Which narrow gate is the narrow gate Jesus wants us to walk through?

"Old Gate" by mindgraph, Flickr C.C.

At a recent campus ministry conference, the closing sermon was about Jesus' exhortation to "enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction" (Matthew 7:13). The speaker said that our challenge as campus ministers is to promote "narrowness" in a university environment that promotes "open-mindedness" over against "narrowness." He quoted a recent evangelical sociological study of young adult spirituality that divided young adults into six … [Read more...]

The cops who need to be thanked

Jason Hargrove, Flickr C.C.

I know that I've been sharing a lot of troubling articles on social media about police brutality against black people. I always try to qualify it with an acknowledgment that most cops are just trying to do their job. I really believe that racism is a pervasive original sin in our society, and that white police officers are not any more or less racist than any other white person. They just happen to be thrown into stressful situations where they are responsible for making split-second gut … [Read more...]

Original sin and the identity of the other (questioning an apparent collision of values)

identity of the other

At a campus ministry conference I've been attending, a conservative evangelical speaker talked about the critical importance of the doctrine of original sin, basically saying that we cannot love God in the right way if we don't know that we are hopelessly broken and lost without him. He contrasted this doctrine with the "new-agey view" that we're supposed to "trust our feelings" because people are "basically good." As I was listening to this speaker, it made me wonder how many conservative … [Read more...]

Making space in the Advent/Christmas wars


There's a war during the Christmas season that's different than the supposed "war on Christmas" that people are waging when they say they want for your holy days to be happy. This other war is fought between clergy and other theo-nerds who are militantly committed to following the liturgical calendar which means not singing Christmas carols before Christmas Eve and those who say liturgy, schmiturgy, as long as people are getting saved, who cares what we sing when. The battle-lines break down in … [Read more...]

The moral unseriousness of torture and other stupid “tough guy” solutions to the world’s problems


In the world of politics, most things are the opposite of what they seem. When politicians use cheap and dirty PR stunts to trick the media into to the narrative that they're tough straight-shooters, they're being the opposite of genuinely tough straight-shooters who actually stick to their principles no matter how great a PR disaster they're creating for their Olivia Pope handlers and how merciless a pounding they're receiving from that class of blabbering idiots known as pundits. One of the … [Read more...]

A rap about a teenage mom named Mary and her illegitimate son Jesus


Last year I wrote a rap for Advent about the circumstances of Jesus' birth and their implications for those of us who live very safe and privileged lives today. Basically, my thesis is that you can't hold a baby who was born in a manger if you're living a life that's designed to avoid all danger. For a hook, I used a combination of the hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" and "Look Down," the opening song of Les Miserables. The recording is extremely low-budget and my flow is not very tight. But maybe … [Read more...]

Did God or Satan tell David to take a census? Progressive revelation & Derek Flood’s Disarming Scripture


If God tells you to sin, is it still a sin? What if God tells a king to sin because he's mad at the king's people and he wants an excuse to punish them? That's precisely what happens in 2 Samuel 24:1, "Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 'Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.'" As "punishment" for the census, which God told David to take, God sends a plague that kills 70,000 Israelites. God doesn't come off very well in this s … [Read more...]

Media sensationalism and rape culture at my alma mater UVA (TW: rape culture)


It's been a hard couple of weeks to be a Wahoo in the wake of a Rolling Stone article calling out the rape culture on the University of Virginia campus. Even though UVA's official mascot is the Cavalier, we call ourselves Wahoos, a fish that can drink its weight. That says a lot about who we are and the crisis of our student life. There has been a lot of push-back and criticism of the article because some aspects of the story provided by the rape victim supposedly don't "add up." Newsflash: when … [Read more...]

How Jesus saves through Michael Brown and Eric Garner

i cant breathe

One thing that I never tire of pondering as a Christian is how Jesus' cross saves me and what it saves me from. Growing up evangelical, the answer was simple: Jesus took the punishment for my sin to save me from an angry, perfectionist God who wanted to burn me in hell forever. But this explanation looks nothing like the salvation that takes place in response to Peter's first sermon about Jesus' cross in Acts 2. Peter says nothing whatsoever about hell. So what does he say that people need to be … [Read more...]

A Thanksgiving IHOP run and my complicity in the failure of capitalism


I don't go shopping on Black Friday, not because I'm a virtuous person, but because it's the one day when I get to wag my finger self-righteously at the concept of responsible consumerism, i.e. things like doing your homework, writing lists, making plans, comparing prices, and making responsible adult decisions, basically all the things I've always sucked at which the girls in my middle school class with the color-coded binders were always so good at. But there's nothing virtuous about my … [Read more...]