On Trump: Looking Back; Moving Forward [GUEST POST]


i-voted-sticker

This is a guest post from a friend of mine, Paul Warner. In political issues and especially economics, he is one of my most well-researched, reasonable, and articulate friends. The day after the election, he posted this on Facebook, and I wanted to share this with everyone here. It casts a vision of what’s happened, and how we might move forward. It’s a fairly hot take, and much has been written elsewhere since then. Yet, I think it’s still a refreshing and candid look at the immediate aftermath of this strange campaign season.

Well, I am incredibly disappointed with the election results. But I will accept them because I still believe in democracy and I still have hope for our country.

I do have a few initial comments, though, as I am trying to think through this as objectively as I can because I have to try to process this.

1. If you are a Trump supporter, please muster some sympathy for a lot of people who woke up very scared after the election.

  • People with terrible medical conditions who only have health insurance because Obamacare eliminated the pre-existing condition restrictions
  • Muslims who have experienced an increase in harassment and abuse
  • Women who have sexually abusive husbands or bosses
  • Blacks who watched the KKK walk across a bridge in NC last week in full celebration
  • Young adults born in Mexico but brought to the US by parents at a young age who consider themselves Americans but now fear deportation
  • Much of Europe that is scared the US may abandon NATO

There are a lot of very scared people. Please respect that. Additionally, please refrain from the “do not despair” rhetoric. It’s not helpful – it seems insensitive right now, regardless of your intent.
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God in Her Glory {1b}: A Good Facebook Debate (for a change)


wwii-woman-we-can-do-it-feminismWow. I’ve actually been surprised at the response to the last post in this little mini-series on using feminine language to talk of God. I thought I was addressing one simple thing in the life of churches, but I misjudged the degree to which people would feel like this touched on everything from their thoughts on the Bible to the nature of Jesus himself. One of the best sets of exchanges was on Facebook in response to yesterday’s post. Below, I’ve reproduced a lightly edited version of the conversation. I hope you find it interesting as well. And let me know what you think!

DEBATER: Your post says, “The model of God as Father may be profound and true; but it is not the only model, and it does not render other models less true or profound.”  It’s Jesus’ own self-disclosure and revelation of God. It’s more important than any other ‘model’ and it isn’t really a model. “Father” is not a metaphor. Its a reality for Jesus. And I’m not talking about Jesus’ physicality like his weight or hair color. Jesus revelation is of God as Father. That’s the particularity. He said pray to God as father. And he’s the Son. That’s ontological. The feminine is redeemed in Jesus, but its redeemed not by Jesus taking on the sign of the feminine, but by taking on the sign of the masculine redeemer of the oppressed and abused feminine.

ME: Your last line especially uses terms and ideas entirely foreign to the Scriptures. I’m actually shocked that you saw no issue in writing that. Women need a male redeemer to be redeemed? Even if you point to the ancient cultural idea of the male kinsman-redeemer, surely you aren’t saying that this (clearly) cultural accommodation is some revelation of the essentially gendered nature of God and redemption? The Old Testament also had lambs being sacrificed, and not people. Does that mean that Jesus in some sense had to partly be an “actual” lamb rather than a metaphorical one?
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Some Protestant Saint-Praying Clarifications & Responses


Wow. Last week’s post about praying to saints really brought out more passion in people than I thought it would. Both here on the blog and on Facebook, here were some clarifying comments I left. By the way, this was the best comment on that post that challenged my thinking. I hope this helps.

First, here is my final, quick summary clarification of my position and why Evangelicals need not be freaked out about all this. If you read nothing else on this post, let it be this:

I really wish there was a different and better word than “prayer” for this. I agree that what most of us Protestants think of when we think of prayer really should only be directed at God.

Further, I’m simply advocating for this to be one more optional means of grace a Christian can participate in, depending on how they are wired. This shouldn’t take away from anyone’s participation in union with Christ or praying to him anymore than Bible memorization, fasting, listening to sacred music, or reading a devotional book does.

Everything everyone on the comments has said they think should only be reserved for God, I absolutely agree with. I am certainly not suggesting we turn our affections, praise, adoration, or even our hearts towards those that have died. I just think we can talk to them, and they can intercede for us to God. I don’t think they talk back, that we experience their presence, or that they magically impart any more of God’s favor than asking a friend to pray with us would.

