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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Faith and Values: Hospitality begins with the ‘other’ within

I tend to grow more and more impatient with the superficial ways we toss the word “hospitality” into our conversations. It is a very ancient, honorable word. But we domesticate it, reduce it to pleasant manners and forced smiling at others. Hospitality is transformative when it is authentic! Examples of biblical hospitality are many (Genesis 18:1-15; I Kings 17: 9-24; Luke 24: 13-25 to cite three). The transformative power of hospitality really shows itself, whether biblically or in today’s experience, when it finds ways to turn hostility into the friendship and freedom of hope.

Faith and Values: A politics worthy of the human spirit

I’m sick and fatigued nearly to the point of despair – only nearly! – by the divides we must navigate over matters political and religious, especially when they combine into a cesspool of disrespect and dishonesty. So let’s take a breath and uncover our deeper human spirit that’s been smothered by so much fearful dehumanizing talk and action.

Faith and Values: Begging for some truth pieces

Are you ever puzzled? I find myself puzzled most every day. It’s usually because I don’t seem to find the right truth-piece(s) to fit into the larger Truth Puzzle I seek. They aren’t easily found, even when I internally beg to find them.

Faith and Values:

The collective heart of our nation seems split in two. Part of our heart seems callous, hardened, wild with fear, bizarrely ready to lash out at perpetrators and victims alike. I only vaguely comprehend this. Life still seems too cheap for some who aren’t able to see children as true children.

Faith and Values: A tower to nowhere

The Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1-9) has been interpreted in a number of ways over the centuries. I became aware of a new (to me) interpretation in the Nov. 8 issue of the Christian Century. Rabbi Shai Held compellingly dismissed some of the traditional looks at that tower. He focused instead on a well-constructed view that makes this story more understandable in the religious and political climates we live in today.

Faith and Values: I truly don’t understand when believers settle for spiritual shallows

In September, I wrote a letter to our grandkids encouraging them to not stay in the spiritual shallows. They have more control there, but they experience less of what life has to offer them. I want to revisit that piece in a different way. I begin with a true pastoral story. Nearly 40 years ago, a wonderful, elderly member of the church I served at that time always greeted me after worship with “Paul, you gave me something to think about today.” She also described herself as a Christian who studied the Bible and believed every word written there. I’ll call her “Grace.”

Faith and Values: Where’s the bottom? God knows

God didn’t make us to live in the shallows of life. It may be a safer place. But God knows that the more abundant life is in the deeper, faster water where we can live the real adventures awaiting our souls.

Faith and Values: Letting scapegoats loose in our lives

So it’s up to us – you and me – to stop the vicious scapegoating game when and where we can! It may involve curbing our tongues, and thinking more graciously of others we don’t know or don’t “approve of.” It may take on some kind of social and/or political activism that holds both systems and people to account for “thinking stupid” and “acting stupid.” We all do that, don’t we?

Faith and Values: Tide-proof memories

Dear Katie, Claire and Andy, At the beginning of his 1966 novel, “The Gates of the Forest,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel tells a simple, ancient Jewish parable. At its conclusion, Weisel gently declares “God created man because he loves stories.” I believe that too, kids. Our family has wonderful stories.

Faith and Values: A matter of alignment?

I felt and heard the CRACK! of my back as the chiropractor found the right spot on my vertebrae to bring my back into re-alignment. I don’t have this procedure done often, but occasionally one leg seems longer than the other. Others I know have more serious alignment issues. I recently read a stimulating book about alignment – but not spinal alignment as you might suppose. Not literally anyway, but the metaphor of “alignment” drew me into the fuller story. The Rev. Colby Martin spoke of his being out of alignment with his church, and the Bible. I was intrigued!

Faith and Values: Centrifugal pain in our spirits

In the mid-1950s, a particular carnival was a summer attraction in my hometown, Kellogg. Its most fascinating ride was The Round Up. Customers would climb onto a circular floor surrounded by a tall wall. As the engine moved the ride around and around faster and faster, the floor would suddenly drop away. And we were suspended against the wall by what I later learned was “centrifugal force.” What a great ride! “Centrifugal” means “center-fearing.” Its opposite reaction is called “centripetal” (“center-seeking”). Physics has described what I also see as a spiritual metaphor.

Faith and Values: Gratitude and judgment in the shadows

Shadows get an undeservedly bad reputation in our culture. It’s like we see shadows only in “black or white,” or “dark or light” terms. Too bad, because we do most of our daily living in the shadows. We allow our fears to be enhanced rather than healed in the shadows. Again, too bad. Let’s begin with the benefits of shade to some favorite flowers, vegetables and herbs. Half and dappled shade is preferred for bleeding hearts (one of my favorites), chard, kale, radishes, spinach, leeks, arugula, basil, parsley, dill, cilantro, chives and alpine strawberries.

Faith and Values: Voting is a powerful privilege

Treat your voting at all levels as a privilege rather than a duty. It is too easy to get cynical about voting. Fight against that by knowing you live in a democracy that authentically values the vote.

Paul Graves: Rhetoric has meaning, and costs

Any political campaign, from national to local, is a great example of how words can be used so cheaply to communicate whatever fears, angers, or hopes the candidates use to persuade voters to vote for them. Political rhetoric is not, however, a reality show. It deals with real life.