October 15, 2018

It’s been hard lately to make pastoral or theological sense of many things. I don’t think I’m alone in hitting the creativity wall. I often feel stalled, wondering how to push through, or why to push through, towards generativity. Hitting this wall keeps me thinking about Michael Pollan’s recent book, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. The book is mostly a history of the conservative culture war waged… Read more

October 10, 2018

There’s a big Evangelical church in most communities. Multi-site. Well known lead pastor. Prominent location by an interstate. I imagine you may have a church like this near you. The church implements a lot of very aggressive evangelism strategies. Maybe they distribute posters in the folders at elementary school inviting the whole school to a bible study, circumventing district policies. The church unapologetically evangelizes everyone all the time, regardless of church affiliation, often using youth events as a primary evangelical… Read more

October 4, 2018

Creation and Trinity A lot of Christian theology over the centuries has been focused, not without reason, on the God-human relationship. Jesus Christ was a human being, after all, so if Christianity confesses the human being Jesus as Messiah and Lord, it makes sense a lot of thought would be invested, a lot of words spilled, on understanding how it could possibly be the case that Jesus Christ was fully God AND fully human. Lost in the shuffle, on the other hand, has… Read more

September 21, 2018

  Our first evening in Tucson is a briefing. The room is full of people committed to the work of immigrant advocacy. They spend their days protecting the rights of asylum seekers, over-seeing direct service for immigrants, and managing the resettlement program. The room also includes leaders from Tucson like Pastor Elizabeth Smith and Rocío Calderón who coordinate care visits to the Eloy Detention Center.   No briefing would be complete without charts and numbers. It is here, for example,… Read more

September 15, 2018

Bonhoeffer’s Reception of Luther: A Review Bonhoeffer’s Reception of Luther.  Michael P. DeJonge. Oxford University Press, 2017. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran. Say it again. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran. Although his long-standing association with his contemporary Karl Barth has sometimes led us to believe Bonhoeffer was more Barthian than Lutheran, and although evangelicals (that bastard Eric Metaxas chief among them) like to claim him for their cause, the truth is simple: Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran. DeJonge opens his book with simple… Read more

September 6, 2018

Let’s be honest. Most people don’t read the Bible. Back in the day, this was because God only spoke Latin, while the hoi polloi only spoke (or read) all the other languages (other than Latin). King James and Martin Luther fixed this, helping God speak English and German, but… more recently, nobody reads the Bible because they’re too busy keeping up with their Facebook news feed or liking pictures on Instagram. So we still have a problem. George Gallup famously… Read more

September 1, 2018

  There are two common misunderstandings of Luther’s theology. If I can correct both here, I’ll have accomplished my task. Basically, I would like to convince you that socialism is the outcome of Lutheran (and therefore Protestant) theology, and that we are now all monastics. If in addition I can convince you that Luther was (anachronistically) a Marxist, all the better. So here we go. Misunderstanding #1: Luther taught a priesthood of all believers Yes, he did teach this, or… Read more

August 23, 2018

Dan Skogen maintains a web site, Exposing the ELCA, exclusively focused on exposing the heterodoxy (from his perspective) of my denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I’ve never quite understood how someone could sustain such concern and disdain over such a long period of time, but clearly one of Dan’s spiritual gifts is tenacity. I would mostly leave Dan to his own project, if it weren’t for the fact that quite frequently I get messages from  colleagues in my… Read more

August 22, 2018

Late Capitalism Viewed From Above Having arrived in Seattle under wildfire smoke that makes breathing here worse than in Beijing, I proceed to go on a run that offers the worst and the best of America. Seattle University is in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s a beautiful, compact little Jesuit campus. Time zone changes woke me early, so I got out on a run in the early hours (the smoke advisory said not to… I did anyways). When you turn… Read more

August 17, 2018

Post-program is already here. Now what? Don’t do surveys in post-program church “Surveying a congregation about the kinds of programs they want will not help congregations be effective.” (John Wimberly) If you are like me, as a church-leader you see-saw back and forth, one day convinced you have finally landed on the solution to all the woes of community organizing, then later that afternoon slightly despondent because you have discovered you actually have no idea what you’re doing. 21st century… Read more

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