April 1, 2019

(Some Things To Ponder This Holy Week) Holy Week is something to live, to experience, but it can also help us think about God as Trinity in profound ways. So I offer here, before Holy Week, a set of Easter Theses.  I. The cross signifies Jesus Christ’s deep faithfulness to us. It is the outcome of Jesus remaining steadfast, loving the entire cosmos even in the face of persecution and torture.  The cross does not signify a divine transaction. It does… Read more

March 31, 2019

I wish I could report that in my years of pastoral ministry, I’ve come up with incredibly creative alternatives  to measure congregational vitality other than worship attendance. In this scenario, I’d report to the synod the number of times we refilled the Little Free Pantry, the pounds of food we brought for the Ramadan meal we served at the mosque, our number of participants in the Pride parade, or total number of engagements on the Facebook page. But in the… Read more

March 26, 2019

How we interpret our sacred Scriptures (hermeneutics) matters quite a lot. I served a congregation in Wisconsin for six years that owned two lovely and historic church buildings. The Norwegian Lutherans had split in the mid-1890s over what was at the time a huge issue—single vs. double predestination. As a result of the split, two beautiful rural churches were built two hundred yards apart from each other on adjacent sides of the cemetery.  Prior to the predestination controversy, Norwegian Lutherans… Read more

March 25, 2019

“Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:2-3) I’m going to attempt a meditation on Christian ethics and corporations, and I think perhaps it is best to start with a story. I grew up on a family farm. I can still remember the day our family farm incorporated, and eventually we replaced… Read more

March 23, 2019

I don’t inquire into Robert Saler’s identity because he is mysterious and unknown in the mode of Thomas Pynchon. And I don’t ask it in order to launch an ad hominem discourse undermining his authorship based on biographical or personal details. I ask the question because Robert Saler, in his book, Between Magisterium and Marketplace: A Constructive Account of Theology and the Church (Emerging Scholars), launches an inquiry into what he calls “theological authorship” and this in relationship to the… Read more

March 19, 2019

The Second Naïveté Way back in my seminary days, I remember making my way through Paul Ricoeur’s Time and Narrative. It was a very slow kind of reading, and I often had to access secondary sources to get a better understanding of Ricoeur’s thought. One concept of his that intrigued me, and I’ve walked around with ever since, is his description (as concerns the reading of Scripture) of what he calls the first and second naïveté. The first naïveté takes things… Read more

March 10, 2019

Undermining Trust By Re-Writing A Text About Trust I’m not at all happy to write this, and generally wish I didn’t have to… partially because I have to lay out internal politics of my own denomination for an audience much broader than that. But also because I had thought (and I am grieved to learn I am wrong) that those who I respect and who serve in leadership in my church would have handled this better. But they didn’t. And… Read more

March 5, 2019

Damn it, sin, what are you? I find myself in a strange situation. I’m called as a pastor to proclaim the forgiveness of sins. I’m also a Lutheran pastor, and one hallmark of our tradition, grounded as it is in Luther’s Reformation discovery, is a focus on repentance (of/from sin, ostensibly) specifically for the sake of the absolution (we’ll come back around to this in a bit). We focus on sin in our liturgy. Like tomorrow at Ash Wednesday services… Read more

March 4, 2019

Curl the fingers to brush back bangs Consider the vast bald blank canvass The tiny head in the crook of daddy’s arm The elder, furrowed and somewhat dry The youth, oily and acned The head of shame, bowed but present The face of pride, confident that others are more mortal The heads not there The heads not in the game The eyes caught emotional and weeping The eyes averting, too much soul to bear The ashes, crumbled, crumbling Caught under… Read more

February 26, 2019

To my Methodist friends: I’m really sorry. We see you, and hear your pain. Praying for all of us as we advocate for marriage equality in the church and LGBTQ+ clergy in our pulpits. Remember that really and truly so many of us have learned to be better Christians because of you. Remember that line of Edwin Friedman: “You have not accomplished change until you have survived the sabotage.” Remember that we are in full communion with you, so your pain… Read more

Follow Us!

Browse Our Archives