Monthly Archives: July 2022

The Healing Power of Love

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If a single individual can be credited with the founding of modern American surgery, William Halsted should be mentioned first. During the late 1800s Halsted was one of the “Big Four” physicians who helped launch Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.  A surgical virtuoso, he was personally responsible for innovating a number of critical procedures. Halsted was also one of the first surgeons… Read more »

The Case for Gentleness

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The odds are good that at some point in your life you’ve had the chance to play a revolutionary musical instrument called a soft-loud.  These days we usually call it a piano.  For the better part of three centuries (the early 1500s through the early 1800s) the harpsichord was the primary portable keyboard instrument available to European musicians.  It’s essentially an innovative… Read more »

Hot Dogs

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It’s summertime, the season for hot dogs.  There have always been two great mysteries surrounding the quintessential American snack:  What are they really made of?  And who actually invented them? The first mystery has become the stuff of urban legend – as in, why does one never see a stray dog sniffing around an Oscar Mayer plant? The FDA assures us that our… Read more »

Shadow Missions

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In 1979, the Charlie Daniels Band proved that a song about fiddles could become a national hit. The Devil Went Down to Georgia is the account of an epic fiddle-playing contest between Satan and a young man named Johnny.  Who is the ultimate virtuoso?  The stakes are high – Johnny’s soul.  But as Daniels lets us know at the end… Read more »

God’s Grace-Challenged Children

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When author and pastor Rob Bell was a teenager, he and his family attended a church service in a town they were visiting. At the end of the service, they experienced a drama that is played out in a number of conservative congregations.  The pastor invited those present to make a first-time commitment to Christ. He announced that if people repeated the… Read more »

Bet on It

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“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”(Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry) San Francisco’s famously unhinged police inspector isn’t typically a source of theological insight.  But his quotable quote spotlights our culture’s fascination with what can only be described as one of the most unreliable sources of human guidance: luck.  People who think luck is… Read more »

Be Polite

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Don’t be an idiot.  Be polite. If those two sentences don’t appear to be natural go-togethers, it’s because we’ve lost track of the origin of a pair of words that were once intimately related. Let’s start with the Greek word idiotes (id-ee-OH-tays).  In ancient times an idiotes was someone who chose not to participate in civic life.  Such a person often lived and… Read more »

Prepositional Truth

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In the vast majority of human languages, nouns and verbs have all the fun.  Those forms of speech are usually at the center of the action when it comes to communication. Prepositions, however, aren’t far behind.  That’s because they express relationships between words.  And that can matter a great deal. When someone says, “The boat is in the water,” our… Read more »

Who Belongs in the Picture?

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Everyone agreed that it was a wonderful painting – Paolo Veronese’s ginormous depiction of Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper.  But was it really a religious painting?    Church authorities in Venice in 1573 were deeply offended by what they saw on the canvas.  Why were so many of “the wrong people” basking in the gracious presence of Jesus? Veronese, along… Read more »

Facing Death

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“If you could live forever, would you want to, and why?” That’s the question that the host of the 1994 Miss USA competition posed to Miss Alabama, Heather Whitestone.  She memorably replied, “I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live… Read more »