19 Jul 2019

Letter to My Son Abraham

Abraham, my eldest, my firstborn, the one who taught me that I have enough goodness in me to help produce life. I love you. I want you to know that—and I want to live my life in a way that you have no question that this is true—that I will do everything in my feeble, human frailty to show that I love you and that there is nothing you can do that would make my

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08 Jul 2019

Christ and the Future

When we commune with another, we forget self. We are opened to transformation. Change appears on the horizon of ego. It has deemed itself insulate, indomitable—impermeable to all that derails continuity. Yet in beginning and end, life is a gift. We receive our being from another. And we must all give up our being to another, placed under the care of those who will lead us where we do not want to go (John 21:18).

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04 Jul 2019

God Bless America

The 4th of July is an interesting American holiday; one celebrating both legal separation from Great Britain and the approval of the Declaration of Independence. American yards and beaches transform into gathering places for smoking grills, waving flags, and smiling faces. The night’s sky glistens amongst stunning aerial displays of light and color—symbolizing the hard-fought victories of our forefathers. Yet one particular—seemingly innate—aspect of the July 4th holiday has, for me, become problematic: The phrase,

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24 Jun 2019

The Importance of Hospitality

The book of 3 John is both one of the shortest books in the Bible and one of the most unique. Being short, the letter is easy to read straight through, and one can easily grasp the basic themes. Being addressed directly to “the beloved Gaius,” the book is unique in that it is a personal letter (3 Jn 1). In the opening, the author, John, identifies himself as “the elder” (Gk. presbuteros). In the

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29 Apr 2019

L’Arche and Being Human

For the last five years, I have taught an introduction to humanities course at a local community college. Each semester I begin and end the semester with the same question, “What makes us human?” I ask students to think about a pet dog or higher primate like the gorilla. Certainly, we have some characteristics in common with other members of the animal kingdom. Yet, in spite of these similarities, our human intuition imagines that there

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22 Apr 2019

Dogmatism, Open-mindedness, and Other Intellectual Virtues and Vices

Dogmatism, Open-mindedness, and Other Intellectual Virtues and Vices This was the title of a course I had proposed for the life-long learning program at Wilfrid Laurier University last year. The healthy enrollment in the class and the lively discussions in the six-week lecture series that followed suggested a deep awareness of the need for intellectual virtues like open-mindedness, intellectual fairness, integrity of mind, intellectual courage, tolerance, and intellectual generosity. There would also seem to be

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17 Apr 2019

Theology as a Second Language

What’s a good way to think about the study of theology in relation to the life of the church? There are Christian circles that hold the study of theology with great suspicion. Too many, in their estimation, strike out on the path of academic theology only to find at the end of the path a gate with a large exit sign above it; passing through, they leave their faith far behind. And anyways, even amongst

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25 Mar 2019

On Washing, Wiping, and the Depth of Glory

Let me begin with a warning for the reader: My purpose in this post is to praise the depth of divine condescension in a way that eschews politeness. And in so doing, I’m going to talk about poop. You have been warned. My four-year-old is now daytime potty trained. This is a huge accomplishment for him and a great relief to his father and mother. Increasingly, he doesn’t even need help finishing up in the

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20 Mar 2019

Holding on With a Light Grip: Paul’s ‘as if not’

I have taught a theological foundations course to mostly college freshman for a few years now. Over the course we read Thomas Aquinas’s Sermon Conference on the Apostles’ Creed. And in his section on the suffering and death of Christ, Thomas says that one of the many things we learn from the example of Christ’s passion is how to despise the things of this world. I have observed a certain amount of confusion among the

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08 Mar 2019

Methodists, Global Christianity, and Human Sexuality

Over the course of four days at the end of February, delegates from the United Methodist Church (UMC) met in St. Louis for a special session of the General Conference to debate issues related to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. These topics had been debated before in the UMC at prior global church meetings, but the denomination had always voted to retain the traditional language of the Book of Disciple on matters

