Christianity is Always Political

If your preferred version of Christianity isn't political, then you have likely misunderstood the religion. Willimon on Politics and Christianity Popular author and long-time United Methodist Bishop William H. Willimon delivered the T. B. Maston Lectures in Christian Ethics last year at Hardin-Simmons University.  One address - "Say Something Polictical: A Christian Vision of Engaging the World" - appeared in print in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of the Window (a publication of the Logsdon Read More …

Be a Justice Maker

A week ago I issued a Lenten call to action inviting my readers (and, of course, myself!) to rethink their Lenten disciplines. More specifically I challenged us to take action to make God's world a better place for all people. Since this is a bit of a stretch for many, I realize that additional rationale may be warranted. And, I understand that many people need multiple invitations before stepping out of their comfort zone to do something new. Central to the Gospel Since 2005, Raphael Read More …

Review: Days of Awe and Wonder

Marcus Borg (1942-2015) was one of the wisest sages and clearest voices in progressive Christianity. His work has greatly influenced my understanding of the Way of Jesus. Since I have been publishing an annual list of the top ten books published each year, only a handful of authors have appeared on the list more than once. Marcus Borg is the only author to appear four times 2010 – Putting Away Childish Things, 2011 – Speaking Christian, 2012 – Evolution of the Word, and 2014 – Read More …

A Lenten Call to Action

Lent is here. For many this is a season of increased emphasis on the religious life. Giving Up For most of my life, I participated in Mainline Protestant faith communities that asked participants to give something up for Lent. The list didn't change from year to year. It included food (chocolate and/or all sweets seemed to be a top choice), and drink (usually a word substitute for alcohol although soda was a viable option for children). In more recent years, the items on the list Read More …

The Immigrants Creed

I have heard about immigrants more often this year than any year since I worked in the field of refugee resettlement in the 1990s. As a student of history, I know that the country I have called home for my entire life - America - is a land of immigrants.  Without immigration, I would not reside here today. As a person of faith, I am committed to welcoming, valuing, and loving all people.  As a Christian love of neighbor is a fundamental faith practice. The United Church of Christ explains Read More …

Christian Alternative Facts

The term "alternative facts" is one of the most popular phrases of 2017. On Friday evening I found that it was being applied to Christianity on Twitter with the hashtag #ChristianAltFacts. I was quickly drawn in by a few remarks by academics and lingered to appreciate the wisdom of a wide range of tweeters. "Jesus thinks your gun is awesome. #ChristianAltFacts" --@evandeneykel (Eric Vanden Eykel, Assistant Professor of Religion, Ferrum College) "Nothing important happened after Read More …

Americans Feel More Positive About Most Religions

According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, between June 2014 and January 2017, American views shifted to become more positive about about most of the world's great religions.  More specifically, survey respondents were asked to to rate a variety of groups on a “feeling thermometer” that ranged from 0 to 100 (with higher numbers reflecting warmer or more positive feelings). Respondents warmed to several religions during this two and a half year period, including Atheists Read More …

Our Search for a Church is Over!

In March 2015, my wife, Susan, relocated to Denton, Texas from Naples, Florida.  Six months later I finished an interim ministry position in Southwest Florida and joined her. 70 Weeks of Searching  From late September 2015 through early February 2017 (17 months!) we embarked on a one of a kind journey I termed our "search for a church."  Despite our often conflicting professional travel schedules, we managed to worship 61 times in 36 different Mainline Protestant congregations within a Read More …

Search for a Church: Attending Membership Classes

Some days it feels like my family has been searching for a church for many years and other days it feels like the journey hasn't been long at all. It has been long enough to allow us for visits to three dozen different churches, including repeat visits to nine. The search has given us enough clarity to select two congregations to learn more about through participating in their classes for perspective new members. These churches, hereafter Church A and Church B differ dramatically. These Read More …

The Disappearance of Young Pastors

Last week I saw a link to Kate Shellnutt's article, "Only 1 in 7 Pastors is Under 40" appear on my social feeds a few times before I clicked through to read it and to learn about the latest research on the topic. The research was conducted by the Barna Group and Pepperdine University. It included 14,000 pastors. Findings include: Average Age of Protestant Senior Pastors 2017: 54 1992: 44 Young Senior Pastors  2017: Only 1 in 7 is under age 40 Getting Personal This topic Read More …