The Subversive Peace of Christmas


Christmas is a time for celebration, joy, and family. But Christmas is much more than a sentimental holiday.Christmas is subversive.The Bible doesn’t tell us the specific date Jesus was born. Later Christians tradition gave us the date of December 25. It was chosen by Pope Julius around the year 350 and Christians have been celebrating Christ’s birth on that day ever since.But Pope Julius didn’t just randomly pick December 25. He was deliberate. As Marcus Borg and John Dominic Cross … [Read more...]

Ira Glass Endorses Enhanced (Parental) Interrogration Techniques

This American Life logo

Do you think you can tell the difference between good parenting and child abuse? It shouldn’t be that hard, right? Well, it was an impossible task for Ira Glass this week, the National Public Radio star of the award winning and extremely popular program, This American Life. Each week, Ira treats his listeners to his wry and ironic take on the stories his guests tell him about their life’s ups and down. He can be inspiring and creative, almost always funny, so when I tuned in this week I was sho … [Read more...]

Terrorists Win: “The Interview,” North Korea, and the Tragic Irony of Christmas

A North Korean and United States flag.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to watch Kim Jong-un’s assassination on the big screen this Christmas. We will not be able to cheer as the brutal dictator’s helicopter explodes in the air “while Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ plays on the soundtrack.” We will not be able to fulfill this Christmas Day fantasy by watching “The Interview” because the terrorists have won.The FBI now claims that Kim Jong-un’s government is behind the act of terrorism. In retaliation for the movie, a state-sponsored No … [Read more...]

Advent: The Faith to Scream “It’s Not Okay!”

Advent candles symbolizing John 1:5 - "The light shines in the darkness." (Copyright: martinan / 123RF Stock Photo )

She sat in total shock. Her head rested in her hands as her long hair hid her face. She was silent for forty-five minutes. And then the river of tears began to flow.It was the most traumatic event I’ve experienced in ten years of ministry. The pain and distress of a murdered family member were unbearable.As she wept uncontrollably, her sister stepped into the void to hold her. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” her sister gently encouraged.“No! It’s not okay! It’s not okay! It’s not okay!”Th … [Read more...]

American Values: Why the Torture Report Didn’t Go Far Enough

The CIA (Photo: Getty)

Last Tuesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques following 9/11. The report is a 500 page summary detailing the CIA’s techniques and reveals the absurdity of the term “enhanced interrogation technique.”Enhanced interrogation technique is a soft, friendlier term that intentionally hides and sanitizes the truth that we tortured people. And, in response to the report, President Obama claimed that torture is inconsistent with Ameri … [Read more...]

Bible Matters: Lamentations: Political Protest, Grief, and Transforming Theology

Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem (Rembrandt)

Lamentations comes from the word “lament” which means a “passionate expression of grief or sorrow.”(For more in the Bible Matters series, visit the Raven Foundation here.)The book was written during the Babylonian exile, a traumatic time for the ancient Jews. Jerusalem was conquered, the temple was destroyed, and many people were exiled throughout the Babylonian Empire.Lamentations is about grief. It implores us to express our sorrow and grief and to honor sorrow and grief in othe … [Read more...]

Why God is Sending Christians Straight to Hell

Sign leading to Hell, Michigan.

So much of Christianity has become about avoiding hell. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a hospital chaplain, it’s that God is sending Christians straight to hell.Christians need to stop thinking of heaven and hell as primarily places we go after we die. Heaven and hell are primarily realities that we experience here on earth.Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is among you.” For Jesus, the kingdom of God, also known in the Gospels as the kingdom of Heaven, is a present reality. You d … [Read more...]