Radical Liberty…

I just returned from England, where I enjoyed a time of holiday, teaching, and fellowship with friends from around the world.  India, Malaysia, Canada, England, Romania, Albania, Sweden, Germany, Austria - leaders from the various Torchbearer Bible Schools gather every four years for fellowship, worship, planning. If government regulations are a form of impingement on freedom, I was reminded this week that America, in this regard, is arguably the freest place on the planet.  Regulations … [Read more...]

Shin Dong-hyuk: Lessons about radical gospel freedom, from Camp 14

  Shin Dong-hyuk is the only person known to have escaped from Camp 14, a horrific concentration camp in North Korea where the prisoners are incarcerated, not as individuals, but as families;  parents, grandparents, siblings, and children, are all arrested in an attempt to wipe out the scourge of rebellion.  They will work long hours on starvation rations and, if they're obedient, generally die by the age of 45.  Children are born inside the camp and live their entire lives … [Read more...]

Marathon Bombs and Baseball’s Best – Lessons on life vs. death from April 15th

Yesterday, as often happens, sport became the backdrop for something larger.  It also happened to be something horrific as Boston blew.  But sport and life were celebrated yesterday too, because April 15th is Jackie Robinson day in Major League Baseball every year.  We do well to ponder, celebrate, and learn, especially this year, when fear is crouching at the door, inviting violence. His story can teach us a few things about the only good way forward.  Here's why: April 15th, 1947, in a … [Read more...]

Redeem Everything: Learning from St. Patrick

As the weekend of green beer and cabbage approaches, it's appropriate to consider the rich heritage most of enjoy without even knowing it, passed down from the Celtic Christian communities of Ireland and Scotland during the dark ages.  You can learn about through a favorite book of mine, "How the Irish Saved Civilization", whose thesis is that when the Roman empire collapsed and the west was plunged into centuries of barbarism and fear, the bastions of sanity were the Celtic monasteries.  This … [Read more...]

Powers and World Forces: Sugar, Salt, Fat, Coke, Kellogs, Kraft, Coke.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness...." Ephesians 6:12 This story on NPR caught my attention yesterday because it came just as I was doing something I rarely do anymore:  stuffing my face with chicken McNuggets from McDonalds while I was driving home from a study day in the mountains.  It wasn't the best of days.  Forgetting the computer cord meant was I done studying (or at least writing my sermon) earlier … [Read more...]

The Abortion Debate – learning from 40 years of non-dialogue.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision enacted by the supreme court.  Since that time, the rhetoric, misinformation, strategic "messaging", and political posturing surrounding this issue has continued by both sides.  These 40 years reveal that Americans are good at talking within self-referential communities, but not good at talking to people whose view is different than their own. As a result, Roe v Wade became a catalytic force for the religious right to … [Read more...]

Words for Advent: Anticipation

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It's Wednesday night.  I'll be teaching this evening, and then again tomorrow for several sessions.  Then there's graduation on Friday night, where I'll be privileged to share for a few minutes before the students celebrate the completion of their time here at Tauernhoff. It's always around this point in my "two weeks and change" trip to Europe that I begin to long for home.  This trip will be extended for a few wonderful days of fun with my daughter who teaches in Germany, as she visits … [Read more...]

The Empire Has No Clothes – raw truth precedes real hope – Part One

The losses and damages characteristic of our present economy cannot be stopped, let alone restored, by “liberal” or “conservative” tweakings of corporate industrialism, against which the ancient imperatives of good care, homemaking, and frugality can have no standing. - Wendell Berry Now that Mitt Romney has effectively vanquished all other contenders, the real election posturing can begin, and we all know it won't be pretty.  More importantly though, we also know it won't be … [Read more...]

All Poverty is Relational: What does that mean?

I'm riding my bike to work on a frosty morning this winter when I encounter a couple, dressed in poverty, arguing intensely on a street corner.  Their words do violence to each other until he finally storms away, hurt and raging, while she's left crying, waiting for the light to the change.  Both of them are dressed poorly; tattered sweatshirts (hood up on this cold morning), inadequate shoes, denim.  They have bags, small backpacks. As we go our different ways, I ponder the reality that … [Read more...]

On Bringing Children into the World: Two Views

Is this a good time for children to be born?

“I would not want to bring a child into this world” she said gently, yet emphatically enough to leave no uncertainty about her conviction.  She was a student, travelling from her hometown of Ulm to Ravensberg, where she is studying to be an elementary school teacher.  Her eagerness to practice English, coupled with our mutual curiosity of each other’s cultures created the recipe for a good long conversation.  The train wound it’s way through southern Germany, from east to west, as we … [Read more...]