If there’s one book your church small group needs to order for this fall, it’s Austin Channing Brown’s I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made For Whiteness. It’s probably one of the most apt uses of memoir that I’ve ever encountered. If you want to understand how racial dynamics play out in predominantly white space from the perspective of a black woman, this is the most accessible, informative narrative account I’ve come across. I had the honor of… Read more

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not seize it. John 1:5 This verse is one of the most important metaphors in the Bible for describing the nature of truth. Truth is like light. It does not coerce anyone to take its point of view; it simply exposes what is real. Jesus says in John 3:19: “Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Humans have an… Read more

“Go and find out what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.'” Matthew 9:13 This is what Jesus tells the religious authorities when they criticize him for partying with sinners. I would say that this verse is the most important verse in the Bible for Christians and a summary of the gospel that we need to hear every day. Everything that God teaches us and commands of us is for the sake of mercy. Christian discipleship is this: receiving God’s… Read more

God has convicted me of the need to write a different set of blog posts for a while. I’m going to call this series “Good Biblical Words” because the Bible has many good words in it, but understanding how they fit together is not self-evident. The second century bishop Irenaeus wrote that the Bible is like a mosaic of jewels that is supposed to form the image of a king, but they are often rearranged to make the shape of… Read more

It’s an ancient image from July 2016, in a different age before Donald Trump was president. But two years later, I still can’t find a better representation of what it looks like to take up your cross and follow Jesus, which is literally what Ieshia Evans said she understood herself to be doing in her first political protest. There’s nothing civil about taking up your cross, and there’s nothing more dangerous in the world that we’ve created today than civility…. Read more

White feelings can be dangerous for people of color. When a white police officer feels scared and overwhelmed by a black person, he becomes lethally unsafe. When a white woman gets weepy after a confrontation with a person of color, the patriarchal chivalric response is to defend the white woman’s honor, which in the past, has had lethal repercussions for people of color. These very real historical implications of white feelings haunt interracial interactions even when they’re online and seem… Read more

It’s often the case that I write blogs because I can’t go to sleep since my mind is restlessly wordsmithing something in my head. That’s what happened last night regarding a resolution before the Virginia annual conference to recommend rescinding the trust clause for churches who want to ditch United Methodism without losing their physical property if they disagree with whatever ruling comes out of the February 2019 General Conference. I have no idea whether the Virginia conference will even… Read more

I’m currently at the Virginia annual conference, the yearly gathering where United Methodist laity and clergy from Virginia come together to make decisions and renew our covenant with each other. Every year, the resolutions are probably my least favorite part of the time together. It might not seem like it because of how feisty I am when I’m typing words on a screen, but I actually hate conflict, at least in person. Sometimes I’ve actually had to leave the room… Read more

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a United Methodist layperson. Somewhere along the way in his spiritual journey he was taught the interpretation of Romans 13 that he used to justify the new ICE policy that separates immigrant children from their parents and criminalizes all immigrants without visas, including refugees seeking political asylum who do everything by the book. Christians across the theological spectrum have recoiled from Sessions’ use of scripture, but his interpretation is entirely consistent with the law and… Read more

Carolyn Moore is probably my favorite conservative United Methodist leader. What I see in her is a genuine thirst for Christ that is absent of the scorn that I encounter too often on the other side (and probably exhibit too often myself). Carolyn put out a challenge for us to have a better, more Spirit-seeking conversation within United Methodism as part of discerning our way forward. She laid out a framework for how such a conversation could be shaped. Here… Read more

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