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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29 Nov 2020

Advent Devotionals – Week One

Advent is about anticipation. As a young child might anxiously await the riches of opening presents on Christmas morning, so the Church awaits the coming of the Lord, which it understands to be the riches of God’s grace breaking forth into human history to save us. Each year, in the prayers, Scripture readings, and liturgy of Advent, the Church invites all of us to wait patiently and journey faithfully together through dark and uncertain times

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26 Nov 2020

Religion is Downstream of Technology, Part II

The Dynamic Age (roughly spanning from the final decade of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century) was one of man’s liberation. Liberation from the outdated mores and the old superstitions, from agrarian life, from backwardness, and even from nature itself. Liberation came (or was promised to come) through mastery—mastery of the self and environment (and history). As part I attempted to show, this trend of the Dynamic Age, which radically changed

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23 Nov 2020

Surprises in the History of Early Pentecostalism in Brazil

I remember, several years ago, learning for the first time about the demographic shifts in world Christianity that took place over the course of the 20th century. Pie charts from the Pew Research Forum compared the “Regional Distribution of Christians” in 1910 with the distribution a century later in 2010.[1] The 1910 chart showed about 96% of the world’s Christians to be located in Europe or the Americas, while the 2010 chart showed significant Christian

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20 Nov 2020

Infinite Human Desire: The Afterlife of The Good Place as Affirmation of Christian Hope

Image: The Good Place promotional material, Fair Use. Since I’m usually around a year behind popular culture (if not more), I only recently watched the final season of The Good Place. I’ll go ahead and show my hand immediately—I love the show and equally loved the final season. Often described by Marc Evan Jackson—the actor who plays Shawn on the show and the host of The Good Place The Podcast—as the smartest, while simultaneously dumbest,

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