“But What If I Don’t Know Any Black People?”

Sometimes when addressing race issues I am asked, "But what If I don't know any Black people?" Assuming that the individuals asking this question really want to learn and move beyond racial divisions, I thought I would ask an African American friend how he would respond. His answer was striking.David Bailey remarked that whether or not one knows any Black people, one can seek to understand what it means to be White in America, and how that has worked out for White people, and how not being … [Read more...]

Jesus Is Not a Christological Definition We Can Put in a Book on a Shelf. He Keeps Jumping Out.

My theology class at Multnomah Biblical Seminary/Multnomah University is going through definitions of Christology. The process of crafting and refining and finalizing statements on Jesus' identity in view of Christian Scripture and the language available to church leaders was often arduous and exhausting if not exhaustive. While there is much to be gained from these definitions, such as with the Chalcedonian formula, we must never think that if we have a handle on them, we have a handle on … [Read more...]

How Do You Make Conservatives More Liberal, and Liberals More Conservative? Appeal to the Feelings That Drive Them?

A Scientific American article discusses how unconscious reactions shape conservatives and liberals and how attention to psychological factors might help soften tensions between these often warring parties. One of the items discussed was the "fear factor." "When people feel safe and secure, they become more liberal; when they feel threatened, they become more conservative." So, how might an understanding of fear's conscious or unconscious influence on us shape how we might try to persuade one … [Read more...]

Talk About Politics At Church As With Sports (Especially the Chicago Cubs!), Though Perhaps Not Over Dinner.

Some of us were told growing up never to talk about religion and politics over dinner. Perhaps that is why so many of us talk about sports at bars and grills. Sometimes churches even have Super Bowl parties with people rooting for the opposing sides. But how often will you find Election Night parties sponsored by churches made up of opposing views—the elect and the reprobate (the latter being whoever champions the candidates I despise most, especially those who are pulling for the Cleveland I … [Read more...]

We Need To Invest In Resolving Conflict At Our Own Expense

Why did Jesus care to resolve the conflict between God and humanity? Jesus was really invested in resolving the conflict between God and humanity because he was and is divine and human.If we do not somehow represent the various parties in a conflict, we will never work to transform a conflict so that it is beneficial to all.Beware of a person who is not invested in a conflict except to benefit from it at others' expense. Those who are most involved in a conflict have the greatest amount … [Read more...]

Become Less Closed-Minded. Invent Your Own Religion (?)

Today, in my world religions course, we discussed Hinduism. My friend and guest speaker, Mr. Bharat Naik, shared about closed-source vs. open-source faith traditions. Mr. Naik is a leader at the Hindu Temple in Tigard, Oregon.Bharat drew attention to the insightful and penetrating Huffington Post article by Josh Schrei titled “The God Project: Hinduism as Open Source Faith.” Building on a software analogy, Schrei maintains that most religions are closed-source faiths whereas Hinduism is an op … [Read more...]

Are We Stronger Together If We Avoid One Another?

Secretary Clinton’s campaign slogan is “Stronger Together”. It sounds good. So does her claim that, if elected, she wants to work for all Americans, even those who oppose her now. If elected as President of the United States, I certainly hope that is the case. What about the rest of us? Do we work to serve all Americans, even those who oppose us, or do we hunker down and hide behind our gated ideologies? The culture wars have intensified and political and religious non-partisanship has become mor … [Read more...]