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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04 Jun 2021

The Handmaid’s Tale and Human Dignity

“Cows don’t get married.” This line comes from the second season of the Handmaid’s Tale, which, to put it mildly, is a very difficult show to watch, for a variety of reasons. [1] It is said in the context of a concentration camp where “unwomen” – women deemed worthless by the tyrannical government, Gilead – are condemned to die a slow death while working to clean up radiation poisoning. Janine, formerly a waitress and sexual

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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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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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08 Jul 2020

Discovering the Late 19th Century Arguments for Women’s Preaching and Ministry

For all of my life, I have been a part of a US Presbyterian denomination which does not ordain women to the ministry. The extent to which women are allowed to teach men in church settings, lead in formal worship, or serve in non-ordained diaconal roles varies a good deal congregation by congregation. Nevertheless, across the board, preaching in regular services and serving as an elder is possible only for men. This fact, of course,

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10 Jun 2020

Racism and Sin

“It is the divinely imposed task of the prophet to break down the wall of our indifference by voicing the suffering and anguish of the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the oppressed of our society.” -Abraham Heschel A wound, when it is not properly treated, will fester to the point that it will suppurate. This is not only true of our physical wounds but, also, our interior wounds. Imagine a couple who begin a

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17 Mar 2020

Round Table: Do Animals Have Souls?

In Genesis 1, God creates the animals of the sea and sky on the fifth day and subsequently creates land animals on the sixth. On this same day God also forms a certain kind of land animal in God’s own image and likeness—humankind (Gen 1:26-27). As with the animals of land, sea, and sky, humans are told to “be fruitful and multiply,” but then receive a unique set of instructions from God: “Fill the earth

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06 Jan 2020

On Hierarchy

Away from my family on study retreat, I went to St. Isidore’s for the Sunday English language mass. While looking up toward the dome before the service, I caught sight of the four Evangelists, in Baroque attitudes of dramatic inspiration, pages under their poised fingers, living creatures over their shoulders. I prayed something like the following: Lord, you pour forth power and wisdom and goodness without cease According to your own mode, which is limitless,

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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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11 Jan 2019

Nature, Grace, and Learning: Aquinas on Catechesis and Infant Baptism

One thing that the historical Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions have generally shared is a conviction that catechesis is vital to a robust faith. While the word catechesis today may have a slightly more Catholic flavor—especially since the implementation of the RCIA and the publication of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church—any quick glance at the sixteenth century will show the affinity with which reformers of all stripes displayed for catechetical instruction. We might

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12 Mar 2018

A Vigorous Defense of “The Shape of Water”

Last week, Guillermo del Toro’s masterful film “The Shape of Water” won big at the Oscars. The movie took home not only the Academy Award for Best Picture, but also awards for Best Director, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. As a longtime admirer of del Toro’s work—his 2006 historical fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” is my all-time favorite film—I was naturally delighted to see him receive the accolades he deserves. Make no mistake, “Shape” is

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26 Jan 2018

ESCHATOLOGICAL “ANGELOID”: SARAH COAKLEY, GREGORY OF NYSSA, AND ON THE MAKING OF MAN, PT. 3

In this series, we are going to examine St. Gregory of Nyssa’s theology of gender in his work, On the Making of Man, and how the Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, is seeking to utilize his theology for her own project. If one were to follow Coakley’s engagement with Gregory, reading her academic articles and not just her books, they would see that her views of him have shifted and evolved over time. In all of

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08 Dec 2017

Eschatological “Angeloid”: Sarah Coakley, Gregory of Nyssa, and On the Making of Man, Pt. 2

In this series, we are going to examine St. Gregory of Nyssa’s theology of gender in his work, On the Making of Man, and how the Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, is seeking to utilize his theology for her own project. If one were to follow Coakley’s engagement with Gregory, reading her academic articles and not just her books, they would see that her views of him have shifted and evolved over time. In all of

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20 Nov 2017

Christ, the Revelation of God’s Agency

This is the second part of a series based on notes from a lecture delivered by Rowan Williams at Saint Louis University on 7 March, 2017. Part One can be found here. Part One: Historical Perspective If we look at the way language about Jesus Christ develops from the earliest days onwards, what we see is a gradual clarification—not just of what is said about Christ, but of what is said about God. In the early

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10 Nov 2017

Eschatological “Angeloid”: Sarah Coakley and Gregory of Nyssa, Pt. 1

In this series, we are going to examine St. Gregory of Nyssa’s theology of gender in his work, On the Making of Man, and how the Anglican theologian, Sarah Coakley, is seeking to utilize his theology for her own project. If one were to follow Coakley’s engagement with Gregory, reading her academic articles and not just her books, they would see that her views of him have shifted and evolved over time. In all of

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24 Oct 2017

The Cross as Template: Kenosis, Justification, and the Cruciform Life

When I was a graduate student at a Lutheran seminary I was enamored with the thought of Cyril of Alexandria. His concern for the unity of the person of Christ influenced me greatly, and I developed a trajectory of thinking that was different than most of my fellow students. This made me feel like a bit of an odd duck, as the conversation at the seminary tended to be hyper-focused on justification. Being Lutherans, rock-ribbed

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18 Aug 2017

Personhood Series-Fasting

“Individualism is idolatry because individualism seeks to transcend humanity by making us all gods with our own interests and wants. Individualism is idolatry because it denies that we are our relationships.” -Andy Root                                                                                       

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06 Jul 2017

Personhood Series-Detachment, the Saints, and Relational Ontology

The introduction to the series can be found here. “By detachment we strive to give our whole self to God, that all our willing, loving and desiring may be in him.”1                                                                                         

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13 Apr 2017

The Cross, the Trinity, the Human

On the Cross we see what it means for God to be God, and for a Human to be human. On the Cross we see the fullness of God and the fullness of humanity revealed. On the Cross we see what it means for God to exist as love. On the Cross we see what it means for humanity to reach the summit of love. In the selflessness of Christ crucified, we see how the

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30 Mar 2017

Personhood Series: Introduction to the Relational Self

Introduction to the Series: This post begins an ambitious project, one which will engage the theological concept of personhood. I readily admit that I am in way over my head on this one. While the topic excites me (in a scary nerdy way), it is a theological behemoth. Yet, my hope is that, after years of study, I can unpack and promote ideas that bring clarification, instead of confusion, to the discussion table. Many theologians

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