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This fall we are exploring the Lord’s Prayer, each week considering a different phrase. Today we arrive at “Your will be done.” For our Gospel lesson, I have selected another passage in scripture, where Jesus prays for God’s will to be done—it is the moment in the Garden of Gethsemane where he is awaiting his arrest. Of this prayer, theologian Timothy Bradshaw writes, “Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane reveals an honest human turning to God for help in desperate danger.” Hear, now the prayer of Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 26:36-39 Then Jesus went with them to a place... Continue reading
Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems by Ted Kooser My rating: 2 of 5 stars Some of the poems were enjoyable but overall I didn't resonate much with this collection. View all my reviews Continue reading
Hallowed Be Thy Name Luke 11:1-4 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 6 October 2019 The Lord’s Prayer is most familiar to us from the version in the Gospel of Matthew. Today, we hear Luke’s version. Luke 11:1-4 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins,... Continue reading
Your Kingdom Come Luke 17:20-21 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 13 October 2019 As we continue our series on the Lord’s Prayer, today we come to the phrase, “Your Kingdom Come.” Our Gospel reading is another passage in the Book of Luke where Jesus addresses the coming of the kingdom. Luke 17:20-21 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’... Continue reading
The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing My rating: 1 of 5 stars This early Lessing novel did not engage me. The characters and the story are off-putting. View all my reviews Continue reading
The Holy Spirit & Preaching by James Forbes My rating: 1 of 5 stars I have enjoyed hearing Dr. Forbes on a handful of occasions, and especially the time I ate breakfast with him when he was last in Omaha sponsored by mine and another local church. Yet, I did not get much out of this book, the published version of his 1986 Lyman Beecher lectures. The key idea can be summarized in this quote, "The anointing of the Holy Spirit is that process by which one comes to a fundamental awareness of God's appointment, empowerment, and guidance for the... Continue reading
The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World by Miroslav Volf My rating: 5 of 5 stars A profound theological exploration of remembering and forgetting. Volf was at one time a prisoner of the communist forces of his native Yugoslavia, where he underwent interrogation that was a form of psychological torture. What should he do with those memories? What should all people do with memories of pain, trauma, and suffering? A deeply personal book that draws from the rich wells of the Christian tradition, literature, and philosophy, Volf considers how we should remember and remember well and when... Continue reading
Our Father Matthew 6:9-13 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 29 September 2019 Today we begin our Autumn worship series which will be an in-depth study of the Lord’s Prayer. We will take the prayer, line-by-line, to better understand it and to explore its spirituality and theology. This morning, for our Gospel lesson, I will read the prayer as presented in the Gospel of Matthew, and I will read it from the King James Version—the translation of the prayer that many of us likely memorized. Matthew 6:9-13 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father... Continue reading
The Wrong of Rudeness: Learning Modern Civility from Ancient Chinese Philosophy by Amy Olberding My rating: 4 of 5 stars Olberding develops her argument carefully and subtly. The slow and gentle steps mimic the politeness and civility she is arguing for. The book works quietly upon you, persuading you and drawing you in. One wishes that more people will read the book, so that it might work upon the public consciousness. View all my reviews Continue reading
Kings of Broken Things by Theodore Wheeler My rating: 3 of 5 stars I timed the reading of Wheeler's novel to fall this week as Omaha observes the centennial of the lynching of Will Brown, the event that climaxes this story. Wheeler's writing has influences of DeLillo, as he follows a handful of teenagers and young adults, mostly immigrants, in World War I era Omaha. View all my reviews Continue reading
Amy Lowell: Selected Poems by Amy Lowell My rating: 4 of 5 stars I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed Amy Lowell's poetry, her imagery, her eroticism. What wonderful, powerful writing. View all my reviews Continue reading
An essay at Daily Nous ponders how philosophy might have been different if R. G. Collingwood hadn't died as young as he did and his prominent position taken over by Gilbert Ryle. In particular, would the Continental/Analytic Divide have developed? Continue reading
A good essay in the Nation on Wendell Berry as his new volume of collected essays is published. Even as Berry made himself a student of the flaws of local life, he sought to refashion its patterns of community and culture into something that might repair them. For him, narrowing the horizons of one’s life is the only responsible way of living, since it is how we might actually heal old wounds, clean up our own mess, and give an honest account of ourselves. Throughout his essays, he makes this case for ecological reasons but also for moral ones. Farming... Continue reading
In The Guardian, Simon Tisdall writes about how Europe and the US ignored warning signs in the Gulf and even made decisions that have exacerbated the situation, bringing us to the brink of war. Continue reading
Intelligent Virtue by Julia Annas My rating: 3 of 5 stars A clear analysis of contemporary virtue theory. But the book lacks any art or style. Having read Iris Murdoch just before, Annas' treatment really suffers by comparison. I go ahead and give it three stars though because the thoughts are clearly and convincingly stated. View all my reviews Continue reading
Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin My rating: 3 of 5 stars An enjoyable, quick read and example of good storytelling from one of our recent best storytellers. View all my reviews Continue reading
In the Distance by Hernán Díaz My rating: 1 of 5 stars The first chapter was strong and exciting. But the rest of the novel was filled with cliched aspects of the Western, a plot that rarely made sense, and sentences like this one, "Underneath the pain, he sensed the vastness of the plains weighing on his heart." View all my reviews Continue reading
The Overstory by Richard Powers My rating: 5 of 5 stars Yesterday, I posted the following to Facebook: "Just finished The Overstory by Richard Powers. On first impression I'm thinking it is the greatest and most important American novel since Beloved." Already, over the weekend as my husband and I were away celebrating our anniversary and I be up early reading the novel on the porch of the B&B, I had said to him, "This may be one of the great American novels." After posting that, I read some reviews to see what others had to say. Most reviews, of... Continue reading
The Sovereignty of Good by Iris Murdoch My rating: 5 of 5 stars I first read the third essay in this collection when I was a graduate student and have long admired it as one of the best things ever written in moral philosophy. I have returned to it often, including it in sermons and teaching it in Ethics class. Finally got around to reading the entire, short collection. Murdoch is insightful, witty, and (of course) a beautiful writer. One feels better after reading her work. View all my reviews Continue reading
This summer I preached a sermon series inspired by the poetry of Mary Oliver. One of the key features of the spiritual life Oliver recommends is paying attention. So I enjoyed reading Iris Murdoch advocating attention as key to the moral life in her essay "The Idea of Perfection." Here are some excerpts of her essay: I have used the word 'attention,' which I borrow from Simone Weil, to express the idea of a just and loving gaze directed upon an individual reality. I believe this to be the characteristic and proper mark of the active moral agent. *** But... Continue reading