Dads: Do We Father Our Kids Where They Are, Or Where We Want Them To Be?

My Dad was a father to me where I was, not where he wanted me to be. That was pretty amazing given how much I disappointed him in my youth, even breaking his heart. I am thankful that he loved me where I was; otherwise, he would have loved a dream or an illusion, not me. If he had fathered his expectations for me rather than me, I might not ever have recovered.Although my Dad passed away five years ago, his faithfulness to me—not his expectations for me—provides relational security even now. … [Read more...]

Grieve With Those Who Grieve: Dealing With Diverse Reactions to Orlando

By Paul Louis Metzger and John W. MoreheadOn Sunday, June 12, the news broke that there was another mass shooting in America, this time in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring 53 in a gay nightclub. According to initial news reports, the gunman called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic terror group ISIS. President Obama made a statement to the media soon after the attack, calling it both an act of terror and an act of hate. The Orlando attack is the largest mass shooting in modern … [Read more...]

A Prayer for Orlando

 Lord, I pray that you would comfort and protect members of the LGBTQ community who are often targeted by violent acts of hatred.I also pray that you would protect innocent Muslims as well as refugees and immigrants who are often labeled as would-be terrorists.I pray that politicians and clergy as well as the media would be wise in their public pronouncements, and law enforcement and medical professionals would be diligent in their protection and care.Above all, may we move … [Read more...]

Muhammad Ali’s Enduring Legacy for Me: Don’t Change Your Name at the Slave Market of Consumer Appeal and Demand?

Muhammad Ali insisted people call him by his chosen name, and not his "slave name," Cassius Clay (See the video "What's My Name?"). It cost Ali PR in certain circles outside the boxing ring for insisting on his chosen name; it seemingly cost others inside the ring (though one should note this deconstruction of the legend surrounding Ali's fights with Floyd Patterson:) for not desisting in calling him Clay.One might argue that Ali the showman chose to make money as someone many loved to hate … [Read more...]

“I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”: Bob Dylan in an MTD Age

One would be hard-pressed to determine the meaning of Bob Dylan’s song, “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine.” The lyrics are mysterious and haunting. Dylan sings of dreaming about St. Augustine. Which one? St. Augustine of Hippo, the great African theologian and bishop? Augustine the missionary to Britain who became the very first Archbishop of Canterbury? What does the blanket stand for? Why is Augustine wearing a coat of solid gold? Why the reference to there being no martyr among the kings and quee … [Read more...]

Will the Real Holy Spirit Please Stand Up? Discerning the Holy Spirit from the Spirit of the Age

The American television panel game show To Tell the Truth features three people claiming to be the same person, two of whom were pretenders. In the show, four celebrities try to discern which of the three is telling the truth. At the end of the show the real person is asked to stand up and be identified: “Will the real [person’s name] please stand up?” To Tell the Truth has aired in various incantations since 1956. The 2016 version will air on June 14.I wish a similar show would run for disce … [Read more...]

God Plays Favorites. How Fair Is That?

In his reflections on Psalm 2, John Calvin speaks of the nations’ rebellion and rejection of God’s Anointed One, the Messiah or Christ, whom Calvin believes is Jesus. Calvin asserts that although “the Lord shall have for a time apparently taken no notice of the malpractices of those who oppose the rule of his Son, he will suddenly change his course, and show that he regards nothing with greater abhorrence than such presumption.”[1] Calvin references Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel: “Anyone who does … [Read more...]

Is It a Fundamental Human Right to Live off God’s Grace as Borrowed Capital with No Intent of Paying Back?

Is it a fundamental human right to live off God’s grace as borrowed capital with no intent of paying back? Often, we live as if God will be gracious to us, no matter how we live. Voltaire, the deistic critique of orthodox Christianity in the 18th century, was reported to have quipped, “God will forgive; it’s his business.” Is it? How do we know? Was Voltaire living in light of borrowed capital from the Christian tradition he rejected without paying tribute?Voltaire was likely far more cogniza … [Read more...]

Sola Scriptura & Solitary Confinement

“Sola Scriptura”—Martin Luther’s teaching of Scripture alone—does not signify solitary confinement, but that the Bible is the fundamental written authority for the church’s life in service to Christ.[1] While tradition has an important place to play, it must never eclipse Scripture, no matter how close they are related.The Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, took quite seriously Scripture’s call to live together in community. The written Word must take on flesh and blood exis … [Read more...]

