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Possessed.

Think how much any individual mind, any brain, is enlarged by what we can know through books and through literature — places, people, ideas that we would never otherwise experience, things much larger than anyone could contain in his or her own person. People crave this. You go way back into antiquity and everybody is memorizing Homer, everybody is memorizing “The Epic of Gilgamesh” — works of literature that build the cultural mind and make it capacious. Most of us are not the creators of those things, but we possess ourselves of them — or they possess us of them. And each successive work of literature expands the possibilities of our language, deepening our expressive capacity. In almost every major literature there are works that make you love being human, and make you love and revere the humanity of other people. That is the great potential of any art.
Marilynne Robinson in The New York Times

I’ve been reading so much lately, a book every four or five days and often a book in a day. I’ve loved it; loved feeling my brain expand rapidly day by day by day. Marilynne always knows.

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Proclaiming.

What [Adorno and Horkheimer] championed was neither high art or low culture, but art that exposed the contradictions of capitalist society rather than smoothing them over — in short, modernist art.
— Stuart Jeffries in Grand Hotel Abyss

This semester I’ve been thinking a lot about preaching and what it is. It is not primarily art and it’s not all about capitalism and society, but still — exposing the contradictions, crossing high and low; I would be very, very proud to be called a modernist preacher.

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Sight.

Mechtilde of Hackeborn (died 1299) heard these words from the Lord:
“I tell you the truth that I am very pleased when men trustingly expect great things from me. For everyone who believes that I will reward him after this life with more than he deserves, and who correspondingly gives praise and thanks to me in this life, will be so welcome to me thatI will reward him with far more than he could ever believe or boldly hope for, in fact, with endlessly more than he deserves. For it is impossible that someone should not attain what he has believed and hoped. . . . With confident hope you should believe that I will receive you, after your death, as a farther receives his dearest son. . . . I whom am faithfulness itself am incapable of misleading my friends through any sort of deceit.”
As quoted by Hans Urs von Balthasar in Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?

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Books I’ve Read in 2017

Should I Go to Grad School? Practical Typography Jerusalem: A Biography Our Family Outing The Interior Circuit Spiritual Friendship Chosen?: Reading the Bible Amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran Emily of Deep Valley Just the Essentials Telling the Truth The Foolishness of Preaching To Jerusalem and Back Word by Word I Am a Palestinian Christian Atheist Delusions Family Lexicon The Grammar of God Jesus and the Holocaust With Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus Once Upon a Country Originals Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory Night, Dawn, and Day The Baghdad Eucharist They Burn the Thistles Stations of the Heart Bird by Bird Children of Paradise God and the Gay Christian If Our Bodies Could Talk Blood Brothers The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing Notes on a Foreign Country The Reluctant Fundamentalist Grand Hotel Abyss Where Memory Leads The Temporary Bride The End of Words Burnt Books The Blood of the Lamb The Flaneur How Paris Became Paris Between Meals The Dud Avocado Dem Dry Bones God, Medicine, and Suffering To Relieve the Human Condition: Bioethics, Technology, and the Body

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Voiced.

Today I got up and dressed in black, and I went to class. We were reading Hebrews 11:8-22, a passage from the middle of the “by faith . . . ” litany. By faith, the passage goes, our ancestors obeyed God and gave up their land and their comfort and their rights. By faith, Abraham stayed in a foreign land and by faith Abraham died in a foreign land, and Abraham did not receive that which God promised him. Yet, Hebrews asserts, “from a distance, [Abraham and his wife and our ancestors] saw and welcomed” the promised things.

This is no blind faith. Abraham sees these promises far off; Abraham looks “forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Abraham desires — images — “a better country,” “a heavenly one,” one which “God has prepared . . . for them.” And faith, the author writes, is the assurance of things hoped for, the being of things not seen. That “being,” hypostasis in the Greek, denotes not just an intellectual certainty but an actual, physical reality. Faith, Hebrews asserts, sees with great hope what will be and what is not yet.

No — we don’t flee. No — we don’t go. No — we don’t fear. No — we stay in the land, and we seek, and we greet with joy the coming promises.

Here’s the one thing, Kate said last night while we worried. We know Hillary couldn’t fix the world anyway. Now the church has to do the things we know we need to do. Now the church has the opportunity to demonstrate that Christ is the source of true care, reform, and love. We still have to do our job, and now salvation can’t be attributed to the party.

Now we know, my Facebook feed was repeating over and over this morning, that voting is not enough. Now we know that casting a ballot isn’t enough to change the world. Now we know better than ever that we vote with our time, money, words, and heart. Now we go, do, be.

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