Christianity: paradox & Paradise, fall & Fall


I had the privilege of spending a long weekend these past few days in western Pennsylvania under the kindness and hospitality of my girlfriend and her family. It’s a place that is hard to describe without falling into cliches of big sky, clear air, and bright stars. It’s near the area that Johann Jacob Burkhardt, my first ancestor in America, settled in 1754 after sailing from Germany and landing in Philadelphia exactly a week ago today. I made almost the exact same trek as Johann and his family, from the rivers of Philly to the rural countryside of unsettled Pennsylvania.

Strangely, in the rest of Pennsylvania that I have seen, the trees are still mostly green and just starting to turn for the Fall. But here, this weekend marked the peak of that beautiful transition. The pictures above and below should testify to this (click them for larger versions). They were taken only a couple of days ago–with my phone (fun fact: the picture directly above this text was taken from Mt. David, the highest point in Pennsylvania).

I can’t express to you the beauty my eyes and soul were able to behold.
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Retelling the Story (in crisis, loss, & healing)


Why does healing take time? Have you ever asked yourself that? Why does pain, heartbreak, and loss seem to have a very real lifespan it must go through before the process seems completely done?

As I’ve said several times before on this blog, we humans live on the basis of story. Our life, our world, and our faith provide our lives with a grand “narrative” in which all of our “sub-plots” find shape. We can’t help but use this shape of the present story to fashion some sort of idea of where this story is going. We’ve all experienced this when reading a book. The entire time, we have a guess of where the plot is heading; as we receive more information, we naturally readjust our expectations and thoughts as to the goal or end.

In short, the only way we know to make sense of the various aspects of our lives is to give them shape, narrative, and an anticipated goal towards which they are moving. This is the only way we know to justify each step forward we take in this career, relationship, etc. It gives us our bearings and a point of reference.

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The Nature & Narrative of the Bible [a teaching I did at liberti church] {AUDIO}


This summer, my church has been doing a series of seminars/discussions called “Summer Conversations“. I was asked to teach at two of them. I am providing the manuscript and audio from the first night here. The second one I’ll post next week. This first “seminar” was on The Nature & Narrative of Scripture. The night went really well. The audio, on the other hand, did not. This recording is really tough to listen to. Fortunately, for this particular talk, I wrote everything out in manuscript form and stuck pretty closely to it (especially Part 1). So, feel free to download/preview these in whatever way/format is most convenient for you and may they enhance your understanding of our God and how He has revealed himself.

[Also check out the other talk I gave at liberti on Prayer and the Christian Life (much better audio)]

Audio | download
Manuscript | download: pdf, Word, Kindle, ebook read: Google DocsScribd
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“On Maundy Thursday, Narrative, & Sacrament” – Patrol Magazine


I’ve got a new article up at Patrol Magazine.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been doing a series on Holy Week all week (you can the relevant links below).  The article is about a few different things.  First, it’s about today being Maundy Thursday, the day of the Church calendar where we celebrate the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist.  It’s also about my growth in a more liturgical context for church and love for the sacraments. Lastly, it’s about what bearing this has on our “selfhood” and how we look at the rest of the world.

Maundy Thursday, Narrative, & Sacrament

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