Book Review: Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit by Paula Huston

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  Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit by Paula Huston (Ave Maria Press:2101) Paula Huston suggests that humility is the key to Lenten practices and the grime hidden behind my otherwise clean refrigerator might, just might, be a metaphor for what is deep and hidden in my own spiritual life.  My first [Read More...]

Sermon on Psalm 139 and the Spirituality of Having a Human Body.

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This week a video went viral on the Internet. Not some cloyingly cute thing with kittens and not the Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus video.  It was much more disturbing than that.  No, this video was of American soldiers urinating on the dead bodies of supposed Taliban soldiers. Mohsin Naquvi, a director of [Read More...]

Why I hate Religion, But Love Jesus – A Response

This video went viral this week and I’ve been asked by the ELCA office for my response (to be posted on their website.) Here it is: I totally get it.  I hate the way in which the church is more of a behavior modification program and a purity system than a place where we hear [Read More...]

Adult Confirmation

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Tuesday morning as we walked out of a meeting at Augustana Lutheran Church, I turned to Pastor Justin Nickel (who is basically the little brother I never had) and said “Hey Justin, your girlfriend is in my confirmation class that starts tonight” Looking over his shoulder he said loudly “ADULT confirmation for anyone who might [Read More...]

Wild Beasts and Sheet Cake: A Sermon for Baptism of Our Lord

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  Mark 1:4-13 4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, [Read More...]

The Problem With Pews

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For the first 1,300 + years of the church there was no seating in churches.  (with the exception of stone benches along the back wall for the elderly or infirmed) The Protestant Reformation saw to it that the sermon would now be the primary focus of Christian worship and, well, folks are gonna need to [Read More...]

What should we do with dying urban churches?

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This last week I briefly visited a mainline church in the neighborhood House for All Sinners and Saints would like to move back into.  They have an urban historic building which seats 350-400 people.  There were 18 people at worship. 18.  This is not an unusual situation. Much has been written about the decline of [Read More...]

I’m a church socialist. There. I said it.

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Recently I was helping a synod in the ELCA (my denomination) undergo an evaluation of one of their church plants.  Anyhow, there I learned about an event the synod had put on to try and get local “resourced” (read: those with money) churches to start building relationships with local church plants (read: those without much [Read More...]

20 years without a drink. It’s personal.

Yesterday marked 20 years of being clean and sober. It also marked 20 years without passing out drunk, getting in fights, and perhaps most importantly, waking up in my own vomit. Yes – as my friend Maggie reminded me yesterday -for an alcoholic, 20 years is a long time to go without puking through your [Read More...]

“So, are you ready for Christmas?”

Something I wrote in December 2007 when House for All Sinners and Saints was 8 people who met once a month in my living room: People keep asking me this question: “So, are you ready for Christmas?” What does this mean exactly? It could mean; “So, have you exchanged bits of paper and metal and [Read More...]


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