Growing up on a farm in rural Oregon, my brother and I often had a second-hand Christmas. The gifts under our tree were toys that our single mom found at yard sales or Goodwill and wrapped in humble, ordinary newspaper. The tree itself she cut down from the side of a road and hauled home in the back of our truck.
In a year rife with moral failures by Christian leaders, I read with grim curiosity last week’s New York Times article describing the firing of Carl Lentz, the celebrity pastor of Hillsong’s East Coast church, who recently acknowledged that he’d had an affair. However, the affair was the least of what surprised me. That Lentz admitted to cheating on his wife seemed trivial compared to the rise of a church culture that appears to have courted megastars until the pastor became one.
Listening to Maine Public Radio this week, I heard a report that one-third of us are carrying so much pandemic-related stress that we are tossing and turning in our beds at night, unable to sleep. While sleep comes easily to me, I too feel the weight of worry caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
“You’re wearing two watches,” a student commented last week, noticing the brown leather bands wrapped securely around my wrist.
Nothing in my lifetime has divided American Christians like the upcoming presidential election. I’ve been getting unsolicited emails from respected Christian leaders on why it is imperative that I vote for a Democrat. On social media and in print, other equally respected Christian leaders contend that I’ll be sinning if I don’t vote for a Republican. Worst of all, they tell me, is not voting for either candidate – something I’m seriously considering this week after reading theologian John Piper’s blog post on “Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin.”
As a young person, I read the Bible because I was taught to. Certain passages I loved, like the Apostle Paul’s treatise on love, King David’s Shepherd Psalm, and especially the King James Version of a verse in Job confirming the existence of unicorns. Unicorns! Then my mother explained that later translators understood the animal to be an ox.