Writing about movies, Roger Ebert had a lot to say about life.
He was perhaps America’s most beloved film critic, but that is not what Roger Ebert thought he wanted to be.
The way Ebert tells it, he imagined a career as a columnist, something along the lines of being a Mike Royko, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Tribune columnist who covered the city’s political scene. Instead, Ebert’s boss at the Chicago Sun-Times, Bob Zonka, announced in 1967 that Ebert would replace the paper’s retiring film critic, Eleanor Keen. Ebert’s life course was set.
Jesuit Father Dean Brackley taught that theology without encounter falls flat.
The people of Capim Grosso, Brazil taught me to dance. Jesuit Father Dean Brackley helped me make sense of the experience. At the time I was a 21-year-old pilgrim from the Midwest plopped in the rural plains of Brazil without my phone or credit card or anything I usually carried to make me comfortable. None of it would have done me any good in Capim Grosso, anyway. The people lived modestly. I saw what I thought was poverty: small houses with chipping paint, meals of rice and beans, very little technology. Then the village invited me to dance.
Eight centuries ago Albert the Great showed how theology and science can walk hand in hand.
I teach graduate students how to teach math and science. On the first day of each semester, I ask, “Who can tell me something about Albertus Magnus, Albert the Great?” Students usually avoid making eye contact.
Though they expect an explanation, instead of answering the original question, I go on to ask them, “Who can tell me something about Galileo Galilei?” Inevitably, the reply relates to Galileo’s controversy with the church. The students seem surprised when I tell them that Galileo’s notebooks mention Albert the Great 23 times.
Sister Karen Klimczak practiced radical inclusion, welcoming even society’s outcasts.
When I think of martyrs, I usually think of people with foreign-sounding names like Perpetua or Attalus, both of whom were thrown to the lions in the Roman Colosseum for refusing to recant their faith in Christ. Sister of St. Joseph Karen Klimczak—a clown, storyteller, teacher, and peacemaker—is far from that image of martyr. Photographs that capture her warm smile or her loopy cursive handwritten prayer journal entries make her seem like any number of religious sisters I know who have dedicated themselves to service with and for those on the margins.
Father Frans van der Lugt reminds us that the kingdom of God can be built on earth.
Twice a week I hopped out of a taxicab between the Coptic Christian church and the blue-domed mosque in a neighborhood called al-Abdali. From there, I walked down the steep hill to Zawiya Street and through a courtyard where pink majnooneh flowers cascade over a tan retaining wall. I lived in Amman, Jordan at the time, conducting research on Muslim-Christian relations, and this was the route to the home of my Arabic language tutor, Akram.
St. Columba was a man of dueling natures—both peaceful pastor and warring politician. He needed both to do God’s will.
“Know who you really are and how God can use you,” one of my seminary teachers exhorted. Living this injunction, simple albeit powerful in message, has been an unfolding journey over my three decades of pastoral ministry and my current calling as a minister in the United Church of Christ.