Lenten Reading: Against Religion

 The thing that I have been most struck by as I have read the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM) repeatedly over the last few weeks, is how ambivalent it is toward what we call religion (or even at times, the text seems specifically anti-religious).  I'm thinking here especially of Chapter 6 (v 1-18) and chapter 7 ( v. 15-29).One of the shortcuts that "Industrialized" Western Christian has taken over the last century or more is to make an increasingly big deal about the weekly (or bi-weekly, etc) worship service: about exactly the sorts of things that Jesus instructs against -- worship … [Read more...]

Belonging to our Places. Liberty Hyde Bailey and My Explorations in Urban Naturalism

Today is the birthday of Liberty Hyde Bailey...Bailey was one of the preeminent American botanists and horticulturists in the early twentieth century.  He also was an agrarian writer who wrote quite a bit about nature -- nature poetry, nature education, conservation, etc. -- and his work was deeply influential on Wendell Berry, and other more recent agrarian writers.Berry pays tribute in his essay "A Practical Hamony," (LGT: the part of this essay on Bailey via Google Books)  Bailey's classic apologia for creation care, The Holy Earth, mentioned by Berry in the above essay is available … [Read more...]

Inhabit Conference – Earlybird registration ending soon…

John and I are excited to be speaking as part of the Parish Collective's Inhabit Conference in Seattle next month. April 19-20John spoke about Slow Church there last year, and we both participated in the inaugural event in 2011...This year's theme is The Art of Parish Renewal: [ Conference Website ]Discover the imaginative, redemptive, and courageous practices that stir up God’s dream in particular places. God’s people are awakening to the possibility of being the church in everyday life. This is not a science; there is no singular technique or 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nei … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: A couple of thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount

A couple of thoughts have popped into my mind the last few days as I read and reflected on the SOTM...First, John's decision to give up his iPhone reminded me of a similar choice by my friend Ragan Sutterfield: In Praise of Single Function Devices Ragan writes here: I’ve been wearing a watch recently.  It’s nice—it tells me the time.  I’ve also been carrying a pocket calendar.  It has dates with space to put in appointments and a few blank pages for notes.  I also have a phone I’ve been using.  It has internet access if I absolutely need it, but a painful pared down version—it is not “sm … [Read more...]

Lenten Reading: Sermon on the Mount #5

The Sermon on the Mount hit home in a practical and difficult way for me today.I've been struck lately by how distracted I am by my iPhone. The iPhone is a fantastic invention, remarkable really, and a boon in the hands of some folks. But, for me, the iPhone plays right into my natural impatience (instant access to Google and email), my desire for distraction (Words with Friends), and the ever-present temptation to isolate myself from my community--including my friends and family. I've noticed that lately it has been getting harder for me to concentrate on my reading and writing. I even … [Read more...]

The World is Not Ours to Save…Whew! [Patheos Book Club]

I was asked to write a reflection on Tyler Wigg-Stevenson's new book The World is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good (IVP 2013) for the Patheos Book Club.  But for those who have been following the "Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice" Series, this post is also relevant to that conversation.I recently had the chance to interview Wigg-Stevenson for the current issue of The Englewood Review of Books, so I will borrow a couple of snippets from that interview as I reflect on the book.Cause fatigue is a significant problem among activists in the twenty-first century.   As an … [Read more...]

Be Strong in the Lord’s Power

Continuing the series on “Slow Church and the Urgency of Justice” today.  This is the sixth post. (Link goes to the initial post in the series).  Previous post: “God Tabernacling in Our Weakness"  Continuing the theme of our last post in this series (linked above), Marva Dawn in her important book Powers, Weakness and the Tabernacling of God, begins her exploration of the Ephesians 6 text by noting that because God tabernacles in our weakness, we can be strong in the Lord's power.  The we here is important, Dawn emphasizes, for it is the the whole Body of Christ -- and not the individua … [Read more...]


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