God Is Just and Righteous. But Who Cares?

How important would it be to you that a therapist you are seeing or a butler or bellhop who serves you were guilty of tax evasion or cheating on their spouse? As long as the therapist or butler/bellhop weren’t cheating you, would that be okay? What about God? As long as a God who cheats others weren't cheating you, would that be okay?How did God come into the picture? According to sociologist of religion Christian Smith, many young people, who espouse a form of “Moralistic Therapeutic Dei … [Read more...]

How Can the Bible Be Right If It Makes Us Feel Oh So Wrong? God’s Word Is the Inconvenient Truth.

In our moralistic, therapeutic deistic age, one often hears "If it feels right, it must be right." If feeling determines rightness, the Bible must be wrong—at least much of the time. Fortunately, not everyone agrees at every turn with this assessment.Here I am reminded of John Steinbeck's Travels with Charlie, where he and his poodle Charlie set off on a cross-country journey in his truck. Soon after beginning the trek in New York, they stop in Vermont on a Sunday morning. Steinbeck decides t … [Read more...]

What Gives God the Right To Be God? That He Makes Us Happy?

What gives God the right to be God? That he makes us happy? And if he doesn’t?Did someone higher upstairs or those of us downstairs give God the green light to be God, or did God take it upon him or herself to be crowned the Almighty? Beyond these questions, does God’s official status grant total access to do with the world and us whatever he, she or it pleases? Does God have permission to smash babies’ heads against the rocks (Psalm 137:8-9), or tell his chosen ones to kill their first … [Read more...]

What Gives You the Right to Be a Christian? Better Yet, Who Gives You the Right?

What are you willing to die for? That tells you what you really believe. John Henry Newman wrote in “Secular Knowledge Not a Principle of Action,” The heart is commonly reached, not through the reason, but through the imagination, by means of direct impressions, by the testimony of facts and events, by history, by description. Persons influence us, voices melt us, looks subdue us, deeds inflame us. Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion. People die f … [Read more...]

“If you see a Buddha on the road, kill him.” What about Jesus?

“If you see a Buddha on the road, kill him.” What about Jesus? I got into a conversation on this topic the other morning over breakfast with a Buddhist friend. The exchange has lingered on to this day, and no doubt, will last a lifetime of discussions with my friend.Before proceeding, it is important to try and place the quotation in context. I found a reflection on this quotation online. According to one interpreter, Dyung Le, The context of this phrase is from a[n] old Zen koan attributed … [Read more...]

Does God Wear a Toupee? Thoughts on Political Candidates and Divine Despots

The Republican Party is coming to terms with the near inevitable after Donald Trump’s landmark victory in Indiana last night: “Donald Trump is its presumptive presidential nominee.” So claims a CNN article titled “GOP wakes up to Trump victory—and plenty of questions.” Some of the questions are rather hairy. Like the top of Trump’s head, one might wonder which of his varying claims are more like a toupee, and which are for real. For the debate on Trump’s hair, refer to this MSN article: “Trump: ‘ … [Read more...]

Did Jesus Come to Save Blue-Green Bacteria?

Renowned paleontologist and devout Roman Catholic Prof. Peter Dodson from the University of Pennsylvania spoke to a small group of Christians on dinosaurs and paleontology last Saturday evening at a museum in the Portland area. Earlier in the day, he spoke on faith and scientific method at the conference "Church and Science: Partners for the Common Good." Prof. Dodson made many insightful remarks at each talk. One of the most penetrating reflections to me went something like this: "If scientists … [Read more...]

Urban Planning: What Are the Unintended Consequences?

Gentrification benefits “urban pioneers,” but what about those who are native urbanites? Yes, clean streets, cafes, shops, art studios, and shorter commutes to work in the city are very nice to contemporary Lewis and Clark pioneers. However, for all the fresh faces and new wealth, we lose out all too often on the cultural riches of the displaced, vibrant traditional communities. Such cultural loss is an unintended consequence.Many who are forced to abandon their long-standing communities and … [Read more...]

Messiahs & Monsters: Which Do We Project?

