19 Jan 2022

The Return of the King (Part 6)

This post is the conclusion to a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) | It Is Time (Part 4) | The Already and Not Yet (Part 5) The image above is a fresco from Etrurio, Italy. Painted during the Renaissance and later covered up, this tremendous piece of art was discovered at a winery and restored only a few

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17 Jan 2022

“Let Justice Roll Down”: A Short Reflection on MLK and Amos 5:24

The words of Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” have been inscribed on the American mind through our annual remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This favorite verse of King’s presents a beautiful image. However, because King is generally thought of primarily as a civil rights leader and not a Christian theologian, in

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07 Jan 2022

The God of What-If: Deconstructing the Idolatry of Theological Hypotheticals

Note: This article originally ran at Earth & Altar. “Clearly, whatever you are, you are in your self; you are not derived from another. You are the very life by which you live, the knowledge by which you know, the goodness by which you are good, and so forth.” –St. Anselm, Proslogion, XII As finite beings locked into a linear timeline, it is easy to think about the “what-ifs” that could have been. Where would

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15 Dec 2021

The Already and the Not Yet (Part 5)

This post is part of a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) | It Is Time (Part 4) In 1883, architect Antoni Gaudi began work on a building project in Barcelona, Spain. His task: to build a cathedral called the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi dedicated his life to the project, but by the time he died in 1926, the church

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22 Nov 2021

Evangelicalism Is Moving Backwards in Some Ways

Contemporary Westerners seem to believe, at least most of the time, that society is either driving forward into new territory or staying the same. This idea is firmly reinforced by the popular terms “progressive” and “conservative”; the progressives drag society forward, and conservatives dig their heels into the ground, hoping to keep things exactly as they are. The same idea, from what I can tell, holds true within Western evangelicalism: progressives are trying to move

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19 Nov 2021

What is it About Candles?

What is it about candles? There is no practical reason for them to exist in the developed world in the 21st century, much less for them to be as readily available as milk and dish soap. In the developed world, electric light has been available for 100 years, and we have brighter, more convenient, and more reliable sources of light. Candlelight is feeble compared even to the single bulb on the back of my cell

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10 Nov 2021

It Is Time (Part 4)

This post is part of a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) Perhaps the consummate Disney movie of my youth was The Lion King. You know the story, the masterful animated retelling of Hamlet accompanied by the sonorous tunes of Elton John. For a film of many memorable moments, one of my favorites has always been right at the end,

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29 Oct 2021

The Enticing Sin of Ascetic Disdain

In some circles, there seems to be a movement against empathy. Two relatively recent articles demonstrate this: Joe Rigney’s “On the Enticing Sin of Empathy“ at Desiring God and Kevin DeYoung’s “What Does it Mean to Weep with those who Weep?” at the Gospel Coalition. Rigney’s piece imitates C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, in that it is an epistle from the demon Screwtape to his fiendish nephew and novice tempter, Wormwood. Pseudo-Screwtape begins by reminding his protege

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27 Oct 2021

In Praise of the English Bible

In the Anglican Book of Homilies, the first sermon is entitled, A Fruitful Exhortation to the Reading and Knowledge of Holy Scripture. It begins with simplicity, clarity and power: “Unto a Christian man, there can be nothing either more necessary or profitable than the knowledge of Holy Scripture, forasmuch as in it is contained God’s true Word, setting forth his glory and also man’s duty.” I’ve been reflecting on these words as we approach the

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04 Oct 2021

The Hungry Heart of Eden

Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages in Scripture for Christian formation is the story of Creation. We are shaped so much and so obviously by the Fall, and the matrix of serpent-apple-temptation-nakedness resonates with our imaginations in such visceral ways, that it nearly seems genetic. As we consider, however, God’s first acts of creative goodness in Eden, we are invited to look upon a lost world, a world that will never return. That prelude

