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Anyone who reads this space regularly knows that I am fascinated by what makes us, us. And what makes me, me. Stories, history, perspective and faith are just four of the factors that mix to make us who we are from the individual to the whole of humanity. Some things bring nearly everyone to…

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There it was, a beautiful brand new bicycle. It was what she really wanted. What she got, at first, was a dollhouse that was lovingly made by her father. The disappointment on her 10-year-old face was enough to convince her dad to go and sell the dollhouse and buy her that bike. There was no…

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One of the most well-known of the ancient Christian preachers is John Chrysostom (c. 340-407). He is well-known because so many of his writings have survived. Many of his sermons hold up well even today.

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My faith heritage is located in the Radical Reformation and Reason. Because of that, Holy Week is for people of similar heritage pretty much like any other week of the year. Those who come from mainline traditions may spend more days attending services this week than any other time of year.

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It has always been hard to know what or who to believe. We all have our tendencies to believe the best of some people and the worst of others. This works for groups as well. If it is a group we like, we look for the best examples and omit the rest. If it is a group we do not like, we look fo…

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In 1999 the estate of Edwin Friedman published notes from an unfinished book. The result was “A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix.” Here is what he said about American society’s reactivity to nearly everything.

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The telling of history is never fair. Even the best historians have their biases and agendas. Anyone who has carefully read the books of Kings and Chronicles in the Bible know that even there we find different perspectives.

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Kentucky Baptist leaders across the state have joined the chorus of Southern Baptists and other conservative organizations voicing opposition to the Equality Act, a bill termed as a federal LGBTQ rights bill.

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“[This generation] is the generation which gives absolute priority to the personal and which tends in a remarkable way to withdraw into the self. This might surprise those who think of our youth as highly activist, sign-carrying protesters who stage teach-ins, sit-ins, walk-ins, and stay-ins…

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Life is built on the mundane but lived at the edges. It is when the edges of life crowd us and fall upon us and sneak up on us that we become aware of how we have managed the mundane. Perhaps mundane is too bland a word to use because of its importance in life. It is those mundane habits tha…

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I am generally an optimist — some would say Pollyannish. I do get angry, but my constitution is more like Winnie the Pooh than Eeyore. This means that I have had as many people get angry with me for not being angry as for nearly anything else. I have also (although not recently) made the foo…

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A recurring theme in this column is that of story. We watch them, write them, tell them, hear them. We tell stories that are true, some that are made up (for all kinds of reasons). We tell short ones and long ones — funny, sad, serious and lighthearted. We are the stories we tell and the sto…

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I have done a few hikes in my time. My favorite ones have been with my family and begin at the base of a hill or mountain and ascend to a lake, a magnificent view, or just the top of the hill. About seven miles one way is about my limit, and with children under 10 that was usually fun until …

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The truth of life is that it is full of tensions. As one who believes in God, I can say that everything began with God. As a human being in a time and place, I can say without the self-centered, idolatrous meaning of the phrase, “everything begins with me.” I have been contemplating this con…

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Has anyone ever had any success in handling a situation by shouting, “Everybody just calm down!” Didn’t think so. Depending on the audience (one can get away with it with younger children sometimes) there will likely be immediate silence followed by outrage. If ever there were a phrase that …

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I, as I suppose many of you, was fascinated and deeply troubled by what I witnessed on my TV screen on Wednesday. I am equally fascinated by the various responses that followed Wednesday and Thursday. It was a wake-up moment for us. The change in tone and words in a usually mundane procedura…

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In my lifetime, 2020 has been the strangest of years. I never ran out of toilet paper or anything for that matter. I did buy some wax for making jam because lids for jars have been hard to get where I live. There have been strange shortages, inconsistent rules, violence which beget more viol…

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There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” It is a reminder that we may think we know what we want, but when it arrives it does so with a plethora of unexpected baggage and sometimes obligation and unwanted responsibility.

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We celebrate the birth of Christ near to the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The light of the world shining in the darkness. This year, for many, the celebration will be either changed, muted or nearly non-existent. How we celebrate this year will be determined a great de…

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Bad theology is everywhere. Sometimes it is blatantly obvious, as when faith gets tangled up in nationalism and war and terrorism. Sometimes it is still obvious, but some people can justify it, as when faith is co-opted by party political agendas.

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What may be the earliest recorded Christmas sermon on which the birthday of Christ was celebrated by the church on December 25th was preached in the year 380. It was delivered by Gregory of Nazianzus. Here is the first paragraph.

