Top 10 Best Podcasts of 2011

(1) NPR: Religion – A few years ago my car radio was almost always tuned to NPR. More recently I have taken to listening selectively to my favorite NPR segments. Since I’m a huge religion nerd, I love being able to listen to the religion-themed excerpts of “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered,” and other NPR programs without necessarily having to listen to each of those hour-long shows each day.(2) Homebrewed Christianity - An astonishing number of great interviews with world-class theol … [Read more...]

“Out Beyond Ideas” for Advent: Original Blessing, Creation Spirituality, and Social Justice

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Jesus clearly says the kingdom of heaven is among us (Luke 17:21) or “at hand” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). One wonders why we made it into a reward system for later, or as Brian McLaren calls it, “an evacuation plan for the next world.” Maybe it was easier to obey laws and practice rituals for later than to actually be transformed now.The price for real transformation is high. It means that we have to change our loyalties from power, success, money, and control (read: “our kingdoms”) to the Lordship … [Read more...]

Dear Lowe’s: Islamophobia is as equally reprehensible as anti-Semitism

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Dear Lowe's: Islamophobia is as equally reprehensible as anti-Semitism. Both are forms of racism and bigotry. Christians must stop confusing Christianity with Christian Supremacy.I wish I could force both the management of Lowe's as well as the protesters to read Philip Jenkins' important new book Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can't Ignore the BIBLE'S Violent Verses: Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions — all a … [Read more...]

Preaching through the Didache: A Call for Resources

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During the season of Epiphany (basically from the beginning of 2012 through Ash Wednesday), I'm planning a sermon series on the Didache. I've read the primary text previously a few times as well as a pieces of secondary literature, but I still don't feel like I have a firm enough grasp on this important early document. I figure preaching through the Didache is a great opportunity to correct this gap.As part of my sermon preparation, I plan to revisit Tony Jones' book The Teaching of the T … [Read more...]

Best “Netflix Instant” Streamed in 2011

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I don't understand the outcry from some quarters that, "There's nothing to watch on Netflix Instant." I couldn't disagree more. There are currently 37 films in my "Instant" queue that -- if there were but world enough and time -- I would be watching immediately. To name only a few: Meek's Cutoff, Biutiful, Rabbit Hole, and Antichrist.For anyone unsure of what to watch next, Netflix provides tons of recommendations (click on the "Watch Instantly" tab), but most additions to my queue come … [Read more...]

Best Netflix DVDs Watched in 2011

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This list is in alphabetical order (because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun). Also, I am limiting myself to DVDs received in the mail. I will post a follow-up list sometime this week with my favorite Netflix Instant streamed in the past year. This list also excludes some great films I saw in the theater this past year, which could perhaps be another future list.I also have to give credit to one of my favorite podcasts Filmspotting, which keeps my Netflix queue … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Albums Listened to in 2011

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This list is not the best of new releases in 2011, but rather the best of the CDs I listened to for the first time this past year.I also have to give credit to NPR's free All Song's Considered podcast, which introduced me to many of these albums, especially the ones released this year.This list is also in alphabetical order (because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of making this list): … [Read more...]

The Artist’s Way for Advent: Matthew Fox’s “Via Creativa”

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I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre, The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness, And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away — Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations And the conversation rises and slowly fades into s … [Read more...]

“Let It Be” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

The following is the second of two lectionary commentaries on the Gospel lesson for the 4th Sunday of Advent.The first is titled “Hail Mary, Full of Grace” and focuses on the first part of this week's this week's reading from Luke 1.Focal Question 1: What would Christianity look like if the focus were birth, not death; human flourishing, not suffering; and this world, not the next?Focal Question 2: How is God inviting you in the coming days and weeks to echo some form of Mary’s words of h … [Read more...]

“Hail Mary, Full of Grace” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

The following is the first of two lectionary commentaries on the Gospel lesson for the 4th Sunday of Advent. The second is titled "Let It Be" and focuses on the final five verses of this week's reading from Luke 1.Focal Question: How is God calling you this Advent season to slow down, open your eyes in wonder, and expectantly wait for is already in the process of being born?I’m always wary of using the word “countless” — as in “She’s been in countless films” or “He’s scored countless touc … [Read more...]


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