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Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent reading - homework for the snowbound

I was looking through some old files this morning, and wanted to share with you two articles that are still online after six years, one in the Chicago Tribune and one from Newsweek. I would just reprint them here, but God knows what kind of trouble I could get into because of that! Then there's a piece by Dom Crossan you will also admire, or at least, I hope you will. Each is linked by the first words of each paragraph.

The first is by Anna Quindlen, the Pulitzered essayist for the New York Times, who wrote a piece on politics and hunger that is so prophetically biblical that one is tempted to think of her as Joan the Baptist, even though she's an ex-Catholic. Titled "America the Hungry," it appeared in the pre-Thanksgiving issue of Newsweek in 2007, just in time for the holidays, and as the election rhetoric was about to heat up, replete with its accusations and counteraccusations about whose side God is on and just how dead we should make the evildoers. Anna would have none of that. With laser-like insight, she hits the heart of the matter, and by her last paragraph you will share her clarity, and gasp with her last-sentence prayer.

The second is by Garrison Keillor, almost everybody's favorite storyteller. In this essay that appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 2007, he narrates his experience as a catechist for a teen group one day in New York City, and his narrative powers are put to the service of his theological insight as he listens to the teenagers share their doubts and fears. As always, really good mind material with a payoff to the heart.

The third is by John Dominic Crossan on BeliefNet, a wonderful summary of and appetizer for his little book The First Christmas, in an article entitled "Matthew's Christmas Message." A renowned biblical scholar and, lately, a popularizer of the fruits of his labors in literary, cultural, and historical criticism, Crossan looks at the introductions to the four gospels, focusing on the infancy narratives of Luke and Matthew, and helps us see them as "overtures" to the theological outlook and kerygma (proclamation of faith) that each gospel lays out. This is a fascinating adventure, and this three-page article is a great introduction to his style and provocative insight that will leave you wanting more.

So, three articles is enough reading for a day or two. I'll shut up so you can get busy. Thank me later!