Science vs. Self-Centeredness! Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me-World

I'll never forget when, years ago in my counseling career, a young man in the community I where I worked committed a horrific, violent crime. But I also won't forget a Wednesday evening about two years after the tragedy when his name came up at church--where I was leading teenagers in a discussion about their … Continue reading Science vs. Self-Centeredness! Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me-World

Toward Authenticity in the Cultural Moment: Three Lessons from Dorothy Day

She never shied away from the contentions of political engagement.  She practiced what she preached, responding to the wretchedness of Depression-era poverty by co-founding a movement that established a newspaper, communal farms and "Houses of Hospitality" for the homeless.  She had an abortion as a young woman but would ultimately regret it and defend human … Continue reading Toward Authenticity in the Cultural Moment: Three Lessons from Dorothy Day

Christ’s Naked Humility vs. All Our Cloaks and Crowns

When Jesus looked at lilies, He saw beauties fit for contemplation. “They don't toil or spin,” He pointed out, “but even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these.” One greater than Solomon had spoken. From eternity, He was “clothed in light as with a garment,” yet the Virgin's fiat gave … Continue reading Christ’s Naked Humility vs. All Our Cloaks and Crowns

Human Praise: The Tempered View of Christ

Very early in John’s gospel (2:23-25), just after the wedding at Cana and the first cleansing of the temple, we read that “many believed in [Christ] when they saw the signs that he was doing.” Those must have been exhilarating days for the disciples who first left everything they had to follow him. Numbers seem … Continue reading Human Praise: The Tempered View of Christ

Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

If there was a scripture haunting the protagonist of Flannery O'Connor's "Greenleaf," it was Romans 14:10. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Religious without humility, Mrs. May--a widow intent on protecting her land--would offer a resolute, "I've worked, I have not wallowed" in the presence of her Judge. Then there's … Continue reading Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

When James and John, the "Sons of Thunder," left their nets to follow Christ, their dad stood in the boat and watched them walk away. I've often wondered whether old Zebedee thundered or stood thunderstruck as James and John left the family business, choosing an uncertain future with the Fisher of Men over the inheritance … Continue reading Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

Beyond the Résumé and the Eulogy: Virtue, the Little Way

It was almost 20 years ago when I entered the small-town high school gym and found a seat with a good view. The seniors waited in cap and gown for a slightly off-key band to begin "Pomp and Circumstance." And the banner above the platform proudly proclaimed, "The question isn't are we ready for the … Continue reading Beyond the Résumé and the Eulogy: Virtue, the Little Way

Screwtape’s Diabolical Tips for Advancing in Pride: Be Smug, Superior and Politically Divisive

"In the early days of World War II, an odd book appeared in England and America," Thomas Howard writes in his introduction to the fiction of C.S. Lewis.  "It seemed to be a collection of letters from an old devil to a younger one, telling him how to handle a man who had been assigned … Continue reading Screwtape’s Diabolical Tips for Advancing in Pride: Be Smug, Superior and Politically Divisive

Mary Oliver’s Thirst: A Humble Heart Revealed

Poet Mary Oliver evokes the paradoxical quality of living in the "now" and the "not yet." She draws us into a humble yearning. Oliver's spot-on specificity reveals an attentive, light-but-longing heart (see Morning Glories, Beside the Waterfall, and The Hermit Crab). The poet meets us on human dignity's common ground. We listen to the heart of … Continue reading Mary Oliver’s Thirst: A Humble Heart Revealed

Confessions of a Cannonball: An Invitation to Hunger for Humility

New York Times op-ed columnist David Brooks published a remarkable book in 2015, one whose theme speaks to a gnawing hunger in my heart. The Road to Character was a gift from a dear friend.  "I could tell just from listening to the introduction," she wrote in the letter that accompanied the gift, "that this … Continue reading Confessions of a Cannonball: An Invitation to Hunger for Humility