Food for Thought blog

Occasional thought-provoking articles or videos from our Faith Formation team and pastoral staff.
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We must gradually live as Jesus lived, love as he loved, and choose to become little and humble as Jesus was.

By Jean Vanier

At 23, Drew Philp bought a crumbling Detroit house at an auction and spent years making it livable again. In the process, he also learned to look out for his neighbors.  

Hoeing, by John Updike from Telephone Poles and Other Poems.  

There’s a 90-10 rule in law enforcement: 90 percent of people are decent, 10 percent aren’t, and as a cop you deal with that 10 percent about 90 percent of the time. 

David Heim interviews Adam Plantinga.

In her worry and frustration, she “turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus . . . supposing him to be the gardener” (John 20:14–15).

A conversation with David Brooks about sin and beauty...  “We live differently than we say we live. There’s moral judgment all around.”

I was alone, with a grossly injured and useless left leg. I thought I would die, but to my surprise I was saved.

Nietzsche called Martin Luther's translation of the Bible "the best German book." German Lutheran theologian Oswald Bayer writes about Martin Luther as an interpreter of scripture.

With the death of the last Shakers, an American religious tradition approaches extinction.

"The chemistry of prayer is that little surd of hidden desperation that most of us carry and that vast expanse of purposeful silence." Read Giles Fraser's full column here.

The OED chose post-truth as its 2016 word of the year. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has a rather different view of truth telling.

There is scientific evidence for the importance of church.

In the bleak midwinter, Christina Rossetti

Sarah Coakley on Angels, Hope, and a Second Naivete.

Eboo Patel on how to build a healthy religiously diverse democracy.

Rowan Williams on music and keeping time in an essay from A Ray of Darkness.

Take a break with some healing music from the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. "Russian liturgical music is a kind of icon in sound and is wholly serene.  Western music is argumentative."  John Taverner

Dalai Lama: Behind the anxiety in our society is the fear of being unneeded.

How Luther Went Viral


Food for Thought Nov. 1, 2016

A few theological reflections on the Cubs.

On the Reformation

The Citizen Soldier:  Moral Risk and the Military

Simone Weil: Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies With a View to the Love of God.

Andrew Sullivan writes on silence in our information-addicted age.

A religiously ecstatic and profoundly hilarious 18th century cat poem by Christopher Smart.

Food For Thought Blog curator Steve Peterson remembers 9/11.

Essay by Nate Klug - Listening Unfolding: Notes on Ministry and Poetry

Giles Fraser on the Art of Religious Sunbathing

It is difficult to determine whether the political left or the political right produces more unfocused, reactive anger.  Martha Nussbaum describes Nelson Mandala's repudiation of anger for patient effort.

"In order to be prepared to hope in what does not deceive, we must first lose hope in everything that deceives," Georges Bernanos. This is the message of the Book of Ecclesiastes. Read the words of experience of someone who has seen and...

William Sloan Coffin - The Spiritual and the Secular: Can they meet?

Wendell E. Berry Lecture: It All Turns on Affection

Neil Ellingson on Repentance in NYC.

In this address, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams speaks of being disciples: "The true disciple is an expectant person, always taking for granted that there is something about to break through."

Soren Kierkegaard's mother nicknamed him fork because he liked to poke at people. In this essay, Gordon Marino, director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library, writes that the fork was often pointed at our capacity for self-deception.

Are CrossFit and Calvinism particularly compatible? Read about the religious nature of this fitness phenomenon here.

The latest Christian Wiman essay: I Will Love You in the Summertime

Berkeley philosopher and psychologist Alison Gopnik on babies. View her TED Talk here.

In this final chapter of his book The Undertaking: Life Studies From the Dismal Trade, Thomas Lynch writes about his wishes for his own funeral.

Just in time for spring, Steve Peterson writes that Christian hope is the hope of a gardener in this reflection on Isaiah 55.

