Dealing with Job’s Facebook Friends: 5 Thoughts on Suffering & Social Media

A dear friend who has navigated cancer of his own is now facing that journey with his wife.  Her cancer, sadly, is far more virulent and, tied as it is, to a genetic marker, the little monster is not going away.Like many of my friends, he has shared the progress of his wife’s treatment with his Facebook community, and the result has been just what one might hope for: words of encouragement and sympathy, promises of prayer, and offers from those who live close-by to help in one way or an … [Read more...]

Christmas Autopsy: 5 Thoughts about the Death of Christmas

The war on Christmas has become an annual topic of conversation.This year The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger even declared that Christmas is dead.Is it time for an autopsy?Scanning the store windows up and down New York’s Fifth Avenue, Henninger chronicled the ways in which major commercial outlets had erased even the most sentimental traces of Christmas from their windows, replacing Santa Claus and his elves with palm readers; the Roman god, Neptune; and the inebriated and se … [Read more...]

5 Spiritual Truths that Won’t Change with the Election of a New President

Some time ago, Ben Myers, a systematics professor at United Theological College in Sydney, Australia, summarized the Bible, book by book, using Twitter.  He did an admirable job of capturing the themes of First and Second Kings: 1 Kings: So, you really want a monarchy huh? Don't say I didn't warn you.2 Kings: I told you so. Read together, the message of those two books could be understood as an endorsement of theocracy (i.e., the direct rule of God).  But they are much better read – as the … [Read more...]

5 Things the Church Should Tell the Candidates for President

Dear Candidates for President of the United States (yes, all of you):On the subject of politics and religion: Please don't mix the the name of personal morality or in the name of social justice.   You cannot and you will not get it right.  And, although a few among us have been telling you that if you want our vote, you should share our faith, really, that's not good for you, for us, or for the country.  Really.  Why?   1. Because Christian notions of private and publ … [Read more...]

The One Thing We Must Do about Paris, Terrorism, and Religion

Did the events in Paris have anything to do with religion?In the surreal world that is modern discourse, some writers and leaders strangely suggest that religion had nothing to do with the attacks in Paris.  Paralyzed by political correctness, they do everything possible to avoid discussing the connection between the attack and Islam, even when the rallying cry that the murderers used was explicitly religious.On the other end of the spectrum, for some of the same reasons, some argue that … [Read more...]

3 Truths to Live by after Paris

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last night, the observations offered by a number of writers followed a predictable script.Some expressed shock and surprise.  Some urged that we avoid seeking vengeance.  Some encouraged their readers to remember that not all Muslims endorse the kind of violence that was planned and executed.  Others urged forgiveness and hinted at the West’s own culpability.I understand the anguish and surprise that people have expressed. It is a testimony to … [Read more...]

Seven ways to avoid getting stuck

Over the years, I’ve seen people get stuck – personally and vocationally.There’s no formal definition for that place in life.  But minimally, I suppose, we are “stuck” when we are profoundly uneasy with our circumstances, at dis-ease with the direction in which our lives are moving, and apparently unable to do anything to change the situation.Some people get stuck in the past, trapped by regret, guilt, or unaddressed injustice.  Some get stuck in the present with patterns of behavior that … [Read more...]

6 Questions We Need to Answer about Clergy Formation

Some weeks ago, a Facebook friend who is also a young pastor posted this message (which I have quoted here with his permission): So, this is a bit of a vent/rant.  I'm frustrated, discouraged, and worried.  Worried about the future, discouraged about where my ministry career has brought me, and frustrated that I feel like I'm in a prison called The Church with no apparent way out. I've been researching a career change to nursing, which seems infinitely more promising for career options and f … [Read more...]