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04 Feb 2019

The Theology of a Good Night’s Sleep

It’s 7:00 a.m. and I reach for the snooze button. The alarm rings again at 7:09 a.m.—and let’s be real—at 7:18 a.m., too. As I slowly rouse myself to put the kettle on, the day’s tasks fill my mind. With few exceptions, I struggle to get to bed before midnight. I’ve developed this tendency from my college years, then from choosing to work late when I began telecommuting, and from staying out late on the

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14 Dec 2018

The Splendor of Light

If I may approach the subject of sacred music without diving into the worship wars, a recent time of personal devotion reminded me of one of the aspects of worship music I particularly appreciate. That is, songs which tickle my brain, allowing me to continue pondering God’s nature after the music has stopped, the service is over, and I am back into the grind of the everyday week. One such song is the hymn Immortal

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06 Dec 2018

Why is Twenty One Pilots So Popular?

The first time I heard Twenty One Pilots’ “Guns for Hands,” I was hooked. The engaging melody, catchy chorus, and fun beats drew me in. And I soon realized that I was not the only fan of the quirky musical duo. Over the past few years, Twenty One PIlots has skyrocketed to the tops of charts. Their large reception led Rolling Stone to describe them as “the biggest new band of the past year” (referring

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03 Oct 2018

A Life Without Suffering

A life without suffering is no life at all. Like many of a certain age here in America, my childhood seemed perfect. I had everything I could ask for—from a supportive family to a consistent stream of toys, video games, and collectibles to keep me occupied. I had money of my own to spend (mostly from generous relatives) and an excess of unearned confidence derived from the many who praised my “talents.” When I think

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01 Oct 2018

The Wisdom of Birds

God gave Solomon very great wisdom, discernment, and breadth of understanding as vast as the sand on the seashore… He composed three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He would speak of trees, from the cedar that is in the Lebanon to the hyssop that grows in the wall; he would speak of animals, and birds, and reptiles, and fish. People came from all the nations to hear the wisdom of

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21 Sep 2018

Meditation and Incarnation

A few months ago, I began to incorporate the practice of guided meditation into my daily schedule. This particular form of meditation focuses on embodiment, which involves being more in tune with and aware of the body. What I have discovered so far is that this form of meditation not only has concrete benefits, such as remaining calm and being “present,” but also profound theological implications. In fact, I would go so far as to

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17 Sep 2018

In Praise of Redoing the Kitchen

For three years now, my wife and I have been debating remodeling our crumbling builder-grade kitchen. So far, uncertain of how long we will live in the house, we have put it off, glued the cheap linoleum back down, scrubbed the dated appliances, and waited. How different this life is from the life I now experience as I spend a few days with the Benedictines at Belmont Abbey. Here the kitchen is industrial, and the

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29 Aug 2018

On Beginning

Everyone experiences new things. By nature of who we are and the world in which we live, no one lives a completely sedentary life. From new jobs to new cars, from getting married to buying a house, from having kids to moving across town, we all encounter newness. This is especially true at this time of year, when college freshman move onto campus for the first time and neighborhoods suddenly become more quiet as children

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27 Aug 2018

How My Shirt Changed the Day

For the second time in a month, I had a conversation in the grocery checkout line that left me reeling. This time it began while unloading my produce and grinning at the two big-eyed, energetic young boys behind me. Their mom caught my eye and and she looked friendly as she inquired, “What is that?” The red cabbage in my hand? I thought. “I’m sorry, my produce?” She clarified, “I’ve seen that shirt on people

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01 Aug 2018

Suggestions for Social Media Sanity

In case you haven’t heard, social media has garnered quite the reputation. Whether you’re talking about the perniciousness of Twitter-fueled outrage, the placidity of hashtag activism, the propensity to waste hours of your life, the easy propagation of fake news, or the paucity of meaningful conversation, social media is often viewed negatively. But social media isn’t all bad. Or, at least, it doesn’t have to be. In its best moments, social media still accomplishes its

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