Palm Sunday: Do We Approach Jesus with an Open Hand or a Closed Fist?

Today is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. On this day, we celebrate Jesus in his humble glory riding a donkey and its colt into the city of Jerusalem, as the crowds and children cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9, 15) The crowds threw palm branches on the path before Jesus to celebrate him as their approaching King… Read more

Displaced Christians Place Emphasis on Forgiveness and Love

What good is religion, anyway? Religion is extremely good, when it promotes radical love in the face of extreme hate. I was deeply moved by the video of Christian girls in Erbil, Iraq, who were interviewed after they and their families were displaced from their homes by ISIS. My friend Adam Estle at Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding made available this video link in his recent EMEU Weekly Communiqué, which you can find here. How would we respond if we… Read more

Millennial-Minded Churches: Not So Fast—Know Why We’re Fasting at Lent

Millennials are often viewed as that generation that came into adulthood around the turn of the twenty-first century (See this description of Millennials). They are also into previous millenniums, when it comes to an affirmation (albeit eclectic) of tradition (Refer to this article in U.S. News & World Report on Millennials and religious tradition) and embodied, tactile spirituality involving the various senses. In particular, I have in mind Evangelical Protestant Millennials. As a recent Oregonian article notes, interest in such… Read more

What Did God Give Up for Lent?

Many Christians celebrate Lent, a forty day season of prayer and fasting that ends the day before Easter. Christians who observe Lent give up creaturely comforts and habits of various kinds, such as chocolate, coffee, and cigarettes. This year, Pope Francis called on Christians to give up the global problem of indifference during Lent. The Pope claimed, “As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken… Read more

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,” not tax evasion

No doubt, the Apostle Peter had Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew in mind when he encourages and exhorts Christians to suffer for righteousness’ sake, not murder, thievery, evil, meddling—and no doubt deception like tax evasion: Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is… Read more

“Blessed are the peacemakers,” not the cheesemakers

Matthew 5:9 reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (ESV). This verse is one of the most quoted lines of the Beatitudes, but that does not mean it is the best understood. In fact, it has been misprinted, as in the second edition of the Geneva Bible. There it reads, “Blessed are the placemakers.” Monty Python took the liberty of people in the crowd mishearing Jesus’ words for a few good laughs in Life… Read more

From Midlife to End of Life—Age Well

In January, I asked my boss who is a few months older than I what it was like to reach the 51 year mark and experience midlife crisis. His response: he’s not experiencing midlife crisis, but end of life crisis. Today, I turned 51. As I rub cerebral Bengay into my out-of-whack cognitive joints, let the sympathy cards flow in. Some men resort to mistresses, while others resort to sports cars in coping with such crises. Regardless that some might… Read more

Life Does Not Mean What I Thought It Means (Because I Have Never Watched Princess Bride)

I have received a great deal of criticism (and lost a lot of credibility) since I first acknowledged Tuesday that I have never watched Princess Bride. It was during a break in a discussion on Hegel. I tried to explain that I prefer wholesome family comedies like The Godfather trilogy. Even so, since my acknowledgment, all kinds of people have been alluding to the movie. Perhaps they have always been alluding to it, but I was just not aware. A… Read more

Gluten Free—No Laughing Matter

For some, going “gluten free” is hip. For others, it affects the size of their hips and the state of their health. Regarding the latter group, “gluten free” is no cool thing or laughing matter, even though many discount it as a fad or make fun of those with such dietary restrictions. “Gluten free” can function as a fad, which reduces it to an object of humor for some people. Consider Jimmy Kimmel’s comparison of gluten to Satanism for people… Read more

Mandate Vaccinations for Poor Communication and Fear of the Unknown

Key to public health is healthy communication. Constant communication helps dispel fears. Lack of communication and knowledge lead to mistrust. It is important to answer objections in clear, patient terms on a consistent basis. A topic requiring consistent communication is vaccinations. As the measles outbreak grows, the majority of Americans want parents to be obligated to vaccinate their healthy children from preventable diseases, according to a recent poll (See here). But what do you do with those who are fearful… Read more

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