Jesus’ Parable of the Job Creator, the Day Laborers, and #OccupyWallSt

Jesus’ “Parable of the Generous Landowner and the Laborers in the Vineyard” could be profitably retold today as “The Parable of the Job Creator and the Day Laborers.” This story is one of those frequent passages of scripture that many would likely decry as “Socialism!” if these passage were not from the Bible. … [Read more...]

Brian McLaren, "Two Kinds of Religion," and #OccupyWallSt

I was reminded today of a quote from author and public theologian Brian McLaren that has fresh resonance in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests: There are two kinds of Christianity, along with two kinds of Islam, Judaism, and every other religion and non-religion too: one of social control and one of social transformation; one to hold people down, one to lift them up; one an opiate to pacify people into compliance, the other a stimulant to empower people to imagine a better world, a … [Read more...]

“Why Not Choose Love? Picking and Choosing Scripture as a Twenty-first Century Christian” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Oct 23, 2011)

Prop 8: The Musical Progressive Christians are sometimes accused of “picking and choosing” Bible verses for their own convenience. But I would invite you to consider that, upon close inspection, all Christians pick and choose when it comes to the Bible. The same Bible has been used throughout history to affirm both slavery and emancipation, sexism and equality, violence and nonviolence. The question, then, becomes what criteria should we use to pick and choose between various parts of scri … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: Richard Foster’s "Sanctuary of the Soul"

(Richard Foster, Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer (InterVarsity Press, 2011), 164 pages.Richard Foster is best known for his book Celebration of Discipline, a bestseller he published in 1978 (the year I was born), which has sold more than two million copies worldwide. This book encourages Christians to focus on "The Inward Disciples" of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study; "The Outward Disciplines" of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service; and "The Corporate Di … [Read more...]

Jesus, #OccupyWallSt, and the Rich Young Ruler

What would Jesus say to a Wall Street financier who declared his desire to follow Jesus? We see in Matthew 19 (and parallels) that Jesus said to the seemingly-ernest Rich Young Ruler that, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor...then come, follow me.” But, “When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.”It is often said that Christians should approach the world with the Bible in one hand and the newspap … [Read more...]

“The Upside of Quitting”: Sunk Cost, Opportunity Cost, and the 10th Anniversary of the War in Afghanistan

Today marks ten years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. To reflect on the meaning of this tenth anniversary and the future of U.S. foreign policy, I invite you to listen to a recent Freakonomics podcast on The Upside of Quitting. You can also read a transcript of the podcast on the Freakonomics website.Two of the crucial economic concepts that are colorfully explored are sunk costs and opportunity costs: You know the bromide: winners never quit and quitters never win. To which F … [Read more...]

Don’t Justify Your Selfishness in Jesus’ Name (Bonus: Two Cartoons!)

Two pictures have been independently circulating on Facebook. Presented together they serve as both an interesting juxtaposition and as commentary on one another. To be fair, the first picture is too sweepingly dismissive of all conservatives as being of one simplistic type. Nevertheless, Galbraith, a well-known economist who died a few years ago, does speak an element of prophetic truth here given the resurgence of interest in Ayn Rand's philosophy of selfishness among many prominent … [Read more...]

Against "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" (Unless Churches Pay Their Taxes First!)

The New York Times reports that, This weekend, hundreds of pastors, including some of the nation’s evangelical leaders, will climb into their pulpits to preach about American politics, flouting a decades-old law that prohibits tax-exempt churches and other charities from campaigning on election issues. The sermons, on what is called Pulpit Freedom Sunday, essentially represent a form of biblical bait, an effort by some churches to goad the Internal Revenue Service into court battles over the di … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Will There Be Faith?" by Thomas Groome

Thomas H. Groome, Will There Be Faith? A New Vision for Educating and Growing Disciples (HarperOne 2011), 367 pages.When I last met Thomas Groome (metaphorically speaking), his book Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision was the core textbook of my seminary Christian Education class. So, I was pleased to be invited to review his latest book to see how his ideas have matured almost a decade after I first encountered his work.A major strength of Groome's new book is … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Who Is My Enemy?: Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam–and Themselves"

Lee Camp, Who Is My Enemy? Questions American Christians Must Face about Islam -- and Themselves (Brazos Press 2011), 174 pages.My reading of Lee Camp from this book, from his earlier book Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World, and from listening to his podcast is that he fits within the realm of Christian theology known as postliberalism. As the name implies, postliberalism is "post" -- that is, "after" or "a response to" -- liberalism. Whereas liberalism was a turn f … [Read more...]