December 27, 2016

I have suggested that we need wide open public spaces if we are thrive as a nation. We need a “public square” where all kinds of experiences and attitudes are brought to bear on creating our social and political culture. At the same time I work with a lot of people who don’t find my vision very helpful. It isn’t necessarily that they want to exclude anyone from the public space (although some do). It is just that they cannot... Read more

December 11, 2016

I have lived in many different cultural contexts around the world. And because I frankly like adventure and new things I’ve voluntarily been places and done things that were, well, a little different. But you don’t grow unless you are uncomfortable. I’ll be 61 in a few days and I’d like for something to keep growing besides my ears and my nose. Now when I bought tickets for the Turtle Creek Chorale’s Christmas performance I didn’t  expect that it would bring me... Read more

December 10, 2016

The core value of modern democracy is the liberation achieved by participation in public life. Angela Merkel has proposed banning the burqa. To be clear, what she means by this is banning full facial covering. Not banning headscarves. The ostensible reason for this is security concerns. In France a similar ban was related to issues of national identity. Others, including some Muslim women have associated a ban like this with protecting women’s rights. In each case the covering of the face... Read more

December 1, 2016

Yesterday a journalist called me. Billboards have appeared around Dallas with a message about Islam – basically asserting that there is no racism in Islam. The journalist had talked to the people who put up the billboards. Now she wanted an informed Christian view. Is it true that there is no racism in Islam? Journalists always want short answers. They are working on a deadline and a word limit. But answering any question about a religion isn’t simple. Islam, if... Read more

November 28, 2016

The recent election should help clarify what is (or should be) immediately obvious in inter-religious dialogue. There exist between and within religions substantially different moral frameworks. I don’t mean by a moral framework simply different relative moral values. Most religions share relatively common sets of moral values. The weight given to these values determines one’s priorities and hence actions. So, for example, in much of the West the  individual self-determination and fulfillment is highly valued, as is the normalization of... Read more

November 18, 2016

In an earlier blog I suggested that in the United States there were two different religions named Christianity. Now an article in Christianity Today has given a good good analysis of the theology of one of these emerging religions, a religion shaped by the theology of Norman Vincent Peal. If we’ve made an inquiry into the theology behind self-identified evangelicals voting for Donald Trump, we might ask about the theology behind the abject failure of progressive Christians to see this happening. Why were... Read more

November 11, 2016

Every election is a negotiation. And the most dangerous thing for any candidate, whether he or she ultimate wins or loses, is speaking a language that excludes part of the electorate. For the loser it is because it means losing touch. For the winner it means being out of touch. I spent most of my adult life in non-English-speaking contexts. As a result I have extensive experience in being part of conversations where I could not fully participate because my... Read more

November 11, 2016

Every election is a negotiation, usually cross-cultural, between a candidate and the electorate. Succeeding in that negotiation means understanding what the electorate wants, which means understanding how symbols that surround a candidate are received and interpreted. One of the marvels to many of this election is that a man who is garishly rich, stiffs his contractors, and pays no taxes could be elected a populist hero of the economically disenfranchised. And that Trump voters would reject Ms Clinton for being too... Read more

November 7, 2016

Today (Nov 5) the Dallas Morning News ran an commentary explaining 10 reasons that a Christian could not vote for Donald Trump. Across my Facebook feed came an article by an important evangelical leader explaining the many reasons that a Christian must vote for Donald Trump. Interestingly these divergent views of Christian behavior came from writers who agreed about Donald Trump. They thought him loathsome. They disagreed about what it means to be a Christian. And I think this is the... Read more

October 25, 2016

As Donald Trump’s behavior, verbal and otherwise has become increasingly outrageous his Christian supporters are growing more desperate. Hence, as I both read and hear (not least from pastor Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s main Christian apologists) “We are Not Electing a Pastor in Chief.” Like all internet meme theology it is both right and wrong, but mostly misleading. Let’s overlook for a moment that Trump is more a potential “monster in chief,” than merely a bad boy who doesn’t... Read more

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