By Bronwyn Lea

Christine Caine grew up revering the Bible, and even kissing the Bible, but never reading it for herself. In her family’s Greek Orthodox tradition, reading the Bible was reserved for priests. When Caine—an excited new follower of Jesus at age 22—came home with a Bible, her mother was mortified. “Christine, who do you think you are?” her mother exclaimed. “You’re being brainwashed!” Today, Caine recalls her response with crystal clarity: “Yes, Mum, this word is brainwashing me. It is literally washing my brain, and I want to be brainwashed.”

The people of Israel are on the edge of the promised land, ready to finally enter into the blessings God has in store for them and to live into their calling to be a nation whose ways will be a light to other nations—to be “a priestly people and a holy nation” (Exod 19:5–6). But instead of being the prelude to a story of celebration, the glimpse of the promised land given to the spies leads to Israel’s central rebellion against God and their rejection of their calling.

Can Aunt Hayley see me?” my 5-year-old, Emma, asks one afternoon. “I think Hayley’s watching over me.” Aunt Hayley passed away two years before Emma was born. Her question reveals a conflation of pop-culture depictions of the dead, her young Christian imagination, and her own experience with death.