• GRACE NOTES 11/09/2013: Don't be so prickly, porcupine

    Years ago, a pastor friend of mine did a series of seminary talks titled “Porcupines in the Storm.”

    He spoke about how we, meaning we Christians, are like porcupines — prickly and sometimes dangerous, especially to each other.

    Porcupines actually have soft hair, but on their backs, sides and tails the soft hair is mixed with sharp quills; Africa’s crested porcupines have quills nearly a foot long.

  • Can-do spirit

    Mary Clarkin

    Hutchinson News

    HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The pink labels wrapped around and glued to the pork-packed aluminum cans bore an address: Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, Pennsylvania, USA.

    But it took men, women and children and a two-day meat-canning marathon in Reno County to start the canned meat on a journey that likely will end abroad.

  • GRACE NOTES 11/02/2013: When Jesus shows up

    When it comes to serving at my church, I have two jobs. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a communion server. I’m also emcee for the monthly senior ministry events, dinners and such. With a microphone in hand I quiet them down, tell a few senior-related jokes, dismiss the people at the tables to go get their food and introduce featured guests.

    Sometimes I refill cups of iced tea or clear plates away.

  • Collection reveals Iraq's lost Jewish community

    WASHINGTON — The tattered Torah scroll fragments, Bibles and other religious texts found in a flooded Baghdad basement 10 years ago testify to a once-thriving Jewish population that’s all but disappeared from Iraq.

  • GRACE NOTES 10/26/2013: Who are the church people?

    Recently, someone passed on a bit of gossip to me. This person said, according to reliable sources, a certain person at a certain local church did something that, while doesn’t technically violate the letter of any of the Ten Commandments, is unseemly for, as this person put it, “church people.”

  • A private faith

    Josh Lederman

    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is not an overtly religious man. He and his family rarely attend church, and he almost never elaborates in public about his own relationship to his Christian faith.

  • GRACE NOTES 10/19/2013: Squatter's lament

    In our editorial conference room at the Chronicle, during reporter staff meetings I sit in the end seat nearest the door.

    It doesn’t have my name on it, but that’s my seat. 

    It’s not necessarily the best seat at the table; it’s just mine. It’s where I sit.

    A few weeks ago, I walked into a reporter’s meeting and someone (Mike Wright) was in my seat. 

  • California temple to be repository for sacred Buddhist relics

    John Rogers

    Associated Press

    ROSEMEAD, Calif. — Although he’d been a practicing Buddhist for 20 years, until 10 months ago Dharma Master YongHua hadn’t even seen so much as one of the sacred relics known as shariras that are so important to his faith.

    So it came as quite a surprise to the modest, soft-spoken monk when he learned he was becoming the caretaker of more than 10,000 of them.

  • GRACE NOTES 10/12/2013: Jerks for Jesus

    A few weeks ago, I spent a Sunday afternoon at an outlet center in Orlando.

    I love outlets and malls, even if I’m not interested in buying things (which is a big if, since I’m always searching for that shiny, cozy, silky, whatevery thing that will once and for all completely satisfy my soul. But that’s a topic for another day.)

  • The quotable pope