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29 Sep 2021

In Praise of the Holy Angels

When I was in college, my priest gave a sermon for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels which I still remember. “Angels are like living thoughts flowing from the mind of God,” he said, “and the mind of God sustains and fills all things.” He went on to remind the congregation that the existence of angels is assumed by Jesus throughout the Gospels, and that it seems that God has placed human beings

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24 Sep 2021

God of Spirits and All Flesh: The Grace of Prayer for the Dead

In a culture that largely likes to pretend death does not exist, there are some vocations which don’t have the option of ignoring the most unavoidable aspect of human existence. For those in law enforcement, medicine, ministry, and mortuary services, death is a regular, if not constant, companion. Of those four, the minister and the mortician are most often called only after a person has died, and the family, doctors, and nurses have run out

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20 Sep 2021

Paradise for Thieves

The thief called Him “Master” and knew Him as King. After hours of humiliating torture, he would enter paradise, comforted by the sight and the nearness of his Master as he suffered. I too can be crucified with the King this day and see with the eyes of my heart the King who does not die nearby, but dwells within. O my soul, O dying thief, look into your heart where the King of glory

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15 Sep 2021

The Long Pause (Part 3)

This post is part of a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) Most of us don’t like waiting. Like, not even a little bit. Like, if this webpage took more than a few seconds to load, you were probably already thinking about moving on to something else. Why wait a few seconds when we have places to be and things to do? Our whole culture

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10 Sep 2021

Godforsakenness and Redemption Pt. 3: Infinite Inescapable Triune Love

In the previous two articles in this series, I examined the linkages between crucifixion and lynching made by theologian James Cone and his argument that Christ’s crucifixion opens up the possibility of redemption despite atrocities like lynching that were designed to demonize and devastate the very humanity of a group of people. Additionally, I moved beyond Cone and investigated an experience I refer to as “Godforsakenness,” which is the feeling of being abandoned by God

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03 Sep 2021

Prayer

Lord, help me . . . save me from the world outside of me, trying to crush me and push me into its mold. But Lord, I have swallowed the world and it is inside of me. Save me, too, from the world within. . . . The world that burns, that eviscerates, that kills like an ever-spreading cancer. Save me from being eaten alive, emaciated, and gutted. Save me from being drowned by the

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23 Aug 2021

Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2)

This post is part of series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) The next chapter of God’s Story is one that’s been riffed on in countless ways over the generations: the story of how humanity ate forbidden fruit. Some portrayals are better or more memorable than others, but whatever the specific flavor of the story, the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is part of our cultural consciousness. We’ve got

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16 Aug 2021

The Bleak Gospel of Jordan Peterson

On paper, I am someone who should be a tremendous fan of Jordan Peterson. Like Peterson, I care greatly about the centrality of symbolism and narrative in human lives, particularly as bulwarks of meaningfulness in an increasingly chaotic world. Like Peterson, I reject the view that history is little more than a chronicle of illegitimate oppression. Like Peterson, I think the pop-cultural touchstones that move us most strongly are those that tap into universal structures

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06 Aug 2021

Godforsakenness and Redemption PT. 2: The Cry of Solidarity

“Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani?” by Ann Kim Oil Stick on canvas, 1998, 50″ x 70″ link In my previous article I examined the linkages between crucifixion and lynching made by theologian James Cone, and his argument that Christ’s crucifixion opens up the possibility of redemption despite atrocities like lynching that were designed to demonize and devastate the very humanity of Black people. In this article I move beyond Cone and investigate an experience I refer

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23 Jul 2021

Three Things that Need to Change About Church

My husband and I went through a phase where we spent too much time watching Kitchen Nightmares, the reality show where celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey tries to turn around failing restaurants. In one episode, Gordon asks the owner of a sad and shrinking diner, “What do you think is the biggest problem with your restaurant?” “No customers” the owner replies. When he pressed her about why the restaurant didn’t have more customers she said “Because

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