Calling All ‘Reflective Exiles’

“Reflective exiles.” I recently came across this striking term in an article by Philip Harrold called “Deconversion in the Emerging Church.” These are people who have left the established church (and sometimes their faith altogether) because of dissatisfaction with the church’s answers (or non-answers) to difficult questions. Hard questions like, “Why did God seem to command [Read More...]

Go Bananas

As I sliced up a banana for my morning corn flakes while waiting for the transit of Venus, my public radio coincidentally broadcast a piece about my fragile yellow crescent of potassium. I already knew my banana to be the most popular fruit in the country, despite its severely short shelf life. What I didn’t [Read More...]

The Ear and the Eye

Makoto Fujimura, The Golden Sea, 64 x 80, mineral pigments and gold on Kumohada paper, 2011   I recently spent the weekend with artist Makoto Fujimura at his new studio in Princeton, New Jersey, and in the course of our conversations, some of which were videotaped for a documentary, we discussed the presence of grace [Read More...]

People Watching in Airports

I spent good chunks of time over the week-end in three airports, more time spent than in the air getting from point A to B to C.  I do remember the old adage that airports are great places to “people watch.”  So between redeeming time by catching up on reading to traversing concourses, I did [Read More...]

Moral Courage: Caring and Compassion, Seeing and Speaking

I was invited to give the Commencement Address at Bethel Theological Seminary this Saturday, June 2.   The theme is “Courage for the Journey,” on which I built the call for moral courage.  Moral courage necessitates caring and compassion, and seeing and speaking if we are actually willing to embody courage as a social virtue.  Here [Read More...]

Seminary Grads: Christianity Doesn’t Need You. The (Local) Church Does

If I could give a parting word to seminary graduates, that’s what I’d say. We American evangelicals love to speak in grandiose ways: transforming society, changing culture, or making a difference in the world. Graduation ceremonies are easy targets for big ideals. And there’s certainly a place for lofty visions and goals. But there’s also [Read More...]

The Comfort of a Colonoscopy

Among the most emailed articles in the New York Times this week is about colonoscopies. Apparently, people underwent the procedure thinking they were covered, only to wake up to huge anesthesiology bills that their insurance wouldn’t pay. It turned out that their gastroenterologists chose to use general anesthesia (and anesthesiologists) when a more moderate sedation would [Read More...]

The Final Word on Thomas Kinkade

  Thomas Kinkade My theological analysis of Thomas Kinkade’s work (“The Dark Light of Thomas Kinkade”) was an attempt to make sense of my abiding discomfort with his work as well as respond to my dissatisfaction with the commentary it has generated over the years. Neither his supporters nor his critics have offered compelling arguments. [Read More...]

Memorial Day

I confess to being one of many who see Memorial Day as the  official start of summer, and a chance for a much needed three-day week-end during the final week of the academic year.  I often find myself squirming in the pew during church services that fall on or “celebrate” national holidays.  Patriotism and Christian [Read More...]

Seminaries and Science

A lot of people are talking about the relation between science and theology lately. Questions about the nature of human persons, the relation between the body and soul, and the always contentious debates around “origins” are popping up with renewed fervor on blogs, in conferences, and in book publishing. Creation science, intelligent design or theistic [Read More...]

Selling Your V-Card? The Reality Show that Might Have Been

MTV made a splash recently with a online casting call for a provocative reality show about young, sexy people (I’m venturing a guess) on a quest to lose their virginity. But who wouldn’t want to follow the existential journeys of post-adolescents as they attempt to experience humanity’s most intimate and society’s most glorified act? Here’s [Read More...]

Should Pot Luck Suppers Go Organic?

Here in southwest Minneapolis, where locavores and Lutherans proliferate, the suggestion that church pot luck suppers go organic gets greeted with the greenest of relish. What better way to be faithful stewards of creation than to encourage the provision of local sustainable hotdish? The problem, according to a recent Loyola University study, is that eating organic [Read More...]


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