News, views, notes, and quotes

26 June 2015  •  No. 27

Invocation. A different “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah” (Since I Lay My Burden Down).  —Staple Singers

Photo at right: Jacob Kerr, Huffington Post

Pride history. While posting this edition, news of the US Supreme Court’s decision validating the right for same-sex couples to marry. [photo cap: Jacob Kerr, Huffington Post]
        This news comes only days after another milestone moment: “Nearly 46 years after powerful protests there galvanized the modern gay rights movement, New York City's historic Stonewall Inn has been granted official landmark status. It was June 28, 1969, when police raided the Greenwich Village bar that served gay clientele in an era of intolerance toward homosexuality.” —Deirdre Fulton, “Stonewall Inn, Celebrated Birthplace of Modern Gay Rights Movement, Gets Landmark Status Read more ›

​News, views, notes, and quotes

18 June 2015  •  No. 26

Invocation. “The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want / Green pastures rise and from the font / Flow waters, ever gentle, to surround me / My soul restored, my heart aflame / My feet will walk and for that Name / My lungs will lift to sing, Hallelujah. —Ken Sehested, first verse of new lyrics (adapted from from Psalm 23) to Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah.” 

Left: Banner hanging in the Park Road Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Graduation season. The recent vicarious experience of friends’ delight (and a wee bit of anxiety) at their children’s graduation pivots make me recall my own emotions in that season from some years ago, including a poem, “On the flow of tears.”  Read more ›

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4 June 2015  •  No. 24

¶ Invocation. “I am, you anxious one. / Don’t you sense me, ready to break / into being at your touch? / My murmurings surround you like shadowy wings. / Can’t you see me standing before you / cloaked in stillness? / Hasn’t my longing ripened in you / from the beginning / as fruit ripens on a branch?
        “I am the dream you are dreaming. / When you want to awaken, I am that wanting: / I grow strong in the beauty you behold. / And with the silence of stars I enfold / your cities made by time.” —Rainer Maria Rilke

Last week's announcement that the US State Department has removed Cuba from its list of "state sponsors of terrorism" is one more significant step in reestablishing normal diplomatic relations. To celebrate, take a few minutes to view the grandeur in these photos: “Unseen Cuba: First aerial photographs reveal island's spectacular beauty.” Lithuanian aerial photographer Marius Jovaisa was the first artist to receive government permission to fly over the country and photograph it from above. Read more ›

News, views, notes, and quotes

28 May 2015 •  No. 23

Special issue on
The Bible

“What bothers me about the Bible is not the parts I can't understand, but the parts I can understand.” —Mark Twain

¶  “Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of [another]. . . . There are just some kind of men who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” —Harper Lee, “To Kill a Mockingbird” Read more ›

News, views, notes, and quotes

21 May 2015  •  No. 22

Invocation. "This old world is mean and cruel, / But still I love it like a fool, this world, / This world, this world." —Malvina Reynolds, “This World”

Right: ©Julie Lonneman

Call to Worship. “Send Me,” a litany drawing from Isaiah 6:1-8. Read more ›

News, views, notes, and quotes

7 May 2015  •  No. 20

Special issue on

RIP: Guy Carawan. Few, if any, songs carry the politically realistic power of imagination more than “We Shall Overcome.” It likely began as a song sung by farm working slaves as “I’ll be all right someday.”  In 1901 Rev. C. Albert Tindley published “I’ll Overcome Someday,” though its lyrical and musical structure is significantly different.
        The song’s history is deliciously ironic: Molded in large part by Guy Carawan (at left—he was affectionately known as a “hippy-hillbilly”), which became the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, and sung since by hope-filled dissenters from South Africa to North Korea, Beirut to China’s Tiananmen Square. I was taught the Arabic version by a group of children in Baghdad in 2000. (Watch this one minute video of Jordanian young women singing “We Shall Overcome” in English.) Read more ›

News, views, notes, and quotes

30 April 2015  •  No. 19

Invocation. “In the book of love's own dream, where all the print is blood / Where all the pages are my days, and all my lights grow old / When I had no wings to fly, you flew to me, you flew to me.” —“Attics of My Life,” performed by the Levon Helm band, written by the Grateful Dead’s Robert Hunger and Jerry Garcia

In case you missed last week’s 25th anniversary commemoration of the Hubble Space Telescope, view a few of its spectacular images.

Call to worship. A seven-year-old’s recitation of “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.” Read more ›

News, views, notes, and quotes

23 April 2015

“Signs of the Times” is taking a week off, to make room for springtime house and yard projects. But I have added some new material to prayer&politiks, including ”Liturgical reform and worship renewal,”  commentary from last weekend’s Alliance of Baptists Convocation; and a new litany for worship, “Adelante—Keep Moving Forward.”

In light of the upcoming “National Day of Prayer” (7 May), see “Prayer: The Intersection of Personal and Social Transformation.

Pass it on. Read more ›