Category: News & Politics

Fewer women attending church? Here’s one way to respond

I’ll admit it: I smirked as I read the recent Barna study revealing the “surprising” number of women who are no longer attending church. My smirk wasn’t about women leaving church, precisely, but merely a response to the number of men who’ve boo-hoo-ed about the “feminization” of church (as though it were a bad thing, as if femininity reflects nothing of God) and blamed this…  [more]

Restorative discipline: a gracious alternative to zero tolerance

The problem of school violence, truancy and student drug abuse needs to be addressed. No one disputes that. But it’s becoming clear that the zero-tolerance approach isn’t working. Consider Texas, where in recent years some 60 percent of middle school students will eventually be suspended or expelled at least once. Many of these students risk dropping out and landing in jail instead. Fortunately, it seems…  [more]

Obama’s “Amazing Grace”

American political speech has long drawn on the Bible and Christian theology. President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in a church shooting June 17, continued in that tradition. Obama drew on the depth of Christian experience primarily to make sense of a terrible event, but also to stir us to action. I’ve argued in my academic work that when speakers evoke…  [more]

The real challenge for the church after SCOTUS’ gay-marriage decision

The United States Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage as the law of the land. That decision puts yet more pressure on conservative denominations like mine concerning how they will respond to new cultural realities. Can we hold on to our convictions and still engage the wider culture? I first read my church’s stance on homosexuality when I was in college in the 1980s. It struck me as highly progressive…  [more]

The Confederate flag and Christian allegiance

Last week’s racially motivated massacre of nine African-Americans at a South Carolina church has renewed debate over the Confederate flag, which accused killer Dylann Storm Roof can be seen displaying in photos. While some point to this and the flag’s association with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as evidence that it is an expression of hate, others have argued that it’s simply a symbol of their…  [more]

Dylann Storm Roof and the scandal of forgiveness

During his initial hearing this past Friday, accused murderer Dylann Storm Roof heard words of forgiveness from relatives of those who were killed last week at in Charleston, S.C. Some of the members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the site of the shooting, even encouraged him to repent, praying that God would have mercy on him. The reaction, as represented on Twitter, has been a mixture of awe,…  [more]

Why the Charleston church shooting demands more than your prayers

"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” – Psalm 13:1 The scene was familiar and jarring. With a massive police presence as a backdrop, African-American men and women gathered in a small prayer circle near Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The historic Charleston, S.C., church had been the site of a massacre during its regular Wednesday night Bible…  [more]

Rachel Dolezal, Caitlyn Jenner and finding identity in Christ

The fluidity of self-identification has been at the forefront of the cultural conversation over the past month. Rachel Dolezal, former head of a local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., and prominent advocate for the black community, has come under fire for identifying as African-American when, in fact, she was born to Caucasian parents. Despite charges of deception and cultural appropriation, Dolezal has continued to…  [more]

The pastoral implications of Sheryl Sandberg’s Facebook post

I’ve been thinking about what I will do the next time I have occasion to make eye contact with Sheryl Sandberg. It will happen eventually. My husband works at Facebook. I’ve had a few brief in-real-life interactions with her (the company Christmas party and a hello in the parking lot). Even in passing, she was warm and genuine. She made an effort to look me in the eye and say hello. A few days after her…  [more]

Double jeopardy and the Duggars

For a long time, I didn’t know what to think about the Duggars. As a believer, I wanted to support the family for standing by their ideals. But the baby churning, fairly prudish values and occasionally extreme stances made me uneasy. When I lived in Arkansas, working as a journalist just a couple hundred miles from their compound, I would hear stories about the Duggar family. Nothing that was alarming, but…  [more]

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