Is the Gospel Good News or Bad?

Kintsugi-bowl-honurushi-number-32Continuing a little bit what I started with my essay “What Is a Christian?,” I’ve been thinking about how I might articulate the good news of the gospel to myself and perhaps begin to comprehend it.

Theologically, I know basically what the gospel is. And if you ask Google, it returns a Wikipedia page that describes the Christian gospel as “the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God…, and of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection to restore people’s relationship with God. It may also include the descent of the Holy Spirit upon believers and the second coming of Jesus.”

That seems pretty straightforward and would fly in any church I’ve been a part of. But sometimes for a lifelong Christian, this can feel more like old news than good news. Occasionally, it even feels like bad news when I’m overwhelmed with questions. [Read more...]

What Is a Christian?

5602081913_30b82fc2e8_mAccording to recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the number of U.S. adults who identify themselves as Christians has declined—a lot—since the last such survey Pew did in 2007. This information comes out just as I’m in the middle of reading Rachel Held Evans’s latest book, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, a book about Evans’s own frustrations with and hopes for the church and what it means to be or identify as “Christian.”

Though Evans is mostly known as a voice for the generation often referred to as the Millennials, and I am solidly Gen-X, I’ve found myself much in sympathy with her experiences and opinions. Like her, I grew up in an evangelical setting, and in adulthood have struggled with how to categorize, prioritize, and examine (or surrender) my doubts. In a passage that describes almost exactly a process I’ve been through myself, Evans writes:

Evangelicalism gave me many gifts, but the ability to distinguish between foundational, orthodox beliefs and peripheral ones was not among them, so as I conducted this massive inventory of my faith, tearing every doctrine from the cupboard and turning each one over in my hand, the Nicene Creed was subjected to the same scrutiny as Young Earth creationism and Republican politics, for all had been presented to me as essential components to a biblical world view. [Read more...]

Sugar, Sugar, Part 2: May 8, 2015

Continued from yesterday

2629206224_7d8554b1d8_mWhen the editors of Good Letters first asked if they could rerun my 2011 post on my sugar addiction, which was posted yesterday, I couldn’t even bring myself to read the old post before saying no. I felt too weird and vulnerable about what I’d written and preferred that it stay buried in the archives. So I wrote other stuff, until I found myself coming back around to this topic in my life. Addictions don’t tend to go away. They are either active or in remission, rarely cured.

A new twist for me: Weeks after I wrote that original post, I had some medical tests done and got a new diagnosis and learned that in fact I’m a type one diabetic, not type two as originally pegged. Type one is an autoimmune disease and typically has an onset in childhood or adolescence, but it can also hit people much later in life, as it did me. Once properly diagnosed, I got some basic training on how to calculate and inject insulin and was on my way. [Read more...]

Sugar, Sugar, Part 1: June 10, 2011

1374816661_c4e7e255fb_mI’ve written before about my father’s alcoholism. From my adolescence until his death, I spent a lot of time and energy being angry with him, and letting myself be hurt by him. At the core of my anger and hurt was the belief that he was consciously and willingly choosing alcohol over everything else—our family, his work, his passion for life and music. Dignity, peace, joy. Me.

Instead, he chose getting drunk, getting sick, losing everything good. I couldn’t understand this, or forgive it. At his death, our relationship was virtually non-existent. Watching him struggling for breath in the end, and looking so ravaged at a relatively young age, some part of me kept thinking, perplexed, You chose this.

I have an eating disorder. My struggles with it now are much less intense than they were, but the disorder isn’t vanquished. Years ago, in my efforts to figure out my behavior, I read up on the idea of sugar addiction, and decided that the word “addiction” aptly described my behavior with sugar throughout my life. [Read more...]

For the Love of Money

untitledMy husband and I took a spring break trip to the central coast of California, and we included a stop at the Hearst Castle—William Randolph Hearst’s 90,000 square foot, 61-bathroom home on 127 acres at the top of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hearst was still expanding it when he died in 1951. It was never enough.

We bought a tour called “Upper Rooms and Suites” (since the size of the building makes it viewable only in chunks) and got to see, among other things, Hearst’s bedroom, boardroom, and library. As you might imagine, I got to thinking about money. Not in the context of Hearst being greedy or wasteful or ridiculous. More in the context of how much I’d love the chance to be rich myself.

I love money. Or, I love the idea of having lots and lots of it. As anyone who grew up in church (and most everyone else) has heard, the love of money is the root of all evil—or the root of “all kinds” of evil, depending on what version of I Timothy 6 you’re reading and what you’re trying to rationalize. [Read more...]


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