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...]

Unmask Halloween and Humanity

By Paul Louis Metzger and John W. Morehead*Masks and costumes shroud people at Halloween. Halloween is also shrouded in many circles, albeit in ignorance and superstition. For example, Ronald Hutton claims in an article titled, “Halloween: It’s More than Trick or Treat,” that in the 1980s, “some American evangelical Christians” condemned “the festival as a glorification of the powers of evil (thus missing all its historical associations)….” What were the historical associations that were/are … [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...]