thing, Cash the man and Cash the artist were now one in a way the image of the outlaw/saint never allowed him to be… Under this gospel, it was possible to be both outlaw and saint, but in reality it was a hard act to pull off, both musically and personally. This is my proposal…

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Mother Teresa: Mercenary Missionary?

Mother Teresa: Mercenary Missionary?

Was Mother Teresa’s remarkable care for the physically destitute rooted in “mercenary” missionary intent? Should we be handing out Nobel Peace Prizes to folks who combat poverty and distress ultimately for the sake of making religious converts—who, in fact, teach those converts to embrace their suffering for the glory of God?

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Mother Teresa: Saint of Darkness?

Mother Teresa: Saint of Darkness?

Mother Teresa's self-portrait as a “saint of darkness” functions on several fronts: in her mission to the world’s places of darkest suffering; in her own spiritual darkness, which she bore for many years; and in the ways that she came to see her mission and her own “darkness” as intertwined...

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Eulogy for a Mother-in-Law

Eulogy for a Mother-in-Law

There’s a scene in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” in which Emily is asking to be allowed just one day to return from the after-life to enjoy one last bit of time with her loved ones.  It would be too painful, she is told;  no special day is necessary, I recall she negotiates, just one simple, mundane day, to enjoy the beauty of life.  Frustrated as she looks back upon those still living, she asks:  “Doesn't anyone ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?”  That is, do people not realize the profound beauty and gift of life, present in every mundane moment?  The reply comes:  “No. Saints and poets, maybe; they do some.”

I think Sue was among those saints and poets who did often realize life in the moment, not least because she talked to trees and birds:  I think Sue got this habit from one she deemed the greatest saint she had known, her father.  It occurred to me last night that I think I got this habit—I confess, I do these days talk to trees...

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