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...]

Victims, Syria and the Contagion of Violence

Many of us had high hopes in President Barack Obama that he would lead our nation toward peace. But with the series of events that continue to occur, the use of drones to assassinate “terrorists” and U.S. citizens, the continuing torture at Guantanamo Bay and, most recently, the decision to enter the Syrian civil war, one begins to realize that Obama seems to be just one more leader that uses violence to “solve” violence. And these moves that attempt to protect the “victims” (in this case the “op … [Read more...]

Rob Bell, Pharisees and Sacrifice

The recent scrum between Rob Bell and Andrew Wilson is educational. (Check it out on The confronting issue, as they say, is gay marriage. Bell, apparently, has come out for it, or, at least, as he says, is in favor of “monogamy and fidelity and commitment and the world needs more of that and I think that promiscuity is dangerous and destructive, some people are gay and they should be able to marry. ” Bell is in favor of fai … [Read more...]

Drones, Just War, Obama and Pacifism

On Memorial Day I took our youth group to help feed the hungry in downtown Seattle. Bread of Life, a Christian non-profit, sponsored the picnic—their goal was to feed homeless veterans. We served over 500, though the majority were not veterans. Nonetheless, Bread of Life put on a short worship service, a former beauty queen sang “America the Beautiful,” “The Star Spangled Banner,” and Lee Greenwood’s song, “God Bless the U.S.A,” with the line, “… at least I know I’m free.” It’s Seattle so during … [Read more...]

Drones, Mr. Niebuhr, and President Obama

A friend of mine recently advised me that only 11 percent of Stanford University undergraduates are now majoring in the Humanities. We both suggested this is a great loss. Of course, we both teach in the humanities, I in American Religion, and she in Medieval Christianity. We are both constantly flummoxed by the emphasis at our schools—a public university in my case and a liberal arts college in hers—on the importance of STEM: science, technology, engineering and math.  Well, yes, indeed, these a … [Read more...]