“Risk Floating in the Ether”—A Conversation on Faith and Health

An Interview with Robert Lyman Potter, M.D., Ph.D., by Paul Louis Metzger, Ph.D. Dr. Robert Potter’s professional life has combined medical practice, teaching, and bioethics consultation. He practiced internal medicine and geriatrics for 30 years while teaching in a community hospital affiliated with the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics, and has been elected as Fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Potter also holds a Ph.D. in religion, psychology,… Read more

What Does Thanksgiving Mean for the Indigenous People of the Land?

I remember making crafts for Thanksgiving in grade school accompanied by recounting tales of the Pilgrim settlers and their first encounters with the indigenous people on “American” shores. Those were happy times, at least for me. This week, countless Americans acknowledged one another with greetings like “Happy Thanksgiving!” For many of us, there is much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving, but not for all of us. I don’t recall having studied during grade school the following account of Thanksgiving offered… Read more

Make the American Christian Great Again: Boast in Your Weaknesses This Thanksgiving

When people, Christians included, speak of making America great again, what do they have in mind? The New Testament defines greatness very differently than the world does. Take note of the following: A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.  And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest… Read more

How Do You Get the U.S. Off Life-Support?

The citizens of the United States have gotten into far too many car wrecks on the highways of social media and public forums during the lead-up to the November elections. As a result, we are on life-support when it comes to the subject of incivility. How might our country get off life support? Who better to ask than a medical doctor who has served as a leading voice nationally on palliative care. Dr. Robert Potter practiced internal medicine and geriatrics… Read more

What Is the Cure to Partisan Disgust in America? Take An Empathy Pill?

Repulsive. Reprehensible. Disgusting. These are words that convey an omnipresent emotion or sentiment in America today. One of the problems with this sentiment besides it being so, well, repugnant, is that we are generally torn along partisan political lines. In the run-up to the recent U. S. Presidential election, the term “disgusting” or its equivalent was tossed back and forth like a hand grenade with explosive, dehumanizing intent. The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt weighed in on the topic in a… Read more

U.S. Presidential Election Results: Did “The Pure People” Defeat “The Corrupt Elite,” Was It “Whitelash,” and/or a Corruption of Evangelical Convictions?

What was the reason or reasons for Donald Trump’s earth-shattering Presidential election upset victory? Was it populism, where “the pure people” rise up and take control of their lives and destiny from “the corrupt elite”?[1] Was it “Whitelash”?  Was it Hillary Clinton’s inability to unify and galvanize the base that elected Barack Obama President? Perhaps a combination of these and other factors? One factor that must be and has been accounted for was White Evangelicals’ support of Mr. Trump–81%. Seemingly… Read more

“Black Jeopardy”: What Are We Jeopardizing as the Church and as a Nation?

Perhaps many of you have watched Saturday Night Live’s “Black Jeopardy” with Tom Hanks by now. The skit skillfully shows how much communities often divided by the culture wars may have in common. It also shows how far apart we are on those issues that divide us, such as “Black Lives Matter.” I showed the clip in my theology and ethics class yesterday in Portland, Oregon. I also made use of it in a seminar last week in Dallas, Texas… Read more

“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… 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 him…. 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 another to moderate our views in… Read more

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