Greg Gianforte is what toxic Christianity looks like

"It would be one thing for a candidate to throttle and hit a reporter, but to do so in the presence of other journalists, in this case a crew from the Fox News Channel, is just plain reckless." This beautiful quote came from Chris Stirewalt, Fox News' politics editor, about Greg Gianforte's assault on a newspaper reporter the night before his special election in Montana. In other words, next time, don't body slam the guy when our Fox crew is in the next room. It's super awkward. Even if you win … [Read more...]

Is your church going to replace Medicaid?

In announcing the Trump administration's proposed budget this week, White house budget director Mike Mulvaney said two different things that were very revealing. He talked about the importance of requiring jobs for recipients of Medicaid for the sake of their moral betterment and he bragged about the hundreds of billions of dollars that the federal government was going to save on Medicaid in the future. In other words, he made it very plain that the purpose of requiring jobs was to save money by … [Read more...]

When my heart was “strangely warmed”

On May 24th, 1738, John Wesley attended a Moravian church gathering on Aldersgate Street in London. While Martin Luther's preface to Romans was being read, he felt his heart being "strangely warmed" and he received the sense of complete assurance of his salvation. This event has been dubbed Wesley's "evangelical conversion," even though he had already been ordained as an Anglican priest. It's an event that I've often felt some ambivalence about as an evangelical in a mainline denomination where … [Read more...]

7 Things AA Taught Me About Salvation

Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the most important spiritual movements of our time. Many Christians speak admirably of AA since it's changed millions of lives, but they have a lot of disdain for the concept of being "spiritual but not religious," which actually originated in the AA community rather than the hippie dippie new age world. AA is a puzzle to an evangelical like me because it combines rigorous discipleship with explicit theological pluralism. According to the talking points of … [Read more...]

When God sent us an angel named Jay

I met him in the lounge of what Tulane calls the O, where Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Gender and Sexual Diversity are located. I had gone there to share leftover chocolate chip cookies from our weekly NOLA Wesley lunch. He was wearing pink spandex and a pink shirt and a pink hat. After we'd introduced ourselves, he said almost immediately, "I've decided to stop drinking so I'm looking for some new friends and a church to belong to."Maybe you have to be a campus minister … [Read more...]

Why would anti-racist training be threatening to a white seminary professor?

"Of course, so-called anti-racism is anti-intellectual. It is also totalitarian and genocidally racist." That's definitely the wackiest comment I received in response to my open letter to Paul Griffiths about his meltdown over being invited to an anti-racism seminar. One characteristic of the post-truth era is the belief that outrageous assertions can reshape reality. I don't think this commenter really believes that anti-racism causes people to commit genocide. But if he and and thousands of … [Read more...]

An open letter to Dr. Griffiths regarding the Duke Divinity crisis

Dear Dr. Griffiths,One of my deepest regrets from my time as a Duke Divinity student was that I never took a course with you. Two of my favorite theologians I have discovered in the past several years after seminary are Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Von Balthasar in particular can be difficult for me to comprehend fully and I would have benefited from your guidance. I'm writing you because my heart is broken by the dirty laundry from my beloved alma mater that has been strewn … [Read more...]

Why white people should stop celebrating Cinco de Mayo

One of the most transformative moments of my life happened in Mexico. My friend  Kevin and I had gone backpacking there the summer of 1998 after my second year in college because it was cheap and it seemed dangerous enough to be a great adventure. We met an Argentinian in a hostel in Mexico City who told us that he could introduce us to the Zapatistas, the cool new revolutionary group that had staged an uprising in response to NAFTA in 1994. They wore ski masks and their leader Subcomandante … [Read more...]

No, there aren’t two United Methodisms

It's always easiest to imagine humanity existing in a single dualistic contrast. I do this a lot. There are two types of white people... There are two types of Christians... Etc. And it's bullshit every time that I do it. It definitely makes it easier to write think-pieces. But the world doesn't happen in binaries. There are many layers to our disagreements within United Methodism. We disagree about what we're disagreeing about. But I think it's very unhelpful to see United Methodism as falling … [Read more...]

United Methodism Was Designed for Relational Discipleship Not Ideological Takeover

The United Methodist Judicial Council ruled this past weekend that Karen Oliveto was elected illegally as a bishop because she is a married lesbian. But her election and consecration could not be overthrown because she was an elder in good standing when she was elected. In fact, she served her first church before the Book of Discipline was modified to prohibit gay ordination in 1984. Now the Western Jurisdiction that elected her bishop is tasked with "punishing" her for their decision to elect … [Read more...]