05 Mar 2021

“I Have to Make a Faith Act”: The Story Behind the Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Image credit: Jim Forest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/12219184015 It is April, 1963, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), founded and led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is out of funds. [1] Not only is money scarce, it seems like support for the movement among supporters is faltering. In Montgomery, several years prior, tens of thousands had participated in the bus boycott and other actions for over a year, despite bombings, physical attacks, and harassment

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03 Mar 2021

On the distinction between thinking from and thinking to

Dicit mihi homo: “Intellegam ut credam”. Respondeo: “Crede ut intellegas”[1]   — Augustine, Sermo 43 Sed inrideant nos fortes et potentes, nos autem infirmi et inopes coniteamur tibi[2]  — Augustine, Confessions I went off to college with a head full of new learning, and high spirits on account of it. I had only a few years prior discovered that there was much gain in reading ‘old, dead theologians,’ and so left for college with a modest

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24 Feb 2021

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

The fact that I cannot sing in worship this Lent has not stopped the words of Isaac Watts’ beloved masterpiece, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, from rattling about in my mind. Throughout this incredible hymn, Watts speaks powerfully of Christ’s atoning death. He draws us into the pathos of the Crucifixion, and he causes us to reflect on the somber majesty of Christ’s suffering and sacrifice. At the same time, Watts also invites us

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18 Feb 2021

17 Engaging Theologians You’ve Probably Never Read

Each major Christian tradition has theologians who exercise strong influence beyond its borders. To give only a few examples, Roman Catholicism has Thomas Aquinas, the Reformed tradition has John Calvin, and Methodism has John Wesley. In addition to these great heroes, each tradition also has a catalogue of brilliant and engaging theologians whose influence does not typically extend beyond their own tradition or, in many cases, beyond a small circle of academic specialists. I like

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12 Feb 2021

A Place of Hope and Healing (Part 1)

Reflections on the Church as Hospital In the past year, I’ve spent more time in and around hospitals and healthcare facilities than perhaps at any other point in my life. First came my bout with COVID this past summer, then came numerous visits to my orthopedic doctor to address some long-standing back problems, and, most recently, several emergent visits for an electrical problem with my heart. While hospitals are viewed in different ways by different

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08 Feb 2021

Church History: Something That Tears Down or Builds Up?

The study of the history of the church can easily be frustrating and discouraging, dominated as it is with controversies and conflicts of opinion. At the end of a survey course, it is easy to imagine that a student could come away thinking that Christians have held a myriad of views on social and theological questions, and committed a multitude of both exemplary and lamentable actions, and then conclude that Christian history is characterized by

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27 Jan 2021

A Dangerous Question

When I first arrived at my parish, we put up fresh banners to remind the local neighborhood of our ministry and presence. We thought our new signage needed a slogan, a tagline, so we chose “Open your heart; change your life.” It wasn’t a bad first try. Eventually, we decided upon something a little more humble, hopeful and descriptive of the kind of community we were trying to be. We changed our tagline to “Rooted

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25 Jan 2021

The Passion of Night City

Like millions of other folks, I spent a solid chunk of my December holiday embedded in the eerily lifelike world of Cyberpunk 2077, the latest big-budget, open-world video game by Polish studio CD Projekt Red.  Heading into Cyberpunk’s setting—the futuristic Northern California metropolis of Night City—I expected a world characterized by rigid secularity. For all their philosophical meditations on the nature of humanity, canonical cyberpunk sources like the Blade Runner film series or Neal Stephenson’s

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22 Jan 2021

Servant of The Holy Mighty

In 1942 the San Juan River Valley, a remote waterless, scrubby corner of South Eastern Utah was possibly the last place someone would expect to find a middle aged, Anglo-Catholic priest like Harold Baxter Liebler. The area was not a hotbed of Anglicanism, or even of Christianity. The tiny town of Bluff, Utah was little more than a trading post. There were few white settlers and no church; the Mormons had tried to evangelize the

