Elizabeth Chapin’s “Facing ‘the Talk’: Conversations with My Four Daughters about Sex”

First, three confessions: 1. Elizabeth was my graduate student in the MA Comparative Religion Program at the University of Washington. I promised to read and review her book. I was worried, “Maybe I wouldn’t like it?” Well, NO WORRIES, this is a great book that parents of youth, whether girl or boy, should definitely read! 2. I am the father of two grown daughters, I worried I’d find out that I had done something wrong in talking with my daughters… Read more

Is There a Future for Progressive Christianity in America?

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Future of Progressive Christianity in America. Read other perspective here. Since writing my book on Evangelical vs. Liberal I’ve taken a more skeptical view of what we now call the “Progressive Christian” movement in America. The book was to be a follow up to my study of Fourth Presbyterian Church, a robust liberal Protestant congregation in Chicago. Fourth Presbyterian had an unusual blend of prophetic preaching, pastoral… Read more

A Beautiful Legacy: My Friend Bill Harper—Pastor Extraordinaire

(This is a sermon I gave for Bill Harper’s retirement on April 24, 2015. Bill helped to found Grace Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. In twenty years of service, he helped to build an extraordinary, progressive Christian witness, which attracted not only hundreds of parishioners but a thriving youth ministry of more than fifty young people every Thursday night. Progressive Christian leaders should take note of Bill’s amazing legacy.) As some of you know, Bill and I have a few… Read more

The Abundant Zone: Theologizing the Present Age

This post was originally published in Christ and Cascadia, I am sharing it here by permission. I’ve been thinking that these ideas could be used to rethink, re-theologize our usual assumptions about the terror of “noneness,” perhaps, depending on our vision, we can see the present age as an age of abundance rather than scarcity. Among sociologists, it has become conventional wisdom to label the Pacific Northwest – or “Cascadia” – as a “secularized” region, a religious desert – a spiritual “none… Read more

A Book Review of Gerardo Marti and Gladys Ganiel’s The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity.

I have always been suspicious of the concept of an Emerging Church Movement (ECM)—it always feels pretentious in a very unpretentious way—how ironic! So going into reading Marti and Ganiel’s The Deconstructed Church, I took a skeptical lens. And while I found myself questioning the long-term strength of the movement, I am convinced that Marti and Ganiel are on to something. And even if the movement may not last, it puts an interesting focus on the overall strength and condition of… Read more

‘Nothing Human Is Alien’: Maya Angelou, Dave Chappell, Tupac Shakur and Gay Marriage. A Sermon

Scripture text: Colossians 1: 15-23: Hymn to Christ’s work We spend most of our lives making distinctions, black/white, good/bad, high/low, clean/dirty, gay/straight, cool/uncool, day/night, fat/thin, orthodox/unorthodox, Christian/not Christian, Sunni/Shia, Buddhist/Muslim, Israeli/Palestinian, Canadian/American, white/ Hispanic,  Native American/white, dead/alive, old/ young, hip/unhip, Cougar/Husky … it goes on and on… fast/slow, dumb/smart, tall/short, Democrat/Republican, worthy/unworthy, rich/poor, North/South, slave/free, nice/mean, saved/unsaved, gun rights advocates/gun control advocates; it can go on and on…. In a sense our whole news cycle is based on distinctions between libertarians… Read more

Job, Grief and Being Sticky-A Sermon

June 15, 2014 FIRST READING JOB 38:1-11; 42:1-6 GOSPEL READING JOHN 1:29-34 You know I have to say that God definitely has a sense of irony. Last Monday in preparing for this Sunday’s service, I realized that today is my 29th wedding anniversary, and I then checked the lectionary text for this Sunday and it was the Book of Job. God wasn’t kidding around. Sort of like, “Hey, Jim, deal with your loss, now is the time.” And it’s been… Read more

Anxiety and Incarnation: Advice to Graduates

Last week I was invited to be the community speaker for the local high school Baccalaureate. It was an honor but also challenging. How do you speak to high school students and to a community from such diverse religious and spiritual backgrounds? Bainbridge Island is a classic upper middle class, educated, privileged, white community. This sets off all the usual alarm bells, “Hm… they don’t have any real problems.” And, of course, these kinds of prejudice may have a grain… Read more

Fundamentalism Ruins Religion for Conservatives and Liberals

The Last Acceptable Prejudice hit a chord, not only with religiously conservative folks but with liberals who balk at the notion that we should give religious conservatives any hearing at all. Like so much in our culture we seek enemies and enjoy destroying them, and so we are at loggerheads on religion. The New Atheists, buoyed by a new sense of confidence and numbers, are feeling their oats and will not be silenced, and I say rightfully so. Liberals, whether… Read more

Last Acceptable Prejudice on College Campuses

I don’t often go to campus talks at my university. I don’t go because if I attended all those that interest me I would never get my work done. But I made an exception for Dr. Eboo Patel. He was named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009. He is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses. He served on President… Read more

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