On the day this column is to be posted, I am scheduled to be in Israel in the midst of a 10-day Jewish-Christian study tour I'm helping to lead with a rabbi and an Episcopal priest. There are several reasons I'm thrilled to return to the Holy Land. One is that I think we Christians should do whatever we can to help ourselves understand Jesus in his Jewish context. One way to accomplish that is to hang out in Israel for awhile.
A small c catholic
Unlike some people I know, our next-door neighbors understand that a world exists beyond Kansas City, Mo., and even beyond the United States.
One way they keep in touch with the global community is by hosting high school foreign exchange students. At the moment, No. 11 is living with them -- a lovely, bright young woman from Germany.
"You know," the woman told me, "about the only exposure to the Bible most of us Catholics get is when we hear the weekly readings at Mass."
Clearly this disappointed her. Clearly she was hungry for more.
It was my duty and honor to provide an hour's worth of "more" for members of an adult education class at her parish one recent Sunday morning. I came away from the experience both exhilarated and sad.
ODESSA, Mo. -- It was sunny and in the mid-60s on a late February day in western Missouri -- in fact, it was Ash Wednesday -- as we stood at the gravesite here in McKendree Cemetery.
At the request of the family of a retired Presbyterian pastor, I conducted the graveside service, and we buried my friend Cecilia's ashes next to the grave of her mother, long ago a Cumberland Presbyterian missionary in Colombia.
When one of my daughters was in grade school, she participated in a summer program at a wonderful place called Missouri Town 1855.
In this living history museum, she spent part of each day for a week living in a 19th-century farming community. Her context there was radically different from the context of where she slept and ate at home. Sometimes it took a bit of time to reorient her at day's end.
The book is about the hospice care program at the Angola State Prison in Louisiana -- a program in which prisoners help other prisoners who are dying.
I can't get those debased Marines off my mind -- the ones who turned up in a video a few weeks ago urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Just a few days after Christmas, a historic Presbyterian church in midtown Kansas City, Mo., burned to the ground.
Westport Presbyterian Church had only a few dozen members, but my friend Scott Myers, the pastor, and some members of his aging congregation had figured out how to continue serving the kicky neighborhood that has been the church's home for 176 years.
One reason I've cherished my long and extinguished career as a columnist is that, as you well know, columnists have the gift of prophecy.
In fact, we have a double gift of it. First, we speak resolutely with our prophetic voice, calling on the world's many wayward people to do the right thing, which always means urging them to do what we columnists want them to do. Or at least what we think will amuse us if they really do it.
The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has awakened many people -- even some bishops -- to the sickening realities of how this could happen. But just when we think we understand abuse, we hear another story that makes it clear our knowledge is insufficient.
That happened again to me recently when one of my readers (call him Dave) shared his story with me by email.