Mainline Resurgent: Is it TRUE?

It’s nice to hear that books on mainline Protestantism are resurgent, as reported in The New York Times. I had my own little resurgence on this topic when I published my dissertation, The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism (1999), and in a more recent empirical comparison, Evangelicals vs. Liberals: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest (2008).My take was that while that there are oases of vitality in what I like to call liberal P … [Read more...]

Calling for Moral Judgement: A Student’s Veiw

In a second round of guest blogging, I’ve invited Bill Harper’s son, Blake Harper, to respond to the NY Times editorial on how many forms of spirituality have tended to regress to a kind of self indulgent therapy. Blake attends Middlebury College and has been a wonderful interlocutor over the years. His interest in philosophy and religion have blossomed at college and so we asked him to join our conversation, and, as you will read he is a worthy partner in exploring these fascinating que … [Read more...]

Moving From Transaction to Transformation: A Pastor’s Take

Grace Episcopal Church

Bill Harper is guest blogging for me this week. He is a long time good friend, and someone who helped found an Episcopal Church that in the last decade has become one of the fastest growing progressive Episcopal parishes in the Pacific Northwest. As we all know, a growing progressive mainline church is rare and he has done it. Check out the website: The building is also beautiful, and his post is brilliant as well. Enjoy.I happily accepted Jim … [Read more...]

Selfish Spirituality, Selfish Religion

In a recent New York Times editorial, Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster made a bold declaration: “Despite the frequent claim that we are living in a secular age defined by the death of God, many citizens in rich Western democracies have merely switched one notion of God for another — abandoning their singular, omnipotent (Christian or Judaic or whatever) deity reigning over all humankind and replacing it with a weak but all-pervasive idea of spirituality tied to a personal ethic of aut … [Read more...]

Coming Out: The Great Unlearning

The U.S. Supreme Court rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act is an occasion for all of us to reflect on the long road to rights for the LGBT community in America. My own evolution on gay rights has been a long and winding road as well. I grew up in the 1970's in a family that was both patriarchal and homophobic from the beginning. Now, of course, as a young man, I had no idea what patriarchy meant or why anyone would even think of being gay. It was assumed that men ruled the roost, and the … [Read more...]

Trust Issues and American Evangelicals

In preparing for a talk to a group of Pentecostal ministers in our Seattle region, I read Corwin Smidt’s new American Evangelicals Today. Since I’m not a part of this tribe, I want to get things right and not be confused by my own prejudices. I must say, I came away from my conversation with the Pentecostal ministers impressed and inspired by them. Several have become very good friends—showing once again, theological agreement is not necessary for respect and love.But in reading Smidt’s excel … [Read more...]