Like messiahs, monsters bridge divides, including those between disciplines. As David Skal claims, “Since it is in the nature of monsters to bridge divides, it should be no wonder that they offer an (un)natural tool for cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural studies, which almost, by definition, require some crucial encounter with some kind of Other.”[1] People often live with clear boundaries, like vampires that are neither living nor dead, but undead. Messiah figures supernaturally rather than u … [Read more...]

What Gives You the Right to Be a Christian?

The story is told of a physicist at a university where Karl Barth once taught, demanding that the Swiss theologian answer the following question, “What gives you the right to teach at this university?” Barth responded, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”[1] Some might scoff at Barth’s answer. Some might be surprised. After all, the answer comes across as, well, so unscientific. But is it? I supposed it all depends on how Barth—or others making a similar claim—understood the relation … [Read more...]

Celebrate Science and Faith

The Bible calls us to celebrate God’s goodness in the creation. The Christian community just celebrated Easter, which involves Jesus rising from the dead and bringing about the transformation of creaturely life. This emphasis is a continuation of the incarnation. God created the world good. The ultimate affirmation of the goodness of the creation is Christ’s incarnation. “The Word became flesh,” John 1:14 tells us.Since this is the case, Christians should be known for celebrating the creatio … [Read more...]

We Vote Our Loves and Fears

In a March 1st New York Times article, “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” Peter Wehner writes about how incomprehensible it is that many Evangelicals support Donald Trump. For example, Evangelicals highlighted the significance of “moral probity” during Bill Clinton’s presidency (a trait many Evangelicals believed he lacked). Now many are saying they are not voting for a pastor, but a politician (Trump). Such shifting “exposes them as hypocrites” and “is difficult to fathom.”It should be noted at the o … [Read more...]

I Like Bunnies, But I Prefer Lions and Lambs at Easter.

I like bunnies, but I prefer lions and lambs at Easter. After all, the Bible does not make use of rabbits in reference to the resurrected Christ, but rather lions and lambs, as in the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and Lamb of God. Revelation 5:5-7 reads, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though … [Read more...]

Where Do Religious People Go for Answers to Scientific Questions?

What do religious people do when they have questions about science? Many of them ask their pastors, according to a recent study.[1] Pastors have so many important responsibilities, as well as skills and experience in spiritual care. But how many of them have training in the sciences, or invest time and resources in gaining a better grasp of scientific findings? This is not a question that should be put off based on the tyranny of the urgent. After all, according to a Barna report, many young … [Read more...]

Where’s the Fire? Thoughts on Running Out of Time and Life

Why are we often in such a hurry? As the old saying goes, “Where’s the fire?” Is the fire really a fear of losing time—or our lives? In reflecting upon time and technological means to speed us along in space, Karl Barth writes, If only one could say why all these people rushing by so quickly are in such a hurry, why it is that they are so terribly pressed, as may be seen very forcibly today on every street! What do they propose to do with the time and energy saved? When people of such different … [Read more...]

What does it mean to be a Christian innovator in the 21st century? Don’t look to Donald Trump.

What does it mean to be a Christian innovator in the 21st century? Attend the Imagine 2016 to find answers to this question. I was asked to write about the conference and received permission to interview one of the conference hosts, Uday Balasundaram, Ph.D.I decided to ask Uday about the ethic and import of disruption as a facet of innovative leadership. Why disruption? Disruption is a key term today in politics and business. For example, many view Donald Trump as an innovative leader in … [Read more...]

Malala’s Inspiring Story: Bold as a Lion in Her Pursuit of Knowledge

Do you know the story of Malala? She is an eighteen year old Pakistani teenager, who was shot in the head in 2012 by the Taliban in Pakistan for demanding that girls be permitted to receive an education. She is the youngest ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and she works tirelessly for girls around the world to receive a minimum of twelve years of quality education. You can find out more about Malala by watching the world broadcast television premiere of “He Named Me Malala” Monday evening, F … [Read more...]

Black History Month Is Almost Over. Now We Can Return to White History Year

A White friend of mine from Oregon met with African American civil rights leader Tom Skinner years ago in Washington, D.C. During their conversation, Mr. Skinner asserted that my friend was a racist. His response, "Tom, how can I be a racist? I don't even know any Black people!" As he recalls it now, my friend chuckles. He realizes how foolish his response sounded: just because we who are White might not know any Black people or have not consciously engaged in racist activity, still we may be … [Read more...]

