30 June 2016


"Love... is a heavy cross." Found on vk.com.
No, I'm not referring to Oregon, although right now it feels heavenly to be here! I'm referring to the place I glimpse in this cartoon.

I originally found this picture on the Russian Facebook-like social network Vkontakte a couple of years ago. I then used it in a post cautioning us not to engage in glib labels and assumptions.

This year, on Forgiveness Sunday, for some reason I felt led to post it again on my own Vkontakte timeline. One of our students (perhaps worried that I was condoning the blasphemy allegedly conducted by the Pussy Riot musicians) came up to me privately after class and asked why I had posted it. That's when it popped into my head: "This picture reminds me of heaven."

I know less than nothing about heaven, but I know it includes this scene. Here in our present lives we cannot know simultaneously all there is to know about the life of faith -- why, for example, what strikes one person as scandalous heresy is another person's truth. In heaven, these apparent contradictions resolve as we become aware of how rarely we understand the perspective of the other person.

The more dramatic our differences seem to be now, the sweeter the reconciliation. And, imagine this, we don't really have to wait for heaven to begin practicing now.

On going deeper with James Tower.
We cannot manufacture the work of God in ourselves. We are more like a plant than we want to admit. But even just looking at how living things are—finding the wisdom of the plant if you will—can tell us a lot about what is within our small sphere of work in the spiritual life.
Speaking of happiness.

Why these evangelicals welcome refugees.

Blues from Russia.

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