Nathaniel Martin sailed with his friend and fellow-naturalist Stephen Maturin on two long sea voyages in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series, first as the ship's chaplain and later as Maturin's assistant surgeon. Never much of a fist at sermonizing, Martin took to writing and publishing impolitic tracts that offended the Royal Navy Board and prevented him from returning as a chaplain.
Martin lost an eye to an owl, and, as long as Martin's eye was single, O'Brian let him rival Captain Jack Aubrey for Maturin's time and friendship. Martin married between voyages, however, and his newfound obsession with providing for his family began to make him tedious company for Maturin. (Banality is the worst symptom a character can present with in these novels.) Martin's overheated conscience led him to an end straight out of Hawthorne, with whom he shared his first name.
These are the sermons he never wrote.
1 You get labeled. Some of these labels are accurate, and some are not. Some are helpful, and some are not. All labels are true: they accurately describe how the labeler sees the labeled one or how he wants the labeled one to see herself or be seen by others. All labels are false: even [...]
The blind spiritual instinct that tells us obscurely that our own lives have a particular importance and purpose, and which urges us to find out our vocation, seeks in so doing to bring us to a decision that will dedicate our lives irrevocably to their true purpose. – Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island Mr. [...]
Lectio divina is like reading poetry: we need to slow down, to savor what we read, and to allow the text to trigger memories and associations that reside below the threshold of awareness. Michael Casey’s comparison of poetry and meditation (lectio divina being perhaps the most flexible and durable in the Christian tradition) in his [...]
[Read my exclusive interview of Chester P. Michael here.] A friend of mine, outgoing and practical, was asked recently what he would like to see more of in our church. “Meditation,” he responded. I don’t think he would have felt that way if he had not participated in a series based on Chester P. Michael [...]
A book’s a funny place to look for answers. If customer support took that long to answer my question, I’d hang up. Some books make the Bible into an answer book. On supermarket displays back by the butcher’s and druggist’s counters, you may pick up books of Bible verses, helpfully categorized by issues. Spin the [...]