Lent and Inconvenient Faith

How inconvenient it must be for God to come to earth to suffer and die for our sins. God must not be American. After all, we Americans like our conveniences, as others have noticed: fast food, drive thru, microwave meals, instant coffee, easy return policies, and ice-making refrigerators, among other things. We even have convenience stores. I wonder how many American Christians or churches realized this evening they were out of ashes, and ran out to convenience stores in the hope… Read more

Frederick Douglass Is “Somebody Who’s Done an Amazing Job.”

President Trump remarked during a Black History Month gathering that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice” (Refer here). This statement caused an Internet sensation: did the President even know who Frederick Douglass was—he made it sound as if he were still alive. Still, there is a sense in which President Trump was right: Mr. Douglass seems to have received greater attention with the passing of… Read more

Is Self-Preservation Salvation?

In a post-apocalyptic world of almost total extinction, a father and son struggle to survive. They fight against the elements, hunger, and the threats of robbery and murder, even cannibalism, to make their way south to the coast in hopes of finding warmer climate. Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer prize-winning The Road, which was also made into a film, is a classic, gripping tale of familial self-preservation. As harrowing and far-reaching in horror as the book and film are, they come close and… Read more

“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… 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… 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)…. 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… 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… 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… 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,… Read more

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