What Keeps You Going? Reflections on “Eddie the Eagle”—A Film for Life

***Warning Possible Spoilers Ahead for the Movie Eddy the Eagle*** There are so many things that can make one want to give up or just try to get by. Some will even succeed without ever really trying or giving it their best because of a fear of failure. But then there are those who will overcome huge obstacles and disappointments and give it their all; even if they don’t win gold at the Olympics, they triumph because they leave everything they’ve got on the mountain. So it is with the … [Read more...]

Who Trumped God? Reflections on the Debate between Donald Trump and Pope Francis

According to Vocabulary.com, “To trump is to outrank or defeat someone or something, often in a highly public way.”Who trumped God this past week—Donald Trump or Pope Francis? Both public figures made public pronouncements on faith. When asked about Trump’s call to have Mexico build a wall between its borders with the U.S., Pope Francis claimed that someone fixated with building walls rather than bridges is not Christian. Trump shot back that the Pope has no right to question another person’ … [Read more...]

Is Christ Divided? A Reflection on David Gushee’s Call for a Great Evangelical Divorce

Many people find tensions among Christian groups exhausting. No doubt, some were able to take a breath when they read David Gushee’s article on conservative and progressive evangelicals. While Gushee laments the division, he suggests that the two groups go their separate ways: Conservative and progressive evangelicals need to let each other go their separate ways, acknowledging that despite shared faith in Christ we have become two separate religious communities. Our fighting is doing no one an … [Read more...]

Can We Transfer Consciousness to Synthetic Bodies without the Move Proving Catastrophic?

Can we transfer consciousness to synthetic bodies without the move proving problematic, even catastrophic? The move would be made easier if we are ghosts in fleshly machines who are not vitally connected to our bodies, and who can fly about freely in cyberspace. But are we ghosts in fleshly machines?For those like myself who think we are embodied beings rather than ghosts in fleshly machines, we may fear the loss of our point of reference as humans, if we transfer consciousness to synthetic … [Read more...]

Pushing the Outer Limits of Humanity and Its Bearing on Space Travel: The Trans-human Quest

In a recent post, I noted E. O. Wilson’s rejection of the idea of possibly improving humanity, such as altering our emotional states. For Wilson, the only thing that separates us from super-intelligent robots is our emotions. See “Jesus ‘became what we are so that we can become what he is’–an astronaut, an alien, a trans-human?” Here’s what Wilson says in an interview with SPIEGEL: Do we really want to improve ourselves? Humans are a very young species, in geologic terms, and that’s probably why … [Read more...]

Who Gets Left Behind If We Must Abandon Earth for Space?

Who gets left behind if we must abandon earth as a species for space? Now some might consider the answer to the question to be a secularized version of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series drama: instead of answering in the affirmative to “Do you believe in Jesus?” be able to answer in the negative to “Do you have bad genes?” More on that later. For now, let it be said that “Who gets left behind if we must abandon earth as a species for space?” is by no means an abstract one, if we ac … [Read more...]

Do Rocks on the Moon and Mars Have Rights? And What about Life that Might Be Found There?

Do rocks on the Moon and Mars have inherent rights? And what about Aliens, who aren't human, and their livestock and pets? If not, can Earthlings own them, especially if there are no property laws on those planets?Some might consider these questions and issues far-fetched, but they are only as far-fetched as the aspirations of corporations and individuals considering claims to privatizing domains in outer space (They also reflect what has happened over generations on this planet). Take for … [Read more...]

The Universe Is In A Grain Of Sand: So Let’s Be Careful With What We Sweep Out The Door

This was originally posted over at Northwest Dharma News, we are very grateful for the permission to re-post this piece here.(Northwest Dharma News Editor’s note: A year after the September, 2014 death of Portland Zen teacher Kyogen Carlson, evangelical Christian Paul Louis Metzger has published a memoir, “Evangelical Zen: A Christian's Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend,” about his own spiritual journey and his collaboration with Carlson. Metzger is professor of theology and culture at … [Read more...]

Jesus “became what we are so that we can become what he is”–an astronaut, an alien, a trans-human?

