Lectionary Commentary: “A Progressive Christian Reading of John 14:6” (for Sunday, May 22, 2011)

I have a long and complicated relationship with today’s Gospel lesson, especially verse six: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”  The first time I remember reading this verse, I found it comforting. A few years later, I came to be haunted by the implications of this verse for other religions.  Recently, I have found this same verse freshly inspiring. Let me start at the beginning. Part One: Pre-Critical The first memory … [Read more...]

STOP Making the Bible Something It Isn't

Harold Camping is 89-years-old, and he (allegedly) believes in earnest that the world will end on Saturday, May 21, 2011 -- only eight days from today. The problem is that far too many people believe him.In an interview with New York Magazine two days ago, Bloom spoke with apodictic certainty that, "God has given sooo much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutely going to happen without any question at all.... it is absolutely … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer" by Norris Chumley

Norris Chumley, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality (HarperOne 2011), 196 pages.The entirety of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 consists of a three word exhortation from the apostle Paul to "pray without ceasing." Advocates of the "Jesus Prayer" -- most popular in Eastern Orthodox branches of Christianity -- insist that this ancient spiritual practice is perhaps the most effective vehicle for making Paul's vision of c … [Read more...]

Jim Wallis’ Sojourners Throws Gays and Lesbians Under the Bus

A recent New Yorker cartoon depicts two young schoolchildren making "Happy Mother's Day" cards. A teacher is also shown leaning over to correct the grammar of a third young child, whose card reads, "Happy Mothers' Day." The caption reports the child's reply to his teacher as, "I have two mommies. I know where the apostrophe goes."This cartoon depiction of the well-adjusted son of two women dovetails perfectly with a recent Mother's Day ad developed by the group Believe Out Loud. This … [Read more...]

Tweets from Walter Brueggemann on May 1, 2011

The famous and prolific Hebrew Bible professor Walter Brueggemann -- author of 58 books and hundreds of articles -- taught a Bible study and preached this morning at the Alliance of Baptists Gathering in Louisville, Kentucky:If this is God’s world and if the rule of love is at work, then our mandate is not to draw into a cocoon of safety; rather, it is to be out and alive in the world in concrete acts and policies whereby the fearful anxiety among us is dispatched and adversaries can be tu … [Read more...]

Top 10 Free iPhone Apps

I've listed my favorite iPhone Apps in alphabetical order to save me from splitting hairs over the precise order. If you have other apps I should consider for the future, please list them in the comments section.Bible - Includes a number of great translations, but unfortunately not the New Revised Standard Version -- and it's much lighter than carrying a Bible around. Constitution - In these days of frequent Constitutional debate, I've found it handy to have a quick reference to what the a … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: “Sinners: Jesus and His Earliest Followers” by Greg Carey

(Greg Carey, Sinners: Jesus and His Earliest Followers. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2009. 211 pages.)Greg Carey opens with a confession: his book's title is intentionally provocative (vii). With a title like “Sinners,” one’s first associations might be with those who lie, cheat, steal, or otherwise infringe on some “thou shalt not” of religious tradition. But after the colon, we read the perhaps counterintuitive subtitle “Jesus and His Earliest Followers.” Accordingly, two of the m … [Read more...]

France Caves to Islamophobia; Discourage Veiling, Don’t Discriminate

A headline in today's New York Times reads, "France Enforces Ban on Full-Face Veils in Public." To clarify definitions -- because the various forms of Islamic garb are often conflated and confused in public debate -- a niqab is, as the headline indicates, a "full-face veil" and the name comes from the Arabic word for "mask."  The niqab is a middle-ground between the less-concealing hijab (which only covers the head and derives from the Arabic word for "curtain" or "cover") and the much-more c … [Read more...]

Lectionary Commentary: “Jesus, a Donkey, and Jon Stewart’s Rally for Sanity” (for Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011)

Matthew curiously gives us a lot of details about the procurement of Jesus’ donkey. Anyone familiar with the book of Zechariah would immediately recognize why. Zechariah 9:9 says, Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall c … [Read more...]

Is Your Body Ready for Spring?

Here at Patheos -- as with most places with a spirituality focus -- you hear a lot about the sprint and the mind, but less about the body. Winter can be a sedentary season, ripe for hibernation and settling in by a fire. But with the warming days of spring upon us, I can feel my body wanting to be more active and to be outside more.To that end, I ran 4 miles this morning, and I'm counting it as "Day 1" of a two-month Sprint Triathlon training: Swim 750m/.47 mi, Bike 20 km/12.4 mi, Run 5 … [Read more...]