I have been a docent at the Mission San Juan Capistrano in California for twenty-five years. This mission is home to the Serra Chapel, which is the oldest church in California and one of the oldest buildings in the state. It’s a beautiful chapel with a world-renowned, 450-year-old retable (a decorative stand behind an altar) called the Golden Altar, in which there are three rows of three niches with a statue in each.… Read more >
Here’s a sad story that started with a snowstorm in Big Bear, California, which is a ski resort where Annie and I spend six weeks skiing every year. A young Asian woman was driving up the snow-covered highway on her way to an Airbnb, looking forward to a great ski weekend, when she received a text message from the owner.… Read more >
For many folks, the recent horrendous weather tragedies are part of their god’s plan to punish people for doing something bad. One never knows exactly who is being punished or why—just that God is mad. The insurance companies call these tragic events “acts of God.”
Lately there seems to be one disaster after another.… Read more >
According to one early gospel, the boy Jesus does not sound like a very nice person. I’m glad he wasn’t my neighbor or playmate when I was a kid!
Let me share a couple of stories about this mean-tempered, foul-mouthed Jesus when he was five. Jesus was out playing by himself when a neighbor boy came by and watched Jesus build little water ponds in the ground.… Read more >
These letters stand for two of the most important words in the church today—they should be the cornerstone for the church of the future.
We remind congregants at every service that we are an “O & A” church. In my new book, Cramming for the Finals: New Ways of Looking at Old Church Ideas, I suggest that a church can’t be truly Christian unless it is “O & A.” That’s a strong statement, and there are those who would argue vehemently with that idea.… Read more >
I suspect that some of you might be surprised at the title as well as the object of my praise. It all started on Saturday, August 19, 2017, when I was on the treadmill at LA Fitness, watching the rally in Boston. Suddenly this idea popped into my head: Donald Trump, in his limited time in office, has taught us so many valuable lessons.… Read more >
Some folks might find it strange that an A-Theist even bothers to go to church where there is a great deal of talk about an UpThere God who isn’t UpThere—as far as he’s concerned. Wouldn’t it be easier just to stay home and do something more interesting? It seems so hypocritical to waste time hearing about God, Jesus, the Trinity, and all that other dogma and doctrine when you don’t believe any of it.… Read more >
These days, I am sensing that people have lots of fears. Maybe it’s because so many of the things that Congress is trying to do hurt the average citizen, such as repealing healthcare for millions, barring people from entering the United States because they are from Muslim countries, cutting services for the little guy, and lifting climate change restrictions.… Read more >
The other day a friend sent me a good story that has been around a long time, but it’s still as relevant as it was the first time I heard it.
The light turned yellow as he was turning right. He saw pedestrians in the crosswalk, so he stopped. The woman behind him was furious, so she leaned on her horn, flipped him the finger many times, and shouted angrily from her car.… Read more >
This Greek word describes the highest form of love. How do you pronounce it?
I am reminded of the story of two women who visited Hawai’i and wanted to know how to pronounce it. They asked a local, “What’s correct? Is it Hawai-e or Havai’e?” He said, “Havai’e.” They thanked him, and he replied, “You’re velcome.”
My contention is that Jesus’s main message wasn’t about being the Sacrificial Lamb (Saint Paul made that up) but about the power of agape.… Read more >