COMMENTARY: Debating the value of the debates

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of "Just Wondering, Jesus" and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is Follo.w Tom on Twitter @tomehrpiscopal priest based in New York. He is the author of "Just Wondering, Jesus" and founder of the Churi

Why, exactly, does it matter if President Barack Obama gave a lackluster performance in the recent presidential debate?

Is the Bible Reliable?

When I was eighteen I participated in a “street evangelism” campaign at the Boston University campus as part of a Bible course I was enrolled in. A few of the BU grad students decided to have a little fun and interrogate us with some questions of their own. We were steamrolled by their merciless intellectual superiority. My ignorance was not bliss on this particular occasion.

When we’re not busy

We often greet each other with a question like, “Keeping busy?” For many of us the answer is yes, and we may add a summary of our current tasks or activities to the one who greeted us. Or we may mentally review the kinds of things that are keeping us busy. As we do so, we could feel stimulated by these pursuits and well-engaged with life. Or possibly we feel overloaded and stressed.

Spirit sent!

Sailboats seemed so idyllic—until I went sailing. I discovered that what looked peaceful from a distance was physically vigorous. It involved constant alertness, team work, and careful attention to the instructions of my friend. Only then could we align the sails of our boat with the powerful prairie wind and experience the exhilaration of being caught and propelled!

Shedding Sola Scriptura

I grew up in a church where everything was painted “Sola Scriptura.” I’m not referring to some chic Greco-Roman inspired hue from Benjamin Moore, but a Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone” which coloured the way we saw everything under the sun. “Sola Scriptura” was the primary pillar and doctrinal gatekeeper of Protestant faith.

Impulsive generosity

In his book Money, Sex and Power, Richard Foster tells this story: “A doctor once asked a very wealthy patient, ‘What on earth are you going to do with all of that money?’ The patient replied, a bit reluctantly, ‘Just worry about it, I suppose.’ The doctor went on, ‘Do you get that much pleasure out of worrying about it?’ ‘No,’ replied the patient, ‘but I get such terror when I think o

September sanity

On a deliciously warm summer afternoon in the middle of August, I greeted my neighbour who is a teacher. We exchanged a few pleasantries and then I began to ask him about the coming school year. “Don’t even start down that direction,” he warned, holding up his hand palm-out, like a nonverbal stop sign.

Uncovering Mammon: Fracking in Mennonite Country

Anita Amstutz grew up in northeast Ohio, but is now a pastor in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Recently I was visiting the homeland of my childhood, Wayne County, in Northeast Ohio. Here, corn is king, God and family are first and most have been farming for generations. The land is wrapped in grain fields and mature hardwoods. Cows idyllically graze on rolling green pastures. Communities are prolific with vegetable gardens and graceful flower beds.

Bricks and mortar

An artist’s drawing of the proposed MCC Ontario building.

The new $12-million complex Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO) is building in Kitchener will fit the more-with-less ethos, says Rick Cober Bauman, MCCO’s executive director. “But,” he adds, “it is still clearly sending a message that we are a serious player in relief, development and peace; and we’re not hiding.”

Two everyday heroes of the faith

Abe Buhler and Eric Olfert

What’s at the heart of the matter? What is basic and essential to our questions of faith and life? Such questions were asked of Jesus in attempts to trap him. They are also important questions in helping us find our way to a more life-giving centre in a context where our Christian faith is often perceived as more exclusive than embracing—more restrictive than freeing.

A Bible full of stewardship

I have been fortunate not to have to wear glasses to correct my vision for most of my life. But like many others who have reached a certain age, I now need glasses in order to read or see anything up close. For a time, I was managing to get by with a few pairs of inexpensive reading glasses kept in strategic locations for me to pick up and use when needed.

Wedding gifts

On a lovely summer day 36 years ago, my husband and I were married in an outdoor service at our church camp. Standing beside him and facing our family and friends, I was overcome with a joyful surprise. “All of these people have come just because of us!” I thought, as tears came to my eyes. I was awed and delighted by the sight of these people and the love they extended towards us.

A lost cause?

I don’t think I am delusional, but as the leader of a national church, I sometimes feel as though I am romanticizing a lost cause. I serve a collective within the context of individuals. I depend on the communal while appealing to the private.


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