As Paul said, our outer selves are wasting away, while inwardly we’re being renewed day by day. Those that have died are, in a very real sense, just as “alive” as we are now, albeit absent from the body. All I think is (1) they can see and know what’s going on down here, and (2) they talk to God. If those two things are true, then I don’t see the inherent evil, harm, or soul-destroying error it might be to simply “talk” to those that have gone before–not “commune with”, “worship”, or any of the other dimensions of “Godward prayer”. Just sending up some prayer requests to the part of the Body of Christ that is absent from the body, but present with the Lord.

What’s the harm in that?
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Putting the FUN back in Fundamentalism! (vs. Atheism)


anastasis-resurrection-dead-hell

For those that follow this blog only through WordPress, you may have seen the guest post yesterday–a beautiful meditation on spiritual realities that Autumn brings to our minds–and didn’t think much of it. It was pretty and all, but not controversial, right?

Not so, on Facebook.

A good friend, and Atheist (that we here at the blog know quite well), made a comment taking issue with references to the “Fall” and “first parents” (and even the Resurrection) on the grounds that these do not jive with evolutionary science. (Although I don’t think he clicked on the link to a similar post I wrote last year in which I used the same terminologies in the same way, but whatever.) He was surprised that I would have let a seemingly “young earth creationist” (someone who thinks the world was created in six literal days) post on my blog.

Though I assured him that this guest poster was not, in fact, a young earth creationist, and was merely speaking using the common poetic language shared by all of Christian theology and not at all trying to speak in scientific terms, he doubled down. Then, Christians and Atheists all jumped into this thread. Sarcasm, insults, and “who-said-what when” arguments began, all having little to do with the post, and more to do with who was condescending first, who understands genre theory, and who were the more aggressive and defensive parties in the discussion.
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Hope of the Earth: a political eschatology (we can all breathe)


November 7th, we will wake up to front pages declaring with finality the results of the American Presidential Election. Most of us will see these headlines and have some sort of emotional reaction (especially those of us that stayed up as late as we could to know the results early).

Depression? Fear? Anger? Injustice? Sadness? Joy? Elation? Ecstasy? Worship? Peace?

I remember after the 2004 election when Bush beat Kerry. Going to a large, urban University dominated by idealistic and passionate liberal youth, the campus was in mourning for the rest of that week. People walked in silence, hugged one another, and I saw a good number of people crying as they resigned themselves to what they felt would be the end of every good thing they’d ever thought about this country.

This election cycle, I was certainly active–probably more so than ever before (especially on this blog, at least). I’m almost certain that I have been blocked from my fair share of Facebook feeds and removed from some feed readers in the past six months or so. I’ve been quite passionate on those few issues that have guided so much of my writing and reading.

But I haven’t lost a bit of sleep over any of that stuff. I’ve been able to enjoy good books and beers, and pipes and peers, without any discussion of politics or debates or elections.
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The Daily Philly: Yes, I’ve been secretly running a Philly photo blog


Consider this post the official unveiling of my Philadelphia Photo blog:

The Daily Philly: a picture of philly. daily. (almost)
(also on FacebookTwitter, & Google+)

The Story

I love photography. My dad was a professional photographer for most of my life, photographing my soccer teams and conducting annual Christmas portraits with my brother and me. He’s taught photography at Community Colleges and passed down much of what he knew to me. (I’ve even started doing a personal weekend photo photo challenge on this blog)

I also love Philadelphia. It’s culture, history, feel, and rhythm speak to me in such a real and deep way. It’s big enough that it’s a “real” city: it has art, culture, museums, great food, history, business, urban politics, and even nature (yes, it does!). But, it’s a manageable city. A friend once called it “a city with training wheels”. You can walk from one end of downtown to the other in less than an hour.

So, I brought these two things together into a little web experiment.
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Using the Bible to Meet with God


Last week, I asked a bunch of you how you go about using the Bible and the study of its contents to actually nourish your soul and meet with God. I got some great responses both here and on Facebook. This week, I wanted to put up how I ended up approaching this during the class I taught at my church. It’s super short, not very deep, and much more can/should/will be said. For what it is, I hope it’s genuinely helpful and speaks to how we might meet God through the Scriptures.

How do we move from the Facts of the Bible to the God of the Bible? From knowing the Bible, to knowing the Person? From Scripture being informational to formational?

The Meeting Place of God

As I said in the first class I taught, the Bible is not the passive “Revelation of God”. It is the place through which the Holy Spirit actively “reveals God” to us. When it comes to the Bible, we should start thinking more in verbs, not nouns. The Bible is “simply” a meeting place for God and his people, where he might meet them as he desires, by His Spirit.

