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Showing posts from May, 2018

Winter/Spring 2018 Pop Culture Roundup

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Beginning this month, I'll be engaging pop culture in a different way on the blog. These Roundups will no longer appear monthly, but instead three times a year near the end of each season: Winter/Spring, Summer, and Year-End. They will be a cumulative look at media enjoyed during each designated span of time. In the meantime, I hope to increase writing longer pieces about specific books, movies, shows, and albums and how they intersect with issues of faith and life. Today's Roundup is a beta test for what future installments will look like.

Previously: January 2018, February 2018, March 2018, April 2018

Books

The past few months I've become interested in the Enneagram, a personality test that boasts of its scientific roots and accuracy. Through a series of questions, this test determines which of nine basic types you are, each identified by a number. Many resources not only provide a test to determine your type, but tips and analysis regarding what it means and how you can l…

A Prayer for Discernment

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based on Isaiah 6:1-8

Faithful God, we pause on a weekend of solemn remembrance to reflect on your call to each of us. For some, such a claim on one's life is unmistakable: the combination of circumstance, skill, and passion combine to drive us toward a clear goal where not pursuing it would feel like betrayal to you and to ourselves. For others, we may be choosing between several options that each seem reasonable and that could be fulfilling to us and to the world we know. And for still others, we are wandering through fields of tall grass, trying to find our way, wishing for a voice to speak purpose into our souls.

But the first part of finding our call is showing up, and so we come to sanctuary or wander beside streams or throw our hands up on street corners saying, "Here I am." We require neither soaring angels or shaking pillars; we just want to know where we can direct our time and energy to ease others' burdens and know for ourselves that we are being sent in…

I'm Trying an Author Newsletter Again

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There are maybe four of you out there who remember that I once tried to start an author newsletter. This attempt only lasted a few days because there was something about it that I had second thoughts about.

But now that Wonder and Whiskey is about to come into the world, I figure that I should take another shot at doing it.

I anticipate this being a monthly-ish email to provide updates on what's happening with books, the blog, speaking gigs, and other relevant happenings. Subscribers will always be the first to get news before it's posted on the blog or social media, and will receive other exclusive content.

So, for example, when the Wonder and Whiskey cover finally drops? Newsletter folks will see it first. How's that for incentive?

Still not convinced? I'm working on some pieces of writing that only subscribers will see. It will never be posted on the blog or be made available elsewhere.

Here's the form for your subscribing pleasure. You'll hear from me soon…

Wonder and Whiskey is Available for Pre-Order

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Friends, things are getting close.

They're so close, in fact, that I can share that Wonder and Whiskey is available for pre-order and will officially release on August 19th!

This book certainly has been a different kind of experience. First off, as I've mentioned before, I didn't even expect that I'd get to write it. I thought the idea was dead not too long after I pitched it. So I'm amazed and thankful that I was wrong about that.

But now I'm a few months away from holding a book in my hands that I wrote, based on the music of one of my all-time favorite bands. It's incredible, and I hope I did both the art and theology justice.

At this point I get to sit back and wait.

Except, hold on, I have work to do on a third book already.

But more about that some other time.

Wonder and Whiskey: Insights on Faith from the Music of Dave Matthews Band is coming from Wipf and Stock on August 19th.

(Woohoo!)

Summer Reading

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Now that we are nearing the warmest part of the year and thoughts turn to vacations and relaxed schedules, I've been compiling a new reading list. I finished my winter/spring list with ease, and have been making plans for the next leg of the year.

Here's what I have planned:
I'm Still Here by Austin Channing BrownWildwood Emperium by Colin MeloyCold Steel by Kate ElliotGoliath by Scott WesterfieldStuff I've Been Feeling Lately by Alicia CookHammer is the Prayer by Christian WimanNatural Enemies by John KrykChrist on the Psych Ward by David Finnegan-HoseyDenial is My Spiritual Practice by Martha Spong and Rachel HackenbergFurnishing Eternity by David Giffels A few regular novels, a couple memoirs, some poetry, a sports book, and a few churchy books. A pretty diverse list, which is always my goal.
What are you reading this summer?
Here's one you could add to your list.
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

What is Confession?

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Previously: What is the Examen?, What is Lectio Divina?, What is Fasting?, What is the Labyrinth?, What is the Liturgical Calendar?, What are Prayer Beads?, What is Body Prayer?

The concept of confession has fallen out of style in certain strands of Christianity. Some of this is more to do with church tradition: some decry it as "too Catholic," as if that's enough of a reason to avoid doing anything facing that charge. Others would rather the church experience, particularly on Sunday morning, focus more on what lifts people up and improves their sense of self-worth. Many have had negative--perhaps too mild a term--experiences with Christians who have weaponized this practice in some way.
Whether confession may be redeemed in the eyes of some is an open question. Nevertheless, we take time to understand what it means context-free, with the hope that it may be used faithfully rather than abusively.
To talk about confession, we should talk about sin. This word has plenty of…

Book Review: Inspired by Rachel Held Evans

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A book about the Bible by a memoirist may seem like an odd undertaking, but anyone who has loved the Bible as much as I, and who has lost it and found it again, knows how a relationship with the Bible can be as real and as complicated as a relationship with a family member or close friend. For better or worse, my story is inextricably tethered to the stories of Scripture, right down to my first name. Rather than attempting to rend the threads of my life from those of the sacred text, I hope to better understand their interconnectedness, and perhaps, to step back far enough to see a tapestry emerge. - Rachel Held Evans, Inspired

I clearly remember the time--the first time, that is--when my faith began to fall apart. I was in my second semester of college as a Religion major and was enrolled in several Biblical Studies courses that spring, including one that dealt heavily with the concept of the "historical Jesus," a scholarly attempt to get behind the faith claims of the Gosp…

I'm on Pulpit Fiction This Week

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I have contributed the "Voice in the Wilderness" segment to this week's edition of the Pulpit Fiction podcast, which takes a look at the Revised Common Lectionary texts each week leading to the coming Sunday.

This time around, my assignment was 1 John 5:9-13. You can listen at their website or on iTunes.

Thanks to the guys for another chance to contribute.

Small Sips Won't Fit In the Box

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Does belonging matter? Jan Edmiston asks whether belonging to a faith community makes any kind of a difference any more:
Some people join churches to gain a wedding/baptism/funeral venue. And some join because it eases entry into a good preschool. Or maybe we actually join in hopes of truly belonging to a community of people who love us no matter what and who remind us that God loves us no matter what.   Loneliness is a killer. John Cacioppo, who died last month, studied the effects of loneliness and said, “Chronic loneliness increases the odds of an early death by 20 percent which is about the same effect as obesity, though obesity does not make you as miserable as loneliness.” I often ask congregations, “What breaks God’s heart in your neighborhood?” and more than one church has answered with one word: isolation.   We are an isolated people in terms of truly belonging. Although we might have hundreds of social media friends, how many of us have 3 people we could call in the m…

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