How a Trump-like Culture Nearly Killed Me and May Destroy America

Words can heal and they can kill. These days we are in a word storm.It’s no secret that it’s becoming chic among Trump followers to suggest that pc culture is destroying America. They even say, “Donald Trump is no Boy Scout, but the women around him should know better; it’s men being men.” They argue that the kind of talk we heard on the video of Trump wanting to “f….” women, wanting to “kiss” them without consent, and wanting to “grab their p….” is just what men talk about “in the locker roo … [Read more...]

Edgeman: Rob Bell in LA

I just watched a beautiful film piece on Rob Bell in The New Yorker Presents, Amazon Series, #8 (the part on Bell starts at around 15 minutes into the film). It interviews Bell and describes the building of his ministry, his leaving the church, and the continuing progress of his ministry in LA. I loved it. I have described Bell as an "Edgeman." In my book, Rob Bell and a New American Christianity, I wrote:The quality of Bell’s consciousness and his experience of this sense of timelessness a … [Read more...]

God Kick: Terror in Cinque Terre (written with Brooke Wellman)

Trips of a lifetime are etched into our memories, this one for different reasons than we had hoped. Even so, it has changed my life, and my leg, forever. With the plays of London, the Scottish mist and prayers from Iona lingering on our tongue and the wine of Siena and Florence still on our lips, my wife, Brooke and I, headed for the Cinque Terre, to stay in the southernmost village of Riomaggiore on the Italian Riviera coastline.Our train chugged through the underbelly of the mountain … [Read more...]

Lament and Prayer for a Nation

The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning.  The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned! Because of this our hearts are sick, because of these things our eyes have grown dim:  because of Mount Zion, which lies desolate; jackals prowl over it.But you, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations. Why have you forgotten us completely? Why have you forsaken us these many days? Restore us to yourself, O Lord, tha … [Read more...]

Baptist Anti-American Civil Religion

I’ve written and thought on American civil religion for some time now. Inevitably, our American presidential politics lifts up one form of civil religion or another. Politics and religion, as I always say to my students, are inevitably twinned. Religion partners, serves and/or resists power. It is always in relationship to power; it always wants more power. In fact I’ve defined religion as the social desire for the ultimate. And this definition can easily be transferred into the political realm. … [Read more...]

Apocalypse Now: The New History of American Fundamentalists–A Review

Matthew Sutton’s American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism is beautifully written, thoroughly documented and, in many ways, a deliciously wicked look at a highly successful religious movement—radical apocalyptic evangelicals—a movement that remains strong despite its endless predictive failures. One of my favorite lines in the book is “They [radical evangelicals] had a knack for picking losing battles” (p. 182). This is an understatement. Sutton writes on the beginnings of early Ame … [Read more...]