“Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin!”: On Comparing Religions

Toilet paper

Have you ever seen those old Charmin bathroom tissue commercials, where shoppers get addicted to squeezing the Charmin because it’s irresistibly soft? The shopkeeper tells them: “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin!”  The point of the commercials is to get people to buy Charmin because it’s softer than any other bathroom tissue brand.Whether or not you have seen those commercials, you may be wondering what all this has to do with comparing religions. We tend to compare religions as if they are d … [Read more...]

The Holy Mother’s Day All Year Long

121219 Silent Night

Now that the venerable holiday—Mother’s Day—has passed, I would like to reflect upon what I will call the Holy Mother’s Day. Typically, Mary, the mother of the Lord, is honored at Annunciation, which occurred this year on Monday,  April 8, 2013. There is a sense in which every day should be this holy mother’s day, since she manifested the kind of radical obedience to God in honoring Christ that should be true of every Christian every day of the year.Scripture records that when the angel Gabri … [Read more...]

The Radical Middle & Fundamentalist Extremes: Crossing the Divide


Fundamentalism comes in all shapes and sizes. Liberals can be fundamentalists, too. I am not talking about doctrine, but an inflexible posture that makes dialogue impossible.Tom Krattenmaker’s Huffington Post piece titled, “A Progressive's Confessional Journey to Focus on the Family,” is a shining example of a secular progressive who is progressive on dialogue. I wish I could say the same for some of the respondents at the close of the article.Of course, we Evangelicals are well-known for … [Read more...]

Charles Ramsey: Kidnapped Heroism Unleashed

USA Superman postage stamp

Listen to this piece.What is it about Charles Ramsey, the hero in the Cleveland kidnapping saga, that takes America’s imagination captive? Whether or not his appeal lasts a short or long period of time, his words and deeds have gone viral.There are no doubt numerous reasons for Ramsey as a web phenomenon. One is how unbelievable the story is of his (and quite possibly others) freeing three women and a child brutally imprisoned for ten years in Ramsey’s neighbor’s house. It has all the mak … [Read more...]

Documented and Undocumented “Parasites”


A friend of Hispanic descent shared with me after New Wine, New Wineskins’ recent conference on immigration reform that someone seated near her said, “I hate parasites.” My friend said that the person in question—presumably a Christian given the Christian setting of the conference—was questioning the value of undocumented people living here in the U.S. I have a hard time not devaluing the statement and perspective of the unidentified person to whom my friend referred. There are several reasons wh … [Read more...]

Predatory Proselytism: The Hard Sell


By Paul Louis Metzger and John W. MoreheadHave you ever had a salesperson try and get you to buy something you did not want, and the person could not take “No” for an answer? The salesperson came across as a consumer predator.Many salespeople are aware of the negative associations people have concerning their trade. So, they engage in soft sale tactics to avoid the perception that they are engaged in predatory proselytism. You may be as amused as we are when we get Christmas and birthday … [Read more...]

The Trayvon Martin Case: A Case for Race?

Woman Holding Scales of Justice

Listen to this piece.The Trayvon Martin case is back in the national news. The other night, an African American pastor posed the question to a group of people: why has the Trayvon Martin case captured the American public’s eye? Tragedies like this happen all the time. Why did this one shoot America in the face on the evening news?In reflecting upon his question, I thought back on other high profile cases that raised questions about race: celebrity trials involving OJ Simpson and Kobe B … [Read more...]