November 14, 2018

November is National Children’s Grief Awareness Month and tomorrow, November 15th, is Children’s Grief Awareness Day.  You can find more information at: Losing a parent carries with it two huge challenges (among others): One is the loss of  the immediacy of a parent’s companionship.  Under the best of circumstances, a supportive relationship with a parent can be a lifelong gift.  Nurture, guidance and correction can give way to a relationship that is marked by the free exchange of ideas, reflection… Read more

October 29, 2018

I am never quite sure what to make of Christian leaders and teachers who say that “they are shocked” at something like the murders in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or that they “no longer recognize our country.”  As a window into anger and grief, perhaps such observations are meant to express the shock we all experience when something so brutal and seemingly random occurs. But any robust doctrine of sin and evil that arises out of the Jewish and… Read more

October 16, 2018

In a recent New York Times editorial, Jonathan Merritt observes that “It is getting harder to talk about God.”  Merritt became aware of this when he moved not long ago from Atlanta to New York city.  He had not lost his facility with the English language, but he found that subtle social pressures made it harder as well.  But, as Merritt notes, the fact that it really is getting harder to talk about God is neither limited to his own… Read more

October 5, 2018

To be involved in a barroom brawl it was once customary to walk or drive to a bar, punch or shoulder someone, or say something unspeakably rude about another person’s mother.  What ensued was a bloody, brutal mess, which typically ended in arrests and property damage.  They were events marked by raw emotion.  They were devoid of reason.  And they focused on doing the most damage possible in the limited time available.  I’ve never been in one, but that is… Read more

August 29, 2018

Violation of boundaries, exploitation, betrayal, abuse of power – there have been any number of labels attached to the sex abuse scandal in Roman Catholic Church. And there have been an equal number of apologies offered up, alongside messages of sympathy for the victims. But now Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich has declared that the church won’t go “down the rabbit hole” of addressing the conduct of church leaders because, the Pope has “a bigger agenda,” the church isn’t the only… Read more

August 13, 2018

At the beginning of the semester I often ask my students to tell us all where each of them believe they are headed vocationally. They will be asked that question a lot over three years and they will ask themselves that question as well. So, it’s good for them to get started on that quest. When student’s say that they believe that they might be called to youth ministry, I often – not so jokingly say: “Good for you. Youth… Read more

July 16, 2018

The Lord’s Prayer, revised for Moral Therapeutic Deism With thanks and apologies to Dorothy Sayers:   Our ungendered parent, You who dwell beyond time and space, Unnumbered are your names, Your new world order come, Our vision of your will be done, On earth, as it accords with our preferences.   Give us this day Confidence in our basic goodness, And forgive us the minor errors we may have made, Just as we forgive those who agree with us.  … Read more

July 6, 2018

Sociologist Robert Wuthnow observed some years ago that American Protestants are increasingly alienated from denominational structures. In a useful set of distinctions that may say more about the perception of self and of others, than it does about social realities, Wuthnow explained that the vast majority of American church-goers consider themselves as residents of America’s Main Street: A cohort of people who, by and large, occupy the middle of the country, who are of relatively modest means and for whom… Read more

June 11, 2018

Several weeks ago the bishops of the United Methodist Church concluded their deliberations on the future of the United Methodist Church. With an eye to the 2019 General Conference, the bishops have been weighing how to navigate the thorny issues facing their church, concerning same sex relations and the ordination of openly gay clergy. Before them were three options for resolving the dispute: The One Church Plan, The Traditionalist Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan. In the end, the Council… Read more

June 8, 2018

Suicide has many causes. But we also make it intrinsically more likely by insisting that we have the right to end our lives, as so many do now under the rubric of “assisted dying.” Once we arrogate that power to ourselves, instead of leaving it in the hands of God, then ending our lives at anytime, in any place in life becomes intrinsically more likely. Who is left to say, “you aren’t old enough, miserable enough, sad enough, weak enough,… Read more

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