The Olfactory Sacrament

When I was very little, I used to visit my mother’s mother. And my mother’s mother’s mother lived upstairs. Her room was a mysterious place, alluring and a bit forbidding. She was in her mid-90s, of German descent, a faithful Lutheran, a holy woman. What I remember about going up to call on her in […]

Beginning Again

The Sacred and the Profane, by Mircea Eliade, was the first book assigned in Religion 101, my first course at Williams College. I remember that in the opening chapters, Eliade writes about New Year rituals, celebrated by “religious man,” in which the cosmos was recreated and time began again. “Since the New Year is a […]

Advent Meditations: Tuesday, December 25

Christmas Day Psalm 66, 67, 116, 117  •  Isaiah 11:10–16  •  Luke 1:5–25 A stable lamp is lighted whose glow shall wake the sky; the stars shall bend their voices, and every stone shall cry. And every stone shall cry, and straw like gold shall shine; a barn shall harbour heaven, a stall become a […]

My Body, Body of Jesus

  The vivid passion story in the gospel of Mark is essential to the meaning of the gospel and is likely the first part of Mark’s story to be told orally and later to be written down. The story of Jesus’ passion is the earth from which the rest of the gospel grew. It’s a […]