The Opera del Duomo di Orvieto (Orvieto Cathedral) in Orvieto, Italy, celebrates physicality, especially the human body, a distinctive mark of Christianity. The incarnation of Jesus Christ, the very act of God becoming flesh, celebrates the physical world that God created and pronounced “good” and “very good.”

Blog Posts About Life In The Body

7 Views on the Role of Women w/in the Inerrancy Camp

By | Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Women | No Comments

My Engage blog post for October 25:

I’m speaking at an event today at which I’m outlining seven different views on the role of women held by those who hold to the verbal plenary inspiration of scripture:

1. TRADITIONALISTS

Believe women are more easily deceived than men, but also masters at deceiving. Women are ontologically inferior to men at created level. “Women are the devil’s gateway.” — Tertullian. Augustine, Aquinas, John Knox, etc.

COMPLEMENTARIANS (spectrum of about 4 views)

Women equal before God, but in some form of hierarchy w/ men/ husbands. Authority = the issue w/ several views on the public ministry of women:

2. Male “headship” – all men = “head” over all women. Speak of “male headship.” Innate. At creation. Head = synonym for leader.

3. Male “headship” in the church and home – husband head of wife + elders head over women in church and …

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“The Student Body”: Do Students’ BMI Tests Do More Harm Than Good?

By | Bioethics, Justice, Life In The Body | No Comments

When Bailey Webber interviewed people for her new documentary, The Student Body, she took a set of bathroom scales with her. And every person with whom she spoke, she asked, “Would you be willing to step on the scales so we can get your BMI?” To a person, they balked. Most ultimately refused, though some reluctantly agreed.

A lot of kids in our schools don’t get the choice to decline. And then a letter arrives notifying them that they are too skinny or too fat.

In the ground-breaking and excellently produced film she made with her dad, Bailey, a young journalist, tackles the heated topic of childhood obesity and misguided efforts to solve our national childhood obesity epidemic.

And just what are those misguided efforts? Lawmakers in dozens of states have passed mandates requiring schools to perform body mass index (BMI) tests on students and then send letters stating their …

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A Great Film

By | Arts, Beauty, Justice, Life In The Body, Marriage, Women | No Comments

imgresDefying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War tells the story of a US couple’s courageous private war against the Nazis in 1939.

The Sharps, a Unitarian minister and his wife, are two of only five Americans honored as Righteous Among the Nations in Israel’s Yad Vashem. You can watch their story online at PBS until October 5 by clicking on the above link.

This film is the latest from Ken Burns, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentaries. Defying the Nazis is an incredible story of great personal sacrifice.

In this film you will see many similarities to the current social environment in America. How does an unlikely candidate rise quickly to power? How does racism thrive? Why don’t people care for refugees? Is national security more important that children’s lives? We’ve been here before.

When you finish, read Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939. We …

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Life Is Hard, but God Is Good

By | Arts, Books, Infertility, Life In The Body | 4 Comments

In the past two months, I have buried my father and walked my daughter through open-heart surgery. The “windsock in her heart,” as her surgeon described it, that had blood flowing the wrong way, was apparently congenital, but we didn’t discover it till this past July. She is still in the hospital, but she made it great through surgery on Tuesday. So now, in my great relief, I have some time to reflect on the whirlwind that has been my life for the past two months.

My overwhelming sense is that I’ve been covered in the love of God. The Almighty works with precise timing that may not always thrill us in the moment (surgery the day before my first day of classes!?), but in retrospect is always perfect, and designed for our greatest good. That my father died during the summer meant Oregon was beautiful (such beauty heals me), …

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A Lesson from the Olympics

By | Life In The Body | No Comments

My Engage blog post this week:

Mo Farah, 33, said he thought his Rio 2016 Olympics “dream was over.” This member of the Great Britain team was defending champ (London, 2012) of the 10,000m event, and he had every reason to believe he could win it again—until he tripped on his training partner and fell on the track.

But rather than give up, Farah did something remarkable. He jumped back to his feet. And he didn’t just prove he could get up and make it to the finish line. No—he took off and ran for 16 more laps and pressed on to won the gold!

