Prayer

Mortality, Magic, & Chinese Virus

Mortality was much on the mind of St. Augustine. In The City of God, he exhibits skepticism that a world thoroughly free of death-dealing plague could ever be possible. The tenor of this old quatrain has an Augustinian ring: Doctor, Doctor, will I die? Yes, my child, and so shall I. Like the original wording of many eighteenth century nursery rhymes, the lines irritate modern ears. Twentieth century sensibilities revised it to suit a well-fed, housed, and vaccinated generation poised to dismiss dispiriting reminders of mortality. Continue Reading
Discerning the Will of God?

Are you never even a bit uncomfortable when someone claims to have discerned God’s will in this or that decision of their own? I certainly am. It is one thing to pray for discernment, but quite something else to announce being in receipt of it. When anyone tells me that, after much prayer, they have determined that God wants such-and-such from them—however worthy the suchness—something in me backs away. It is the telling that feels all wrong. It seems an impertinence. Continue Reading
Kathe Kollwitz. Woman with a Dead Child (1903)

Viewed through the radiant trefoil window of aesthetics, my love of Gothic architecture is boundless. Approached through the tighter, denser lens of prayer, however, that love shrinks. It pales and contracts to where I can barely see it. If at all. Christianity’s great truths come to us through a Nazarene carpenter—a tekton, a builder—whose handiwork we have no clue to. Neither do we have the faintest inkling of his response to Herod’s monumental temple complex. The whole of it, with its plaza, porticos, columns, and stairs was a glory of limestone, marble and gold. Continue Reading