From the archives: What Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego can teach us about racial justice.
It’s one of those Bible stories that, from my childhood, has captivated me: three men, true believers, refuse to worship a golden idol and are thrown into a furnace by an evil king. But God saves them. The flames are so intense that the king’s henchmen are burned up, but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego don’t even break into a sweat.
It’s a perfect story (Dan. 3)—simple, clear. You can see it, even feel it.
And then, of course, there are the songs that make it richer still.
Paul’s New Testament letters give us a window into life in the early church.
Twenty years without a word! That’s how long the early church went without written texts. From the resurrection of Jesus to 50 A.D. there wasn’t a shred of paperwork until Paul sat down and wrote his first apostolic letter. Before the year 50, no Christian texts were necessary. The community of believers was a pretty local phenomenon. Anyone involved in the story lived within walking distance of Jerusalem. The first gospel wouldn’t be composed for another two decades.
How do Christians make sense of some of the Bible’s more graphic stories?
There are some Bible stories that don’t appear in the Lectionary. Like that of Yael, in the book of Judges, who drives a tent peg through an enemy general’s head, killing him instantly. Or that of Uzzah, who reaches out to steady the Tabernacle in 2 Samuel and, as a reward for his consideration, is instantly struck dead by God.
Knowing the ‘Catholic answer’ does little good if we’re not asking the right questions.
My college roommate Nadine was a Pentecostal Protestant. She read her Bible for an hour faithfully every night after classes and before tackling her other assignments. I marveled at her fidelity to a book that I, a Catholic with 12 years of parochial schooling behind me, had never opened.
It might not happen immediately, but stick around for a lifetime and see what happens.
Bored friends sometimes shoot me emails from their desks at work. They share some trifle that’s going on in their lives, then ask the inevitable question: “What’s up with you? What’s new?” To which I most frequently reply: “Nothing.”
More and more Catholics are sitting quietly with a Bible in hand in the presence of our God.
Do you own a Bible? I don’t mean in the sense of having one gathering dust on a bookshelf but in the commitment sense of the word own. Can you say, “I own a Bible, and it influences my life, daily decisions, relationships, work, recreation, spirituality, and prayer life”?
Sometimes our faith is as miraculous as a high-wire act.
Why does the thought of a circus creep me out? Until recently, I’d experienced only one back in my teens. Unlike folks who report being afraid of clowns, I didn’t find the bulbous-nosed performers or their deeply physical brand of comedy at all scary. Nor did the exotic animals or high-wire acrobats provide me much cause for fear. The minor traveling troupe in their worn tent pitched on muddy ground outside of my little hometown seemed simply sad to me. Tired, really. As if they wished the performance were behind them so they could get on with whatever they did after the show.
A close look at scripture shows the importance of food throughout human history.
The first meal ever recorded in the Bible was pretty sparse: a mythical piece of fruit. Today this would amount to a healthy snack. At the time, it was the most harmful bite imaginable. Of course, the story in Genesis 3 isn’t about eating so much as it is about hunger. We humans seem to be hungry all the time. We crave food and drink, sweet and salty flavors available to many of us at arm’s length. But we’re also hungry for the love and support of others, for attention and recognition.
Instead of being shaken to your core by the new and unknown, see it as an opportunity for spiritual growth.
Life is more than we bargain for. The election results last November proved that, in an hour of frank astonishment for every side of the social debate. Behold, all things are new and all bets are off! It’s a brave new world. Even the most discerning among us has no idea what’s next on the horizon.
While some biblical women are nameless and silent figures, others are movers and shakers in their own rights.
The Catholic canon of the Bible contains 73 books. Three of them bear women’s names: Ruth, Judith, and Esther. These three texts also make the actions of women their central concern. I consider them Exhibits A, B, and C in the argument against the Bible being a hopelessly sexist document. Why male editors gave the green light to the inclusion of these texts is the real mystery.