Are we all delusional? (and other questions about having a relationship with God)

Explore God

On Monday I met up with pastors John Burke and Eric Bryant of Gateway Church here in Austin to film a Q&A session for the Explore God campaign. Burke, Bryant, and the moderator Bridget Henderson have done an amazing job with this series, so it was an honor to be a part of it. The question for this session was, “Is it possible to have a personal relationship with God?” Here’s the video if you’d like to check it out: A few of the many questions we discussed were: Richard Dawkins says belief in God is delusional. But... Read More

Explaining where God is when we suffer, when there are no words

No 7 Quick Takes Friday this week. Blessed Good Friday to you all! I don’t know whether I’m just extra sensitive right now or whether a whole lot of people are having a really bad 2013, but it seems that I’ve come across an unusual number of stories of great suffering lately. From friends, from blogs I follow, and from the media, I have heard stories that leave me stunned with sympathetic grief, wondering how the people involved could possibly survive such a cross. Naturally, I often wonder where God is in all of this. I mean,... Read More

Christmas, sorrow, and a song

I’ve been meaning to ask this for two years, but have never gotten around to it. Now seems to be as good of a time as any: Can anyone tell me what this song is? (If you can’t see the player, here is a link to the recording.) During Advent of 2010 I had EWTN on the TV in the background as I did some Christmas decorating (read: I was probably surfing the web while the kids dug through ornament boxes) and it played a live broadcast of a Mass that was, if I recall correctly, at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Whatever... Read More

The dangers of spiritual glamor (complete with a creepy Ouija board story)

Right before the New Year during my sophomore year of high school, my best friend and I got out her old Ouija board. As she smoothed away the dust with the palm of her hand and placed the board on the floor in front of us, she recounted to me with great emphasis a series rules I was supposed to follow, like saying “break” before you take your hands off the planchette. There would be something real going on here, she insisted, and so it was important to approach this activity with respect. I prided myself on being a pure atheist materialist... Read More

The Antagonist

When I sat down to write this final draft of my book, I felt like I knew a lot about story. My three bookshelves jammed with tomes about the craft of storytelling were a testament to how much I’d learned about the subject over the past few years. And so as I set out to tell my tale, I was confident that I had all the necessary pieces in place. Protagonist? That one’s easy. Check. Central conflict? Check. Initiating incident? Check. Theme? That one took forever to figure out, but I finally realized what it was. So, check. I started writing.... Read More

No, son, the F-word actually won’t make your life better

My six-year-old son returned from Yaya‘s house on Monday to report a thrilling discovery: according to the older boys on her street, there is a really, really bad word that starts with F! His eyes sparkled as he reported this most important of news. “They told me that there’s this horrible word, and it begins with F. I thought I knew what it was — fat — but they said that that wasn’t it. They said that this one is even worse!” He stared off into space for a moment, almost drooling at the prospect of obtaining... Read More

BE DONE (Our Father, Word by Word)

Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done . On Sunday we heard Jesus speak the words, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” Thy will be done, he says. And then he is abandoned, betrayed, ridiculed, tortured and nailed to a cross. This is what always makes me a little nervous about the subject of God’s will: Though God never actively wants suffering for us, sometimes it is his will to permit it to happen. Sometimes it’s... Read More

Is it irresponsible to trust God too much?

Last week I was all inspired about the idea of placing full trust in God, and I shared a story about a missionary who learned to trust God in all things, down to getting a cake for a Bible study event. In response there were quite a number of corrective comments that raised interesting questions about what trusting God should look like. Some excerpts: Magnificat said: It’s typical feel-good story and it makes me feel uneasy. Trusting God is something much, much more serious. These sweet stories may help little children; to others, they are... Read More

A friend of the Emperor

I’m writing about the first time I read the Bible in the book right now. I thought I’d share this reflection that came to mind as I was writing that didn’t make the cut for inclusion in the book… When I read the Bible for the first time a few years ago, I had a hard time getting into it. With little knowledge of Christianity and no knowledge of Judaism, I often felt a great distance between me and the events depicted on the wispy pages of this brand new book. Even the New Testament seemed very strange and foreign, and it... Read More

How would you know?

This picture haunts me: It’s just one of many pictures from a photo album full of pictures of the staff at Auschwitz relaxing and having a great time, sometimes with their children, during on-site retreats. I originally posted it as part of my post about “good people” and “bad people,” but I’ve thought about it many times since then. For me, this picture symbolizes all average folks who ever lived during times where particularly dark shades of evil gripped societies. It reminds me that though today we can see... Read More

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