Food for Thought blog

Occasional thought-provoking articles or videos from our Faith Formation team and pastoral staff.
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An essay by Paul Holmes on Thanksgiving from his collection Thinking the Faith With Passion.

Meaning Making is a Growth Industry: "CrossFit is my Church"

Steve Peterson reflects on human conflict: it will never end, but conflict can be transformed.

Sherry Turkle on Artificial intimacy: "People are so boring."

"Aliveness" and a Taste of Glory - Joel A Brown

From politics to the pews.

Seven lessons from Mister Rogers that can help Americans be neighbors again.

Letter from Sydney Smith on Low Spirits.  Smith was an early 19th Century Anglican priest and judged by many to be the best letter writer of the 19th century.

A letter from Sydney Smith to Lady Georgiana Morpeth, Feb. 16, 1820:


Cornel West on MLK: Brother Martin Was a Blues Man

A sermon by Rowan Williams on the 1600th anniversary of the conversion of Augustine by a God whose love can bridge every gulf of difference and enmity.

Tish Harrison Warren on Prayer

Junot Diaz on Haiti's 2010 Earthquake.

Zadie Smith on Joy & Pleasure

Denys Turner, Yale University Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology, on the Problem of Evil.

"All Divinity is Love or Wonder": Thomas Browne on Religion and Science, by Steve Peterson.

Christine Rosen writes on the human cost of the digitally-revealed life.

"Where might we find joy?" asks novelist Claire Messud in this almost an Easter sermon in the Paris Review.

John Cacioppo on How to Combat Loneliness

Andrew Sullivan in New York Mag on the American Opioid Epidemic.

"If Marx posited that religion is the opiate of the people, then we have reached a new, more clarifying moment in the history of the West: Opiates are now the...

In this timely essay for Lent, Columbia law professor Tim Wu writes that in a culture in which we want everything to be convenient, we must never forget the "joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not...


Christian Wiman on Joy

A veteran writes of war and redemption.

Giles Fraser writes that Christianity, when properly understood, is for losers. 

Stanford primatologist Robert Sapolsky On Religion as Nature's Antidepressant

Yale historian David Blight on the civil war, slavery, and the present moment.

Tish Harrison Warren writes about the grand story that has kept her in church.

Randall Balmer, in this essay in Reflections, from Yale Divinity School, argues that Protestants, who have overly-succumbed to rationalism, need to recover as sense of enchantment. It can be found in the eucharist.

Donald Hall's poem Christmas Party at the South Danbury Church.

Yale Divinity Professor Peter Hawkins reflects on churchgoing, including a story similar to what happened at St. Pauls in 1955.

Andrew Sullivan writes on the danger of knowing you're on the "right side of history."

Learning from Luther about Technological Disruption by Nicholas Davis.

This essay explores the Luther's legacy in the growing Protestant movement in the developing world.

In this article Jürgen Moltmann offers a clarion call to the whole church at the eve of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation to be always reforming.

In this essay, Marilynne Robinson writes: contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind.

In this speech at the Chicago Literary Club, St. Pauls member Steve Schwartzberg reflects on "America and the Kingdom."

Mohammed Yunus: Giving Capitalism a Social Conscience

Twelve Theses on Joy, by Australian theologian Ben Myers.

This article from Political says that teaching kids to think more slowly is interrupting the cycle of violence.

From African-American Theologian, Educator and Political-Thinker Howard Thurman's Meditations of the Heart, 1953.

During these turbulent times we must remind ourselves repeatedly that life goes on.This we are apt to forget.The...

Charlie Parker and the Meaning of Freedom: Arthur C Brooks, NY Times

Try to Praise the Mutilated World By Adam Zagajewski, Translated by Clare Cavanagh 

Sea Watching by R.S. Thomas: Prayer as Unassuaged Longing for God

Jules Evans, Queen Mary University of London, on Ecstasy, or the Art of Unselfing

An L.A. screenwriter explains why she goes to church.

In this TED talk, Anne Lamott share 12 truths she has learned from life and writing.

Bob Dylan reflects on how his songs relate to literature in this 2016 Nobel Lecture in Literature.

Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.

During the service he had a change of heart. Afterwards, he approached the pastor. “I came here to hate you,” he confessed tearfully. “But while I’ve been here, I’ve experienced the love of God.”

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.