When we meet God in Scripture, its the convergence of four things: Us and our faith, God and His Spirit.
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Untappd: Beer lovers unite! [casual fri]


Today, as people embark on the weekend, I want to plug an amazing app that has made beer a little more fun for me, and I’m confident it’d be even more fun if more of my friends were on it.

It’s called Untappd. [Website] [Android] [iTunes]

It’s fairly straightforward. When enjoying a beer, simply open the app (or the web app for you Blackberry or Palm users), search for your beer, and “check-in” to it. At the bare minimum, this is it. But there’s much more you can do, if you like.

  • Share your beer check-in on Facebook and Twitter as well, so your friends there can comment on your beer taste and such.
  • Check-in on Foursquare wherever you’re enjoying the beer, so others can keep track of what bars have what beer available.
  • Add tasting notes, reviews, and ratings along with your beer check-in so you can keep track of what you like and what you don’t. You the app will also keep a running list of your highest rated beers.
  • Get full profiles for each beer and see where else in the world people are drinking that beer.
  • The app will suggest other beers that taste similar.
  • You can “follow” breweries to see what other beers they make, what new beers are coming out, and where you can find their beers.
  • Add pictures to the check-in. This can sometimes lead to fun contests.
  • You can keep a running Wishlist of beers you want to try.
  • And.. you can get badges. If that’s your thing.

So go download the app, make an account, follow me, and start drinking!

Good News: Blogging is Dying!


According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, as discussed in The New York Times yesterday, blogging is declining among those age groups that originally led to its popularity.  Apparently, between 2006 to 2009 blogging activity among those between the ages of 12 and 17 feel by half.  Even among my own age group, the 18-to-33-year olds, blogging activity has dropped by 2% in the past couple of years.  Considering that almost 505,000 post were published just today and just on the WordPress blogging platform, 2% can add up to a lot of posts.

The article goes on to say that these younger bloggers have moved on to using Twitter to share things they find interesting and Facebook to share their “original” thoughts with the world.  Using a blog has just become “another step” in communicating ourselves that these kids find unnecessary and unappealing.
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House Show at my place TOMORROW!


birdhouse shows

After the amazing success of our first house show several months ago, we just had to have another one.  Therefore tomorrow, Saturday, December 4th at 7pm in Philadelphia, we are having our second house show entitled The Birdhouse presents, Vol. 2: The Housecooling (Go to the Facebook event page for details and to RSVP).  Our house, as a venue, is called “The Birdhouse” (it’s even on Foursquare).  The show’s gonna be really, really good.  This time around we have four main acts performing (with me doing a little intro set).  Acts include:

  • Chris Currie (formerly of Full Fathom Five) & friends
  • Luke Bartolomeo (novelist, poet, and editor of the Monongahela Review)
  • Heath Warner (also known as “Paul Warner” by day)

We will be recording this evening and putting online for free, just like the first show (Chris also played at that one, though just by himself).  We will have some drinks and snacks, but feel free to bring a six pack, a bottle of wine, or some food (baked goods are always welcome!).  See you there!


“Is Twitter Really Killing Us?” – Patrol Mag


Do we form Social Networks or do Social Networks form us?

That’s the fundamental question raised by Peggy Ornstein’s recent article “I Tweet, Therefore I Am” in The New York Times recently.  It’s also the question I want to address in my recent article in Patrol Magazine.  So, whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, or no Social Network at all, I promise the article has something for you, our culture, and the world in which we find ourselves.  Leave comments!  Here’s the link:

“Is Twitter Really Killing Us?” – Patrol Mag

You can read all my articles for Patrol Magazine here.

Facebook Friends, sorry for the inconvenience


screen-captureMost of my friends on Facebook probably think I just write a lot of Facebook notes.  This isn’t actually the case.  As many know, I have a personal blog, “the long way home“, that I write everything on.  Facebook has a great little feature where it will import the RSS feed from this blog into Facebook as a note.  So, long story short, I write a post on the blog, it shows up in Facebook as a note.  I never actually touch the Notes feature.  But there’s a problem with this.

When the feature first came out, there was a prominent “View Original Post” button attached to the facebook note.  Clicking this would take you to the blog itself.  Alas, as time has gone by, this button has grown smaller and more obscure (you can find it now on the very bottom of this Note next to the “Like” and “Comment” links.  This has caused fewer and fewer people to go to the actual site, because they can just stay on Facebook and read.  This causes many problems on my end.  So, after today, I will no longer be importing my blog posts to Facebook.  Read on if you care to know why.

