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Of Giants and Waves

He always told me that the most important thing in working in a hot fight is to recognize that everybody wants to simplify the issues so you have clear reasons for killing each other (spiritually, of course, in most church conflicts). He said that the most important thing one can do is to “complexify things.”
March 18, 2024

Standing on the Word

Today, my ESV Bible is all marked up and highlighted, with copious marginalia. It is full of stars, exclamation points, hearts, WOWs and “thank yous.” Someone looking through it might think that my faith is superficial, that it lacks nuance and complexity. But I know the world of struggle that lay beneath each heart, each star, each exclamation point.
March 11, 2024

Footnotes to Fiction: Confessions of a Post-Pandemic Wannabe Novelist.

That I’d written a novel surprised people because I have a Ph.D. in American Culture Studies and for many years taught college courses and wrote nonfiction books about film and media. My day job kept me busy enough. (Maybe that’s why I lost sleep over whether to kill off my erudite professor character.) But I have this story I’ve always wanted to tell, and started carving out time to do some research, make notes, and organize material until I could…

Pentecost Sunday:  The Kingdom, Scripture, and Same Sex Marriage

The Bible is a historical book, thus requiring historical tools of analysis, the most basic of which is establishing the context for what is going on in the text. The Bible is also a literary book, thus requiring literary tools of analysis, like asking the genre of a text: a chronicle is not a poem, nor a first-person account, nor a letter of a specific church, nor an apocalypse. There is, in fact, no such thing as “quoting Scripture” with…
February 26, 2024

How the RCA and CRC Differ

It is remarkable to me that the differences between the RCA and the CRC are epitomized by the names of their respective LGBTQA advocacy organizations. All One Body sounds idealistic, biblical, Pauline, seeking union, cohesion, and alignment, and suggesting “all for one and one for all.” By contrast, Room for All sounds looser, more practical, more eschatological, Lukan rather than Pauline, assuming multiplicity, variety, and space, and requiring the practice of embracing otherness. “All one body” trades on shared identity,…
February 19, 2024

Thoughts While Burning My Flag

What it means to be an American and a Christ follower is the defining question for the American church today. There, in the wet grass and the fog, with the ashes already cooling, I struggled to discern a way to be both.
February 12, 2024

Could I do What They Do?

Recognizing this tendency to limit myself, I prayed, asking God to show me places I’d been holding back. I prayed for the courage I knew I’d need to respond in faith. Teresa says, “Fear distorts knowledge of self…And so I say, my friends, let us set our eyes on Christ…then self-knowledge will not make us timid or cowardly."
February 5, 2024

Can We Keep from Singing?

Resurrection is not only a belief; it is also a practice. We can resurrect spaces of mentoring, spaces of encouragement, spaces of self-care, spaces of leaning on one another as a church. We can learn important phrases like, “Pastor, how may I pray for you?” Elders can learn to say, “Pastor, you need to take a week off.” Jesus won’t abandon us when the pastor is gone and will still be Lord when the pastor returns. We can see to…
January 29, 2024

The Thing With Feathers

What came clear to me as I worked on this book is that as much as throughout my career I have held up theology as essential, there is so much bad theology out there about why traumatic events happen and what God is supposedly accomplishing through these events that I believe we’ve reached a tipping point where we just need to keep our mouths shut and simply love people instead of offering explanations for the unexplainable.
January 22, 2024