Has Christmas Been Swallowed by the Miraculous?

Like a preacher who has pastored a congregation for more than a year, I am faced with the task of saying something about Advent again without simply saying what I said last year in my Advent blogs. And I commend those to you.Of course, some repetition is unavoidable. Hard to talk about Advent and Christmas without seeking to emphasize what matters most. What is Advent with its climax in Christmas about?To say the obvious, Christmas has rich cultural meanings. It is the most … [Read more...]

Remembering Our Death: What May Be at Stake

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A great change has occurred in the rituals, formal and informal, surrounding dying and death in North America. Here and in other contemporary western cultures, our customary practices around dying and death, have changed dramatically. For millennia, both were part of the familiar fabric of human experience. But no longer.There is more than one reason. Life expectancy was much lower. As recently as 1900 in the United States, it was 45 years. Infant and children mortality rates were high. Of … [Read more...]

What Would It Have Been Like to Be A Companion of Jesus?

I began keeping a journal in my early 30s, now forty years ago. I wish I had begun earlier. I would value having a written record of thoughts and experiences from my 20s and even earlier.I mention my journal because browsing in a volume from twenty years ago is the trigger for this blog. Namely, I was reminded of preparing a short summary of what Jesus was like for a live appearance on a major network television morning news show on Good Friday.The producer told me that I would be asked … [Read more...]

Responding to a Critic: Misunderstanding or Misrepresentation?

To write about religion is to court controversy, conflict, and criticism. It confirms the counsel of conventional etiquette that it is best in polite conversation to avoid two subjects: religion and politics.So I know that conflict and criticism are part of writing blogs for Patheos. Indeed, that’s what makes it worthwhile doing. If my blogs got no responses, generated no conversation, why would I want to spend time writing them? Life is too short.But it is not as clear what I should do w … [Read more...]

Top Religious Trends 2014: A Christianity Co-Opted by Individualistic, Exclusivist Faith

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Patheos community here. Patheos has invited a number of us to write an end-of-summer post about what we find “most critical within our tradition” today (italics added), “the issue of greatest import.”My tradition is Christianity – especially in its American form. I have been both all of my life. The most critical issue within American Christianit … [Read more...]

Postscript to A Letter About Jesus

This is my third installment about a letter about Jesus and the issue, “Was Jesus God?” If you have not read the first two installments, this may not make much sense to you.To emphasize: as a Christian, I affirm that Jesus is “the Word of God” and “the Word become flesh,” that is, the Word incarnate, the Word embodied in a human life. In Jesus, we see what can be seen of God in a human life. This affirmation goes back to the first Christian century and is orthodox Christianity.For those w … [Read more...]

Further Thoughts on a Letter about Jesus

My previous blog – “A Letter about Jesus” – drew a much larger response than I expected. In this blog, I continue that conversation with a clarification and some additional comments.Clarification - even as I think this was pretty clear in my previous blog. One of my major claims was that the New Testament does not simply identify and equate Jesus and God. It never says, “Jesus is God” or “God is Jesus.”Of course, it does affirm, in phrases from John’s gospel, that Jesus is “the Word … [Read more...]


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