Ayn Rand, Christians and Altruism

P Food for Thought

What is the standard of value in this or that ethical system? Is it some transcendent immaterial ideal? A personal God? The community at large? One’s self? According to Ayn Rand, “The objectivist ethics” which she promotes “holds man’s life as the standard of value—and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man” (The Virtue of Selfishness, Signet, 1964, p. 27).  Rand goes on to unpack what she means by standard and purpose and value. For our purposes, it is sufficient to focus co … [Read more...]

Why Do We Call Today “Black Friday”?

Black fridaystamp

I have come across a few answers as to why people call the day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.” One answer is that “Black Friday” was coined by the Philadelphia Police Department based on the overwhelming and chaotic influx of traffic and pedestrian activity associated with Christmas shopping on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. "Black Friday" is also associated with the economic upturn involving the shopping cycle leading to Christmas where retailers turn from being in the red to … [Read more...]

A Thanksgiving Reflection: God’s Gracious Love Fosters an Ethic of Gratitude

121122 CP A Thanksgiving Meditation

Thanksgiving is upon us. This year, I find myself reflecting upon God’s generosity in Christ for which I am most thankful. I wish to take this opportunity to reflect upon how God’s generosity in Christ shapes the Christian life.A theology of God’s gracious love fosters an ethic of gratitude. I preached on Philemon this past Sunday at Ascension Presbyterian Church and believe this passage in Scripture reveals this orientation. Now some may see in Paul’s letter to Philemon a subtle form of mani … [Read more...]

Why the Trinitarian God Matters in Multi-Faith Discourse

130919 P The Divine Trinity, Part 1

In a recent blog post discussion, I spoke of the need to humanize religion.  On Facebook on 11/20, I wrote: “If we don't humanize religion, we may very well end up demonizing adherents of other paths. We need to put faces to the various faith traditions.” My particular emphasis on humanization does not discount orthodox Christian faith with its claim that Christ is fully God as well as fully human. To the contrary, it is because God is personal and has three “faces” as the persons of the Father, … [Read more...]

Lifeway’s Apology for ‘Rickshaw Rally’ Creates Space for Deeper Conversations on Race

Multicolored people sitting at a round table

LifeWay's recent apology issued at the Mosaix 2013 conference is a sign of hope that the Evangelical church I love is moving forward toward greater multi-ethnic inclusivity. Having spoken at the conference, I was present to hear the recorded LifeWay apology for the decade-old offense for caricaturing Asian people and culture in its Rickshaw Rally VBS curriculum. Fellow Mosaix 2013 conference presenter and dear friend Soong-Chan Rah had this to say about the apology: I'm really moved that LifeWay … [Read more...]

Humanize Religion: A Seminary Class Discussion with a Pagan and a Former Druid

Jason and me when he spoke in my class last summer.

Pagan leader Jason Pitzl-Waters spoke in my world religions class yesterday. Jason is perhaps best known for his blog, The Wild Hunt: A Modern Pagan Perspective. Jason travels from Eugene to Portland (not a short ride) to put a human face on Paganism for my students. One of the things he asks himself is: "If I don't come and speak, who will the Christian seminary professor bring in as a guest speaker?" He shared his internal musings with my class and put the matter in context so that we could a … [Read more...]

Trustworthy Rivals: On an Alternative Path to Multi-Faith Discourse

The-One-and-the-Many[1] (2)

Interfaith or multi-faith discourse can easily fall prey to agreeing to agree on everything, even where there are significant differences. Such agreement and affirmation may come across as disingenuous at worst, naïve and exaggerated at best. As I have had to tell various people of non-Christian faith communities over the years when engaged in such discourse, we are not saying the same thing.A more straightforward and plausible approach is that taken by the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy … [Read more...]