Some theologians think that agency  is the mark of the image of God in humanity: that is, being free is being imago dei.  We bear the image of God in our freedom to command our own destiny in a way that plants and animals do not.  But this sounds more like self-actualization to me than bearing the image of God and anyway, this construal of freedom is still about the self, not freedom for the other.  Even if bearing the image of God were about freedom, as long as that freedom is defined with self as the center reference point, it is not about bearing the image of God. Continue reading Unity


Yesterday’s sermon was based on part of the portion of Scripture known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-37).  It began by stating that the desire for freedom – to think, to assemble, to feel, etc. – is not merely an American standard, but one of the marks of being human.  The homilist then stated that Jesus didn’t care about our freedom; He takes the law, already a “restriction” on our “freedom,” and “makes in harder,” further reining us in.  Indeed, we are not permitted to feel whatever what we want: Jesus equated anger with murder, lust with divorce, name-calling with anger.  In our Americanized take on freedom, this sure looks like a whole lot of rules…a whole lot of barriers to freedom. Continue reading Freedom

In honor of Valentine’s day: excerpts from a final about friendship

Nerd Alert: this post has footnotes!  What follows is about three pages (gratuitously long, I know) of a five-page answer to one of my final exam questions last quarter:

“Many people have said much about love,” writes 7th century Christian monk, Maximus the Confessor, “but only in seeking it among Christ’s disciples will you find it, for only they have the true love, the teacher of love…therefore, the one who possesses love possesses God since ‘God is love.’”[1]  On this secular holiday that has commercialized and commoditized romantic attraction, much to the detriment and distress of the un-partnered, many people are saying much about love.  Love is a red, red rose, or sending (if you’re a man) or getting (if you’re a woman) a surprise bouquet of 12 of them.  Love is a box of chocolates.  Love is an expensive night out with a member of the opposite sex.  Love is, our culture would have is believe (especially on this day), expressed through money. Continue reading In honor of Valentine’s day: excerpts from a final about friendship

Self Defense


I took a self defense class for women last night.  While it was therapeutic to punch some pads to practice the moves we were being taught to get away from a hypothetical attacker, we were practicing moves to get away from a hypothetical attacker.  I found myself holding back tears for most of the class.  Afterwards, I debriefed at a friend’s house (who was also in the class).  A bunch of anger came up that was “unrelated” – about classes, lack of feedback before being handed a midterm, lack of or changes in structure, etc. Continue reading Self Defense

The Good Samaritan

I grew up, as most church kids did, hearing the parable of the Good Samaritan, seeing it in all its flannel-graph glory.  It was clear who we were supposed to like the most in the story, who we were supposed to want to be.  The two men who passed by the half-dead traveler were as bad as the robbers, and were certainly not neighborly to anyone.  The traveler was beaten and robbed of all his possessions.  Only the Samaritan was good.  Only the Samaritan paid it all (willingly).  If the goal was to be a neighbor – and it was, because Jesus says so (never mind any of that stuff about relationship or eternal life) – then it was your job to strive with all your might to be a Good Samaritan, a neighbor, if you will, to everyone. Continue reading The Good Samaritan