Hipster British novelist Frances Spuford on the Christian faith: Mozart's Clarinet Concerto sounds the way mercy would sound.

Religious language - or any language - becomes distorted when silence is no longer the ground from which it emerges and to which it returns. Sara Maitland writes that we lose silence at our own peril.

"The resurrection is not an argument.  It's the Christian word for defiance." Read Giles Fraser, priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington in south London, on resurrection here.

Join Food for Thought Blog curator Steve Peterson for a Food for Thought Talk this Sunday, April 10th at 9:30 in the Parlor. He'll be leading a discussion on money and the Christian faith.

Find some quotes on money gathered here...

Shawn Achor co-taught the famous Harvard Happiness or Positive Psychology class - the largest class in the the history of Harvard College. In this TED Talk he shares the happy secret to better work.

Poet Reynolds Price: Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Malcolm Guite, poet, priest and rocker, on faith, hope and poetry as a door in the dark.

In 1991, Shaka Senghor shot and killed a man. He was, he says, "a drug dealer with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol." Jailed for second degree murder, that could very well have been the end of the story. But it wasn't. Instead...

Rowan Williams on Marilynne Robinson in his address upon receiving the Conference on Christianity & Literature Lifetime Achievement Award.

Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel, but learning how to embody it is not easy. Duke Divinity School Theologian L. Gregory Jones outlines six steps to embodying forgiveness.

Jacob Weisberg writes that we are hopelessly hooked.

Anne Lamott shares all that she knows: "Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared," 

Poet and pastor in the UCC, Nate Klug reflects on a theology of sound.

In this chapter from his book Contemporary Psychodynamic Theory and Practice Bill Borden introduces C.G. Jung and his work. On January 31st at 9:30 Bill will be leading another session in our series on psychology and religion, exploring...

This week's Food for Thought is a short story by Raymond Carver, A Small, Good Thing.

French philosopher Pierre Hadot writes, "Ancient philosophy (and early Christianity) proposed to mankind an art of living...(and not) a technical jargon reserved for specialists." Read the full essay here.

Duke Divinity School preaching professor Richard Lischer reflects on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Good Samaritan.

Commencement speeches seem to function as secular sermons. Writer David Foster Wallace's 2005 Kenyon speech is one of the best.

This week's food for thought comes from the cartoons of the New Yorker.

John Lederach, a negotiator in Central America for over 30 years, describes the practices of reconciliation. Reconcilation is less about having the right technique and more about attitude and character.

Definitions of religion abound - Clifford Geertz's "system of symbols," Emil Durkheim's "collective effervescence," Rudolph Otto's "sense of the Holy."  What exactly is religion is a question broached in this report of the CrossFit...

Andrew Solomon, New Yorker essayist, author of Noonday Demon, and clinical professor of psychology at Columbia University, gave this eloquent talk on depression.

Harvard Divinity School Dean and Belfast native, David Hempton, reflects on the seemingly intractable character of religious conflict.

Find his reflections here.

Heidi Neumark, pastor of a Lutheran church in the Bronx for 25 years, writes eloquently and movingly about what it means to be a pastor and what it means to be a church.

Read excerpts from her book Breathing Space: A Spiritual...

Although ISIS currently dominates our discourse about Islam, Islam and Christianity have had a variety of influences on each other over the centuries.  At the link below, a former Christie's Islamic art specialist describes how Islamic...

Wilhelm Pauck, University of Chicago church historian and a significant influence on the formation of the United Church of Christ in 1957, wrote what may be the most illluminating essay on Martin Luther's concept of faith, entitled,...

A lovely conversation between President Obama and novelist Marilyn Robinson about politics, religion, and hope.

Mary Karr - hardscrabble, smart-mouthed, hell-raising Texas poet, song writer, and memoirist, Liar's Club, Cherry, and Lit - gave up alcohol for Jesus.  Karr describes something about this unlikely conversion in this essay for Poetry...