Category: The Church

Why Protestants should applaud Pope Francis’ U.S. visit

If the attention he's received over the summer is any indication, then Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the United States is likely to receive a great deal of media scrutiny. Just picture the scene as the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church heads to the highest halls of political power: the U.S. Congress and the United Nations. The pope's visit provides a good opportunity to reflect on the…  [more]

A pastor’s guide to surviving kickoff Sunday

As a brand-new minister, I was part of a small group of recent seminary graduates who met weekly with an incredibly wise retired pastor. One week we asked him, “If you could go back and do anything differently as a young pastor, what would it be?” “I would go out back of my church and sit in a chair and watch the grass grow more often,” he answered. We all expected something more practical or…  [more]

The evangelical idolatry of Donald Trump

Donald Trump is nothing if not polarizing. You can’t just like or dislike the upstart presidential candidate. His unapologetic personality often forces people into the margins of adoration or abhorrence. And among his passionate supporters is a surprising contingent: evangelical Christians This baffles Frank Bruni, who wrote a New York Times op-ed piece entitled “Trump-ward, Christian Soldiers?”…  [more]

The CCCU and same-sex marriage: is withdrawal the best response?

Scholars have long debated the precise etymology of the word “Protestant.” While some have promoted the widely held view that it originated from its root word “protest,” others have advocated that the term is more properly translated as “proclaim.” Regardless of the initial meaning, the term Protestant throughout history has most certainly been synonymous with those who are…  [more]

Stephen Hawking and the body of Christ

In an interesting article in the June edition of Epic magazine, Helene Mialet writes about people’s response to her 10-year ethnographic study of the social fabric (people and machines) that surround Stephen Hawking and allow him to be the Stephen Hawking we recognize and respect. As an ethnographer, Mialet is interested in how Hawking’s ability to do what he does as a scientist is dependent…  [more]

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]

A new way to marry

Wedding season is well under way, as can be seen by the many wedding photos being shared on social media. Add to this continued debate over the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on same-sex marriage, and the topic is dominating my Facebook feed. Although I’ve heard and seen much about the meaning of marriage, few have raised the question of what our wedding ceremonies say about our theology of marriage. In…  [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]

Comedy, community and church

I’m a big fan of comedy. The schedule on my DVR will tell you that when I want to relax at the end of a day, a sitcom or sketch show or comedy talk show is where I’m likely to turn. A few comments from comedians I appreciate lately have gotten me thinking about how the comedy I like the most creates a sense of relationship and community. It makes me, the audience member, feel like a friend and an…  [more]

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