Required Digital Detox

digital detox

In the Spring 2014 edition of Facts in Trends Marty Duren, manager of social media strategies for LifeWay, suggests that everyone needs to engage in a digital detox.  According to Duren, a digital detox involves completely abstaining from "everything online for a period of time" (p.45). While stopping short of prescribing the interval at which detoxes are required or the duration he recommends, Duren clearly believes that everyone who participates in the online world needs to take time for Read More …

More Church at Easter or Christmas?

Google church

Many local churches see dramatic increases in worship attendance at Christmas and Easter.  Perhaps then it isn't surprising to learn that people Google the word church more during Christmas week and Easter week than on any other weeks of the year.  More specifically, over the last ten years more Americans have searched the word church during Easter week than at any other time of year (Christmas, of course, came in second). So What? While many churches do an excellent job of targeted Read More …

Recent Reading – April

books

My semester filled with far more to do than I have ever before experienced continues.  In this spirit, I offer ratings rather than reviews for the last four books I read (listed by rating, on a scale of 5.0). (5+) Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious by Linda Mercadante (2014). (5) A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter (2014). (4.5) Jesus: A Pilgrimage by James Martin (2014). (1.5) Mission Drift: The Unspoken Read More …

Sermon: The Easter Difference

christ-is-risen

Text: Matthew 28:1-10 Sermon Excerpt Pam Driesell, a Presbyterian pastor, tells a story of her good friend Mary’s recent Easter experience.  To make sure her four-year old daughter Elena really understood what Easter is all about Mary tried talking to her about it. "Mommy, will the Easter bunny bring me purple jelly beans?" I am sure he will bring you jelly beans, Elena. But, remember, Easter isn't about the bunny. It's about Jesus. "But will they be purple?" Yes, honey, I am Read More …

Homeless Jesus Statue

homeless Jesus

St. Alban's Episcopal Church (Davidson, NC) recently installed a $22,000 bronze statue of a homeless Jesus on a park bench on their church campus.  Created by Canadian sculptor and devout Catholic Timothy Schmalz, this provocative artistic addition has created significant controversy in and beyond this wealthy small town. In his recent article on this new homeless Jesus, John Burnett writes: The sculpture is intended as a visual translation of the passage in the Book of Matthew, in which Read More …

Causes of Religious Non-Affiliation

downey_allen

Allen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, recently published a paper suggesting that the rapid rise in those who label their religious preference as "none" (no religious affiliation) is likely caused by generational replacement - 50%, religious upbringing - 25%, internet use - 20%, and college education - 5%. So What? As one who studies changes in American religious affiliation, I am fascinated to find a computer scientist suggesting a Read More …

A Sensory Maundy Thursday Service

5 senses

This Maundy Thursday, I will be participating in a service unlike any I have ever experienced.  Ron Thompson, Interim Associate Minister at the United Church (Marco Island, FL), has designed a sensory experience that will offer worshipers the opportunity to rotate through five sense specific stations: Smell: anointing oil Sound: Taizé music Sight: stained glass Touch: foot washing Taste: Holy Communion/Eucharist/Lord's Supper So What? While every congregation I have served Read More …

From Hallelujah to 20M Views

Pope Francis' warmth and authenticity are among the reasons I am attracted to him.  As I listened to a recent viral video (over 20 million views in the first week) of a parish priest singing words no one expects to hear at a Catholic wedding, I found that I was drawn in by his warmth and authenticity. So What? There are many desirable attributes religious leaders may possess.  Which characteristics would you place atop your list for a minister/pastor/priest? Read More …

Check Your Privilege

78

I rarely click through when I see friends sharing their score to the latest quiz, but I did a few days ago after seeing a number of posts on my Facebook feed declaring just how privileged people were based on their response to a rather lengthy checklist.  As I took the assessment, I realized my score would be high. I was, however, surprised by just how high it was, and that this placed me in the "you're the most privileged category." So What? I invite you to take the quiz, and to reflect Read More …

Implied Institutional Messages

Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer, ordained minister turned activist  in the non-religious spirituality movement, offers several implied messages of the institutional church based on Marshall McLuhan's frequently quoted premise that the medium is the message.  The first three are especially troubling as we begin Holy Week: church is a place, a location, a building; Christianity happens in services, classes, meetings, events, and programs; and what people need most is good information about God. So Read More …