Advent, Angst, & Ferguson


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When my phone started blowing up with notifications about the Ferguson grand jury decision, I was in a daze. I grabbed my pipe, poured the biggest single glass of whiskey I’ve ever had, and sat in my backyard in tears, alternating between retweeting others’ comments on the case and just staring at the sky. I watched and heard the helicopters above as they watched the Philadelphia protests below, mere blocks from my house.

I think part of my response was because of where my mind had been in the days leading up to the decision.

I recently pored over Cornel West’s biography and watched 12 Years a Slave. As the weather has gotten colder, the city’s marginalized and homeless have become more noticeable. An organization whose heart is in the right place, and who I otherwise love, put out some promotional materials that unintentionally showcased the degree to which racism and power structures are so ingrained and so unconscious. Last Sunday, I watched as Rudy Giuliani went shockingly racist on Meet The Press (what he said is wrong, by the way). For school, I watched a presentation on the Civil Right’s movement, and also read King’s Letter From a Birmingham Jail. 

And then the grand jury came back. No indictment.
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Seminary & Ministry in the Post-Everything World


Grace-words-mouth-poetry-psalms

All last week I was in Holland, MI attending another one of our in-person sessions for my seminary program. It was another week with amazing people, at an amazing place, learning and discussing amazing things.

One of that classes I had was my preaching class. Over the course of five days, every one of us in the class got up and preached a 15-20 minute sermon. Every person–again, every. single. person.–did amazingly well. There were many surprises. People delivered messages that we could not have anticipated, in both skill and content.

Imagine listening to 14 full-on sermons in the course of a few days. It’s emotionally draining; it’s intense; it’s life-giving. It’s trying to drink from a fire hose of God’s Word and Spirit.

One benefit of this is that I got to get a glimpse into the future of the Church’s preaching ministry, and I am happy to say that I am really encouraged.

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Christians, Contraceptives, & Civil Disobedience (iii): conclusions


sit-inOver the past couple of posts, we’ve been looking at Acts 4, to see if it has any lessons to teach us about how Christian engage with the political realm when they disagree with what the government is doing.

So far, we’ve talked about three things: (in Part 1) how Christians should engage with a political realm that comes in conflict with their faith; what is worth Christians disobeying the civil authorities over; and (in Part 2) the cultural and societal work we are called to that facilitates our Christian living and possible disobedience.

Today, we’ll finish this up with some principles and applications for moving forward.

Some Personal Contraceptive Conclusions
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Christians, Contraceptives, & Civil Disobedience (i)


laureti-triumph-christianity-pagan-statueWith the Affordable Care Act kicking in, it has certainly stirred up its fair share of controversies. It’s regulations are pretty far-reaching and have started to encroach on some territory held pretty sacred by some major parts of our Christian family. The biggest friction has been with the ACA’s requirement that non-church and ecclesial organizations still have to cover contraception coverage for their employees. Catholics who run non-ecclesial organizations have not taken too kindly to this. NPR recently had an interesting profile about this intersection of faith and politics.

Catholic leaders have vowed Civil Disobedience in response to these regulations, insisting on a religious exemption, even for private companies. In the past, religious organizations have done similar things in response to abortion regulations as well as gay marriage statutes.

Reading through Acts 4 the other day, I read again the account of Peter and John being arrested in Jerusalem and thought it had some powerful things to say about this and how Christians in America have been acting towards their government recently. So, I thought we’d walk through that passage over a post today and on Monday, and discuss some principles behind when and how Christians should fight their government tooth-and-nail for their convictions.
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Why my soul is glad to have feminists around me


wwii-woman-we-can-do-it-feminismThis is a post in our on-going series on Women in the Church.

As I wrote last week, I was at my in-person seminary intensive the past two weeks. While there, I met a woman who is about to be ordained a minister in my denomination. We were all sharing our stories and I told her I was raised a Southern Baptist. Having been raised in area where they have little to no foothold, she had only had one experience with a Southern Baptist.

