Archive for March, 2009

Grace is the self-effacing friend at a gathering, lurking profitably behind the scenes, setting the table and wiping away crumbs when no one is looking. Kindness seeks no limelight, calls no attention to itself, is most contented when the hum of lively conversation seasons the room with its own subtle romance.

Grace has no self-exalting agenda. Rather, kindness gives, levels the path of the other, sets the stage for good things in which it calculates no immediate gain save the satisfaction of its companions. (more…)

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Eight months have now stumbled past since Sammy came to be a provisional part of our family, then a probable member of our family, and finally a non-adjectivized fixture on the leather couch in the ‘Red Room’, where family and friends occasionally assemble themselves among the recumbent canines to watch football games and re-runs of 24.

The Samsters has become a remarkably self-confident creature. He is possessed of that well-honed indifference to norms that characterizes self-assured creatures on both sides of the human-nonhuman perforation that helps reassure those of us who read blogs and, for that matter, read anything that we still cling to our position at the top of the biological heap. (more…)

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Help is available.

This is the message that the poet who created Psalm 46 underscores in a time when it seems all that is reliable has been shaken. It takes only one earthquake experience to have that existential stake driven into the soul that only comes when the earth moves.

Anything else can be assumed to shift under duress. But the earth is not supposed to move. It us the Unmoved Thing, the stage upon which all manner of furniture makes its scraping sound as it comes, performs its task, and is whisked away. People march, race, crawl, and drag themselves across it, some lingering beyond their welcome, others making us wish they’d stayed.

But the earth itself does not move. (more…)

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The final chapters of the book of Leviticus mark out Israel’s two fundamental choices and their consequences in terms of YHWH’s blessing and curse. Here all the particulars of priestly legislation fall away, throwing into view only the largest features of the moral landscape. A choice for YHWH means a decision to live by his judgments and statutes. Its recompense is his blessing in the most earthy, satisfying form. The contrary choice represents a decision to live like all the other nations, outside of the exclusive, covenantal relationship that YHWH desires. It will bring down, we are told, wasting curse upon the people.

Yet the resolute dualism of Israel’s options and her destiny are not precisely symmetrical. YHWH’s tenacious fidelity excludes any mechanistic and level playing field, any notion that naked human will were the only variable in play. (more…)

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In circles far removed from that insight into human affairs that is native to ‘honor-shame’ cultures, a quick and easy reflex dispenses with all talk of helping a man save face. We are about truth, we flatter ourselves. Not for us the fudging of responsibility’s sharp edges. Let the chips fall where they may and good people who have fallen into difficulty with them. (more…)

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