Walter Brueggemann was such a kind, generous person to meet and witness in studio. And, on this Christmas day, I can think of few theologians I’d rather listen to talk about the poetic imagination and the prophetic tradition in Christianity than Mr. B.
“As a new mother this year, I have started my own quest for tradition. My partner and I are raising a child who has Hindu, Sikh, and Christian heritage. We want to pass down some aspects of our experiences as South Asian Americans. … We’ve decided to call our tree a ‘family tree’ and, instead of lights and store-bought ornaments, we put photos of relatives, loved ones, ancestors, and small items that represent our families on the branches. But we have plenty of ‘living’ and other images — my newborn nephew’s photo, an ornament made in grade school by my brother, and a set of handmade paper mâché stars bought on a family trip to Goa when I was eight years old.”—Monisha Bajaj, as excerpted from her essay "How To Make Meaning of the Holidays as a Non-Christian"
Merry Christmas to all celebrating! For a holiday treat, Neil Gaiman reads ”A Christmas Carol” from Charles Dickens's only surviving “prompt copy” – a special performance script, which Dickens created by taking apart the existing novella, cutting and pasting select sections into a blank-leaf book, then filleting the text by highlighting the most dramatic scenes and annotating them with reading cues and stage directions. This, in other words, is “A Christmas Carol” read exactly as Dickens wanted it read – and it’s one of the greatest writers of our time reading one of the greatest writers of all time.
“What the church does with its creeds and its doctrinal tradition, it flattens out all the images and metaphors to make it fit into a nice little formulation and then it’s deathly. So we have to communicate to people, if you want a God that is healthier than that, you’re going to have to take time to sit with these images and relish them and let them become a part of your prayer life and your vocabulary and your conceptual frame. Which, again, is why the poetry is so important because the poetry just keeps opening and opening and opening whereas the doctrinal practice of the church is always to close and close and close until you’re left with nothing that has any transformative power.”—
Madeleine Hanover is an Australian composer primarily writing soundtracks for TV, Film, and other projects. Like many of her tracks, I’d Give You All My Time And Space immediately feels cinematic. It’s pensive and dramatic but also hopeful and dynamic, with several brief orchestral swells that accompany the piano.
“The conundrums of life, the philosophical paradoxes, the metaphysical problems — I feel like I get it now. I understand suffering and unfairness. I can’t think of anything better to receive than that. I’m good with this.”— Michael Morton, a Texas man who was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife and incarcerated for 25 years, told CNN about his son who found a way to love his father again.
What might words like repentance or forgiveness mean, culturally, in this moment? These are questions of the emerging church, a loosely-defined movement that crosses generations, theologies and social ideologies in the hope of reimagining Christianity. With Phyllis Tickle and Vincent Harding, we bring you an honest (and sometimes politically incorrect) conversation on coming to terms with racial identity in the church and in the world:
"The great American experiment with building a multiracial democracy is still in the laboratory. We have got to be willing to see ourselves as part of an experiment that is actively working its way through right now. We stumble. We hold on to each other. We hug each other. We fight with one another in loving ways. But we keep moving and experimenting and trying to figure it out."
"There’s a difference between repentance and forgiveness and there’s a difference between those in grace. And if we do this thing that Vincent’s talking about, if we refashion this country — which we’re going to do — but if we do it without grace, it will be just as clunky and just as unfortunate. And just as many people will get the short end of the stick as has been true in the past."