Toxic Christian of the year: Jennifer Mayers

I'm presuming it's satire. Jennifer Mayers of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has taken over the internet with her toxic Christianity (what I wrote my book about). The viral hit that set her over the top was a piece defending Texas gun rights activist Christy Sheats for shooting her daughters since "she no doubt discovered that both of her daughters had been promiscuous and were sleeping with black boys and she took it upon herself to put an end to that cycle." Mayers' blog basically does the same thing … [Read more...]

The river is good to me and so is God

For two decades, the Eno River in Durham, NC, has been an important temple for me. I know every inch of trail in both directions along the bank by the Cole Mill Road access point. It's a ritual every time I come home to go walking on the Eno. And almost always I go swimming in the water, even if it's January (because I'm crazy like that!). There's something about cold water that speaks to me about the goodness of God. I can't explain why. But when I'm lying on my back floating in the Eno, I look … [Read more...]

When will I walk on water?

In the Christian publishing world, some authors walk on water; others do not. I used to think if God gave you an idea that kept you up at night until you made a book out of it, then God would guarantee the transmission of that idea to the world. I thought walking on water was solely about trusting God. But it seems like walking on water in Christian publishing is more like waterskiing. With the right combination of factors (or a Harper One contract), you get up and glide elegantly across the … [Read more...]

Can queer pride save the American church?

This past Friday, as the financial world was reeling in the wake of the Brexit vote, I sat down in a small coffee shop on Wall Street with Episcopal priest Liz Edman and had one of the most incredible theological conversations I've ever had. Edman just released a book called Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity. When I finish it, I'll write a proper review, but what I've read so far has already blown my mind, so please order it … [Read more...]

The two pivots Trump needs to make to secure the white evangelical vote

I had thought there was no way Trump could be elected president because he wasn't a bona fide evangelical and his attempts to speak evangelical were so awkward and clumsy. But I forgot that evangelicals always love a good conversion story. James Dobson's recent announcement that Donald Trump has "accepted Christ" didn't surprise me. It's a textbook play. But now I'm a little bit worried he really will win the presidency. Because now evangelicals have the cover to support him. Since Jesus' blood w … [Read more...]

My most contentious chapter: outsiders not insiders

Several recent reviews have expressed ambivalence about my book, particularly the 10th chapter Outsiders Not Insiders. Though I generally tried to be less strident and more gracious than I sometimes am on the blog, I'm curious to hear your feedback about whether I overreached or expressed myself in an unnecessarily alienating way. So I decided to share an excerpt from that chapter for your consideration.[EXCERPT FROM OUTSIDERS NOT INSIDERS]Before Jesus got killed, he warned his disciples … [Read more...]

My quarrel with N.T. Wright about sex

I realize we're not supposed to quarrel with N.T. Wright. Because he's already refuted every possible challenge to his thinking in one of the several hundred books he's published. (He's also a very humble, kind person.) It was pretty surreal that I got to skype with Bishop Wright recently through our podcast Crackers and Grape Juice. He spoke about 200 words a minute for 40 minutes without saying the word "um." Those of you who disagree with me will delight in the way that he steamrolled my … [Read more...]

Detoxify Christian lingo #1: Salvation

I've decided to write a series of blog posts focusing on some of the Christian lingo that has become loaded and toxic in our age of culture war. The basic premise of my book How Jesus Saves the World From Us is that Christians fundamentally need to reorient the way we talk about salvation. As I recently blogged, I don't dispute the existence of hell. But to package salvation as afterlife insurance means tailoring Christian theology to fit the sensibilities of white middle class anxiety. The … [Read more...]

How to taste a waterfall

The Scotts Run waterfall was one of my sacred places that I used to go on my fast days when I lived in the DC suburbs. So I went back this Monday since I was visiting the area. I figured with it being a Monday, it would be quiet and peaceful as usual. I didn't realize the local teenagers would be recently out of school and not yet locked into summer jobs. So there they were swarming all over the rocks with their cigarettes and beer bottles. And I felt like a grumpy old man.At first I was … [Read more...]

Why I still believe in hell

My dear friend and podcast-mate Jason Micheli just wrote a very kind review of my book. So I suppose it's a bit ungracious of me to jump immediately into a quarrel with him over the existence of an eternal hell. He wrote two posts here and here that argue against hell. I still believe in hell and I want to believe in it because I believe in God's solidarity with the oppressed.It may be ironic but the strongest argument I've found for the existence of hell comes from the atheist radical … [Read more...]