Could you listen to an angry black Jesus?


I know. He doesn't look all that angry. There just aren't any good angry black Jesus photos available on the internet. But the real Jesus in the Bible gets angry a lot more than most Christians really feel comfortable acknowledging. And he definitely wasn't white, physically or culturally. We generally gloss over things Jesus says that are offensive to modern white Enlightenment sensibilities. One of the most offensive stories in this regard is Jesus' encounter with the Canaanite woman in … [Read more...]

Why I refuse to shame people for social media silence


A few days ago, a friend of mine expressed disappointment that a preacher many of us follow had not written anything about the situation in Ferguson in social media since he's in Missouri. This particular preacher had counseled me a few weeks before to be "contemplative" instead of "reactive" in my activism. I'm not sure how well I've followed his advice in terms of my social media output. I've been a retweeting machine first about Gaza and then about Ferguson. I'm perpetually conflicted about … [Read more...]

Our gated communities and the black bogeyman that haunts us

audubon place

I decided to take a picture of the most violent thing I've seen so far in New Orleans. Maybe that sounds silly to you. How can a sign in front of a peaceful gated community filled with ten million dollar homes far away from the tear gas street battles taking place tonight in Ferguson, Missouri be violent? But the ideology that is articulated in this sign is the source of great violence: the idea that super-rich white people must be kept absolutely safe and segregated from the poor people of … [Read more...]

A brilliant thing Kierkegaard wrote about love


I discovered the Danish Christian existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard my first year in college. He made such an impression on me that I wanted to name my first son Soren, which I would have done if my wife hadn't objected. I left Kierkegaard behind for a long time, but over the past few weeks, I've been flipping through is Works of Love, where he spins off essays riffing on 15 Bible passages about love. And his piece about 1 Corinthians 8:1, "Love builds up," is brilliant. … [Read more...]

Is it okay to notice that Jesus can be a jerk sometimes?


The lectionary reading for this week is the familiar story of Jesus walking across the water in Matthew 14:22-33. It's very easy to let your eyes glaze over when you're looking at the story for the hundredth time. But there's something about the text that bothered me reading it through this time and I'm not sure that it isn't supposed to bother me. Peter has jumped out of the boat and done something that required way more faith than I would ever be able to muster: walking across the water to … [Read more...]

What if instead of attacking gay people, evangelicals supported celibate monasticism?


The latest thing conservative evangelicals on social media are getting excited about and sharing around is the newly discovered phenomenon of celibate gay people. There are even celibate gay people who live together as a couple and just don't have sex. One couple named Lindsey and Sarah shared their story on this blog a few months ago. Though I completely reject using celibate gay people as bludgeons against sexually active gay people, I do think that celibacy in general is something the church s … [Read more...]

Ridicule is great clickbait, but is it good for Christian community?


If there's one thing that defines our era, it's the way that people like to make fun of other people. Ridicule is the favorite pastime of the social media age. The most clicked-on youtube videos are the ones that give us an opportunity to laugh at people for looking stupid. We make memes with Willy Wonka zinging the idiots we define ourselves against. Ridicule is great for high-fiving the people who already agree with you about who the dumbasses are, but I'm not sure how Christian it is or how … [Read more...]

Daddy, is the devil real?


My sons wanted to tell spooky stories last night. Isaiah went first, then Matthew, then me. I was just making my story up as I went along. And they were editing my story whenever they wanted to add a plot twist. So because of an unexpected plot twist, I said that a character named Johnny must have been possessed by a demon. And Isaiah asked me what does possessed mean and what does demon mean. And so I said that demons are evil creatures sent by the devil. And he asked me who was the devil. And … [Read more...]

A song that shows how war can destroy your humanity

tel aviv rally

This video was recorded in Tel Aviv by Ha'aertz journalist Haim Har-Zahav. The lyrics of the chant start off with an attack against the Israeli Arab lawmaker Ahmed Tibi saying that he's a terrorist and he needs to have his papers taken away from him. Then it comes to a line that is chilling to the bone: "There's no more school in Gaza; there are no children left. Ole! Ole!" The full transcript is provided by Ali Abunimah. I know there's no answer to the following question but I'll ask it anyway. … [Read more...]

Who are the weeds in God’s garden? (Matthew 13)


This picture is a renegade chamomile plant that came up through a crack in our driveway last year in Virginia. It came to mind as I was contemplating a recent lectionary gospel reading on Jesus' parable of the weeds from Matthew 13:24-30. We discussed it last Sunday night at our Wesley Foundation meeting and Monday at an ecumenical Eucharist gathering I've been attending called the Worship Society of St. Polycarp. Weeds are an interesting phenomenon, because how we define what qualifies as a … [Read more...]