Another world is possible (a shout-out to the #FightFor15 and #DivestTulane movements)

divest tulane

During the past week, I have had the privilege of supporting two different political campaigns, the Fight for $15 movement, which seeks a living wage for fast food workers, and the Divest Tulane movement, which seeks to extract Tulane University from its investments in the fossil fuel industry. On Wednesday night, I marched with Fight for $15 as they shut down an area McDonald's during dinner time. Throughout the week, I've been participating in Divest Tulane's sit-in in the hallway of Gibson … [Read more...]

“Thank you, I’m good” (when students reject free donut holes)


Every Wednesday morning, I try to convince hundreds of power-walking Tulane students to accept a free donut hole. I figured donut holes were the perfect giveaway item because they're bite-sized and not too major a commitment. At the beginning of the year, I got five dozen doughnut holes per week, but I reduced my order to four dozen recently after a couple outings when I couldn't get rid of all of them. The most common phrase I hear from students is "Thank you, I'm good." This phrase seems to … [Read more...]

When people with power do not fear God

walter scott shooting

Like many others, I watched the video of South Carolina police officer Michael Slager shooting Walter Scott while he was running away. For me, the most chilling part of the video was when Officer Slager stood over Mr. Scott as he was dying and said, "Put your hands behind your back" over and over, as though it was an entirely normal police procedure presumably so that he could document this verbalization in his police report. Not knowing that he was being filmed, he then planted his stun gun … [Read more...]

I choose to live in a world where resurrection happens

"Resurrection," Fady Habib, Flickr C.C.

During Lent this year, a Presbyterian minister named John Shuck posted on the Friendly Atheist blog about being a pastor despite the fact that he no longer believes in God. He shared that he doesn't appreciate being told he's not a Christian just because he doesn't believe in God. In his view, God is a "symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force." He views Christianity as a "culture" whose "artifacts" are "resources" to be used for the sake of "social justice, … [Read more...]

Embracing godforsakenness: how Jesus’ cross saves the human community

radical jesus

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" These words that Jesus spoke on the cross possess a profound mystery. How can a man who was also God ask a question like this? Was Jesus simply reciting the opening line of Psalm 22 pro forma? Or did God the Father actually reject God the Son as part of a choreographed pageant by which the world's sin could be paid for in good capitalist fashion? This Lent, as I was preaching on Psalm 22, I was led to a new angle for understanding this mystery that I … [Read more...]

Radical Jesus 101: Two very different ways of defining sin

Painting by Bec Cranford-Smith

I figured Ash Wednesday would be a good day to meditate upon the meaning of sin. One of the most important fault-lines in Christianity today falls between two very different ways of defining sin. It seems that most conservative Christians define sin "legalistically" as disobedience to God's rules, while progressive Christians define sin "humanistically" as that which dehumanizes individuals and societies. This basic difference radically impacts how we understand our faith, scripture, and God's … [Read more...]

On learning not to hate Mardi Gras

mardi gras boy

Mardi Gras. Everyone down here in New Orleans is enamored with it. I enjoyed... some of it. Like last night at the Orpheus parade when my son was on my shoulders squealing with delight as a giant seven-trailer float built to look like a train rolled by. This morning wasn't as much fun. It was freezing cold. My family went down to see a truck parade that follows the main Rex parade. We were standing around in the pre-parade staging ground. There were very few other people. I went home to get a … [Read more...]

Brian Williams: a Sunday school conversation

Wikimedia commons, CC license

We talked about Brian Williams in Sunday school yesterday. I can't remember exactly what the original question prompt was: something along the lines of what could have saved Brian Williams from the bad choices that he made. Everyone had a different angle for talking about the story, which is what made it a fascinating conversation.I read a book about a year ago called Mistakes Were Made But Not By Me that talks about the psychology of self-justification and the way that our memories are … [Read more...]

Can Christianity be sex-positive? A chat with Dianna Anderson

Photo by Tate Walker

Dianna Anderson is a twitter friend and conversation partner who is part of our growing tribe of ex-evangelicals on the Internet. Dianna does a great job of synthesizing the insights of intersectional feminism and Christian theology on her blog. She has just released Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity which seeks to advance a healthier vision for sexuality than the one she received from her upbringing in conservative evangelical purity culture. I don't always agree with … [Read more...]

On self-serving appeals to God’s sovereign “natural” order

"Alexander Stephens," Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In response to the backlash against Barack Obama's Prayer Breakfast remarks about violence that had been justified in the name of Christianity, Tah-nehisi Coates wrote an article in which he shared a quote from the Confederacy's vice-president Alexander Stephens. Stephens' words are dripping with appeals to God's sovereign, perfect order to justify the necessity of subordinating one race beneath another. It may look absolutely ridiculous to us today, but Stephens was no doubt writing with … [Read more...]