The only two sides of any human conflict for Christians who love their enemies

arab jewish kid

We live in a world that loves to draw lines between "us" and "them." This line-drawing has grown very loud in recent days between supporters of the two sides in the Israel/Gaza conflict. Either it's God's chosen people vs. a degenerate race of terrorists or it's the colonial racist imperialists vs. their oppressed victims. Both easy narratives are deeply unjust to the history of the conflict. Many evangelical Christians in my generation "stand with Gaza" at least partly because our parents' … [Read more...]

An enemy is someone whose story you haven’t heard


A couple of weeks ago, Brian Zahnd preached a sermon on the healing of Naaman the Syrian commander by the Israelite prophet Elisha. He pointed out that Naaman was the head of an army that had been at war with the Israelites for years, so the analogy today would be if an Israelite prophet had healed the commander of Hamas. Zahnd made a profound statement as part of his sermon that I've been contemplating over the past couple of weeks: "An enemy is someone whose story you haven't heard." Jesus … [Read more...]

When children get in the way of our boundaries in Gaza and California

gaza kid

Children get in the way. It's what they do. My children get in my way all the time whenever I want to have a simple Gnostic life where I don't have to acknowledge the physical world outside of my laptop. My youngest son is the worst. He'll say things like "Daddy, I just want to spend some time with you," and then I can't just turn back to whatever I was doing. I was running on the beach with him last night, and I had a chilling moment. A wave hit him and he fell over and I panicked for an … [Read more...]

“Try me, O Lord, and test me” (a prayer for integrity, Psalm 26:2-3)

Today's Daily Office reading included two verses from a psalm that comprise an awesome prayer that I think Christians should be praying continually: "Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind. For your mercy is before my eyes so I will walk in your truth" (Psalm 26:2-3). This prayer summarizes what it means to live with integrity and illustrates how utterly we need God to make that possible. … [Read more...]

How does God “condemn sin in the flesh” on Jesus’ cross? (Romans 8:3)

In this week's lectionary epistle reading, Paul writes that "by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh, so that the justice of the law could be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit" (Romans 8:3-4). Many evangelical Christians presume that for God to "condemn sin in the flesh" refers to the condemnation of Jesus by His Father on the cross as a replacement punishment for our sin. … [Read more...]

Exit-trolling: the new tactic in Facebook psychological warfare

I remember a few years ago when Facebook was young, people used to play a manipulative game where they'd write on their status updates something like, "I've been a Democrat/Republican for 50 years, but after what ____ did yesterday, I've never been more outraged in my life and I've decided that I quit. I'm going over to the other side. " I never really followed closely enough to see if the same person melodramatically quit the same political party with a public Facebook status update more than … [Read more...]

#jadapose: when rape culture and misogyny can’t be blamed on those conservatives

There's a new meme on twitter called #jadapose. A girl named Jada was at a party and she got raped after being drugged. So her rapist took a picture of her lying on the floor afterwards and called it #jadapose and put it on twitter. Then a bunch of his twitter followers thought it was funny so they took pictures of themselves mimicking the way she was lying on the floor and hashtagging them #jadapose. And it viralized. And that's beyond disgusting. And it can't be blamed on the conservative … [Read more...]

The failure of Christian witness in a world of violence

A West Virginia woman named Holly Fisher stirred up a social media storm with her picture holding an assault rifle and a Bible with the American flag, particularly because it looks very similar to the 2004 photo of Hamas suicide bomber Reem Riyashi on the right above. No, Holly Fisher cannot be equated to a suicide bomber. But her publicity stunt showcases the absolute failure of Christian witness in our age of mockery. … [Read more...]

God’s triune sovereignty as provider, victim, and rebel

I've been dragging my heels on writing this post because referring to God as a "victim" and "rebel" elicited a fierce visceral reaction and pile-on from my conservative evangelical friends on Twitter a couple of weekends ago. But I had a realization the other week as I was contemplating the way that evangelicals like me end up with a banal "Mr. Rogers God" despite the best efforts of our youth pastors to make God appear as mean and strict as they possibly can. Basically, I think the problem is … [Read more...]

#WildGoose14: where the Trinity was a dance party without inhibition

I've been meditating on two things that my brother Jonathan Martin said during our rave sermon at the Wild Goose Festival a week ago: "The Trinity is a dance" and "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is no inhibition." I realize that at first glance, these two statements might seem like the kind of flippant blasphemy that confirms the worst stereotypes about a progressive Christian gathering like Wild Goose. Make God into your personal art project; give yourself over to whatever … [Read more...]