May 2, 2016

I spent five formative years in my mid-twenties living in Hyde Park on the South Side, learning about racial divides and economic stratification in ways that only Chicago can teach. And Barbershop: The Next Cut is above all else a love letter to Chicago. The film finds Calvin’s barbershop sharing space with Angie’s beauty shop to save money and survive amidst continued economic vulnerability. Calvin (played by Ice Cube) locates their story squarely in the neighborhood: “The recession never left… Read more

April 21, 2016

After memorizing every word of every song on my Rick Springfield cassette tape of Living in Oz, and mooning over my poster of Michael Jackson in his yellow sweater-vest, I came of a certain-age knowing that there was something dangerous and the right amount of naughty about Prince. I knew that he was a different kind of man, the way he dressed and presented himself. My later feminist self would understand gender performance, androgyny symbols, and challenges to hegemonic masculinity, but Purple… Read more

April 4, 2016

How many viewers of reality shows on the E! Channel have studied gender theory? Thought about the religious roots of homo- and trans-phobia? Taken white male privilege seriously as a factor in shaping political alignment and the worldview of a trans* woman? Given serious consideration to how drag can be a deeply insulting to one trans* woman while being a source empowerment to another? I’m generalizing of course when I suspect that the answer is not many. Yet this season… Read more

March 17, 2016

“Do you ever feel mad at God? Filled with doubt and questions?” So begins this compelling book trailer for Outlaw Christian: Finding Authentic Faith By Breaking the “Rules.” Dr. Jacqueline A. Bussie, director of the Forum on Faith and Life and Professor of Religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, follows up her Trinity Prize winning first book, Laughter of the Oppressed, with this beautiful spiritual memoir of grief and hope. I have known Jacqueline for more than ten years,… Read more

March 10, 2016

The following is an excerpt of my discussion of Linn Marie Tonstad’s new book, God and Difference, published in full over at last month. (more…) Read more

March 3, 2016

Consider images of water flooding recent news and pop culture: Parents holding up baby bottles filled with brown water. Black and brown children with invisible toxins running through their veins, attacking their futures. Families paralyzed, unable to sell houses hooked up to poisonous infrastructure. A police car submerged in water. Ladies in formation dancing in an empty swimming pool. The Queen Bey herself drowning as the police car on which she is standing disappears in a flooded New Orleans street…. Read more

February 19, 2016

I have a dream that someday, religious homophobia will be as illegitimate as flat-earth cosmology and young-earth creationism. B.o.B. and Ken Ham notwithstanding, no one gives any real credibility to claims that the earth is flat or that it is only 6,000 years old. Sure, those people are out there, and you can even visit the Creation(ist) Museum in Kentucky. There are plenty of biblical texts to support an argument that the earth is flat and that it’s only 6,000… Read more

February 5, 2016

I saw it recently on the sign of a church on the outskirts of a small Midwestern city. “God Saw What You Did.” Five words. One big threat. Encapsulating so much of what drives people away from religion in general and Christianity in particular. Shame. Blame. Judgement. Threat. Consider the doctrine of God implied by it: This is a deity who watches you. This implies distance, for to watch someone you need to be at a distance from them. There… Read more

January 30, 2016

Many good people live and work at the intersections and I occasionally invite someone to tell a story from where they stand. I first encountered Samantha Nichols via Twitter and our common engagement with the Interfaith Youth Core. I met her this fall when she was on a #BlackLivesMatter panel at a meeting of the ELCA Theological Roundtable. Samantha is an M.Div. student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is passionate about economic and racial justice. In her free… Read more

January 12, 2016

How often do you have conversations with someone of a different faith than your own? Could you ever convert to a different religion? What would you miss if you did? What are the exclusive truth claims that you hold to in your religion? What’s more important: A book about interfaith dialogue for adults or a children’s book about multiple religions? How much do you know about the teachings and practices of Judaism and Islam? These are some of the questions… Read more

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