Infinity, it seems, can be spoken without words.

When God created the visible (and invisible) universe he spoke words — ”let there be light” — and things that were not in one moment began to exist in the next. Stars. Planets. Oceans. Mountains. Trees. Animals. Flowers.

All these things and more were breathed into existence by God. When the Father began to make all things, our wisdom tells us that it was the Son by whom the Father spoke all things into being; Christ spoke the things that were not as though they were and they were so. Orchid. Zebra. Maple. Everest. Atlantic. Jupiter. Andromeda. And so on.


Time for the church’s leaders to dispel lies and protect life.

Time for some honesty. For five years the President has said and done things that I felt we should not tolerate in a leader of the nation.

I used to be quite vocal about it but there was always a pattern in response: that’s not what he said (though I heard him say it), that’s not what he meant (when his meaning was unambiguous), that’s not what he did (but I’m watching the video and, well, that’s what he did).

Samuel Corum | Getty Images

At some point I brought these things up less because the price for bringing them up was too high in…


I owe a deep love of language to black women teachers.

My first teachers were women of color. My first, second, and third grade teachers, and the librarian at my elementary school were all black.

Each of them in their own way taught me to love words — to read them, to write them, to let my imagination enter without reservation the worlds that words make.

fugitive library, North Carolina, circa late 1950s/early 1960s

Their love of language, forged in the unimaginable circumstances of their lives, made constant demands on them, and they lovingly passed on to me the joyful vocation of careful word choice and articulation. They taught me that every word mattered.

I read whole biographies in…


A continuing reflection on the death of my father.

As elements grow cold their atoms slow down in that invisible world where particles dwell, until at the coldest possible temperature—absolute zero—all motion ceases.

A satellite photograph of a street I lived on fifty years ago fills one window of my laptop. This landscape is frozen in time, not by the desperate cold of space where the photo was taken but by the satellite’s power to capture sunlight as it played upon this spot of the world some bright, clear day who knows how long ago.

Image from Google Maps.

Streaked by shadows from the early morning sun, the old street runs east to…


Resisting ideology as we ponder a return to gathered worship.

Churches do not need anyone to tell us when to reopen or when to remain closed, when to gather again as congregations and when to stay apart.

The vast majority of ordained and lay leaders in the churches are listening first to the Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ and not another Spirit, who tells us to love our neighbors.

This selfsame Spirit compelled centuries of the first Christians to put themselves in harm’s way for the sick, the widow and orphan, the prisoner, the hungry, and the stranger, because they are where Christ told us we would encounter…


The Gospel is public information—not hidden, not secret—and that’s why Christians should be immune from closeted delusions.

Conspiracy theories are a lot like Gnosticism.

They claim that only an enlightened few know what is actually going on in the world and what almost everyone else knows is a lie; that the knowledge available to the average person on the street is unreliable.

The true believer who spreads these conspiracies is like the member of a mystery cult: in the “know” no matter how disconnected from important events he or she may be, no matter how unreal their imagined scenarios are in the face of realities.

And by implication, most people trying to make their way in the…


A final mediation on the Way of the Cross for our friends at Parish LB in California.

Every human hopes to be remembered, even the human who is God.

We heard his words at the supper last night, “Remember me.”

The truly awful thing is that eventually no one remembers most of the humans who have ever lived.

Time and distance wipes the fingerprints, scatters the ashes, and absconds with any evidence of our having been here.

As soon as our family and close friends and acquaintances are also dead and gone, there is no living human memory of us.

There may be recordings, photos, perhaps even some of our words in a book or carved into…


On naming the Love that makes, moves, and inspires us.

The universe is vast, mysterious, dark, and lovely. The images of the universe that we are the first privileged humans to see boggle the mind and provoke deep emotion.

The size and beauty of the cosmos compel us to ask questions of time and existence and meaning, some of which we cannot answer. The ones we can answer inspire us to know, experience, and see more of what we have not seen.

The universe is intelligent and beautiful and is created good but it’s not personal and “the Universe” is not a good or a proper way to name God.


While we are rightly sequestered for the sake of others, we ought to remain deeply ambivalent about empty churches.

There is a gap between what quarantine means for liturgical Christians entering Holy Week and those who (in the main) celebrate Easter alone.

Our sacred services are about re-enacting all the events that save the world — the hard and the ugly, the glorious and the joyful — in company as the church.

Our participation in the mysteries—the strange, subversive donkey parade of palms and “hosannas,” the washing of feet, the last supper, the arrest, the trials, the beating, the way of the cross, Golgotha, the seven last words, the shameful, murderous death, the burial, the descent to the dead…


A meditation on human limits and bad news.

Not very long ago humans were radically limited in what we knew or could know, and I don’t just mean what the scientific method has allowed us to discover. I am thinking about the amount of news we consumed.

Before the 1830s and 1840s, most people were confined to the information they had from the blocks and neighborhoods of the great cities, or the villages or plains they inhabited.

It took days to get information in papers, even for events relatively close by. …

Kenneth Tanner

Pastor | Writer | Contributor: Mockingbird, Christianity Today, Sojourners, Huffington Post, Real Clear Religion, National Review, Clarion Journal

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