She was working a table at a conference where an older gentleman carrying a large briefcase approached, telling her how excited he was about the next speaker–a “fellow Southern Baptist”. Not being familiar with the speaker’s work, this woman asked the gentleman what the work was on. He put his briefcase on the table, opened it up and pulled out a large tome, saying “this is his book, and it is wonderful.” He almost began to summarize its contents, but stopped short, instead pulling out a much smaller paperback, saying “but that book may be too hard for you to understand. Here, look at this one. It’s much simpler.”

He then realized he had no idea why a woman would be at this conference in the first place. He asked, “and so what do you do?”

She told him that she was at seminary studying for her Masters of Divinity.

This gentleman quietly put the books back in his suitcase, shut it, locked the clasps, looked at her, and solemnly said, “you know you’re going to burn for that, right?” And he walked away.

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Just a friendly reminder that “Americanism” is a heresy. Even today. (Happy 4th!)


paul-young-america-flagI’m really not trying to ruin anyone’s party. I promise. But I just wanted to remind everyone that in 1899 Pope Leo XIII declared “Americanism” a heresy in the Catholic Church.

(I have provided this picture of this post’s author in order to help soothe any anger over this reminder.)

Basically, in the middle of the 19th-century, there was a huge influx of Catholics into America from Europe. Being so far away from the “home base” of European Catholicism, these Catholic leaders started “softening” Catholicism in order to make it more palatable to the new context they found themselves in.

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POLL: What do YOU think about the NSA Surveillance stuff?


i-voted-stickerI promised earlier this week to write up some of my own thoughts on the whole NSA Surveillance leaks. And of course, as usual, I started thinking through it and writing about it, and saw that I need to break it up into two or three posts. So that’s next week.

Earlier today, I posted the best things I’ve encountered on these leaks. I hope you were able to partake in any of those. But, until I can post some of my thoughts next week, I thought I’d do the first poll this blog has ever had and get your thoughts on this issue.

Yes, there are a lot of options below; you can pick more than one option. They range from most freaked out by this stuff to least worried. I’m really interested in where you all stand on this. If you feel like there are any answers I missed, or if you have any comments and what to add what and why you voted like you did, feel free to share in the comments below. Continue reading

Weekly Must-Reads {06.20.11} | a New York Times Op-Ed miscellany


This week, as I compiled my favorite reads for the week, I realized nearly all of them were from the New York Times. I found these on different days, at different times, and had no idea that I kept bookmarking the same site over and over again. But still, all of them are very different and I encourage you to peruse, read, ponder, and post your thoughts!

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Instead of Student Loans, Investing in Futures | NYTimes.com

Ever since the financial crisis hit, I’ve been so intrigued by other economic models for getting things done. This article follows one idea when it comes to funding higher education. And it really seems to work. I also love that this particular idea was not dreamt up by nor financed by the government.

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Music On-the-Go: Reviews & Requests (Rdio vs. Pandora)


[I know this article is obscenely long, considering the content, and incredibly random, considering this blog.  But I just needed a place to vent my thoughts.  And don’t worry, Part 3 of my little biographical sketch will be up in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, you can catch up: Part 1, Part 2]

I recently purchased the “GOgroove FlexSMART X2 ADVANCED Wireless In-Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter with Charging and Hands-Free Capability” (yes, that’s its full name) and it has changed how I listen to music.  It’s incredible and works just as advertised.  It is able to take audio transmitted via Bluetooth wireless technology and then broadcast it over the radio in your car.  So, long story short, it makes it possible to listen to music streaming onto your phone while driving.  The most immediate benefit I’ve found for this is that I can now listen to Pandora while driving.

Of course, Pandora is the much-loved music discovery service where you make “stations” based on artists or individual tracks you like and it delivers songs that it thinks you would also enjoy.  (You can view my Pandora profile here.)  It has a really high success rate for nailing the sound you’re looking for.  You’re then able to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to each song that plays, and it will use this to refine its offerings to you.
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“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.

Reform & Revive: officially shutting down


Rest in peace, Reform & Revive.

As of today, the online magazine I used to run, Reform & Revive, is no more.  It was started in a coffee shop in Richmond, and now it is ending in a coffee shop in Philly (forgive the melodramatic picture attached to this post).