Think about it, if Jesus didn’t pass out when he ascended to heaven, what does that convey about his body? Was Jesus the first astronaut, an alien, a trans-human?The classic Christian view of divinization claims that he became what we are so that we might become what he is. But how are we to interpret the doctrines of incarnation, resurrection and ascension in the space age? If we are to become what he is, does that mean we will all become astronauts, aliens, or trans-human, too? If so, are w … [Read more...]

“The Finest Hours”: A Story of Human Dignity for Submerged Souls

WARNING: Contains Possible Spoilers for Disney's upcoming movie, The Finest Hours!Is it easy to lose sight of human dignity and decency in the rat race to work in the morning, or when you consider the House of Cards-like drama of Washington, or mass shootings and terrorist bombs going off on the evening news? Last night, there was no time for the evening news, as my daughter and I went to see a screening of Disney’s The Finest Hours (The movie’s official release is January 29th). The light sp … [Read more...]

Would Black and Brown Lives Matter More on the Red Planet?

In his sermon critiquing the Vietnam War, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted a strange inconsistency and hypocrisy. People lauded him for his stance on non-violence against white oppressors and denounced him for his opposition to the Vietnam War, which involved killing “little brown Vietnamese children.” There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, “Be non-violent toward Jim Clark,” but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-vio … [Read more...]

Space Exploration Helps Us Explore Our Gods and Ourselves.

Our deities make the world go round. They also make us go round the worlds in outer space. In one way or another, such exploration is bound up with our quest for deification.Space exploration tells us a lot about our deities. It also tells us a lot about ourselves. Augustine and Feuerbach wrote of how we often pay homage to gods we image, or that image us. Sometimes, to reference Feuerbach, they are one and the same. Here is what Mary-Jane Rubenstein writes on the subject of worship and the … [Read more...]

Situational Affairs: Is There Ever a Time When Having a Concealed or Open Affair Is the Right Thing to Do?

It has been have argued that a concealed affair can save one's marriage and that an open sexual relationship may enhance one's marital union. See for example the video “Is It Ever Okay to Cheat?”, an interview with Dan Savage, and the article by Mel Robbins “What’s Inside an Open Marriage?”. You can find both pieces at the following link.In his interview with Sanjay Gupta for “Colorful Conversations” at CNN, Savage offers the example of a marriage where one of the spouses is no longer willing … [Read more...]

How Strong Is Your Will to Live, to Love, and to Hate? Musings on the Movie “The Revenant”

SPOILER ALERT FOR THE NEW MOVIE, "THE REVENANT"!  I went to a movie theater in the Portland area last night for an advance screening of "The Revenant". Here is the official trailer for the movie, which releases tomorrow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg72UQCJFEM.Conditions were bad on the roads by Portland standards earlier in the week. Schools had been closed because of snow and ice. So, it was a relief to be able to get out last night to see the movie. Talk about bad conditions. T … [Read more...]

Monogamous Sex Makes ‘Good’ Sense to Reason, or Does It?

In my last post titled “What’s Up with Monogamy? Reflections and Resolutions in a Time of Transition,” I noted the overriding sense in American society to look upon extramarital sex critically. Then I went on to ask: Why does American society, by and large, still look upon extramarital sex with disfavor? Does the disfavor point perhaps to the receding echo of an ancient divine decree? Vestiges of the essential nature of things, created and/or evolved?... Does the disfavor follow from the lefto … [Read more...]

What’s Up with Monogamy? Reflections and Resolutions in a Time of Transition

2015 was a revolutionary year for defining marriage, to say the least. It has even been debated as to whether or not the legalizing of same sex marriage opens the door to the legalizing of polygamous marriages, among other things. See for example the following articles: “Beyond Gay Marriage;” “It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy;” “The Case Against Encouraging Polygamy;” and “Polygamy Is Not Next.”The purpose of this article is not to focus on this particular aspect of the debate, but on a passing … [Read more...]

Away in a Manger—Away in a Spaceship? How Should We View Jesus’ Incarnation and Human Life If There Is Extraterrestrial Life?

How will Christians worship on Christmas if scientists report this week that there is extraterrestrial life? Will we reword the title of the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger” to “Away in a Spaceship”? Would this suggest that Jesus would need to travel to other planets and become incarnate as a Martian or a Plutonian, or wherever else conscious life is found? Not necessarily.It is not a matter of our being inherently more special as humans than extra-terrestrials. Perhaps Jesus would choose n … [Read more...]

