What If This Is the New Church?

I’ve been thinking about what I would preach today if I were preaching. And I keep on seeing this image of Cornel West and other clergy marching in Charlottesville today, many of them queer or female clergy whose legitimacy would be called into question by many Christians. And the phrase that came into my head is this is what the new church looks like. It doesn’t matter that church hasn’t looked like this since Constantine made church the same thing as… Read more

How Satan Wins in Charlottesville and Elsewhere

Last night, a group of white nationalists carrying tiki torches took over the UVA Lawn in Charlottesville, Virginia, the place where I lived my fourth year in college. This picture shows a group of counterprotesters completely encircled by the white nationalists. Somebody got into a fight. Some people were taken away in handcuffs. Today was supposed to be their big rally but it got shut down after violence between the white nationalists and counterprotesters, which was actually the perfect outcome for the… Read more

The spiritual discipline of backing down

As I write this, the world has been taken hostage by a high-stakes game of chicken between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, two men whose insecurities and cults of personality depend upon projecting increasing levels of fierceness to each other. Neither of them can back down without losing face. The entire authoritarian edifice of North Korea is built upon the myth of the national hero who defends his people against the nation that carpet bombed their villages in the… Read more

Is it un-Christ-like to drag a famous theologian online?

I got in trouble this weekend for a Facebook post in which I expressed regret about having interviewed NT Wright after he called transgender identity a “fashionable fantasy.” It was very mild compared to other things I’ve said online, but it struck a nerve with a lot of moderately progressive white Christian men (they were literally all moderately progressive white Christian men). Apparently expressing regret about having done an interview is the same thing as refusing to talk to anyone… Read more

Why Is NT Wright Calling Transgender People Gnostics?

The Gnostics would be puzzled by Wright’s attribution of their philosophy to transgender people. Read more

How AA defines holiness

The entry in AA’s Daily Reflections for today says, “Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” As I was contemplating this sentence, it struck me that this is one of the most pure and straightforward ways I’ve heard to define holiness: to be made fit to serve God and neighbor. Many people in our society like to volunteer for community service. It’s very common for college students to go… Read more

How do I preach the gospel at the #1 party school in the country?

It’s official. The Princeton Review has declared Tulane University the #1 party school in the country. Our ministry building is located next door to a bar on a thoroughfare where many drunk students walk by on their way to and from the frat houses. Every Monday morning during the school year, I spend about half an hour cleaning up the cups and broken bottles in our front yard. Needless to say, it’s a unique context in which to do campus… Read more

What Does Winning Look Like for Christians?

Before Donald Trump became president, he promised that if he were elected, Americans would “win so much [they] would get tired of winning.” After the failure of US Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Trump chastised his fellow Republicans for failing to win, a win being defined as the passage of any bill that the Democrats opposed and the Republicans could get 50 votes for, even if none of the Republicans really wanted it either. In a… Read more

Mixed race bathing in east Tennessee (a poem)

I’ve been to pools with black people before There were five maybe six not twenty And all of them teenagers pushing and running where are the parents Several white men sit in chairs avoiding eye contact I’m not racist I didn’t say you were I’ve got small children So do I There is nothing wrong here There is absolutely nothing wrong here Because teenagers push and do cannon balls and yell and taunt and scream I was a white teenager… Read more

When Jesus’ garden becomes a monoculture

I have been a gardener for many years. And I hate weeds. In Louisiana, the weeds are much fiercer than they ever were in Virginia. There’s one type of vine in particular that has enormous root systems deep underground. When you pluck this vine out, it’s almost impossible to get much of the root, so it always grows back quickly. Having been traveling the whole month of July, I’m not looking forward to the mess that will await me in… Read more

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