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Most of us, by now, will have emerged from our food binge and begun preparing for the heart of the “holiday season.” In the United States that means Hannukah and Christmas. Both are related in some fashion to the victory of light over darkness and of righteousness over evil. This is a season…

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If ever there was a time for us to celebrate Thanksgiving, this is it. There is, right now, much to rob us of our expectations for this time of year. It is a time to remember that thanksgiving is not something that happens to us or dependent upon circumstance. It is an attitude. It is a part…

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The relationship between Christianity and the military has, from the beginning, been theologically, practically, and emotionally challenging. My own faith tradition has, at various times, moved from no involvement in secular government at all (including not voting), to pacifism, to full supp…

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Massac County Minister Association will host its Thanksgiving Community Service 7 p.m. Nov. 24 at Community Christian Church, 1150 County Club Road, Metropolis, Ill. Message will be brought by Jim Duncan, pastor of Zion Evangelical Church.

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St. John Knights of Columbus is hosting an American Red Cross Blood Drive, 8 a.m. to noon Sunday, at St. John’s Knights of Columbus Hall, 6725 U.S. Highway 45 S, Paducah. Information: 270-556-3678.

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The election is over. At the time I am writing this we have a good idea of who will serve the next four-year term, but it is not yet certified. I expect this will be extended for a few more days yet. As it should be.

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West Kentucky Christian Alliance will host a “Hallowed Eve” Christian event and singing 3-5 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31, at Noble Park in Paducah. There will be music and free food, including candy. All CDC regulations will be enforced. Information: 270-994-3230.

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I shared here a couple of years ago a story from a camp I directed for 11-13 year-olds in Wisconsin. They are two-week sessions, so there is time to take on some significant camp improvement projects for those who want to take part. One particularly warm day one of the young men said to me, …

editor's pick top story
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MAYFIELD — A monthslong revival 20 years ago is being reignited this weekend with organizers hoping for a similar result of leading people to renew or find their faith and bring the community and country together.

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Special ServicesMacedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 830 Oscar Cross Ave., Paducah, will celebrate its 146th Church Anniversary at 10 a.m. Sunday with a “Drive-By” service. After the “drive-by,” members will park in the parking lot (wearing masks) and stand in the parking lot (observing soci…

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What I hope to do each week is to help those who read these 800 or so words to slow down enough to give thought to things we already know, along with some historical and spiritual perspective. There are few weeks that go by that I do not hear from someone, and for that I am thankful.

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There are signs that we are living in a world of emotionally charged, high anxiety. We are a glob of an emotionally entangled mess. We see this in the hyped-up presentation of news editorials. We see it in the “outrage” of people who have no idea of any facts, only the emotional content of a…

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I watched it. I watched the whole thing. I watched the worst example of public discourse (I know it cannot be called that) I have ever witnessed. There have been more colorful name-calling examples, mostly by newspaper editors or party spokespersons. One of the more famous was penned about J…

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Grace Episcopal Church will be hosting a Drive-By Blessing of the Animals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 820 Broadway St., Paducah, to celebrate the feast of Francis of Assisi.

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Christian history is fascinating in every century but the transition in the fourth century from persecuted to being the official religion of the empire is difficult to top. Transition from persecuted to legal under Constantine in 313, to official under Theodosius in 380, to the criminalizati…

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I really hate to break this to all our young voters, but the current election cycle is not the most important one in our history. We are in no greater existential national crisis today than we were in the years immediately after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Or around 1812. Or …

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FestivalsWest Kentucky Christian Alliance will sponsor a 2020 Fall Christian Festival, 1-6 p.m. Saturday, at the Fort Jefferson Cross in Wickliffe. Free food, music and speaking. This year’s theme is “The Signs Are Here — Wake Up!” Information: 270-994-3230.

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Editor’s note: Due to “a slight medical issue,” Sean Niestrath was unable to prepare a column this week. Instead, here’s a column from this past January. “Not much has changed, if anything, we are in worse shape. Keep looking for the good,” he says.

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I sure hope we can work through the next year together. The key here is “work.” It is one thing to have an ideal. It is another to work toward it with others. By “work” here I mean doing something constructive that expresses that ideal in a positive way. When one is working at something mean…

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There is a constant fight for who gets to tell stories of the past. It is a matter of perspective. I was taught the “received story” of the United States as a child. The telling of that story has changed some since then, but it is still basically the same story. When I got older, I learned t…