Essay

Perpetual Motion

People seem to have given up on the idea of a perpetual motion machine. But The Twelve is about as close as you’ll come. Day after day, a blog appears. Some you read. Some you skip. Some annoy you. Some you treasure. Okay, there is the occasional glitch. We’re not an actual perpetual motion machine. We need you to keep…
February 20, 2018
Essay

Is Psychology Everything?

Once upon a time, I was suspicious of psychology. It was an enemy of faith. Psychology purported that healthy, balanced people did not need religion. Psychology was an explainer-away of all things sacred. Religion was an illusion, wish fulfillment, the opiate of the people. Over time, unintentionally, pretty much unaware, something changed. It now often feels like I look at…
February 20, 2018
Essay

Falling Into the Earth

By Tom Boogaart In chapter 12 of the Gospel of John, Jesus announces, “The hour has come...” (23), and with these words the focus of the Gospel shifts. Knowing that his hour of death is near, Jesus turns his attention to his disciples and tries to explain to them the meaning of his life and imminent death, an explanation they struggle to comprehend.…
February 19, 2018
Essay

Lent Without Easter

By Joshua Vis Only Jesus has experienced Lent and Easter. For the rest of us, life is Lent. We know only a life of Lent. Except we strive to avoid entering into the suffering and despair of life. The resurrection (and Lent) has taught us to mourn our existence, to wish for something different, something better. We focus on suffering,…
February 18, 2018
Essay

Pious Petunia Puts on the Ashes

After a long hiatus, guest columnist Pious Petunia returns with wise and timely guidance along the Lenten pilgrim path. Dear Miss Petunia: I’m the pastor of a medium-sized congregation with an older building. Several women at the church have been reading that book by Marie Kondo, the cleaning guru, and as their Lenten “service” to the church, they want to…
February 17, 2018
Essay

Puritans, Public Libraries, and Religious Freedom

Facebook's a funny thing; or, at least it's full of things that are funny. Like the puritan Valentines day cards, which were perfect for this year's Ash Wednesday / Valentines day mashup. I really like this one: Messing around on Facebook the other day I found something strange. The Facebook page for the Sioux County Conservatives is promoting a petition…
February 16, 2018
Essay

Remember Me

Let me be a thief. Or rather, let me be the thief. You remember him. Stripped and pinned, dismantled and disoriented, he hangs between life and death, this world and the next. Christ slumps nearby, a make-shift sign above his head reading THE KING OF THE JEWS. When the Other Thief mocks Christ--taunting him with his inability to "save" himself (and…
February 15, 2018
Essay

The Grace of Ashes

With poise and grace she walked toward me as if we were about to enter a dance. She was the lead and I was to respond to her invitation. She walked with gentle authority that conveyed not many have refused her invitation. It was her gemstone brouche that first caught my eye in the candlelight prayers of the evening worship. It…
February 14, 2018
Essay

The End of Green

It is the last day of Epiphany today.  Ash Wednesday ushers us into Lent tomorrow.  Although it can be shorter by about ten whole days actually (in case Easter falls upon its earliest possible date of March 22), this year Epiphany lasted only 39 days, and that still feels brief to me.   Epiphany begins January 6 and usually focuses on…
February 13, 2018