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 …

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 …

Religion – Better Off?

At the beginning of each semester, I invite my world religions students to think broadly about how religion has impacted human history.  Based on life experience, watching a debate among scholars, completing some readings, and conducting a little outside research each student is tasked with deciding whether or not society has been better of with religion or if it would have been better off without religion.  While the breakdown of answers is generally between 80-90% in favor of the the world Read More …

MLK: Paul’s Letter to American Christians

Today is not Great Americans Day; it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I invite you to read an excerpt from the Rev. Dr. King's creative "Paul's Letter to American Christians" message, which he preached at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956. But America, as I look at you from afar, I wonder whether your moral and spiritual progress has been commensurate with your scientific progress. It seems to me that your moral progress lags behind your scientific Read More …

Search for a Church: Repeat Visits

One of my resolutions  for 2017 is to "join (and be actively involved in) a local community of faith." Thankfully my recent experiences have helped prepare me to achieve this goal.  A few months ago I shared details of my visits to 34 different congregations.  Since that time, I have managed a few additional visits increasing the total to 36 congregations. The following chart offers a detailed accounting of the number of my worship experience by number of visits and the number of churches Read More …

My New (Church) Year’s Resolutions

A few days ago I suggested that Advent is a time for a new perspective. As the start of the church year, it is also a great time to plan for what is ahead. While such planning can take many forms, I have chosen to embrace a practice more commonly associated with the changing of calendar years: adopting new year's resolutions. Looking Back As I look back at this blog, I find that I have publicly declared resolutions a few times 2012 - I made several resolutions, but wrote about one: Read More …