The True Greatness of a Friend Who Loved Christian Ecumenism Deeply

imagesMy good friend Jeff Gros (1938-2013) moved to Chicago in 2011. He became an adjunct professor at Catholic Theological Union and Dean of the Institute for Catholic Ecumenical Leadership. He also became a consultant to the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, led at that time by another good friend, Sister Joan McGuire, O.P. (I came to know Sister Joan via my work in ecumenism with the archdiocese and the Cardinal George dialogue in March of 2011.) At the time Jeff moved to Chicago he lived across the street from Catholic Theological Union and from this place introduced me to many of his Catholic friends. When Jeff moved he did not know that he would very soon be diagnosed with a potentially fatal cancer. He fought the disease with courage and accepted it prayerfully with profound grace.

Tributes of all sorts have appeared in honor of Jeffrey Gros since his passing on August 12. America, a prominent Catholic magazine, included a wonderful tribute to Jeff, and Jean Bethke Elshtain, in their August 14

Human Sexuality and Holy Marriage

I concluded in yesterday’s post that marriage is in deep trouble as a social institution in Western culture. After centuries of development, and developing legal support, the institution is now falling apart in a little more than one generation. This tragic loss has little, or nothing, to do with the same-sex debate that is raging at the moment.

I ended yesterday’s post by giving three purposes for marriage as I understand the ancient faith tradition of the Christian church and the fairly straightforward teaching of Holy Scripture on this subject. I begin today by saying that marriage is a rich, reimages-1warding and holy thing. God gave me a wife in order to bless me and to call me to deep love. I am called to intimacy with this amazing person so that I am deeply prepared for eternity and the romance and bliss of my eternal marriage with Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33).

Jesus said that in heaven there is neither marriage nor giving in marriage. But the closest thing on earth to the joy of heaven is a deep,

My Sisters the Saints (6) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

images-1Colleen Carroll Campbell’s journey to femininity did not lead her to embrace a kind of Catholic “fundamentalism” with regard to the social, professional and economic gains that she had previously experienced because of feminism. John and Carroll Campbell clearly share a marriage of mutuality. They have just as clearly learned how to sacrifice and give up their personal agendas, one for the other. For those on the far right, who think the only way to respond to modern feminism is to throw “the baby out with the dirty bathwater” her conclusion will not satisfy you. At the same time if you want a radical feminist perspective that leads to a profound fear and loathing of men and motherhood then you must look elsewhere.

As Colleen read Edith Stein, and Pope John Paul II, she concluded that men are called to loving communion with others just as much as women. But Edith Stein believed that a man was called, more than a woman, to “action, work, and objective accomplishments. A man is less concerned with problems of being, whether

Habemus Papam Franciscum: What Has Lausanne to Do with the Pope? (4)

The Lausanne Movement

Evangelicals in general, and evangelical leaders in particular, know far too little about the Lausanne Movement. This movement for global evangelization begin in the 1960s through the vision of Dr. Billy Graham. As Graham began to preach internationally, he developed a passion to “unite all evangelicals in the common task of the total evangelization of the world.”

In 1966 the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in partnership with America’s Christianity Today magazine, sponsored the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin. I still possess and use the two large blue-bound books that contain the papers and counsel from this congress. This gathering drew 1,200 delegates from over 100 countries, and inspired further conferences in Singapore (1968), Minneapolis and Bogotá (1969), and Australia (1971). Shortly afterwards, Billy Graham perceived the need for a larger, more diverse congress to re-frame Christian mission in a world of social, political, economic, and religious upheaval. The Church, he believed, had to apply the gospel to the contemporary world. To do this would require work to understand the ideas and values behind rapid changes in society. He shared his thinking with 100 Christian

When Jesus Met Mary: A Conference on Friendship with a Unique (and Controversial) Emphasis on Friendship with the Opposite Sex

6a00d8341c530d53ef01310ffcfbd3970c-800wiCan men and women be close friends without the sex part getting in the way?

Can men and women who are married enjoy opposite sex friendships?

What would our marriages, our friendships, our churches, and our communities look like if men and women were not afraid of connecting with each other in deep ways?

What would male-female relationships look like in marriages and friendship if every man and woman could know the spiritual richness and beauty of oneness between genders?

