Strange Christianity Made in America: Part I by Randy Woodley

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What has been particularly harmful about American Christianity has not necessarily been the beliefs professed by American Christians but rather the worldview that makes professions of belief more real than living them out. Within this schism of reality exists classic American dualism.With just a reference to our nation’s fondness for war, our crime statistics, our rising poverty rates and an apparent increasing lack of concern for the most disenfranchised of society, we simply do not measure … [Read more...]

Conversation As a Path to Transformation

Chris Smith

We're getting ready to celebrate in April our 8-year anniversary of meeting as the "Emerging Church Discussion Group" (a.k.a. the Charlotte Emergent cohort). The group has changed a lot over the years, but one thing remains the same: There is still a need for a safe(r) space for theological conversation, because most churches do not create space for it.This is still true here in Charlotte ("the city of 1,000 churches"), and I suspect it's true of the many cities where other Emergent cohorts … [Read more...]

the boy who broke the law and lost his father…

 if there is anything revolutionary within christianity, it is everything that lies outside of it. meaning, that christianity at its best must be receptive to the 'trauma of the secular', rather than resist it (as it has historically).the anarchic kernel within christianity resides not in the creeds, not even in the bible itself, but rather in freud and lacan (or psychoanalysis). who, as people, resisted christianity (aka, conversion), however, in the present future their ghosts are … [Read more...]

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

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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?

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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...]


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