It's difficult to understand the original meaning of today's Deutero-Isaiah passage unless we restore the first six verses to the Lectionary selection. Isaiah 49:1-6 is generally referred to as the Second Song of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. The disciples of the anonymous prophet (Deutero-Isaiah) responsible for Chapters 40-55 of Isaiah not only passed on his powerful oracles, they also included four reflections on what it meant for him to be Yahweh's mouthpiece. The first three are autobiographical; the last, biographical -- composed by his followers after his martyrdom.
From its historic black churches to large Jewish enclaves to landmark Catholic and Protestant churches, New York City is the ultimate religious melting pot. And now, overseeing it all is a new mayor whose only religious identity seems to be "spiritual but not religious."
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who took office Jan. 1, is now perhaps the nation's most visible "none," an icon of one of the nation's fastest-growing religious groups -- those without any formal religious identification.
Soul Seeing: I do not know how sins can be forgiven. I grasp the concept, but I do not understand how foul can be made fair.
There is "great misunderstanding" among Catholics and others about the church's teachings on whether and when life-sustaining medical treatment can be withdrawn when death is near, according to a leading Catholic bioethicist.
Marie T. Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy and a staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, said the Philadelphia-based center conducts about 2,000 consultations a year with "families in distress" who want to talk with an ethicist "about the church's teaching in light of their (family) situation."
Most of us celebrate our birthdays. Some among us also celebrate their feast day or patron saint day, but how many of us celebrate the day of our baptism? In his book Christianity: The Making of Christians (Kevin Mayhew Ltd., 1979), Mark Searle reminds readers that for many centuries it was the custom in the church to celebrate the pascha annotinum or the anniversary of baptism. It was a sort of class reunion for the baptized, their sponsors and the bishop, at which they celebrated the Eucharist together.
The Rev. Robert Jeffress, a Dallas megachurch pastor, in his new book links President Barack Obama's support of gay marriage to the coming of the Antichrist.
The cases of two young women -- a California teen and a pregnant Texas mother -- have generated sympathy for their families, but also have left some doctors and bioethicists upset about their treatment.
Many doctors are questioning continued medical procedures on a 13-year-old girl declared brain-dead nearly a month ago, calling interventions to provide nutrition to a dead body wrong and unethical.
A well-circulated Hasidic tale tells the story of a rabbi quizzing his students. He asked, "How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?"
One of the students suggested, "Day begins when, from a distance, you can distinguish between a dog and a sheep."
Bill Maher, the comedian and atheist, taped an interview with my classmate Morrie, the bishop of Paris, Kan., for airing on his HBO show over the holidays. It was pulled. Fortunately, I have a transcript. Here are the highlights, minus the laughs, oohs and ahhs.
Maher welcomes Morrie, who comes out dressed in a smile, a burgundy cashmere sweater, and non-iron khakis from Banana Republic. They sit.
Maher: Well, I must say I didn't expect a bishop to look so dapper. Did you lose your pointy hat on the way here?
The Lectionary readings chosen for this cycle to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family leave us with difficult questions. By what standards do we evaluate family relationships and why? Who do we include or exclude as family members? And how do we handle family dysfunction, conflict, and abuse?