The apostle Paul uses a running metaphor for the Christian faith in his letter to the Philippians: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing . . . though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world.” How? …

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The Only Child: #Doesn’tPlayWellWithOthers & Other Myths

By | Infertility, Life In The Body | No Comments

My post yesterday at christianparenting.org

Jairus’s daughter. John Updike. Condoleezza Rice. Cary Grant. Chelsea Clinton. My grandmother. And my mother. Do you think “most selfish people in the world” when you hear these names and labels? Neither do I. But they were or are all only children. And the stereotype of only children is that they refuse to share, act spoiled, and hog the biggest bowl of ice cream.

Fortunately, this caricature of only kids as brats with tiaras or ponies on the back forty has changed somewhat in the past four decades, in part because more people have “onlies.” Whereas 10 percent of American families had an only child in 1976, by 2014 that number had doubled. Some place the percentage as high as twenty-three. And in New York City, like other urban centers, the number is closer to 30 percent.

Mothers with master’s degrees have more only …

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Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Nazareth?

By | Justice, Life In The Body | No Comments
The depiction from the USA had no Jesus at all.

The depiction from the USA had no Jesus at all.

My column on refugees/immigration ran in DTS Magazine recently: 

Standing in Nazareth’s Basilica of the Annunciation, I gazed up at mosaics from all over the world. These works depicted the Virgin Mary with Jesus, and in each case Jesus bore the ethnic identity of the predominate group in the gifting country. That is, the art from Ecuador showed Jesus as Ecuadorian; the work from China, as Chinese; and the one from Thailand, as Thai. The baby Jesus from Slovenia even had red hair.

The mosaics’ creators made these localized images to remind viewers that Jesus is “one of us”—which he is. Yet so many artists have depicted Jesus as white for so long with such far-reaching influence that many think of Jesus as white, even if unconsciously.

Taking the Blinders Off

There’s nothing inherently wrong with localized depictions of our …

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My Favorite Parenting Advice

By | Life In The Body, Marriage, Women | No Comments

My husband and I cut our chops in vocational ministry by serving teens and college students. So long before we brought home a baby of our own, we saw the kind of parent/child conflicts that can tear apart the strongest of families. Because we paid our way through grad school in part by “housesitting” in some homes that came with kids while parents traveled, we had a solid dose of parenting experience before we ever got started. There was the toddler who cried the entire weekend because he had separation anxiety. There was the daughter who took off to go camping with the boys’ baseball team. And I can’t forget the drug-using son who jumped out his second-story window, broke into his brother’s car, stole it, and took it four-wheeling in the river. The next morning, he swaggered up the front sidewalk as if nothing had happened.

Other people’s kids …

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What is Intersex, and What Does the Bible Say about It?

By | Gender & Faith, Life In The Body | One Comment

We see the acronym LGBTIQA, and we might not even know what every letter stands for. To have conversations with people who self-identify in any of the represented categories, we need some basic language for communication:

 The acronym LGBTIQA stands for:

1) “L” – lesbian

2) “G” – gay

3) “B” – bisexual

4) “T” – transgender

5) “I” – intersex

6) “Q” – queer/questioning

7) “A” – asexual people and allies

(Notice “homosexual” is not on the list—many consider that word “Christianese.”)

Recently, I have had conversations with Christian leaders who’ve told me, “I don’t even know what intersex is.” I also hear people quoting Genesis’s beautiful words, “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Gen. 5:2) as a prelude to insisting that the Bible teaches there is no spectrum, that everyone

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Call a Friend, Watch a Sunset

By | Beauty, Life In The Body | 2 Comments
A digital photo is great; actually being at Calvin with my students was way better.

A digital photo is great; actually being at Calvin with my students was way better.

Years ago, I read that a firm experimenting with an electronic brain designed to translate English into Russian fed it the words: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The machine responded with a sentence in Russian which meant, a linguist reported, “The whisky is agreeable, but the meat is spoiled.”

I just returned from taking thirteen students to the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids. And at the first workshop I attended, Makoto Fujimura (“Mako”), in introducing his new book, Silence and Beauty, told a story about something similar his father tried years ago. Having studied under the American linguist Noam Chomsky, Mako’s dad later introduced the great philosopher’s theories in Japan. At that time, scientists told Mako’s dad that within ten years they’d create technology that so …

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