Showing posts from March, 2014

Me on Moody Radio

This past Saturday morning I appeared on the show Up for Debate through Moody Radio. The topic of the day was when one should or shouldn't leave one's church, thanks to this blog post that I wrote back in January.

You can access the recording of the program on their website under the "Past Programs" tab; just find the March 29th show. It's also available through iTunes.

All in all, I really enjoyed it. I found the host, Julie Roys and my fellow guest Chuck Betters to be very cordial and hospitable, and it was a good discussion. It was actually amazing how quickly the hour went. I could have said a lot more about the subject given more time.

Except I said "Um…" a lot. I didn't realize I was doing it at the time. Then I listened to it again and started yelling at Radio Me to knock it off. I mean, come on, man. Just make your point already. Sheesh.

Anyway, I was glad for the opportunity and the experience. I'd love to do something like it again.

March 2014 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for March...

1. I read a book produced by a few different Baptist organizations called Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, the review for which you can read here.

2. I also read Genesis and the Rise of Civilization by j. Snodgrass this month, the review of which you can read here.

3. There is one more episode of The Walking Dead left in season 4 before it goes away for the summer. On the one hand I'll certainly miss it, as it really is my favorite show currently on TV. On the other hand, I'll need that long to recover from the gut-punch that was the episode titled "The Grove." Those who watch know exactly what I'm talking about. Those who don't aren't getting a word about it here because I could barely get through telling Coffeewife about it. Instead I'll say this: yes, this show is about surviving the zombie apocalypse. But a big part of that is surviving ourselves and the others left alive. And sometimes that survival involves horrible, …

Book Review: Genesis and the Rise of Civilization by j. Snodgrass

The core of a creation story is "Why? Why was the world created this way and what does that tell us about how to live in it?" What did the gods want from humanity? A creation story is like a blueprint or constitution, it contains the premise of the story people of that particular culture will enact with their lives. - j. Snodgrass, Genesis and the Rise of Civilization

My senior year of college, I wrote a research project in order to earn honors in my Religion major. I had taken an interest in the theology and writing of John Calvin earlier in my career there, and by the time I was set to start this paper was becoming more intrigued by the work of Karl Barth. To further both of these interests simultaneously, I decided that my paper would compare and contrast their views in a few major areas, drawing mainly from the magnum opus of each: the Institutes for Calvin, and Church Dogmatics for Barth. I even had the grand idea that I would write the paper as if the two of them could …

Making My Radio Debut

In late January, I wrote a post titled Five Really Good Reasons to Leave Your Church. I wrote it in response to an article that had appeared in Relevant Magazine a day or two before titled Five Really Bad Reasons to Leave Your Church. I figured that the original article needed a counterpoint; someone to give voice to the good reasons that I and others have had over the years for leaving churches.

I wrote it with the same attitude with which I write pretty much everything here: it'll reach a few dozen folks who have me queued up on their browser or who'll see my link to it on social media, and that'll be fine.

Well, something a bit bigger than that happened on that particular day. Among other things:

Coffeehouse Contemplative: Five Really Good Reasons to Leave Your Church
— Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) January 29, 2014
When someone like Rachel Held Evans is retweeting your article, it's bound to go a bit further than you're used to.


Small Sips Wants Cookies Shaped Like Keyboards

If only. Jan wonders out loud about what would happen if seminaries taught how to enact culture shifts in churches:
Seminaries have been described as General College for Professional Ministry. Students take Greek, Hebrew, Old Testament, New Testament, Church History, Theology, Christian Education, Practical Theology, Pastoral Care, and Preaching. This track has not changed much in the past 50 plus years.   As I – and many others – have written, seminarians are being trained to serve churches that no longer exist. Or at the very least least, we need seminarians trained to do 21st Century Ministry which is totally different from 20th Century Ministry. Again, this is old news. But I believe that . . .   Seminaries need to teach future professional ministers how to shift a congregation’s culture. I learned a lot of great stuff in seminary. But the vast majority of it was academic stuff about the Bible, theology, and church history, along with a small handful of ministry courses. Som…

Book Review: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth by Various Authors

This is the setting: you, the readers, are either clergy or lay leaders of a congregation who are wanting to begin or continue a conversation about the explicit inclusion of persons of same-gender orientation in your congregation; and we, the writers, are representatives of thirteen Baptist Congregations who have engaged in that conversation. - Mahan Siler, "The Congregational Response to Gay and Lesbian Persons," Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

When I finally came to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin, it was after a long process that included many different factors. The movement started in college, during which the "What Would Jesus Do?" phenomenon was full strength, when I first began wondering how a disciple of Christ really should approach those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans*, the eventual landing spot being something other than with judgment and vitriol, and also not primarily from an intent to "cure" or convert.


Lent 2014: 40 Days of Communication

This is the time of year when people write blog posts about what they're taking on or giving up for the season of Lent, that 40-day span leading up to the celebration of Easter. It is a tradition for many to observe some sort of practice, whether of altruism, charity, self-denial, or spiritual enrichment, to help one reflect on the similar themes of Jesus in the wilderness focusing himself for what comes next.

Some will do something basic like give up Oreos or Facebook. Others will work through a devotional book or study. Still others will take on a creative project like I did last year. Still others will go for a grandiose, hipster discipline like "giving up church," or "giving up Lent for Lent."
This year, I'm going for something deceptively simple and low-key. It's really an extension of my selected word for 2014, "Share." 
For 40 days, I'm going to engage in some act of communication with friends or loved ones. A phone call here, a te…

"From What Is Left" - A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

On dark nights,
when worn-out souls long for relief,
we are keenly aware of our loneliness,
our failures,
our doubts,
our smallness,
past moments we wish we could have back.

Our spiritual comforts wither
when the shadows accuse us so.
The old answers are no longer reliable;
the usual assurances no longer soothing.

This new darkness
relentlessly present
reduces us to shrunken incarnations of who we were
before it engulfed our hearts.

We are burned up and burned out,
ashes of former things all that remain.

We cry to you,
mouths full of cinders,
dry throats forcing out petitions,
hoping you will hear us
straining for something just beyond our ability to believe.

We detect a glow at the center of our smoldering,
a light from a divine place deep within
that we didn't ignite.
You point us back toward it,
which is really to yourself:
You who had been there even
when our imperfect names for it fall away.

Mold us into new forms
from what is left,
earthen vessels ever illuminated by heaven…

"Transcending our Boundaries" - A Call to Worship

Leader: Have we come to worship only because we say it is time to do so? We who treat time as a possession, gather at this appointed hour. People: We've decided that we only have so much time to devote to this service. It may take us the full hour to center ourselves right before the day continues. Leader: We, with ticking watches, pinging smartphones, and calendars smeared with ink are beckoned here. Would we worship without being prompted so? People: We seek the freedom that Christ gives: from those things that divide our attention and stunt our spirits. Leader: In the fullness of time, God sent Jesus to show us Eternal Life: a life beyond artificial limits and rooted in divine grace. People: We are ever in need of the good news of God’s perpetual presence, transcending human-made boundaries of time and space.