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The Voice in My Head Is Populist. And White.

By Featured

Today, almost unmistakably, people in my tradition—people who have an ancestral distrust of government—find themselves susceptible to populist lines of argument. “They want to take away your freedoms” is a lightning rod in my community. It’s also a go-to populist line: “The elites are coming and they are going to enforce their will upon you.”

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Defense and Discernment: Bearing Witness in Suspicious Times

By Church, Culture, Essays, Social Justice, Theology

We live in suspicious times. I wore a mask during my most recent trip to the grocery store. As I was checking out, I noticed an unmasked woman glaring at me. No words were exchanged, and yet I got the distinct feeling that she was saying something like: “oh, so you’re one of them.” It is entirely possible that I misread her body language, or that I was feeling overly sensitive, or that she was the one feeling judged by…

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The Life You Save May Not Be Your Own: Loving Our Distant Neighbors in a Time of Pandemic

By Church, Culture, Essays, Social Justice, Theology

On March 27, the New York Times reported that although in some respects COVID-19 was uniting Americans in a common experience, it was also exposing fractures in our society: “A kind of pandemic caste system is rapidly developing: the rich holed up in vacation properties; the middle class marooned at home with restless children; the working class on the front lines of the economy, stretched to the limit by the demands of work and parenting, if there is even work…

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Ancient Paths For a New Future: A Sabbatical Reflection

By Essays, Social Justice

This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16 Out beyond the stacked stone walls, beyond the moldboard plow perched upon it, beyond the rocky soils of the now dormant cornfield, beyond the flock of sheep picking about the leftover harvest trimmings, a fiery explosion of fuchsia blossoms detonates, shattering the muted…

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A Drink of Water: Flint, Michigan, 2014–2018

By Essays

I assure you that anyone who gives you a drink of water because you belong to me will certainly receive a reward. Mark 9:41 The facts of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, are well known. Most important, it was caused entirely by human error and prolonged by a subsequent refusal to admit responsibility and take timely action. In April 2014, a state-appointed emergency manager opened a new pipeline to carry water from the Flint River to the city’s inhabitants….

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Less Likeable than Insightful: Schrader’s “First Reformed”

By Essays

First Reformed presents looks at current social issues through the lens of religion and specifically the eyes of a pastor from a failing Reformed church. To its credit, it attempts to give a well-rounded view of these issues. Pastor Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke), is recently divorced and has lost his son in the Iraq war. Coming from a long line of male graduates of Virginia Military Institute, Toller had been an armed-services chaplain; he had encouraged his son to enlist…

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Love and Hate: Christians and Rock Music in the 1960s

By Book Reviews, Essays

As a child of the 80s born to evangelical parents with a tall stack of Christian music on vinyl, I grew up with an odd mix of music. Music from an earlier era of secular styles was called “oldies.” Oldies were music that was once the devil’s music that had grown into AM-airwave fodder. Then there was country music, an old-time tradition often accompanied by gospel style and lyrics that developed into a saccharine substitute, with sad songs about lost…

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