Category: Theology & The Church

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]

Inside Out and a theology of Sadness

The outstanding new Pixar film Inside Out gives walking, talking personalities to the various emotions inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. My favorite moment takes place about midway through the movie and involves Joy, a Tinker Bell-like sprite voiced by Amy Poehler; Sadness, a blue bespectacled blob voiced by Phyllis Smith; and Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, who has the conveniently…  [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]

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]

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]

Where atheistic altruism falls short

In a recent New York Times op-ed titled “Wanted: A Theology of Atheism,” Molly Worthen describes Sunday Gatherings, atheist get-togethers that involve singing “hymns” like “Walking on Sunshine” or “Lean on Me,” followed by a lecture on the tenets of secular humanism. Worthen goes on to defend the movement as more than a materialistic replacement for church. She also…  [more]

American Ninja Warrior and spiritual formation

I’ve developed a bit of an obsession in the last few years with American Ninja Warrior. It also happens to be one of my kids’ favorite family television traditions. The American version of what began as a Japanese program is now in its seventh season. The show takes contestants through a series of obstacle courses, presenting challenges requiring agility, quickness and upper body strength. Each stage gets…  [more]

I draw the line at selfie sticks (at least for now)

I went a little selfie crazy while on vacation a few weeks ago. Keep in mind, for a selfie-averse adult like myself, going “crazy” meant taking maybe a total of 15 pictures of my wife and I together while celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary in Paris. But that’s about 13 more selfies than I’ve taken in the five previous years. I’ve always had reservations about the practice, largely…  [more]

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