First, formatting.  I format all my posts based on how they look on the blog, not on Facebook.  This means that embedded images, videos, and audio either get all jacked up, appear merely as links, or don’t show up at all.

Second, there are many resources and links that I provide on the blog in the sidebar and in the various pages.  Of course, these do not import to Facebook, meaning that there’s a whole dimension of engaging with the content that’s lost to the casual Facebook reader.

Third, it’s tough maintaining two separate audiences.  I get far more people leaving comments on the Facebook version of posts, and these comments only stay within our little particular corner of the Facebook community.  Having these same discussions on the blog let the rest of the world engage and broaden the conversation.  Also, there have been several occasions where blog visitors have left similar comments as people did on Facebook, so I’ve had practically the same conversation running in two separate places at once.

Lastly, and most importantly, tracking who reads what on the site.  This is not about needing the praise that comes with knowing people have read something of yours.  Anyone that has a site knows that knowing where the traffic comes from and what it’s reading is so important to knowing in what direction you should take the site.  I really have no idea how many people actually read what I write and this is frustrating.  I may go for weeks or years putting a lot of thought and energy into a particular series of writings, not knowing that nobody is actually reading them.  That’s a lot of wasted time that could be spent writing about things that will actually help people.  Also, I have a couple of sites I write for, and it would be great to know how much traffic each one gets so I can post appropriate writings in the appropriate places.  With more people visiting and linking to my actual site instead of just Facebook notes, this will also increase my exposure on search engines thereby driving more people to the site and to possible helpful resources.

Those are all the reasons I have decided to stop importing my posts to Facebook (after this post).  I will still put up a note each time I write, but it will only have a brief summary of the content and a link to the blog.

We’ll see how this goes.  If the number of people actually reading things on the site doesn’t jump up significantly, or if people make a big stink over it on Facebook, I may put it back, but in the meantime, I just want to see how this goes.  Links to the posts will still appear via the Facebook App “Networked Blogs” as well.

Sorry, if this isn’t as convenient.  Feel free to leave me your input.

Facebook for lent . . .


For lent, it was suggested that I give up Facebook.At first, I was very hesitant.Then I wondered, “why am I so hesitant?”I had been saying for a while that I would go a week or so off Facebook, but had yet to do so.Why?

This hesitancy revealed a very strong hold Facebook had on me.Whenever I got on the internet, I would check it.I would check it numerous times an hour, being disappointed every time that little red flag didn’t appear on the bottom right-hand corner of my screen.I would spend embarrassing amounts of time clicking through pictures, checking up on old friends, or reading notes.now these things are okay, but it had become a conditioned response to me getting on the internet.It wasted way too much time that I should have been doing work.

There’s this great booklet from CCEF on Procrastination.That is a topic I deal with greatly.I still do.I would rather do anything but my work.In this book, though, there is this great quote form the author, Walter Henegar.He talks about this peculiar thing that happened on the cross.When Jesus is about to die he cries out “it is finished!”, but here’s the thing: the majority of Jesus’ active redemptive work was yet to be done.He had so much of the world that was yet to be saved and brought to himself.Henegar writes concerning this:

Jesus could say this only because he had done “all the work the Father gave him to do.”The connection to my own [Henegar’s] sin was clear: Unless I’m doing what God has called me to do, I’m doing someone else’s work.When I procrastinate, I’m meddling in things that are “none of my business”—like a busy-body.

I struggle with needing to be God in my life.I need to control things.I need to be the one that determines what works I am doing.The second my passions are mandated to me, I suddenly will do anything I can not to do them.I have seen this in seminary.Facebook became my mechanism of controlling what things I spend my life doing and not doing.

So, I gave up Facebook for lent.

And I haven’t missed it, amazingly.(And for those wondering, yes I did take off the facebook-messages-to-my-phone thing)

When lent is over will I go back to Facebook?Yes, but I feel more equipped than ever to see it for what is: an ultimately unnecessary thing that can be used for good things in moderation.I do love Facebook, but just like anything, it can be made an idol.Lent is serving its purpose, I suppose.

Those Catholics are on to something . . .

p.s. – I still have Facebook set up to import the posts from my personal blog onto Facebook as notes.So, for those that see this on Facebook, know that I didn’t have to log in to get this on there.For those that get this far in the post, please pray for me.