Super Bowl, Civil Religion and Our Dirty Little Secret


I suppose I can be accused of being biased on the Super Bowl. I live in Seattle. I’m rooting for the Seattle Seahawks to win the Super Bowl. So be it. I have, however, tried to think about this grand national pastime and wonder, on occasion, should I participate in it? Shouldn’t the violence, so typical of an NFL game, be a kind of rebuke to my enjoyment of this game? More to the point, why is an NFL football game so central, so absolutely necessary to so many Americans? What is the draw? Is thi … [Read more...]

Rob Bell is the Real Deal


I wrote a book on Rob Bell, and for many reasons, its been a blessing to me. But one of the unexpected blessings was that he became my friend. Now, with Rob’s new interview with Oprah, there may be a sense in which some might say, “He can’t be for real. He’s gone Hollywood. Now he’s really full of himself.”Well, let me tell you a story of a friend of mine. Some know that my wife passed away two weeks ago. I let my friend know that this had happened and how painful it was for my two daughters … [Read more...]

A Tribute to My Wife


"Oh... it's gonna to be hard to say goodbye." My wife quoted to me Dorothy's farewell to her comrades, just days before she passed. And there are no words to describe the hole I feel at her passing.  My extraordinary wife, partner and dear friend passed after a 22-month struggle with a rare tumor recently. The tributes that have come in have taught me again who she was in this life: A beacon of light to many, an in-spiriting source for women and men everywhere, a uniquely gifted mother to her … [Read more...]

Defeated: How Evangelicals Feel


It’s a fascinating time in American history, religion and politics. I recently wrote that it’s time for my liberal and moderate friends “to get hard.” I made the case that in fact, because of our inattention and our tendency to compromise that we have lost on nearly every social and political agenda of importance: increasing social inequality; larger military budgets; more weapons on the street; a stalled immigration reform; endless money in our politics, and now, with one piece of success, the A … [Read more...]

Producers NOT Consumers: Teaching Religion


Every class is different. You only realize this from experience. Every classroom has its own dynamic, energy and ethos. It really is quite remarkable. This year’s courses have started brilliantly. I don’t know why. It’s not me. But it has made me think more deeply about teaching than I have in the past. And whatever you put time into tends to be where your creative energy is. So, early in this year my energy is in the classroom and I love what I do. So what are my takeaways so far?1. I’ve bec … [Read more...]

Time to Get Hard


To my liberal friends, and I'm not even sure I'm a liberal or a progressive. You (we) are known for our soft hearts and soft heads, well, on this one we need to get hard. Our Republican friends have counted on us to be compromising, nice, forgiving, but no more, not on this one. Jesus was not nice, he was hard and tough and he demanded  love and justice from his followers. He said, "If you don't serve the poor and  the helpless, you do not know me" (Matthew 25).Despite a Democratic President … [Read more...]