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How do we respond to the company of strangers? Do we find ourselves enriched or threatened? In his book, “Practical Theology,” Terry A. Velling writes, “Our English word xenophobia means ‘fear of the stranger.’ If we turn the word around, we get the New Testament word for hospitality, philoxenia, ‘love of the stranger.’ Pure hospitality, […] Read More

‘You Pack What You Fear’

I was listening to an interview recently of a backpacker who hikes as a “minimalist.” Minimalist backpacking – or ultralight as it is more commonly called – is about packing the minimal essentials for the hike. Instead of a tent, for example, he packs a tarp. He cuts the handle off his toothbrush and removes […] Read More

Fear, it seems to me, has always been a dominant force – perhaps one of the most powerful motivating factors in many of our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Even for those of us professing faith in Christ – whose love we are told “drives out fear” – there are many things that we fear, if […] Read More

The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), but there seems to be plenty of which to be afraid these days. Taking appropriate steps to be safe is common sense. Letting fear rule our behavior to the point of seeing all strangers as potential sources of peril, or barricading ourselves, physically, emotionally […] Read More

Immigration has been called “the oldest and most persistent theme” in U.S. history. Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, two prominent 20th-century historians, offered this observation in their book, “The Growth of the American Republic.” The dark side of this reality is an equally old and equally persistent anti-immigrant sentiment. “All through our history […] Read More

What pops into the mind of the average American if you ask him or her about Muslims? Is it something like this? “Muslims are terrorists.” “I fear Muslims. They want to take over our country.” “I am very suspicious of all Muslims.” If so, I fully understand. Many media outlets paint an ugly, distorted and […] Read More

“The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.” These words bring fear, hate, exclusion, injustice, hurt, shock and pain. The victims have been stereotyped, lumped into a reason for such a massacre. The shooter has been stereotyped as well, and, for some, his religious convictions offer explanation. I am praying for those who are injured and […] Read More

Western fears about Islam and Muslims seem to be surging again, and there are political and religious leaders quick to point to anecdotes or news clips that only further incite tensions and hostility. They emphasize horror stories and brutal tragedies that can affirm our worst suspicions about a religion and its followers that still seem […] Read More

A strong majority (86 percent) of U.S. Protestant pastors affirm that Christians are called to “care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners,” and 98 percent said they were “at least somewhat informed” about the Syrian refugee crisis. Yet, only 27 percent of these pastors said their churches were involved in helping refugees and 46 percent said […] Read More

It is becoming more evident with every turn of our collective experience just how toxic the public conversation and its consequent actions have become. What happened to the wisdom that once guided leaders and would-be leaders to appeal to a commitment to the common good? A national Hatfield and McCoy feud plays out daily between […] Read More