Keep Your Eyes Wide-Open: Don’t Discount Donald Trump

Many people with whom I speak can't get over Donald Trump's ongoing ascendance in national polls. He leads the field of candidates for the Republican Party's nomination by staggering numbers. Whatever you think of him, he is hard to dismiss as an outlier (See "Latest Polls Set Stage for Unprecedented Circumstances"). An African-American civil rights lawyer with whom I spoke on Sunday agreed. Keep your eyes wide open. Don't discount Trump, for he speaks to our base passions. He makes sense to the … [Read more...]

Be Patient with Patients: They Are Far More than Temporarily Animated Corpses

Is a patient near the end of life simply temporarily animated matter--a soon-to-be corpse that is turned to ash or locked in a box?[1] Is the patient a combination of material and immaterial substances, the latter of which is easily separated like a pound of flesh that lessens the body's weight at death?[2] Or is the patient a relational energy (namely, a soul or spirit), who returns to the divine Spirit, the same Spirit who enlivens his or her bodily particularity until life's end?And who … [Read more...]

Ban Nastiness and Naiveté, not Muslims

Donald Trump’s recent statements about banning Muslims from the States has met with a wide array of reactions—from total support to outright disgust.Some fear that Trump’s stance is counterproductive and will only benefit ISIS propaganda that the States and the West as a whole are anti-Muslim. Tribalism only intensifies conflicts rather than reduces them, as Steven Pinker argues in The Better Angles of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. While some dispute Pinker’s view that violence is on … [Read more...]

Science, Metaphysics and Metaphorical Ladders: When Science is Theology

Anti-Theologies Are Theologies, Part IFor those who think that metaphysics and theology are antiquated disciplines that have no place in our scientific age, please think again. Take one prominent contemporary example—Richard Dawkins. Like Freud, he is an anti-theology theologian in disguise. The anti-theological Dawkins presents theological or metaphysical claims. His fundamental thesis that the gene is selfish and that it governs all reality is not a hypotheses that Dawkins could readily j … [Read more...]

Should Ethics Be “Biologicized”? What Might that Mean for Eugenics?

In the concluding chapter of Sociobiology: A New Synthesis, Harvard University’s Edward O. Wilson states, “Scientists and humanists should consider together the possibility that the time has come for ethics to be removed temporarily from the hands of the philosophers and biologicized.”[1] Wilson is certainly not the first to recommend this move.[2] For Wilson, it is bound up with his aim to promote the “Modern Synthesis” involving sociobiology, which he defines as “the systematic study of the bio … [Read more...]

Lights Out: Shining a Light on Caring for the Dying in a Multi-Faith World

What would you do if you were a chaplain or pastor or trusted friend given the honor of caring for someone of another faith tradition who is approaching death? My students and I have heard from many faith leaders in my world religions class this semester talk about their views of the soul and body as well as end of life care.There were a variety of views presented, as one would expect. For all the differences, though, we can start from a common basis. As the Buddhist guest speaker shared, … [Read more...]

If I Weren’t a Christian, Perhaps I’d Be a Pagan

Max Weber wrote that the "progressive disenchantment of the world" marks modernity. This is indeed the case, even though some have sought to demonstrate a potent counter-trend in modernity to provide forms of re-enchantment compatible with secular reason.[1]I discussed the theme of disenchantment and re-enchantment with a Pagan during a recent dinner event involving Pagans and Evangelicals. We were gathered together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. My P … [Read more...]

The French Connection—The Human Connection: The Law of Relational Gravity

Last night, our monthly Buddhist-Christian dialogue took a sudden turn in view of the deeply disturbing news reaching us from Paris. We decided to change the focus of conversation after dinner to share how we process such violent tragedies as humans and as adherents of our particular faith traditions (For more on our dialogue project, refer here).There was almost a mystical bond that formed around the table. Perhaps we all sensed more than most times our need for connection as humans given … [Read more...]

Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels With a Buddhist Friend

An Interview with Dr. Paul Louis Metzger conducted by Olivia Lovern:Dr. Paul Louis Metzger — Professor of Christian Theology and Theology of Culture and Director of New Wine, New Wineskins — has released his latest book, Evangelical Zen: A Christian’s Spiritual Travels with a Buddhist Friend (Patheos Press, August 2015). The work features Metzger’s late friend, Zen Buddhist Priest Kyogen Carlson, who wrote the foreword and responded to Metzger’s essays.A book reading for Evangelical Zen i … [Read more...]

