Confessions of a Western Universalist

(Rajiv Malhotra, Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism, HarperCollins, 2011, 474 pages) Rajiv Malhotra's latest book challenges many Western assumptions. He invites his Western readers to see their worldview through the eyes of India. Having read a fair amount of postmodern philosophy, I was sympathetically inclined to his general perspective, but I am willing to confess that at the end of the book I remain, for better or worse, a fairly unreconstructed Western Un … [Read more...]

Against TOMS Shoes: Ethics Are Messy!

Naomi Wilson, over at The Public Queue, has written an important critique of TOMS Shoes (h/t Tripp Fuller): The premise of TOMS shoes is that for every pair of TOMS shoes bought, the company will distribute a pair to a shoeless child somewhere in a developing country.... And TOMS does not just give children one pair of shoes and then abandon them — they work to supply each child to whom they give shoes with shoes throughout their childhood. Now comes the “But”: For...Shoe Drops, volunteers and … [Read more...]

“Death of God” Theologian Has Died

William Hamilton, a theologian made (in)famous in the April 8, 1966 “Is God Dead?” Time Magazine cover story, has died at age 87. You can perhaps guess that Easter Sunday was on April 10 that year, and Time was looking to move copies off the newsstand with a sensationalized cover. Although Hamilton eventually landed on his feet, the story resulted in him being essentially forced out of his tenured job at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, a ‘liberal’ Baptist theological school in New York. … [Read more...]

#OccupyChurch: Jesus Threw out the Moneylenders for a Reason (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on John 2 for March 11)

Andy Lester was one of the most important professors I had in seminary. I took two classes from him: Introduction to Pastoral Care and Pastoral Care Confronts Anger and Conflict. As part of the latter class, we helped edit his book A Pastoral Theology of Anger, which cuts against the grain of the tradition that anger is always a sin. Perhaps the most important reading assignment in that class was an essay by Beverly Wildung Harrison titled, “The Power of Anger in the Work of Love.” She invites us … [Read more...]

Raise the Minimum Wage to $10/hour

In Chris Hedges’ most recent column, he reports Ralph Nader’s recommendation to the Occupy movement: forge a powerful alliance with millions of working men and women around a national call to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour.... Some 70 percent of the public supports raising the minimum wage.... Barack Obama promised during his 2008 election campaign to press to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, a promise that, like many others, he has ignored. But the ground is fertile.....The f … [Read more...]

Be Wary of Sensationalized “Jesus Tomb” News

Lent is not only the season of giving up bad habits or taking on new spiritual practices for 40 days. Lent is also the season of media outlets hawking sensationalized stories about the historical Jesus to sell copies or attract viewers during the built-up to Easter.Perhaps you have seen headlines in recent days such as, "Investigators may have discovered earliest evidence of Christian iconography in Jerusalem" or "'Jesus Discovery:' Jerusalem Archeology Reveals Birth Of … [Read more...]

Is Jesus the “Human One”? A Lectionary Commentary on Mark 8

Jesus does not echo Peter’s title “Messiah,” but instead refers to himself as “the Son of Man.” Why do many Christians almost exclusively emphasize Jesus Christ, neglecting a title Jesus repeatedly calls himself: “Son of Man?” What does this term mean?And are you on the path to becoming a fully alive human being like Jesus was? I invite you to explore further in my 600-word lectionary commentary on this week’s Gospel lesson in my new post at [The Hardest Question] on “Is Jesus the 'Human One? … [Read more...]

Reading the Bible with Jews: A Lectionary Commentary on Romans 4

Many Christians have become accustomed to the realization that Jesus lived and died as a Jew. But the Jewish New Testament scholar Pamela Eisenbaum challenges us to the further realization that Paul Was Not a Christian.At my new post at [The Hardest Question] on “Reading the Bible with Jews,” I offer a 600-word lectionary commentary on Romans 4:13-25 that interprets this passage in light of the growing field of Jewish New Testament scholarship.I invite you to read the rest the … [Read more...]

Sermon Series Retrospective: Matthew Fox’s “Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality”

For Advent, I preached through the four parts of Matthew Fox's landmark book Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-Six Themes, and Two Questions. The following are the sermon titles and a brief summary:Embracing Christianity and Evolution: Matthew Fox, Original Blessing, and Creation Spirituality (Advent 1) What would Christianity look like if the focus were Original Blessing, not Original Sin; Creation Spirituality, not the Fall/Redemption sto … [Read more...]

Preaching the Didache (50-70 C.E.): A Sermon Series Retrospective

During the season of Epiphany, I preached a six-part sermon series on the Didache (usually pronounced DID-ah-KAY").As part of my preparation, I reread Tony Jones’ book The Teaching of the Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community and watched the supplemental DVD from Paraclete Press. Jones has written that: If you don’t know what the Didache is, it is an early Christian document, only rediscovered in 1873 in a dusty library in Nicomedia. A … [Read more...]