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Early Sorrow

After the three sisters had waited nine months for the baby who was born dead, they fretted about her being buried alone. So they placed next to her their almost-favorite stuffed animals, the toucan by her plump cheeks and the kookaburra by her elbow. In her hands, they put the board book Good Night Gorilla, in which the gorilla-hero steals the keys from the zookeeper’s belt, and frees the elephant, lion and giraffe. The sisters knew she would laugh when the animals followed... Read More

Death and Christology After (the Death of) God

In October 1965, Thomas J. J. Altizer, the famous theologian who popularized the phrase “God is dead” in America, proclaimed the death of God as the most radical affirmation of life and existence, an occasion for rejoicing.1 Altizer believed that God had completely emptied himself into the world, beginning with creation and culminating in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.2 Yet Altizer had not moved beyond God. In the forward to Altizer’s memoir, Mark C. Taylor states,... Read More

The Church in a Culture of Death: An Interview with Joel Shuman

In an age of rampant consumerism, which has brought about the current global economic crisis, the church today faces that age-old question: Who or What governs the body? The church must find ways of reclaiming the body, reclaiming each person as an indivisible whole rather than two disparate parts and as mystically united with other Christians as one Body in Christ. The corporate model of “doing church” has revealed its ugly falsehood, and if Christians are to recapture... Read More

Have Mercy

The exhibition of paintings by Renaissance masters closes in three days. The only way I can get there is if I skip work. I skip work. On a cloudless, chilled January morning, I stroll through warm rooms at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. At the museum, I dream of reaching out to touch canvas where the brush of Caravaggio or El Greco or Goya swirled and blended color. I’m subsumed by the dark and the light. Then, one painting forbids me to move forward. An artist I’ve... Read More

A Biblical Approach to Suicide Prevention: Where Did the Greeks Go Wrong?

Despite erroneous statements of some writers to the contrary, the Hebrew scriptures state clear and strong prohibitions against suicide and consider it to be an immoral act. The biblical prohibition against suicide derives from two sources: one from the Decalogue, “Thou shall not commit murder” (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17), and the other from Noahide law, “For your lifeblood too, I will require a reckoning” (Gen. 9:5). The Hebrew scriptures also contain several additional... Read More

Diminutive Disasters Of Calamaties, Of Innocence, Of Passing, and Of Insanity

Click on the image below (Of Insanity) to open Barry Krammes’s exhibit in a resizable browser. Artist’s Statement For the past thirty years, I have been interested in the sculptural process of assemblage art. Assemblage is the three-dimensional equivalent of the collage techniques invented by Picasso and Matisse. In assemblage, the artist transforms found objects into sculpture by gluing, soldering, or welding them together. Assemblage creates meaning through... Read More

Lessons from My Daughter: Reflections on Life, Death, the Church, and Utilitarian Ethics

On November 23, 1993, my wife and I were suddenly thrown into an unknown country, the one of people with disabilities and their families.1 Our daughter Karis was born with cerebral palsy. All four hemispheres of her body suffered significant movement damage; she could not eat, get dressed, brush her teeth, comb her hair, or touch her nose without our assistance. She never talked, only cried and smiled. We never knew her favorite food, her dreams or feelings, her likes or... Read More

A Shock of Sky

He arrived three weeks after, when smoke from the site could no longer be seen from a distance, but could still be smelled. A bookseller in Chicago, he got hired at a store four blocks from Ground Zero. Can you believe it, he said. I didn’t think I’d ever find a job, but they had openings. The store had a fat black cat, a toothy lady manager who moonlighted as a rock drummer, and a grim parade of tourists, each one in search of the wreckage, each one wanting to know what... Read More

Huddled against Death

n Ethiopia, where I grew up, funerals last three days. I hated going to these liksous. In the Amhara culture, grief is violent and sensory, loud and raw. As the local missionaries, my parents were usually asked to attend the last tribute to the dead. As we entered the mourners’ houses, I would duck behind my mother’s legs, terrified by what I heard and saw—relatives wailing at the top of their lungs, rocking back and forth, eyes rolled back in their heads; the bereaved... Read More

No Shelter (and other works)

Click here to see Shimon Sakakibara’s art exhibit Shimon Sakakibara is a visual artist who orchestrates distinctive visual inquiries of the lifelessness, boredom, and ennui of our society. Sakakibara is especially interested in depicting struggles of youth because he feels they are in their most mentally vulnerable years and are therefore the “ones of closest age to death.” At once vibrant and perplexing, Sakakibara is also poetic, particularly in the subtle ways... Read More