Nobody Dies Anymore

graph showing rising instances of "pass away" versus declining instances of "die"

At the heart of all euphemisms is a desire to avoid a painful reality. But here's the thing: it doesn't help. Indeed, it may actually make the problem of grief worse. But honesty is not only for the sake of those who mourn. Honesty about death is the only way to speak meaningfully about life.

Feeding the 5,000

The details and the emphases of these stories differ, but at their heart is a core that suggests the earliest stage of transmission of this event in Jesus' ministry: Five loaves and two fish. Sit down. Twelve baskets. Five thousand.

Choosing the Wrong Jesus

For the last several years, I’ve been working on translating the Gospel of Mark, a project whose enjoyment is only exceeded by the amount of time it's taking me. Part of this is that I'm trying to translate it twice, in two radically different ways, while including commentary and translation notes. (See, the illustration at…

Naming a Virus

As people of faith, we are often faced with the choice between things we have the right to do and the things we ought to do. As people who are supposed to care for the least of these, for the most vulnerable, for those who are marginalized, oppressed, and afflicted, we must ask ourselves, honestly, whether the use of a term that can bring no benefit and only cause harm is the appropriate thing to do, especially when other, more helpful terms exist.

The Russians on The Americans

Philip and Elizabeth Jennings from The Americans

I love the show The Americans. It's one of the best shows on television and captivates me every week.  One of the reasons I enjoy it is that I get to practice my Russian, as all of the scenes featuring Russians (the Russians who are not deep-cover spies, that is) are usually in Russian with subtitles.…

Sexist Language

Language is a powerful tool. Perhaps the most powerful tool we as a species possess. With it we shape people’s attitudes, we help to define people’s understandings. And with it, we are called to proclaim the Gospel and the message of God.