What is an Evangelical?

The “E Word” in Christianity is a funny thing. In one respect, Evangelicals are self-identified, and therefore, self-defined. On the other, popular culture (particularly media) lays its own meaning on what it means to be Evangelical. In the latter context, the word inevitably translates to “Conservative Christian.”But I think this definition isn’t fair. What’s more, it’s not accurate.I’m a self-proclaimed “word nerd,” so I tend to turn to etymology for help. The root meaning of “evangelic … [Read more...]

A Seat at The Table: Negative Space

"Negative Space", by Carmon Rinehart

For many years, I dreamed of attending a church where creativity was rampant, where artists were empowered to lead, and where artistry was revealed in many other people as well.  A church of creativity for the many (parishioners), rather than the few (clergy). A few years back, I realized with some pleasure that I was in fact attending just such a church, though I was at a loss to understand how it had come to be.  My best hope is that we can somehow reverse-engineer that goodness in order to s … [Read more...]

Jesus and American Exceptionalism by Randy Woodley

goddess3

It seems the concept of American Exceptionalism has made a comeback. This is especially notable if you listen for even just a few minutes to the Republican Primary debates. The term is kind of new, but the concept began many years ago. Basically, it translates to mean God favors America more than God favors (at least most) other nations.The early Puritans had a similar spiritual vision to build a "city upon a hill" as a sign for God’s will for all. They wanted to create a “New Jerusalem” and … [Read more...]

Missional Conversations with … Anthony Smith

I'm excited to be able to share my recent interview with Anthony Smith (a.k.a. Postmodern Negro). February is, after all, African American History Month, and, I must confess, Anthony was my first real African American friend, who has taught me much of what I now know about black history and my own white privilege. I'm deeply indebted to him for that!Anthony has been a great friend for the past seven years, and I've had the privilege of collaborating with him in several projects since that … [Read more...]

An Evangelical Pentecostal Naturalist?

dowd-integrity

I'm often described in the mainstream media as an 'Evangelical minister' or ‘Pentecostal preacher', even though I speak far more often in moderate and liberal churches (and in secular settings) than I do in Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Emerging Church venues. Not surprisingly, I've been asked on a number of occasions, by both religious liberals and conservatives, "In what sense do you consider yourself a Pentecostal Evangelical? And how does that mesh with you being an outspoken religious n … [Read more...]

my broken family (Church vs. Art)

J. M. W. Turner Rain, Steam and Speed c.1844

I love art. I teach it. I try to preach it to others. My faith is truly alive due to artists - both old and new. They imbue hope, life, and peace. Rembrandt and Michelangelo, Goya and Picasso, and more recently Wooster. These are my commentaries upon the Scriptures. As a Christian this often lands me in two worlds simultaneously. One foot in church related things and the other in creative arts. I've found the bridge is most often me. I enjoy mixing it up in both worlds, but it would be truly f … [Read more...]

I Like the Bible but I’m Not Sure I Know All the Words by Randy Woodley

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I had been learning to play bass guitar for two years when I was finally asked to be in a real band. The fact that I had a new Fender Jazz bass and an Acoustic 360 watt amp that I had worked and saved for the summer prior didn’t hurt my chances of being asked to be in the band. At 15 years old, I was anxious to show all the stuff that I knew, and as a singer I could remember an incredible number of words of various songs. There I was, for the first time with the band, in one of the member’s liv … [Read more...]

burning the church…

consciousness has been the topic of conversation for philosophers for centuries. as in, what does it mean to be conscious, aware or enlightened?that last word, for some, conjures up pictures of bald buddhist monks lavished in red and yellow robes contemplating in a temple somewhere, not to mention most likely Asian in descent. this description of enlightenment which is based on our cultural assumptions and experience limits our experience ultimately, not to mention that it does not … [Read more...]

Agree or Die. [Improvisational Christianity #4]

Improv is play – simple pretending. Think of what works best when kids are at play.Here are three examples of how little children tend to play together:Example 1:Girl: I’m a Princess!Boy: No, you’re a Wizard!Girl: No, I’m a Princess. You’re a Prince.Boy: You’re ugly and stupid!Girl leaves weeping.Example 2:Girl: I’m a Princess!Boy: Ok, I’m A Wizard.Girl: No. You’re a Prince. You have blonde hair and green eyes and you live in a castle and you have w … [Read more...]

The Church Doesn’t Know How To Have Sex

Sex has become something bourgeois. Not that the proletariat ever experience sex mind you, but the real act is saved for those who can afford to talk about it. In high school sex is a sort of perverse social currency whereby someone's acceptance is measure and defined by the quantity of partners they have experienced intercourse with. To talk about sex in this context is not only anticipated but is also encouraged. But, what happens when sex becomes nothing more than a transgression? As in, … [Read more...]


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