Author: Nicholas Knisely

Knowing nothing as a strategy to heal a nation: a return to Socrates and his techniques

Current Affairs

Turns out there are lot of parallels between ancient Athens and the modern Western societies. “In ancient Athens, as much as in the U.S. today, being perceived as right translated into money and power. The city-state’s culture was dominated by the Sophists, who taught rhetoric to nobles and politicians, and the Poets, ancient playwrights. Greek theater and epic poetry were closely related to religion, and their creators were treated as mouthpieces for aesthetic and moral […]

The difficulty of recognizing Jesus in our midst

Sermons and audio

Listen: The story begins with the two disciples journeying together. Jesus joins them as they walk, though they are not able to recognize he is with them. The story places the encounter in the present experience of the disciples, and the focus initially is on what is happening. Together they begin to open the scriptures and to use the scriptures to understand their present experience. That’s essentially what happens every Sunday in our churches in […]

The pain of our life is transformed by the light of Easter Day

Sermons and audio

Years ago, we had a tradition in a church I served, of taking down the Stations of the Cross in the nave on Holy Saturday before we set up for the Easter Vigil. It always struck me, looking at the walls where they had been, how plain the room looked in their absence. I mentioned that to the director of Children’s Education and the next year she surprised me with festive Stations of the Cross […]

Easter Day: Because he lives, we are transformed

Sermons and audio

Why is this day such a big deal? Because Jesus’ came back from the dead? Because his tomb was empty? Other people have cheated death. Some of them – like Elijah – and (according to many) the Virgin Mary – managed to avoid dying at all. That’s not it apparently. At least not if you read the text carefully. It’s reasonable to expect that the women at the tomb on Easter Morning were present with Jesus in […]

RNS: Vatican statement repudiates Doctrine of Discovery

Current Affairs / Reconciliation

The Doctrine of Discovery was the theological justification for the atrocities that Western nations and church (including the Church of England and later on in the US, the Episcopal Church) committed against the indigenous people living in North and South America. It was first expressed in the middle of the 15th century by popes during the age of Discovery, as Western Europeans were coming into first contact with these existing civilizations.  The Episcopal Church repudiated […]

You held it together as others fell apart:

Climate Change / Sermons and audio

Our preacher this year at the Rhode Island Episcopal Diocesan Chrism Mass was the Rev. Elizabeth Nestor, MD, MDiv, FACEP – an Episcopal priest of this diocese and an Emergency Room doctor who served courageously through the recent Pandemic. Her sermon was a moving reminder of how God uses the broken bits of the World to do things no one would have expected. In a particularly moving passage of the sermon she talked about what […]

The Passion of our Lord and our Forgiveness

Sermons and audio

Palm Sunday, the day we commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, is the opening act of the Passion narrative that is at the center of our worship for the next week. Each Gospel has a version of the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The events are mostly the same but the accents made by the writers are different. To have four different, though likely related, accounts of the same event is unique. There’s […]

Why does Jesus weep?

Sermons and audio

There’s so much to unpack in this story. It happens just before the final chapters of Jesus’ journey to the cross, and it’s really his great signifying miracle, at least in the way that St. John tells the story of Salvation. Anyone who hears it is left with all sorts of questions. Why did Jesus tarry? Did he choose to let Lazarus, the person he loved so deeply, die deliberately? What was that purpose? He […]

Luddites: It’s not technology, it’s what it does to human dignity.

Current Affairs / Web/Tech

I’ve misunderstood the Luddites. The point they were making back then is still valid today. From an essay by Cory Doctorow: As Merchant explains, the Luddites were anything but technophobes: they were skilled high-tech workers whose seven-year apprenticeships were the equivalent to getting a Master’s in Engineering from MIT. Their objection to powered textile machines had nothing to do with fear of the machines: rather, it was motivated by a clear-eyed understanding of how factory […]

St. Hildegard of Bingen, Patron of Creation Care?

Religion / Science / SOSc

There’s a lovely article about Hildegard of Bingen by Erin Risch Zountendam posted this morning on the blog “Earth and Altar.” Hildegard, one of the four female doctors of the Western Church, was a theologian, a prophet, a mystic and a naturalist. Her life and her theology is, to my mind, one of the clearest examples of my argument that most scientists are, in truth, mystics at heart – seeking to understand a deeper meaning […]