For those that just met me, just started following this blog, or just started reading my stuff, you probably have never really heard much about this little attempt at an online magazine I had.  That’s because it’s last original article was posted almost nine months ago.

The original idea of the site was to gather a diverse group of writers and guest contributors who would then write about the “intersection of theology and life”.  This could find its expression in art, poetry, prose, meditationshort fiction, or more typical non-fiction theological fare.  But in the end, I wanted it to be the expression of hearts whose affections had been inflamed by the deeper truths of who God is.

And I think we greatly succeeded in this.  The vast majority of writings on the site certainly constituted this calibre of expression.  It was exciting.  But then people, due to life and such, stopped writing.  Eventually, in my desperation to get somebody–anybody–to consistently write, I let the quality of the posts at times slip.  The site’s readership, for one reason another (probably because it had the word “Reform” in it) began to appeal and primarily lead towards the Mark Driscoll/John Piper groupies and wanna-be’s; the “TR’s” as we would call them at my seminary (the “Totally Reformed!”).  It just wasn’t fun and fruitful anymore when the hyper-Calvinistic theology police came to town, and it all went downhill from there, until no one was writing anything, and the only other person that had written as much as I had on the site deleted all of her stuff off the site, on the off-chance that someone would find her name attached to it someday.
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“Information Overload, Social Darwinism, Linguistics, & Nuclear Forensics”-Patrol


Look at that picture above.  Click on it to make it bigger.  That’s my iTunes.  As you can see, I listen to a LOT of podcasts.  And no, this isn’t just a  narcissistic  moment  to seem smart.  You see all those blue numbers above each podcast?  Well, those are just the episodes I haven’t listened to.  Also notice the 320 iTunesU lectures that have also been neglected.

And so begins my newest article in Patrol Magazine.  It’s about our culture’s (and my own) addiction to information consumption, how we should think about it, and where our hope is that something good may come of it.  I know, it’s some light reading, right?  Here’s the link:

“Information Overload, Social Darwinism, Linguistics, & Nuclear Forensics”

For all my previous articles at Patrol, click here.

On Poetry & Atheism (I’m Writing for Patrol Magazine)


Sorry things have been so slow this week on the blog.  I’m still trying to find my rhythm for writing while I have this new full-time job.

As of late last week, I am the newest writer for the blogs at Patrol Magazine. Patrol is a great site putting forward some of the best writing available on culture, the arts, and spirituality from the perspective of post-everything twenty-somethings. I am the Thursday contributor to “The Scanner” section of the site. The Scanner is the place for “daily culture, media, views, and blather.” Today, my first article went up. Here’s the link:

Poetry is the Only Thing That Can Save Atheists, Says Other Hitchens Brother

I’m really excited and grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to one of my favorite sites. Like I said, you can see my writing every Thursday there on Patrol Magazine. As I continue writing, you can see all of my articles here.

Does anyone have any ideas for future posts?

[Art above: “The Last Judgment” by Rogier van der Weyden. Just read the article. It’ll make sense.]

Absolutism vs. Relativism: Is there Another Way?


Sorry.  I know this is lame.  But, I was organizing some of the files on my computer and I ran across this proposal I wrote last year to the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture for an article.  It didn’t get accepted, so I never wrote the article.  I thought I’d go ahead and put it up though to see if you all have any thoughts on this topic, or if you’d like to see this article written anyway.  Feel free to leave some comments at the bottom of the post.

In the midst of the culture wars, deep philosophical shifts are challenging old ways of thinking. As a culture of post-modernity encroaches upon ground that was previously held by religion, the presuppositions of all faiths are being challenged by new, competing ideas. Religion charges post-modern culture with Relativism — a tenet that religion claims is unsustainable. This critique is not without validity: no philosophy can stand for long that admits its lack of foundation, and does not recognize a need for such epistemological certainty. The relativizing of post-modernity will surely collapse under a generation of those disillusioned by its inability to deliver that which it has no principle nor authority to deliver.

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