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 hard enough, if you apply yourself, if you believe enough in your dreams. And it's true, Ameri … [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 a little riled up in my talks and teaching, and I think I so … [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 bl … [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 reason? … [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 cross to discipline the Jewish peo … [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 right away. Now this is his first real “self-help” book and I’m not surp … [Read more...]