Do You Have To Be a Good Person To Be a Good Theologian?

Theologian John Howard Yoder, author of The Politics of Jesus

That’s what Mark Oppenheimer asks as he reports on the troubled legacy of John Howard Yoder:

“Physically he died, but his work and his theological writings live on,” said Linda Gehman Peachey, a freelance writer in Lancaster, Pa., who is also part of the six-member group. “For those who have known this other side — his behavior, particularly toward women — that is really painful.”

Mr. Yoder’s memory also presents a theological quandary. Mennonites tend to consider behavior more important than belief. For them, to study a man’s writings while ignoring his life is especially un-Mennonite.

Professor Koontz regularly tells his students reading Mr. Yoder that “his behavior is one thing we ought to take into account when we read his work.” Ms. Peachey noted that Mr. Yoder wrote a good deal about suffering as a Christian virtue, but “if you know this part of the story” — how he made women suffer — “you tend to read it with a different eye.”

Who’s Lightin’ It Up? The Burner Blog

A couple weeks ago, I started a Hump Day Series called “Got It Goin’ On.” What a great idea, I thought. But, like Led Zeppelin, I didn’t steal that idea. It just quietly seeped into my head from another source. And that source is The Burner Blog. You see, The Burner Blog has had a “Got It Goin’ On” feature for a long time, even giving out a pretty sweet badge for it:

When someone pointed this out to me, I had a V8 moment. So I’m giving it back to them, and renaming my series, Lightin’ It Up. Every Wednesday, I’ll point to someone, or organization, or blog that I think is kicking some ass and doing some good in the world.

This week, that honor goes to…

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What the Church Can Learn about Millennials from Small Batch Distilleries

I’ll admit that sometimes I feel that I’ve walked out of a Portlandia sketch. I’m a bit clichéd, that way. I bake bread every week, tend a huge organic garden, pickle many things, and I’m a sucker for small-batch, handcrafted whiskeys and cocktails. Above, for instance, is a neat pour of the hard-to-find Balcones Whiskey, which I make a point of drinking when I’m in Texas.

There’s a huge surge in interest in these kinds of whiskeys — and other spirits — which is why you can’t find Balcones even in its hometown of Waco. Prices for whiskey are rising, especially among those that are casked for 8 or 10 or 12 years — a decade ago, no one saw this heightened interest coming.

And this is being driven in large part by millennials. In RHE’s super-viral CNN post about why millennials are leaving the church, she wrote,

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

Shedding light on a similar phenomenon in the world of spirits, Jimmy Flores and Maddie Marston write about why the craft spirits boom is happening among millennials. Anyone interested in engaging this generation in the life of the church can learn a lot by reading it:

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When I Canceled Sunday School

When I started as the Minister to Youth & Young Adults at Colonial Church in 1997, I inherited a lot of programs, as most pastors do. Among them were Sunday school for both middle schoolers and high schoolers. Since I couldn’t be two places at once, I alternated weeks between them, and I had other leaders help me out.

The very first realization I had was that the high school students hated Sunday School. I mean they HATED it. Only about half a dozen students came, and they were all sophomores who hadn’t yet gotten their driver’s licenses. (Freshmen were in confirmation class, and they were required to attend worship.)

So I canceled Sunday School for high school students. They were relieved. Some of their parents were pissed. And I announced in staff meeting, “We’d better figure out ways to make our worship services more relevant to teenagers, because they’re be in worship as of next week.”

I’m happy to report that the church staff did up their game. The senior pastor began using more anecdotes from when he was in high school in his sermons. And when he gave litanies like, “This week, when you’re at work, with friends, at the gym…” he now added “at school” to those lists.

The choir director invited high school students into the choir, and I started putting students down to read scripture and lead prayers in the services.

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