“Who Is You?” What Color Are You in the “Moonlight”?

[**Beware: Light Spoilers Ahead for the Movie Moonlight**]All too often, we reduce people to the things they do, the things others do to them, who they are associated with, the color of their skin, the names we  give them... The list goes on. Take for example the critically acclaimed movie Moonlight (Here are a few reviews of the film from The New York Times, The Guardian, and the New Yorker).The main character is an African American, whom we get glimpses of as a boy, a teenager, and as a … [Read more...]

Black History Month: “If We Don’t Tell Our History, Who Will Tell It for Us?”

In honor of “Black History Month,” I asked an African American friend of mine, Pastor Jeff Harley, to respond to a few questions. He graciously accepted the invitation. I had the privilege of teaching a doctor of ministry course in which Pastor Harley was enrolled as a student. Since that time, he has shaped my thought and heart in various ways. Pastor Harley has written for the journal I edit, Cultural Encounters: A Journal for the Theology of Culture. His perspective is vitally important, and I … [Read more...]

In Remembrance of Executive Order 9066, Register History, not Muslims or Other People Groups.

Do you know what February 19th is famous for in history? On this day in 197, Lucius Septimius Severus’ army defeated Clodius Albinus at Lyon. Perhaps that’s going too far back. Let’s fast-forward in time. On February 19th, 1736, George Frideric Handel’s Alexander’s Feast premiered. On this day in 1807, Aaron Burr (3rd Vice President of the United States) was arrested for treason in Alabama (later he was cleared of the charges). In 1878, Thomas Edison patented the gramophone (phonograph). In 1919, … [Read more...]

I Don’t Have a Human Race Problem. They Do.

One of the problems with sin is that we can see it so clearly at work in others, but have a hard time seeing it on display in our own lives. If only we weren’t so modest! After all, we’re basically good people. Decent, hardworking, love our kids, feed our pets. Heck—we may even recycle!One thing we don’t necessarily like to do is recycle history. It can be such a downer. People were so uncivilized then. Why should we want to revisit history to see what lessons can be learned so we don’t repea … [Read more...]

In Remembrance of Life-Giving Love on Valentine’s Day

There are different kinds of love, some cancerous and life-taking; others are life-giving. My niece Hannah who was born on February 14th, 1983 died of leukemia in 2006; however, to the end, she brought healing to many with her life-giving love. My family celebrates her life today. As I reflect upon Hannah’s life, I am reminded of her energy, courage, and humor, and her mindfulness of others’ pain even as she suffered greatly. It is fitting that she was born on St. Valentine’s Day.Hannah was v … [Read more...]

There’s No Such Thing as an Illegal Human Being

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said that there is no such thing as an illegal human being. While one might cross a border without legal sanction, that does not make one an illegal human. Wiesel declared, You, who are so-called illegal aliens, must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be … [Read more...]

The Great Commission Is the Great Communion, Not the Great Compression.

One of my favorite movies is The Mission starring Robert DeNiro and Jeremy Irons. There we find the struggle raging between the Great Commission involving God’s liberating love for the masses and the Great Compression involving colonialism and enslavement of people’s identity.One can be a Christian missionary in name only. There are different kinds of missionaries or ambassadors. So, too, there are different kinds of gospels and gods. We have to unpack what is in a name or title, whether we a … [Read more...]