In Offense, Giving Thanks

Holy God,

Thank you
for the one
who offends me,
for in offense
my heart is laid bare
and my idols are revealed.

My anger declares
the object of my worship.

Is it myself,
the empire,
or you?

Lord, have mercy.

On Passing Judgment

One of last week’s lectionary texts was Romans 14:1-12.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. (Rom. 14:10, NRSV)

God of Grace,

In belittling others,
I am made small.

By doubting their faith,
I cheapen my own.

In my haste to judge,
I am the one condemned.

The day will come,
when my time on earth
is finally weighed.

If I am found wanting,
let it be for my
failure to judge,
and not for my
failure to love.


Be the Body of Christ

We are the Body of Christ.

He cannot go where
we refuse to tread,
speak what we
refuse to say,
or share what
we refuse to give.

May we be the
instruments of
his love and grace.


A Prayer for My Failing Faith

God of Hope,

I claim to be person of faith,
yet live as a person of fear.

I build walls,
because I fear the stranger;

Hold on to the present,
because I fear the future.

And make my own plans,
because I do not trust yours.

What a fool to think
that what I do out of fear
could ever be better than
what you do out of love.

Thanks be to God,
there is no wall that cannot be torn down,
no stranger that cannot be a friend,
and no future that cannot be redeemed.


A New School Year

As this year’s chairperson of the Faculty Council, I am privileged to open our first employee meeting with a reading from Scripture and a prayer. This year, our academic year begins one week after the horrific display of racism and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. That event prompted my reflection on the following text.

Colossians 3:1-15

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry). On account of these the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient. These are the ways you also once followed, when you were living that life. But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.


God of hope and Lord of life,

Thank you for this time
to gather together
as friends and colleagues
to kindle the excitement
and hope of a new beginning.

We give thanks and pray for our students,
for they come here with hopes and dreams,
and believe that this is the place where
those hopes and dreams can become reality.

May they never leave thinking
that their dreams were too big,
but instead go from here
with a new vision of their role
in the redemptive story
that is far greater than
even they had ever dared to dream.

We pray for ourselves,
that you would protect us from the temptations
to answer too quickly,
to respond with cynicism,
and to serve the spirit that crushes hope,
instead of our God who makes all things possible.

We pray for our nation,
still reeling in shock
from what we have seen this week.

The temptation is to despair,
asking who are we,
and what can we do
when anger, wrath, and malice
appear to win the day?

But we are those who have been raised with Christ,
and of all people we should have hope,
for we have been to the cross,
and we have seen what love can do.

May our lives bear witness to that love
and to the resurrection power
that the darkness, as hard as it may try,
can never overcome.

In the name
of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.

Three persons,nOne God,
forever and ever.


Prayer for Graceful Words

Holy God,

In my haste to be heard,
give me the strength
to slow down,
think carefully,
and measure
my words.

Some words are poisonous fruit,
and others are seeds of grace.

Help me to sow
according to your will.


Emacs Config

I combined all of my Emacs configuration files into one Org-mode file with 3,003 lines of code and comments. You can see it here, for all it’s worth.

Prayer to See What Could Be

God of Love,

When I see a stranger,
do you see a beloved child?

When I see an enemy,
do you see a friend?

May I see what is,
and not what I fear might be.

Even more,
may I see what could be,
if I were to give even a fraction
of the grace that I have received.


Moving to Hugo

It’s been longer than usual since I made a redesign of the web site. Jekyll had been serving my purposes well, but I managed to concoct two excuses for changing. I’ve been slightly uncomfortable with handling the various dependencies with respect to other Ruby gems. Unsurprisingly, as the site got bigger and bigger, the time that Jekyll took to build the site has gotten longer and longer. The real reason for the redesign, though, is that I just like the chance to learn and work with something new.

I thought about Pelican, which is similar to Jekyll, but written in Python. I’m more comfortable hacking around in Python than I am in Ruby, but that was the only advantage I could see with Pelican. Hugo has been getting a lot of press lately, and everyone remarked about it’s apparently amazing build speed. It also installs as a single binary, so there is no need to manage dependencies.

Building the Hugo site was relatively simple, and anyone with some experience with any static site generator should have no problem. Hugo has a command to import a Jekyll blog, which worked very well. I had to clean up some meta-data, but after a bit of search and replace magic with regular expressions on the post directory, everything worked.1

I thought about designing my own theme, but quickly discovered that it would take more time than I need to be spending now, so found this excellent academic oriented theme by George Cushen, cleverly called “Academic.”

The Internet chatter was correct — the site builds very quickly.2 I saw soon face, though, with the one disadvantage of Hugo compared to Jekyll, at least for me. As a professor at a small liberal arts college with a primary revenue stream of tuition, I prefer to use free services when possible. Github hosting was ideal. Since a large portion was powered by Jekyll, I could just push the source to Github. Github would build and serve the site automatically. It met two important criteria, simple and free. I was especially happy with that after discovering how to easily post from iOS.

Now, I had to build the Hugo site, then push the source to one repository and the HTML to another. It wasn’t difficult, but it didn’t have the single-step ease that I wanted. I stumbled on Forestry, which is a CMS for Jekyll and Hugo sites. It works amazingly well, and could be a great tool for people who want the benefits of static sites but don’t want to mess with the command line. It can be configured to build and push to the deployment repository when a change is made to the source repository. For me at least, it didn’t work well in conjunction with the command line, though. When it rebuilt the site, it changed a number of source files, and I would forget to pull those changes before working on something. I was soon tired of cleaning up merge conflicts.

Many people use either Travis CI or Wercker for deploying static sites. Both are tools for building and deploying software, but will also build and deploy static sites. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t manage to make either one work. Finally, I stumbled on Netlify. Netlify is a bit different from the others in that it builds and hosts, and, for the service that I need, all for free. It was easy to configure, the build worked perfectly, and I just had to point the domain to Netlify instead of Github. I write using Emacs or Editorial, push the post to Github, Netlify detects the change, then builds and serves the site. For anyone who is interested, the source code for the site is on Github.

  1. There was a bit more to it. Finding what to search for and replace was a bit of a hassle. The Hugo build-error messages weren’t particularly helpful. I debugged by moving the files out of the post directory, then replacing some until I could find a file that failed to build. Then, it was easy to see what part of the meta-data was causing the problem, and fix it with a global search and replace. If the site is fairly large, it’s easily worth it to learn a bit about regular expressions and invest some time in becoming comfortable with a good text editor that can do a multi-file search and replace. [return]
  2. Build time with Hugo is now 1.3 seconds, compared to 38.7 seconds for Jekyll. [return]

Fall 2017 Textbooks

Here are the textbooks for my Fall 2017 courses:

Introduction to Philosophy

  1. Adler, Jonathan E., and Catherine Z. Elgin. 2007. Philosophical Inquiry: Classic and Contemporary Readings. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.

Critical Thinking

None required to purchase.

History of Ancient Philosophy

  1. Reeve, C. D. C., and Patrick L. Miller. 2006. Introductory Readings in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub. Co.
  2. Shields, Christopher. 2011. Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction. 2nd ed. Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy. London: Routledge.


  1. Cahn, Steven M., and Aaron Meskin. 2007. Aesthetics: A Comprehensive Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.
  2. Graham, Gordon. 2005. Philosophy of the Arts: An Introduction to Aesthetics. London: Routledge.

Church History

  1. Gonzalez, Justo L. 2010. The Story of Christianity: Volume 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.