Posts Tagged ‘faith’

First Things

Monday, March 14th, 2016

As we make plans for all the observances of Holy Week, there is one abiding lesson that we all have to re-learn. Whatever liturgies we choose, the Cross and Resurrection are central to our faith.

Beyond the church programs and projects, more than the meetings and plans, besides the priestly and the prophetical, we remember the death and risen life of Jesus of Nazareth.

All churchy events are eclipsed by the reality of our sin and the atonement of the Cross. So we are drawn to the final hours of Christ, our beloved Messiah. —J. Douglas Ousley


Paris in the Winter

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Our Men’s Group devoted part of last night’s regular meeting to discussing the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Comments were wide-ranging, reflecting the many political orientations of our membership. Some cited history, others sought to find common ground among opponents, others suggested specific prayers. My own worry is that Islamists have become so extreme in their views that they will only be stopped by violence.

Is the sanguine view of liberal Christians that at their heart, all religions are basically the same now a dubious assumption? We have always dissociated ourselves from Christian fanatics who pervert the Gospel in favor of prejudice. But the Islamist fanatics seem to be taking their beliefs to a new level of extremism. (One indication of this development is that Islamic State was founded by a group of Islamists who were kicked out of Al-Qaeda because they were regarded as too violent!) It now remains to be seen whether Islam can restore its own reputation and be regarded as one way among many to the Divine. —J. Douglas Ousley


God and Man in the Ivy League

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

When I was in high school in the 1960’s, I came across William Buckley’s wide-read book, God and Man at Yale, which decried the secular culture of the university Buckley had attended. As it happened, I went on to attend Yale myself and was an officer in the Yale Christian Union. In those years there were a couple of other small Protestant groups plus Catholic and Jewish congregations.

It is interesting, then, that decades later, while church attendance has declined nationwide, Christian groups are flourishing at Yale and other Ivy League campuses. The Ivy League Christian Observer, a 50 page quarterly magazine, gives news of countless groups, missions, lectures, journals, and activities sponsored by Christian students.

As it also happened, I met William Buckley while I was in a political organization at Yale, and I encountered him a few other times later when I moved to New York City. He surely would be pleased that, these days, God seems quite welcome at his alma mater. —J. Douglas Ousley


Sundays in the Park

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

The listserve for priests in the Episcopal Diocese of New York recently discussed all the Sunday morning events that now compete with church services for peoples’ attention. The AIDS Walk this Sunday will attract thousands of participants, including some 900 Episcopalians. The MS Bike Tour May 5 involved many others, besides tying up traffic all over New York City. Add other sporting events and birthday parties, brunches, and other social occasions–not to mention weekend getaways and overtime at the office–and church often finds itself second-best.

If I knew what to do about this, I would do it. Sunday evening worship helps a bit, as do church events during the week. But, as far as I know, the church still needs to find new ways to win the attention of modern people distracted by contemporary alternatives to the formal worship of God. —J. Douglas Ousley


Things that Abide

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

At the end of Holy Week, on Good Friday, in anticipation of Easter, it may be useful for us Episcopalians to remind ourselves of the important things. The important things are the ultimate things: truth and beauty and goodness, life now and life in eternity. As the philosophers used to say, “God, freedom and immortality”–the questions that never can be fully answered.

As the events we commemorate at this time of year force us to consider all these issues, they also remind us that church organization and politics, in comparison, hardly matter. Ecclesiastical matters are among the things that are passing away; now is the time for us to hold fast to those things that abide. Jesus lives. —J. Douglas Ousley


War of the Hitchens’

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

It is remarkable to read Peter Hitchens’ memoir, The Rage Against God:How Atheism Led Me to Faith, just after his brother, Christopher’s autobiographical reflections, Hitch-22. The latter is famous for his atheistic tract, God is Not Great. Peter details his own return to faith in conscious sibling rivalry. Ironically, both brothers, who have been known as foreign journalists and political analysts look likely to be remembered for their opposing views of religion.

My own views of the books: While Peter’s memoir meanders is a bit critical of trendiness in the Church of England, he offers many good reasons for embracing the consolations of faith. While Christopher’s tract is filled with weak atheistic arguments, his memoir is brilliant and often riveting. Both brothers deserve the gratitude of believers for bringing religious questions back onto the best-seller list. –J. Douglas Ousley