Embracing Life and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris

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Midnight in Paris has been called Woody Allen's best film in a long time, and I agree.  This year, the romantic comedy won both the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay; and it was nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Direction, and Best Art Direction.  Woody is one of the great creative minds of the last 100 years, with all of the quirkiness and controversy we expect to accompany this kind of platitude. The main charac … [Read more...]

Faith and Politics: ‘What’s Fair is Fair’ is not Fair Anymore by Randy S. Woodley

Ok, I have to admit I'm a history nerd. I read it, I watch it and I teach it professionally. Given the constant intersection of history and politics, I'm also quite interested in socio-political movements, trends and events. And I should say right up front, politically, I'm "all of the above"  on different issues, having voted on both sides and also for independents. But, in full disclosure, and this is a big 'ol "but" for some of you; because of my experiences and my faith, at this time in my … [Read more...]

Strange Christianity Made in America: Part III by Randy Woodley

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I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ! -Gandhi Christians in America are infamous for being so unlike Jesus. I like the bumper sticker that says, “When Jesus said love your enemies I think he probably meant don’t kill them.” Ever wonder how Christians went from loving their enemies to killing them? We love to blame it all on Constantine, and true enough, he contributed to the problem, but I think the problem goes deeper and farther back—all the way to … [Read more...]

Strange Christianity Made in America: Part II by Randy Woodley

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The customs of the Nacirema, a still very poorly understood tribal group, came to the attention of anthropologists about forty years ago. They are a North American group living in the territory roughly between the Cree and the Tarahumare tribal groups. Little is known of their origin, although tradition states that they came from the east.In the mid-seventies a group of anthropologists formalized the studies of this very strange and powerful culture. I’ve dusted off an old copy of their s … [Read more...]

Outside the Walls, But Not the Tradition

Several years ago I had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the American Society of Missiology (a gathering of smart folks who try to study and name the mission that God is up to in the world.) The Society had asked me to bring a report about the new monastic movement that I and others are part of. While I was there, I also got to hear several other good reports on the Emergent church conversation and the “missional church” movement. For the latter, Al Hirsh was the presenter. He was, as alw … [Read more...]

Why We Can’t Win In Afghanistan by Randy Woodley

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(Note: I am interrupting my own series on Strange Religion: American Dualism because of the urgency of this situation. Life interrupts perceived reality. A recent ABC News - Washington Post poll (http://www.voanews.com/english/news/Americans-Believe-Afghan-War-Not-Worth-Costs-New-Poll-Finds--142296305.html) shows that 60 percent of U.S. citizens believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth its costs. These cost are both monetary and counted in the loss of human life. Although the slaying of … [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...]

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...]

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...]

Loving Jesus, Hating Religion: A Well-Meaning False Dichotomy

The last two weeks has seen a new viral sensation take over our computer screens. A spoken word artist named Jefferson Bethke, who goes by the handle "Bball1989," released a video on Youtube that has, in less than two weeks, received more than fifteen million hits called "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." So regardless of what any of us personally thinks about what he's saying, it's incumbent on us to listen up.For starters, there's some really good stuff in his message. He … [Read more...]


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