Is Religion a Biologically Determined Neurosis?

Is religion a biologically determined neurosis? Yes and no. Before seeking to answer this question more fully, I will summarize some basic tenets of someone who viewed religion in this way—Sigmund Freud.Freud has been called a ‘biologist of the mind.’ While there is a line of distinction between the brain and mind for Freud, the distinction does not pertain to reality, but concepts. There are not two independent substances—brain and mind. Thus, Freud was a materialist. He was also a determi … [Read more...]

Church and Science: Partners for the Common Good

Recently, I corresponded with Dr. Steve Baker, a medical doctor who oversees New Heights Clinic in Vancouver, Washington. We discussed the Barna Group’s findings that many young people are leaving churches today because they see churches as antagonistic to science. Dr. Baker provided a very striking and thought-provoking response that can help churches bridge the gap. In Steve’s estimation, churches can help foster a vital connection between faith and science in people’s minds and hearts through … [Read more...]

Access to Clean Water: Clearly There’s No Debate, Right?

A student asked for prayer for his mother yesterday. She lives in Oregon and is without a sufficient supply of water. I can’t recall ever receiving a prayer request like that in the past. Given dramatically changing weather patterns, it may become a more frequent prayer request in my immediate circles in the years ahead. My immediate circles are rather insular. I don’t have enough discussions with Native Americans, who have dealt with these and related issues since white settlers moved into the … [Read more...]

Reformation Day Prayer: “God, thank you that I am not like this Pharisee”–Not

Jesus challenges self-righteousness at every turn. For example, he told a parable about a Pharisee and a tax-collector going up to the Temple to pray. Jesus said, "The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'" (Luke 18:11-12; ESV) If Jesus were here today, perhaps he would say, "The tax collector, standing by himself, prayed … [Read more...]

Don’t Compromise on Multi-Faith Dialogue

Don’t compromise on multi-faith dialogue. Go all out. Multi-faith dialogue entails thick narrative descriptions that allow for each tradition to emphasize distinctives as well as similarities rather than minimize those differences for the sake of thin harmony. Moreover, while multi-faith engagement seeks to safeguard against manipulation and bait and switch strategies of evangelism, it also seeks to provide compelling reasons why one would/should become an adherent of a particular religious t … [Read more...]

Religions and Road Rage: How to Navigate the Highways of Life

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Moving Past Hatred. Read other perspectives here.Like cars, SUVs and trucks, religions can become weapons if we are not careful. We need to “use” them well. The need to be aware of religions’ potency for good and evil has never been more pressing. The inter-religious world gets smaller by the day through globalization, just as the roads on which we drive get smaller and smaller the more vehicles are on the road and the faste … [Read more...]

Poor Children Aren’t Stupid. They’re Just Hungry.*

*This blog post is part of a series of entries on education in contemporary society. I remember reading Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and learning about his life story.[1] Though born into a middle class home in Brazil, his family experienced the impact of the Great Depression and moved to a less expensive city. During those years, his father died. He fell behind in school, but learned a great deal from other poor children. He realized that his playmates weren’t stupid, just hung … [Read more...]

Complexify Religion if you Want to Stamp Out Fanaticism

[This post, co-written with John W. Morehead,* originally appeared here at Theologyofculture.com ] If jihadi groups are ever to be defeated, among other things, it will involve ‘complexifying’ the interpretation of Islamic values. “Jihadi groups thrive on simplicity: the more that they are forced to defend their interpretation of Islamic values, the harder it will be to maintain that simplicity.” The quotation comes from a report of the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, an initiative of Tony B … [Read more...]

Capitalism Works. Darwinism Works. But Do They Work Well Enough?

Capitalism works. Darwinism works. But do they work well enough? Many believe that capitalism effectively encourages individual enterprise for the sake of making profit in a competitive economic environment. Many also maintain that Darwinism effectively describes the process of natural selection, where the biologically fittest survive. But what happens to meaning, if all that exists in market economies and nature are the equivalents of “inertial masses, bouncing merely casually” [not causally] “a … [Read more...]