These are the kinds of questions that grew out of my reading of a fine book I reviewed extensively on this site, December 21-24, 2010. I wrote long blogs about Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions, a ground-breaking and courageous book written by my good friend Dan Brennan. I believed then that it had something extremely important to say about real friendship

When Jesus Met Mary: A Sacred Friendship Gathering

This unique event, hosted by my dear friend, author and speaker Dan Brennan, will feature several interesting and engaging speakers, including yours truly. It will present a great opportunity for a kind of dialogue not generally welcomed in the church at large and includes a special opportunity to meet new friends in genuine conversation and fellowship. Please consider attending. Here is more information:


When Jesus Met Mary: A Sacred Friendship Gathering

Chicago, Illinois

April 27th-28th, 2012

A Conference Exploring Friendship Between Men and Women

Contact: Dan at []

When men and women come together, are the only options romance or danger?  Is sex the subtext of every male-female friendship?  Is true male-female friendship ever possible without uncomfortable tension, cynicism or second-guessing?

When Jesus met Mary in the garden, it was in friendship.  In the Gospel

Friendship and Psychological Visibility

Rsz_1rsz_rsz_3dsc00542Now and then I post a guest blog my readers are not likely to see unless I share it. Such is the case today. The author, Dr. Monte Wilson, is a true friend. We do not see one another face-to-face very often but when we do we instantly connect again in a deeply relational way. Monte is "my friend" in the very way he writes about friendship in this lovely article. This is why I am sure I resonnate so very deeply with this post.


Monte E. Wilson

Some years back, a man whom I had known for about 10 years was describing me to a new acquaintance of ours. It was all very positive and complimentary, but with one small problem:he wasn’t describing me. In fact, the more he waxed eloquent about the attributes and personality of Monte Wilson, the more invisible I felt. All I could do was sit there thinking, “You really don’t know

By |December 19th, 2011|Categories: Friendship|

Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Questions for the Author (Part Three)

Today I complete my three-part personal interview with author Dan Brennan about his engaging and controversial book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions. I would encourage you to not only read this online interview I’ve posted but to visit Dan’s web site and even sign up for his Facebook page. There you can engage with him more personally and discuss his ideas openly, in a manner that is non-threatening and truly gracious.

One reviewer of Dan’s book recently wrote:

Gendered stereotypes blocking friendship are notions like emotionally intimate, vulnerable friendships are for girls/women or gay men. In evangelical communities where romantic relationships are on a pedestal and friendships are inferior, gendered stereotypes and straitjackets are common.

My questions to Dan concluded with the following dialog.

Wouldn’t “face to face” intimacy in friendship threaten marriages and leave one vulnerable for a sexual fall?

We have to do a little tweaking of the metaphor to get some distance from romantic idealizing or gazing. For centuries prior to Freud intimacy in friendship meant emotional, spiritual intimacy, transparency, vulnerability, delight, and sweet language and affection—all of which we would now describe as characteristic of “face

By |October 5th, 2011|Categories: Books, Friendship, Sexuality|

Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Questions for the Author (Part Two)

Today, I continue with the questions I began in yesterday’s interview with author and friend Dan Brennan. Here are some more questions I posed in my online interview about his very important book. 

Dan Brennan 2 Why would it be wise and chaste to nurture authentic communion (“face to face” and “side-by-side”) beyond your spouse, with your cross-gender friend?

I would suggest this is where we have to think more deeply about chastity and communion in our communities. The notions of union or communion are making a comeback among evangelical theologians like Scot McKnight, Kevin Vanhoozer, and yourself. What does oneness and chastity look like for men and women? I would argue it’s in the nature of robust and wise chastity to seek communion. Kenda Creasy Dean made this observation “chastity seeks communion.” The Catholic Catechism states that chastity leads to deep spiritual communion between members of the same sex or opposite sex.

As we nurture and cultivate chastity in our marriage and in friendship, chastity actually will

By |October 4th, 2011|Categories: Books, Friendship, Sexuality|

Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Questions for the Author (Part One)

Last year (December 21-24) I wrote a series of blogs reviewing a controversial but extremely important book on friendships. This book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women, is written by my friend Dan Brennan. I mentioned at the time that I did not particularly want to delve into this subject, knowing quite well that some would react against the book and even against my giving it this kind of attention. I also mentioned my concerns and cautions but these seemed to have been missed by critics.

6a00d8341c530d53ef0120a7c6221d970b-800wi I’ve thought a great deal about this book, and discussed it even more with the author and others (including some critics), since the end of last year. I believe that Dan is saying a great deal of very important stuff about friendship that is too easily missed by the controversial subject matter of males and females as close friends. As a result of a continuing dialog I decided to put some of my questions to