Thurman on Christian Power

Too often the price exacted by society for security and respectability is that the Christian movement in its formal expression must be on the side of the strong against the weak. This is a matter of tremendous significance, for it reveals to what extent a religion that was born of a people acquainted with persecution and suffering has become the cornerstone of a civilization and of nations whose very position in modern life has too often been secured by a ruthless use of power applied to weak and defenseless peoples.

Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, p.11.


In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky uses the slanting rays of the sun to represent the love of God that can flow through each of us, transforming lives as we interact with each other with genuine love.

Now, may the slanting rays of the sun
light the path before us,
as the love of God surrounds us,
to guide us on our journey.

May God guard our hearts
from anything that might separate us,
and shelter us all in his love, forever.


Truth Tables in LaTeX

Typesetting truth tables has never been easy. LaTeX is the gold standard for displaying logic and mathematics, but tables are awkward to edit at best. Tables are much simpler in Microsoft Word, but displaying formulas is a horrible experience.1 Here is my current workflow.

The text that I’m using this semester is Introduction to Formal Logic with Philosophical Applications by Russell Marcus. Instead of arrows and the ampersand, it uses the horseshoe, triple bar, and dot. So, I add the following lines to my LaTeX preamble to simplify entering the symbols.2


Then, I enter the truth table in either Excel or Numbers. For example, this would be a simple one line table determining the truth value of a formula for a given valuation:

Numbers truth table

Copy the cells that you want included in the truth table. Go to Tables Generator, and select “LaTeX Tables” from the top menu bar. Below the top menu bar is a drop-down menu bar. Click on “File” then “Paste table data…” and paste the table data. Table Generator will generate a nicely formatted LaTeX table:

\caption{My caption}
P & Q & R & P & \lif & (\lneg Q & \land & R) \\
1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1

I delete the first four lines and the last line, leaving just the table data and the lines declaring the tabular environment:

P & Q & R & P & \lif & (\lneg Q & \land & R) \\
1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1

At this point, typesetting will fail because the symbols need to be in math mode. So, I’ve found two options. The first is to put all the commands for the symbols in math mode:

P & Q & R & P & \(\lif\) & (\(\lneg\) Q & \(\land\) & R) \\
1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1

The second option is to change “tabular” to “array” and put the entire table into math mode:

P & Q & R & P & \lif & (\lneg Q & \land & R) \\
1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1

Arrays are centered on the page. If you would prefer them printed at the left margin, add “fleqn” to the document class options: \documentclass[fleqn]{article} Since the array is in math mode, the letters will be italicized. I use the newtxmath font package, and it has a “frenchmath” option that sets the math font to non-italic. Other math fonts may have a similar option.

Finally, whichever option is used, we need to add two lines. Adding a vertical line character to the table or array formatting options will place a vertical line between the valuation section and the rest of the truth table. Adding the booktabs package to the preamble will allow us to separate the sentence from the rest of the truth table.

This gives us the final version,

P & Q & R & P & \lif & (\lneg Q & \land & R) \\ \midrule
1 & 1 & 1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1

which produces this:

Truth Table

  1. Apple’s Pages now allows users to add formulas with LaTeX. It’s looking like a good solution for those who like more traditional word processors. 
  2. The AMS LaTeX packages already include a command called “\lor” for entering the vee or wedge. 

Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

A prayer for Mitch Randall’s last Sunday as pastor of NorthHaven Church, before he takes his new position as executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

God of peace and joy,

For centuries,
Israel anticipated
the coming of the Messiah;
and as one expectation
was fulfilled,
another was born,
for we still long
for the day when
that same Messiah
will come again.

Christmas is still a day
when old dreams are fulfilled,
and new dreams are born.

We give thanks for what
this church has become
in the years that Mitch
has been with us:

For those who have
been rejected,
it is a place to feel welcome.

For those who have
felt constrained,
a place to be free.

For those whose gifts
have been denied,
a place to serve.

And so it is fitting
that at Christmas
We share with the world.
this gift that we have received,

And may we, through our
words, actions, and gifts,
declare to the world
that there is still
good news of glad tidings,
for all people, everywhere.


Ordination Prayer

This is a prayer for the ordination service of Kim Divelbiss at NorthHaven Church on December 9, 2017

God of grace and hope,

We confess that, sometimes,
we are like Israel in Egypt,
overwhelmed by life and
tempted to believe that
you have abandoned your people.

In this, though, we have hope,
though Israel had forgotten you,
you did not abandon her.
Instead, you called Moses
to be her minister.

And so, from the desert
of our dry and parched lives,
you continue to call —
not from a burning bush,
but from within,
from a heart aflame
with passion for
the kingdom of God
and for your people.

Today, we give thanks for Kim,
a minister with such a heart,
who, like Moses,
has answered your call.

Grant her the vision
to see things as they are,
and the spiritual imagination
to recognize what they could be.

May her laughter be joyful;
her anger, righteous;
her compassion, gentle;
her witness, bold;
and her love, deep.

Fill her with the
power of the Almighty,
who took what was
formless and void
and created the universe,
then declared it good.

May her ministry
be the means by which
you continue to take
what is broken and empty,
and create that which is
new, beautiful and good.

In the name of the Father
who gives us our mission,
and of the Son,
whose obedience is our model,
and of the Spirit,
who gives us strength
for our task.

Three persons,
one God,
forever and ever.