What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Have you ever heard of the “Rolaids Robber”? His name was R.A. Mortland, from Hennepin, Minnesota. Mr. Mortland clearly found his work too stressful. You see, he robbed convenience stores, eight to be exact. He got his nickname because he would often ask the store clerks for antacid tablets while he was waiting for them to hand over the money. He needed antacid because of the stress of doing what was wrong. I wonder if he ever made that connection?

Lent is about making that connection. It’s about prayerfully searching our lives for the things that don’t belong, things that diminish our joy, harm our relationships and weaken our spirituality. So if we’re to give up anything for Lent it’s this - sin. The New Testament word for sin, hamartia, means, “missing the mark.” It’s an archery term for landing short of the target and missing the bulls eye. One confession of sin puts it well. It’s “living by less than the best we know.”

This is why we need Lent. Because we need the practices of prayerful reflection, confession and repentance. We need religious practices that start with the heart. It’s the Control Room of our lives, that place where decisions are made, values are held or not, where love reigns or doesn’t. God can see in there quite clearly. It takes us a bit more work. That work is Lent.

So skip the Rolaids, Let’s have Lent instead.

Here’s a thought: Sin is living by less than the best we know.

Question: Instead of giving up something for Lent, is there a spiritual practice you can add? Read a book of the Bible or another devotional book? Practice meditating on a scripture? Making sure to say grace before meals? Skipping the afternoon trip to the coffee shop and giving an extra gift for those in need?

Prayer: Loving God, thank you for the season of Lent. May it be for us a time of honest, fearless soul-searching and gracious transformation by the presence and power of your Spirit within us. Amen.

Extra Credit:
Lent is 40 days long. There are 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, not counting Sundays. 40 as you may know is an important number in the Bible.
A. In the days of Noah it rained for 40 days & 40 nights.
B. In the days of Jonah God gave Niniveh 40 days to change their ways.
C. When the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness for 40 years, Moses sent out spies to explore the Promised Land. Their expedition lasted 40 days.
D. Moses spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai to prepare to receive the Ten Commandments.
E. Following his Baptism Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, preparing for his ministry.
F. And following his Resurrection, guess how many days Jesus spent with his disciples before he ascended to heaven? Yup. 40.

So let’s trust that God will do something powerful and wonderful in our lives over these 40 days!

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