My Black Brother, Part Two

A while back, I wrote about Cavonte Johnson, who was taken in by my parents a few years ago. Today, Cavonte will give the speech at his high school commencement, graduating with honors from Edina High School. He’s also been awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship and several other scholarships, meaning that his education will be fully funded all the way through a Ph.D., should he choose to pursue one.

Over the weekend, the StarTribune published a wonderful article on Cavonte and my parents, and a truly moving video. If you need a day brightener, I encourage you to watch it.

Cavonte Johnson walked into Sarah and Doug Jones’ Edina home and flopped on to their couch, an arm draped across his forehead and eyes closed.

“I want to go home,” the fourth-grader thought, ignoring the Christmas party going on around him.

Home had been a moving target for Cavonte, who’d been shuffled among foster homes and relatives since he was 2.

But Sarah Jones saw potential in the struggling, sullen boy who was barely able to read. Years later, he moved in with the couple, who nurtured his impressive math talents.

On Monday, Cavonte will graduate from Edina High School as an award-winning top scholar with a chance to play college football next year.

His transition from troubled kid to superstar student wasn’t easy, but Cavonte never thought about giving up. “I don’t make excuses,” said Cavonte, 18, one of two students chosen to speak at commencement.

“That’s the motto I try to live by. No excuses.”

via Edina teen triumphs over trouble with graduation | StarTribune.com.

Evangelicals Can’t Be Peaceful

Charles Finney: Culture Warrior; Sweet Ass Beard Grower.

To the younger evangelicals like Jonathan Merritt and Rachel Held Evans, who are begging their fellow evangelicals to disengage from the culture wars so as to not lose the the younger generation, Mark Tooley* has a message: Forget it.

Evangelicalism, he notes, was birthed in conflict, and thrives on conflict. Conflict is, as it were, the gas in the engine that drives the evangelical car down the road:

Evangelical Left icon Jim Wallis, who often appeals to young evangelicals with his message of supposed post-partisanship, likes to compare himself to 19th century evangelicals such as evangelist Charles Finney. Wallis often recounts that Finney, at his revivals, enlisted converts into the abolitionist cause. Unmentioned by Wallis is that Finney mailed abolitionist tracts into the South, where they were often gathered into bonfires and fomented rallies against intrusive northern preachers. Finney did not foster social harmony. He and other evangelicals of their era were the ultimate culture warriors.

The non-confrontational, therapeutic evangelicalism that some young evangelicals, and their older mentors, seemingly advocate today as they denounce culture war is at odds with much of evangelical history, which has always thrived on conflict. No less important, it’s also at odds with much of American history, dating to the 17th century New England Puritan divines, who envisioned a righteous nation. Even supposed secularists of today often walk in that tradition as they demand contentious social reforms, including, in their view, same sex marriage.

Hoping evangelicals and other serious religious believers in America will en masse shun social controversy as they retreat to quiet cafes to read the New York Times is not realistic. The antebellum Methodists and Baptists who abandoned earlier convictions to accommodate their culture’s acceptance of slavery purchased only a temporary peace. Today’s evangelicals who hope they can delete marriage, abortion, and religious freedom from their political menu might be similarly outflanked by irrepressible historical tides rooted in four centuries of American religion.

via The American Spectator : Irrepressible Culture Wars, Past and Present.

*Yes, I get that Mark Tooley is an ultra-conservative culture warrior with the IRD. But his thoughts are still worth considering.

A Better Atonement: Free Today!

For today only, I’m running a Just Because Sale on my book, A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin. In fact, it’s not just on sale — it’s free!

It’s only available for the Kindle — but even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can read Kindle books on just about any device. Go here to download the Kindle software for your device.

Free Today!

And stay tuned, because I’m going to release a revised and updated version of A Better Atonement next Ash Wednesday. If there are oversights in this version, or topics you’d like me to cover in that version, please leave a comment here or contact me through my website. While there, you can check out my other books.

There Are No Thin Places

Thin Places – Chapter 2: Submerging from The House Studio on Vimeo.

So, I said something at a conference a few weeks ago, and Steve Knight captured it in his notes and blogged about it. For years, I’ve been talking about the fallacy of the “sacred-secular” divide. It’s made up. It doesn’t actually exist.

I say this because God is ever-present, everywhere. God isn’t more some places and less in other places. God is, in the classic sense, omnipresent.

Now, I’m being a bit hyperbolic. Traditionally speaking, a “thin place” is what Celtic Christianity calls a spot where heaven and earth seem to touch, a spot where this world and the next seem to have next to nothing separating them. So, it’s not really about where God is, but where we sense God.

A quick Amazon search shows that “Thin Places” has become a hot title of late. With the rise of interest in Celtic Christianity has come the inevitable co-option of the term by evangelicals and mainliners, and it looks like there have been about a dozen books with this title in the last decade.

The latest, as Steve points out, is an entry by a couple guys from Nieu Communities. They’ve written a book that, according to the video above, advocates bar-b-ques as thin places. I’m all for that. I love BBQ.

At first blush, one might look and say, “Ugh. There’s another group of hipster missional Christians appropriating a classic Christian concept and bending it to their own purpose.” That’s what I first thought.

But then I reconsidered. If they’re advocating for deep spiritual attention to the presence of God, not just on Iona, but in a neighborhood BBQ, then that’s exactly what I’m advocating as well.

In other words, pay attention. God is already where you are.


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