Belief is a Parasite: What Alice, Old Yeller and Broken Lights Can Teach Us About Dogma

Dogma imprisons us within freedom. It gives us the caged experience of liberty. It drives us to think when we are bound we are free. The illusions that dogma perpetuate empowers us with the sense of being in control of our own destiny, as if we have a choice to follow the Creator. But the fatal flaw of dogma is that the illusions aren’t real. They lie to us. They betray us by being faithful to themselves. [Read more...]

Standing Up Straight: Lectionary Reflection on Luke 13:10-17

I stayed in a convent once for a week while leading a seminar at a nearby seminary. Many of the nuns were elderly and suffered from acute osteoporosis. This is how I imagine the woman in this story. She is bent over at the waist and to be able to see where she is going, must crane her neck at an uncomfortable angle to see anything but the floor. And yet Jesus calls her to come to him. The very thing she is unable to do, stand up straight, is the thing she can immediately do, after Jesus lays hands upon her. [Read more...]

Place and Process: History, Geonarratives and Patriotism in Tension

The world as we know it has not always been so, and the world as it is will not always be as it is. The earth is a vast, complex – and beautiful – system of recycling and self-renewal. All of which gives rise to a powerful insight – there are no places, only processes. [Read more...]

Eat, Pray, Love: Spiritual Quest or Chick Flick?

Rereading parts of the book after I saw the movie, I was impressed with the depth of its insights. Gilbert is modest in the claims she makes- this is her experience, not meant to be generalized for everyone. And yet there is something in her experience that transcends one woman’s travelogue. [Read more...]

Christians in the Movies: A Complex History

In an article I wrote for Patheos a few months back, I talked about the ways in which films have depicted Protestants throughout history. In the brief space allotted, I barely scratched the surface of a rich, complex history. In his latest book, Christians in the Movies: A Century of Saints and Sinners, Peter E. Dans provides a much broader look at the representations of Christians in films over the last century. [Read more...]

The Homeless: Violent Liberators

At one point on his journey, Jesus comments on the static state of the homeless population. He says to his listeners that the homeless will always be here with us. In another place he equates a compassionate act to those in need, as the same as if we had enacted compassion directly on to Him. Essentially, the homeless population are Jesus in the flesh. They are messengers of the Rabbi from Nazareth. [Read more...]

Anxious for Nothing

“I wonder why a bible verse that served me so well in one phase of my life proved so futile during another. Could the verses that once brought me closer to God now make me feel faithless? Was I going to have to find new sources of inspiration?” Monica Coleman reflects on spiritual reading for different seasons of life. [Read more...]

Abandonment and Responsibility: Reflections on Sunday’s Scriptures

“Does there ever come a time in life in life when God withdraws God’s care and lets us experience the full consequences of our actions? Does God’s “tough love” include withholding protection for irresponsible humans?” Bruce Epperly reflects on this Sunday’s scripture texts… [Read more...]

Conversations from Chautauqua

“When I last wrote, I was on the island of Patmos out in the Greek Aegean Sea, following John the Beloved Apostle to his little cave where, in the tenth decade of his long life, he kept company with the crows and envisioned the end of the age and the coming of a new heaven and a new earth. So it is fitting that I continue my pilgrimage to the place where new visions (or nightmares) for the End Time were going to be discussed.” Our meandering pilgrim, Rebecca Cole-Turner, continues her sacred pilgrimage in a remote corner of upstate New York. [Read more...]

Vision, Promise, and Practice: A Response to Rodney Stark

“While it easy to dismiss Rodney Stark’s interview as insulting, inaccurate, and unworthy of a scholar of his stature, I have always followed the principle that a stopped clock is accurate at least twice a day. Although Stark gives a diagnosis without a prescription, his words inspire a thoughtful response on behalf of faithful pastors, seminary professors, and congregants whose theology is moderate to progressive.” Bruce Epperly offers another “mainline” response to Rodney Stark’s interview at Patheos. [Read more...]

Burning our Scarecrows: Re-redefining History

There has been a hip new influx of re-ideology. Or neo-ideologies. For example, there used to be evangelical, now there is a neo-evangelical movement in some churches. Its much like the straw men, they look like what they represent, but they depend on what is behind them to be informed. [Read more...]

Connecting the Dots? Lectionary Reflection for August 15th

The worst sermons I’ve ever preached were those that tried to “connect the lectionary dots” but didn’t offer a coherent message that tied them together. This week I did discern a thread that connected three of the lectionary text dots: texts from Isaiah 5, Psalm 80 and Luke 12. First, let’s look at the dots. [Read more...]