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 American fundamentalism, concentrating on what he calls radical evangelicals… Read more

Haunted Houses and the Ability to Mourn

The irony of the Orlando massacre is that it was done only a mile away from the happiest place on earth—Disney World. Americans, most of the time, live in this world—a world where we can be happy, or that we can hope to be happy. And yet, in the midst of this dream comes nightmares. The irony, of course, is that on the face of it, America seems like a place of dreams—you can do anything if you just work… Read more

‘Don’t be codependent’ or ‘I’d rather go skiing’ (Or ‘If you’re codependent, I’m outta here’)

A few years ago in speaking to a group of Pentecostal preachers, at one point, I said, “Stop being codependent! Don’t ask how you can help your congregants be more comfortable. Ask, what are your people doing for the church and for others?” And then I said, “If they aren’t doing anything for the body of Christ tell them to leave!” Well, I got some bemused smiles and some grins of agreement. Admittedly, every once in a while, I get… Read more

My White Tribe: The Unmarked Group

I asked my Jackson School International Studies class called, “Cultural Interactions in an Interdependent World,” to give their tribal descriptions and share them with each other. The results, from 200+ student versions, were breath-taking. I can’t disclose those, but I do offer you my own below. I suppose, I would wonder in return, what is your tribe? I grew up unaware of my race or ethnicity, and with the privilege of being a white male in America, an objective observer, a strange, opaque… Read more

We’re Winning Against ISIS: Religious Violence and Occupation

I’ve been thinking and writing about religious violence for some time now. Along with many people, I wonder: Is religion inherently violent? Is religion actually the problem in our modern world? And more particularly—is Islam intrinsically violent? (Quick answer: NO, at least no more than any of the major world religions). I’ve argued in the past that mixing religion and violence is not new. Every religion has done it and will continue to do it. This begs the question—for what… Read more

Hope Beyond Despair

I was reminded recently that Nikos Kazantzakis’ 1955 The Last Temptation of Christ has Jesus, the carpenter, building crosses for his Roman rulers. Jesus is despised by his own people and crushed by his conscience. The voices in his mind plague him, until finally, he wakes up and goes to the dessert to find his true calling. We have no idea whether this is historically accurate, though it’s not utterly foreign to what might have occurred. The Romans used the… Read more

Rob Bell is Here: A Review of How to be Here-with Addendum

Rob Bell is a friend. I wrote a book about him. We spent something on the order of two days together talking, with me mostly asking questions. And during the time he said, “Wow, this is like therapy.” And then, later, “You know I think we could be friends.” We visited him last spring in Los Angeles and we’ve stayed in touch. And even though I’ve read most everything he has written, when his new book came out, I ordered it… Read more

NFL Admits to the Link between Football and CTE

Wow, not long ago I wrote on Why I’m Not Watching the Super Bowl. Today, the NFL finally admitted the link between football and CTE: Read this and ask yourself whether you would knowingly let your son play football: Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University, said this about the relationship between football and CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy): “I unequivocally think there’s a link between playing football and CTE. We’ve seen it in 90 out of 94 NFL players whose brains we’ve… Read more

Why I’m Not Watching the Super Bowl

The Seahawks Aren’t Playing. Okay, I like my Hawks, though even here, the reality of money, violence and the cynicism of the League are beginning to dim my loyalty to this team. Nonetheless, Pete Carroll’s sheer will to transform any negative into a positive is stunning. The Chris Borland Story. Read it and it will sober you too. Borland, a former Forty-Niner linebacker, is a physical and athletic specimen and watching him play was like watching Spiderman spring on people, breathtaking…. Read more

Conscious Bliss

I’ve been thinking about this concept of bliss my whole life. What would it be like to be consciously filled with bliss? I had moments of this when I was young, sitting around my family table with my parents and four siblings. I was the youngest and I remember that they would take turns making me laugh, and often I would find myself so caught up that I couldn’t stop laughing, and everyone would join in. And I remember that… Read more

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