Multi-Faith Engagement Involving Christianity and Judaism: Ask Jewish Questions of Jewish People

Multi-faith engagement in a pluralistic culture requires asking questions that invite open conversation rather than handcuff religious self-expression. Take Christian and Jewish discourse for example. It is easy for Christians to ask Christian questions of Jewish people. But I don’t think it is easy for adherents of Judaism to answer them. As one rabbi said to my world religions class years ago, he can’t win when Christians ask him what he thinks of Jesus. If he doesn’t agree with Christians about Jesus,… Read more

Muslims, “Go Back Home!” — Home? They are Home.

A Muslim leader shared this morning at the mosque, as my World Religions class visited him, how supportive the Portland community has been since 9/11. Mr. Harris Zafar is the national spokesperson of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim community. He added, though, that he still gets messages from individuals (not necessarily Portland residents) on social media to “Go back home!” Then he quipped, “Tigard? San Francisco? Chicago?” He lives in Tigard, Oregon now. He lived in the other two cities when he was… Read more

How Can We Become Pure of Heart if We Are Blind to Our Need for God and Others?

The reader should consider first the biblical meditation titled, “Blessed are the pure in heart”—not the double-minded and those with cloudy vision.” It can be found here. My friend Phil is blind. But his blindness does not keep him from seeing God’s will for him. God has recently given him a new outlook or perspective on the Christian life. While Phil is a very hard working, resilient, and creative business leader, he has come to realize he needs others’ help… Read more

The Trinity Is Not Just for Trinity Sunday, But for Every Day of the Year

While needing to safeguard against excessive or abusive uses of the Trinity for our own ends, we should not throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater. Read more

Be Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak, Slow to Become Angry, And Slow to Size People Up.

One of the most profound qualities of the late Abbot Kyogen Carlson, a Zen Buddhist Priest, was how slow he was to size people up. He did not presume to know people’s motives, or grasp everything about those with whom he interacted. Rather, he simply addressed what he experienced in terms of behaviors. It reminded me of James 1:19: “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (ESV). Could not James have added,… Read more

Security in Jesus Christ Leads to Humility and Civility. How Secure Are You and I?

Jesus knew where he came from, where he was going, and to whom he belonged. As a result, he was exceptionally secure in his identity. As a result, he was also very gracious and humble. He was so humble that he washed his disciples feet, though he was their Lord and Teacher. He even washed Judas’ feet, even though he knew Judas would betray him that night. Now that’s security! Jesus wished for his disciples to experience the same security… Read more

Pentecost Sunday: Happy Birthday, Church! Are We Celebrating a Missional Movement or a Monument?

Rather than living off the fumes of the past, we need to fan into flame the Spirit’s spark in our lives. Read more

Jesus, Borrowed Capital (?) and Consumer Capitalism: An Interview with Tom Krattenmaker

This is the first in a series of interviews with Tom Krattenmaker on his latest book, Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don’t Believe (Convergent, 2016). Tom is an award-winning USA TODAY columnist, and is the Communications Director at Yale Divinity School. I have known Tom for many years as a precious friend and vitally enriching dialogue partner. Our conversations date back to our days of living and working in Portland, Oregon. His move to the… Read more

What Does Spiritual Poverty Look Like When Filing for Bankruptcy Won’t Help You Unless You’re Donald Trump?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3; ESV).  A Forbes 2011 article titled, “Fourth Time’s A Charm: How Donald Trump Made Bankruptcy Work For Him,” explains how Donald Trump was able to solve bankruptcy several times and still be a multi-billionaire. Two items the author notes are that Trump’s name brand helped him as well as that he insulated himself personally much of the time. Apart from his first experience with bankruptcy,… Read more

On Memorial Days, Honor the War Dead, But Not Religious Propaganda

Nations have liturgies, just like religions. National and religious liturgies often blend together, including during times of war and on their Memorial Days. Just think of Israel’s history. The people of Israel went out to battle in the name of God, proclaiming that God fought for them (Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22). Joshua 10:12-14 reads, At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,… Read more

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