Letter to the Editor: "God Does Change"

(The following letter to the editor was published on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 in the Calvert Recorder.)I am writing in response to Gloria Hawkins’ Aug. 17 letter, “Homosexuals choose not to follow God’s word.”Ms. Hawkins says that, “God doesn’t change,” and she implies that the Judeo-Christian conception of sexual ethics hasn’t changed “for more than 2,000 years and always will be until the end of time.” Both points are highly dubious.Limiting myself to the Bible (which Ms. Hawkins … [Read more...]

“Costly Truth, Costly Forgiveness” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on Matt 18 for Sept 4, 2011)

I. Anne Taylor’s Saint Maybe, part oneChristian ethicist Stanley Hauerwas has made the important connection that we can learn a lot about the Christian practice of forgiveness from the character Ian Bedloe in Anne Taylor’s novel Saint Maybe.As the story goes, one day a plate glass window attracts Ian’s attention as he walks down the street. The window reads, “The Church of the Second Chance.” He can hear a hymn being sung by inside. He almost keeps walking, but instead quietly ent … [Read more...]

There Was No Historical Adam and Eve (Part 2)

(Read Part 1 of my post, "There Was No Historical Adam and Eve" here. See also my sermon, "Narnia and Other Stories Christians Tell.")Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a blog in response to the NPR story on which I based part one of this series. In that post, I noted that one reason the controversy over Adam and Eve remains significant is that polls have shown that forty percent of people in the United States believe that there was a historical Adam … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Is God a Christian?"

(R. Kirby Godsey, Is God a Christian? Creating a Community of Conversation, Mercer University Press, 2011, 196 pages.)When I receive books in the mail to review for the Patheos Book Club, they are usually new books with which I am previously unfamiliar. So I was pleasantly surprised to be sent Kirby Godsey's book with the provocative title, Is God a Christian?My initial response was to think of another book I recently finished that provides at least one response to the author's inquiry. … [Read more...]

There Was No Historical Adam and Eve

NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty ran a report recently titled, "Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve." One reason this finding is important is that, according to the article, polls have shown that forty percent of people in the United States believe that there was a historical Adam and Eve, who literally were the ancestral parents of the human race.We should all celebrate and stand in solidarity with the courageous conservative scholars who are willing to put their careers on the … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: David Platt’s "Radical Together"

(David Platt, Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God, 2011, 165 pages.)I have previously reviewed Platt's earlier book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. That review is available on my blog, and to avoid repetition, some caveats made there about the differences between Platt's more conservative theological orientation and my own more progressive stance are presumed for this review.Platt structures his latest book around six … [Read more...]

REVIEW: "The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom"

(Christine Valters Paintner, The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, 2001, 173 pages.)Christine Valters Paintner wants to change your life -- in a good way. Macrina Wiederkehr, an actual monk (cloistered in Arkansas of all places), writes in the foreword that this book is an invitation to "spend twelve weeks in the cave of your heart, nurturing your creative soul, and sitting at the feet of your inner monk" (ix). Will you accept the invitation?This book is a … [Read more...]

The Sound of Sheer Silence — and Merton Meets Elijah (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on 1 Kings 19 for Sunday, August 7)

Whenever I hear commentators blaming natural disasters on God’s punishment for human sin (most typically on sexual sins like homosexuality, adultery, divorce, pre-marital sex, or abortion), this week’s Hebrew Scripture lesson from 1 Kings 19 comes to mind. We read in verses 11 and 12 that God is “not in the wind” of the hurricanes like Katrina which struck New Orleans. Similarly, God was “not in the earthquake” (or the tsunami) such as that which struck Japan back in April, just as God was “not i … [Read more...]

A God Who Will Wrestle with You until Daybreak (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on Genesis 32 for Sunday, July 31)

“The same night” as what? This week’s scripture begins by saying, “The same night [Jacob] got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.”  We’re led to ask, “‘The same night’ as what?”  Earlier in the chapter, we learn that Jacob, the great patriarch of Israel, is afraid. He is afraid of his brother Esau seeking revenge. If you remember the story, Isaac — the child of promise, born of Abraham and Sarah, and nearly blind at the time — ha … [Read more...]

BOOK REVIEW: "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream"

(David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, 2010, 231 pages.)David Platt, the pastor of a four-thousand member megachurch in Birmingham, Alabama, boldly highlights near the beginning of his book that Jesus, at the time of his death, was at best a “minichurch” pastor with far less than four-thousand followers (2). Even Jesus’ closest and most loyal followers fled when the Romans arrested him. This insight is one of many contrasts that Platt draws between the radical, a … [Read more...]