June 4, 2020

My dear friend Joshua Kenyon Daniel is now a priest in DC. He gives a first hand account of the peaceful protesting happening at St Johns when Donald Trump violently tear gassed clergy and lay Christians to remove them for his photo op. Not only is this an eye witness account. It is also a powerful, tearful sermon. As a citizen of this nation and as people of faith I encourage you to watch it and share it. Read more

June 3, 2020

I see in the New York Times today Tom Cotton is now training the same hawkish rhetoric he typically reserves for Iran and China onto the American people themselves. I guess this isn’t surprising, as it’s relatively clear from Cotton’s actions that only certain groups of Americans (that is, white Americans) count as truly American. I’m just going to offer a few brief rebuttals of the arguments Cotton makes in his op-ed. Based on past experience, I’m sure he won’t… Read more

June 2, 2020

Donald Heinz, professor emeritus of religious studies at California State University and Lutheran minister in the ELCA graciously sent me a copy of his new book, After Trump: Achieving A New Social Gospel. The book has a quirky kind of meandering way to it which took me just a bit to adjust to, until I realized that Heinz was inviting me slowly into a new way of thinking and meditating on the social gospel movement writ large, mixing social reflection… Read more

May 28, 2020

In an era when the anxiety of influence and the need for distinctive “branding” reaches fever pitch, it’s not surprising groups would reach for doctrines or slogans that express their individuality. Lutherans among other denominations cultivate such distinctives in an attempt to distinguish themselves among the teaming proliferation of Christian movements. I’ve learned a few of these over the years, the categories that are supposedly uniquely ‘Lutheran’: Law/Gospel dialectic, by faith alone (or more broadly, the “Solas” of the Reformation),… Read more

May 26, 2020

Holy baptism is an incredibly multi-valent sacrament. It signifies entrance into the life of the church. It is an outward and visible sign of God’s grace. It is an opportunity for transformation, as well as a public sign of the spiritual transformation of the one undergoing it (think O Brother, Where Art Thou). It is a joining together in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Scripture, it is a dramatic dying and rebirth (Colossians 2:12), a sign of… Read more

May 22, 2020

The most obvious reason. Coronavirus spreads most easily person-to-person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is spreading very easily and sustainably between people. There are very few social situations on the planet more conducive to the spread of the virus than churches, because in church you spend extended amount of time in larger groups, and most of the normal practices of worship spread the virus more readily by aerosolizing the virus. Singing may be the worst, but just lots of people praying and… Read more

May 21, 2020

The question: Could you help me answer some theological questions? I would greatly appreciate your time and responses and links to any good articles or blogs. Question from a friend: Why does God seem so volatile and irritable in the Old Testament, yet forgiving and merciful in the New Testament? Here’s my response. First, I’d tell them that in my experience, a lot of people who read the OT experience this difference between the OT and the NT. There simply… Read more

May 16, 2020

I. Saturday sees velcro detached from velcro and the paraments changed. Green. Ordinary time. Easter and Pentecost and Trinity tied up. Sermon title for the first Sunday of Ordinary: “Observing the Average Trajectories of Single Photons in a Two-Slit Interferometer.”   On the altar, two cardboard walls. Two slits cut with an X-Acto. At the lectern, an electron beam gun. Extension cord. At the pulpit, the observer. Projected on screen: Schrödinger’s Equation.   The Holy Gospel According to What-We-Know-and-Don’t-Know. Thanks… Read more

May 12, 2020

It’s difficult to tell from Pete Ward’s richly ambiguous title whether his new book is an examination of celebrities at worship (like Kanye West), the worship of celebrities (like Beyoncé), or worship leaders as celebrities (like Joel Osteen). Spoiler alert: it’s all three, and then some. Celebrity Worship is more a study of religion than a theological work—although for Ward the two have long been intertwined. In his earlier book Participation and Medi­ation: A Practical Theology for the Liquid Church,… Read more

May 11, 2020

Blessed are you, holy God. You are the creator of the waters of the earth. You are the fire of rebirth. You poured out your Spirit on your people Israel. You breathe life into our dry bones. Your Son Jesus promised to send the Spirit to us that the world may know your peace and truth.  Pour out your Holy Spirit, and breathe new life into those who are baptized. By your Spirit adopt us all as your children, through… Read more

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