We are all Hagar

Texts for this Sermon:Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 21:1-21.On occasion I get asked: "Why are you a Christian?" And to be truthful, it would probably benefit me at the University if I weren’t identified as a Christian. Indeed, I’ve had students tell me that they’ve been attacked for their faith in classroom settings. Christianity for many elites has become a term of opprobrium. With a majority of American evangelicals supporting Mr. Trump, this pattern may well intensify. And among my under … [Read more...]

Everything Belongs and the End of Religion

Recently I’ve been thinking that in Evangelical culture in the Pacific Northwest there is a strain of a radical gospel that is post-religious, or even a-religious. It doesn’t bind people back to a doctrine, or scripture, or the ecclesia, but frees them into a radical kind of Christ-consciousness that I find myself saying, well, yes to….Once again, I sat and listened to Richard Dahlstrom’s sermon today at Bethany Community Church. He preached what I thought was a profound sermon. The text, “Je … [Read more...]

Weak theology and the anti-gospel of American exceptionalism

(Originally published in The Immanent Frame, April 3, 2017).  http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2017/04/03/weak-theology-and-the-anti-gospel-of-american-exceptionalism/.A few years ago, I reviewed David Martin’s On Secularization. In it, Martin argued, “America is a religious country, Hebrew and philosemitic, progressive and providential, enlightened and pious, religious in its secularity, secular in its religiosity, this-worldly in its apocalyptic, Protestant in its Catholicism and offering immort … [Read more...]

I’m Praying for Sean Hannity

This blog was inspired by Ted Koppel’s take down of Sean Hannity on TV. Koppel languidly responded to Sean’s question, “You think I’m bad for America?” By saying, “Yes, you have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.”I’m sure most of those reading this blog are progressives or liberals, or left-leaning folks of some kind. And I lean that way as well. But my real life has taken me in many directions that have shown me things that don’t fit that stereoty … [Read more...]

A Shack of Grace

The movie, The Shack received an 18 percent rating from the “top” critics. They say its “sappy and simple-minded,” a Christianity that is “positive, open and loving,” (as if that’s a problem), and an “idealized form of spirituality that's inclusive, relaxed and open,” again, is this wrong? And, of course, for some it “plods,” and it is “dispiriting” and full of opportunities to “sob for two hours,” which I assume they think is a bad thing. Finally, it “feels like a overly long church sermon.” Wow … [Read more...]

Bread and Breasts

We go to a church near us; we can get there in five minutes. We are usually late. The preacher is Richard Dalhstrom. After retiring from ministry at my church on Bainbridge Island, I’ve taken a break from active ministry—okay, I burned out. I knew about Richard because he was one of the pastors in my book on vital, Pacific Northwest churches, called Evangelical vs. Liberal. Richard stood out, unaffected, blunt, Jesus-centered, and crazy for justice—my kind of guy.So it was easy choice to go t … [Read more...]