Mama tried

Our daughter Mary sent her mother this touching, sentimental musical tribute.  I would like to share it with all of you as a belated Mother’s Day testimonial. [Read more...]

A pastor, a country music artist, & Honky-Tonk Gospel

Some of you know Rev. Eric Andrae, a Lutheran pastor of note in Pittsburgh.  He sent me an e-mail saying, “I have a very good friend who’s a local country musician of some renown,” Slim Forsythe.  “we both just read your book Honky-Tonk Gospel, and we will have a radio appearance together next week [that is, THIS week, tomorrow, Wednesday].” Pastor Andrae adds, “Despite what the Dos Equis commercials claim, Slim Forsythe is actually the most interesting man in the world.”  He’s also a case-study in vocation, someone who gave up a successful law career for a life in music, fronting a Hank Williams tribute band, playing Western swing, rock-a-billy, and gospel, and fulfilling his dream of living over a bar.  Here is the announcement about their radio appearance tomorrow, which can be accessed online:

 Pastor Andrae’s monthly appearance on WORD-FM (Pittsburgh) will be a unique one. . . . Slim Forsythe – well known country/gospel musician, recent inductee to America’s Old Time Music Hall of Fame, and a good friend of First Trinity Lutheran Church – will join him live on the air at approx. 5:10-6:00pm Eastern time on “The Ride Home with John and Kathy.”  Slim will play several songs, including covers of Hank Williams (with Molly Alphabet) and Johnny Cash tunes, as well as an original, with Pastor Andrae offering theological/spiritual commentary.  At 5:10pm on Wednesday, May 7, tune in at 101.5-FM or world-wide at www.WORDFM.com.

That they are going to discuss my notorious book, written with Tom Wilmeth, Honky Tonk Gospel:  The Story of Sin and Salvation in Country Music, makes this interview even more frought with possibilities.   More on Slim Forsythe, including a YouTube performance, after the jump. [Read more...]

Back to the social gospel

Hillary Clinton cited her commitment to the “social gospel” in a speech to United Methodists.   That goes back to the 19th century when many Protestants said that instead of emphasizing the gospel of eternal salvation in Heaven through Christ, they should emphasize a gospel of building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

The social gospel, which inspired all kinds of social reforms and progressive political activism,  became the hallmark of liberal theology.   After World War II, even in liberal theological circles, neo-orthodoxy reacted against the utopianism of the social gospel, though in the 1960s it came back with liberation theology.  Conservative theologies, of course, rejected the social gospel, but today there is arguably a social gospel of the right. [Read more...]

Do Your Duty

I published an article in Tabletalk Magazine about the concept of “duty,” tying it via the Small Catechism to the works of vocation. [Read more...]

The best and worst jobs

CareerCast.com has released its annual Jobs Rated report, which ranks 200 jobs according to various metrics, including work environment, pay, and stress level.   Physicians are #78, the good pay being negated by the high stress levels and difficult work environment.  Pastors come in at #101.  The top two jobs?  Mathematicians and University Professors.  The worst two?  Lumberjacks and newspaper reporters.  After the jump, see a list of the top 10 and the bottom 10, as well as a link to the complete list with the scores.

But what does this attempt to objectify the highly personal and to quantify the ineffable leave out, something that can make even lumberjacking and journalism joyful and fulfilling?  (Hint:  It begins with a V.)

[Read more...]

The vocation of a movie critic

Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday “came out,” as they say, as a Christian, writing a thoughtful essay about her faith and her calling.   [Read more...]


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