Advent Justice: Embrace the Mystery

One of the reasons why many of us love Christmas so is because there is magic in the air. We just can’t get enough of it. Some of us would like to celebrate Christmas all year round. Businesses promote it earlier and earlier in many places, long before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Still, others of us fear that celebrating Christmas all year round would get old; the magic of Christmas would wear off in August and perhaps never return in time for Christmas Eve.Some people may have the same v … [Read more...]

Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Makoto Fujimura’s Faith

How often do reductionistic assumptions keep us from encountering God in Christ and experiencing robust biblical faith? This question loomed large the other night at the Portland Art Museum during a feature presentation of Makoto Fujimura and his work.My wife Mariko and I attended the Portland premiere of the short documentary film, The Golden Sea, which chronicles Mako's story as an artist in the United States and Japan. We soaked in the film and listened intently to Mako's ensuing … [Read more...]

Downward Mobility and Trickle-Up Economics: A Trinitarian Reflection on Money and Power

Evangelicalism has struggled to address the structures of racism and poverty, and has often uncritically embraced money and power in pursuit of problematic versions of upward mobility and the American Dream. In view of the political and cultural challenges the movement has faced in recent years, the time is ripe to reevaluate our kingdom allegiances. Rather than being known for desiring power politics and material prosperity that fail to challenge racialization and economic disparity, we ought … [Read more...]

Green Christmas: Richard Dawkins, Meet John of Damascus

I doubt there was snow on the ground that first Christmas, so I don’t think Christ’s advent in the cavernous mangers of our hearts this Christmas is dependent on snowfall either. Where I live in the Pacific Northwest, Christmas will likely be very green, as it often is. Whether it is green where you live or not, my Christian faith entails that greenery and all things natural are dependent on that first Christmas.Recently, I told my theology class students that the incarnation is the ultimate … [Read more...]

Nelson Mandela: Troublemaker for Peace

A troublemaker for peace died yesterday. The man born with the name "Rolihlahla"—which literally means "pulling the branch of a tree" and which is colloquially rendered "troublemaker"—died in peace.Nelson Mandela brought peace to South Africa by making trouble. One cannot always make peace without conflict. Those who would shy away from conflict involving injustices are not about peace, but the status quo, for peace always entails advancing justice. Having been an advocate in his early years … [Read more...]

What Can Dave Ramsey’s Evangelicals Learn from Ebenezer Scrooge?

In a recent article on Dave Ramsey on the subject of poverty, Rachel Held Evans quotes Ramsey as saying, “There is a direct correlation…between your habits, choices and character in Christ and your propensity to build wealth.” She then goes on to claim that this teaching flirts with the prosperity gospel, which can be construed as God blesses those with wealth who bless God. Among other things, Evans also writes of how Ramsey’s view does not account for the structures that make and keep people po … [Read more...]

Ayn Rand, Christians and Altruism

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...]