A Faith Not Worth Dying For Is Not Worth Living For: Thoughts on Roseburg

The fatal, tragic shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon yesterday highlights how vulnerable we all are. We should not take people’s lives  for granted, even though many question today if life has any real meaning or value. As I watched the footage last night and grieved the horror, I thought to myself: what a senseless waste of precious life!What made sense to me were individuals who confessed faith in Christ in the midst of the tragedy. No doubt, even when facing t … [Read more...]

Planet of the Apes: Did Darwin Lead Us There?

According to popular opinion among certain groups of creationists and Darwinians alike, Darwin devalued humanity and biblical religion. Is this view accurate?Darwinian evolution teaches that humans developed from other, simpler life forms. In fact, all of life for Darwin has a common ancestry, possibly having emerged from some “warm little pond,” as he wrote in a letter to J.D. Hooker in 1871. Still, given that life has developed in increasingly complex ways over the ages, evolution does not … [Read more...]

“If I Weren’t a Christian, I’d Be a Buddhist”—Beyond Straw Men

“If I weren’t a Christian, I’d be a Buddhist.” I remember sharing these words several years ago during an apologetics seminar in the Pacific Northwest. I was concerned that the Christians with whom I was sharing about a Christian engagement of various religious traditions, including Buddhism, did not realize how deep, mysterious and profound many non-Christian faiths are.When we view religious others in superficial ways, we often approach them and their arguments as straw men, which we can ea … [Read more...]

Isaac Newton: Was He a Friend or Foe of Religion and Nature?

Was Newton a friend or foe of religion? What about nature? Let’s start with religion. I suppose it depends on the meaning of ‘religion.’ From the vantage point of Trinitarian faith, the answer would be “no.” He was vehement in his rejection of the received Trinitarian orthodoxy of his day. Newton’s view of God resembled the ancient heretical doctrine of Arianism with his belief that Jesus was first among created beings, and whom God elevated as his subordinate and mediator to his right hand.[1] … [Read more...]

“What is man that you are mindful of him…?” How the Copernican Revolution Promoted Human Value

It has often been claimed that the Copernican Revolution demoted the cosmos and humanity’s value in the universe at large.[1] The scientific move from a geocentric to heliocentric universe may have dethroned Aristotle’s particular view of the earth’s centrality, but not humanity’s importance in the overarching scheme of things. Paradoxically to how the modern mind often conceives the matter, Aristotle and others following him did not see centrality in the universe as necessarily a positive qualit … [Read more...]

Don’t Be Confused: Immediacy Is Not Intimacy

I was speaking with a Native Hawaiian the other day, who remarked that all too often visitors reduce Hawaii to Waikiki. The touristy thinking at times is: if you’ve been to Waikiki, you’ve experienced Hawaii. Not really. Even if you or I visit one of the islands, that does not mean we have really experienced the richness of Hawaiian life and culture. There is such diversity.No doubt, the same could be said of various places around the world, as well as the people who inhabit those places. Eve … [Read more...]

“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know …”—Orienting Our Studies at the Beginning of a New Academic Year*

The story goes that the Swiss theologian Karl Barth was asked during his one visit to the States in 1962 to summarize his theology. This would be no small request. Barth’s thought had developed in a variety of ways over decades. Moreover, it spanned scores of books made up of seemingly countless millions of words. According to the account, Barth replied, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Not bad as a story. Not bad as an answer for a theologian often hailed as the great … [Read more...]

Cows, Photobombs and Wedding Celebrations

Have you ever been to a wedding celebration where a herd of cows photobombed the bride and groom? I have. What a hoot! I just returned from the Connecticut countryside, where one of my nieces got married Saturday. It was a beautiful occasion in so many ways; the cows in the background only added to the pageantry.The cow photobomb aside, I cherish how everything revolved around the bride and groom. It was not only appropriate because every wedding celebration should be about the couple … [Read more...]

Christ-likeness, not ‘Likes’ or Looks

This piece was originally published at The Christian Post on September 10, 2012. What did Jesus look like? What was his personality type and personal style? How many 'likes' did he have on his Facebook page? The Bible does not offer us a biography of Jesus. While there are biographical elements, the Bible focuses on Jesus’ character and what he accomplished on our behalf. Here is what Isaiah 53 has to say about the Suffering Servant, whom hosts of Christians throughout the ages believe refers t … [Read more...]


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