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19 Jan 2021

I, Thou, and the Need for We: An Incarnational Reading of Martin Buber

According to Jewish philosopher and mystic Martin Buber (1878-1965), there are two modes of relationality: I-it and I-thou. In the I-it framework, the other is viewed as an “it” to be acted upon. This third-person way of relating naively presumes that one enjoys intellectual mastery over the other, and is rooted in an imperious epistemology that believes it can “list” the qualities which comprise the other. The result is a form of relational utilitarianism, where

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15 Jan 2021

Viking Lessons on Cultural Decline

To distract myself from the chaotic and, frankly, embarrassing display in our nation’s capital during the first full week of the new year (desecrating the week of the Epiphany), I caught up on History Channel’s Vikings. If I’m being perfectly honest, it was also to distract me from studying for the bar exam…. In its sixth and final season, it did not disappoint, even though the fifth season lagged a bit. Disclaimer: this is not

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13 Jan 2021

Just Justice

This article is adapted from a message delivered at Arise Community Church in Fenton, MO.   What comes to mind when you hear the word justice? Probably a lot of things, because justice has been a hot button issue in recent months. You can hardly get on social media, watch the news, read something, or make a TikTok without being confronted by conversations about justice in one form or another. But what is justice? What

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11 Jan 2021

Goals and Motivations for Presenting Sin in Church History

During the past several months, I have had the privilege to take part in weekly small group discussions, sponsored by a local ecumenical organization, on Christian responses to racial injustices in the United States. The curriculum, designed by Latasha Morrison, leads participants through several liturgical phases, a few early steps of which are acknowledgment, lament, and confession. These steps, particularly acknowledgment, with its emphasis on knowing the history of racial prejudice, have forced me to

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06 Jan 2021

Happiness, Death, Anxiety, Resurrection – IV: The Apostle Paul

Seale then this bill of my Divorce to All, On whom those fainter beames of love did fall; Marry those loves, which in youth scattered bee On fame, Wit, Hopes (false mistresses) to thee.         –  John Donne   Over the last few posts (first, second, and third) I’ve been tracing a trajectory concerning the classical question of ethics. I have not, in this tracing, attempted to argue a historical development so much

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04 Jan 2021

Breath of the Soul: Sustenance for Daily Strength

  Close your eyes, inhale slowly, deeply . . . hold that for a heartbeat then exhale. Steadily. Repeat this three times—eyes closed with breaths full and controlled. A conscious breath can both calm and invigorate. It is essential for daily rest and action.    Oxygen In the material world, breathing requires physiological cohesion and internalizing that which is external to the body: oxygen. Among its many functions, breathing allows the body to oxidize available

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20 Dec 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week Four

Saturday, December 19th and Sunday, December 20th Monday, December 21st Tuesday, December 22nd Wednesday, December 23rd Thursday, December 24th

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13 Dec 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week Three

Saturday, December 12th and Sunday, December 13th Monday, December 14th Tuesday, December 15th Wednesday, December 16th Thursday, December 17th Friday, December 18th  

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06 Dec 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week Two

Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th Monday, December 7th Tuesday, December 8th Wednesday, December 9th Thursday, December 10th Friday, December 11th  

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04 Dec 2020

You Are Not OK

On April 6, 2012, Thomas Kinkade, who was among the most popular artists in the world at the time, died in his California home from acute intoxication from alcohol and Valium. His death shocked both his fans and the media, which was quick to point out the irony that the Painter of LightTM had lived and died in such darkness.  Kinkade’s paintings were, and are, incredibly popular. At the peak of his popularity in 2001,

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02 Dec 2020

Bonaventure on Prayer

Bonaventure’s entire theological project is deeply prayerful, and many of his most famous works are bookended by prayer. This is nowhere more evident than the Itinerarium, which begins by advising souls seeking peace to cry out in prayer, and ends with David’s words from Psalm 73—invoking mystical “passing over” into Christ through death. To read Bonaventure rightly is to stand in humility before God, the immeasurable Creator Whom no one can see and still live.

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