30 Oct 2020

Canoeing the Mountains

After fifteen difficult months of travel, they had made it. Lewis and Clark had reached the spring that began the Missouri River, that great river they had been following since they crossed the Mississippi and began their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase. For over three hundred years before Lewis and Clark arrived at this spot, explorers from numerous nations had assumed that just beyond the headwaters of the Missouri were the headwaters to the Columbia

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26 Aug 2020

Work and Rest

This article was adapted from a sermon delivered at Rooftop Church (Saint Louis, MO) during a series on Faith and Work. As Americans, we’re obsessed with being busy. Even during a pandemic, we’re preoccupied with how much we’re getting done. Our culture fixates on and rewards efficiency and productivity, even at the expense of our own health and relationships. It’s even how we talk to one another. People always ask, “What are you doing this

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07 Aug 2020

What’s Worse Than the Devil You Know?

One of my favorite movie characters is Gus Portokalos, the patriarch in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Gus’s defining characteristic is his extreme devotion to his homeland, which is summed up in his famous line: “There are two kinds of people in this world: Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.” I love this joke because it perfectly encapsulates one of the essential characteristics of the human condition: we view the world as

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24 Jul 2020

We Need to Talk About White Jesus

Image Source: Unilad, Emma Rosemurgey, https://www.unilad.co.uk/life/expert-says-this-is-what-jesus-would-have-actually-looked-like/  The American debate regarding White Jesus goes back at least to W.E.B. Du Bois,1 and surely further back to the founding of the Invisible Institution—the secret church of enslaved Black people.2 Yet, it has become increasingly pronounced now that protestors are forcing America to confront its racist past. Particular occurrences have heightened this debate, for example controversial activist Shaun King tweeting that “statues of the white European they claim

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Locked ballot box used in Carson, North Dakota on October 30, 1940. Photo courtesy National Archives and Records Administration. (USDA)
06 Jul 2020

The Right to Not Vote

If you’ve ever been to a neighborhood association meeting or a church committee meeting, you’ve observed something close to true direct democracy. When a decision needs to be made, a vote is taken. All those in favor of the proposition say, “Aye.” All those opposed say, “Nay.” Everyone gets a say, and the simple majority wins. It’s an effective way to do things on a small scale. However, this is nearly impossible on a larger

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01 Jul 2020

Trinity Brings Unity: Hope for a Divided World

Not long ago, my parish was offering the Prayers of the People as part of our Sunday liturgy. Worshippers were free to raise their own voices and add their personal petitions to those of the Book of Common Prayer. As we did so, two seemingly different prayers arose from our midst. One prayer was for the protection of police officers and first responders. Another was for the protection of protesters and all those seeking justice

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Image of a Bible on a shelf.
13 Dec 2019

The Bible Project

About three years ago I was scrolling through my YouTube recommendations feed, looking for new and interesting videos. Since I regularly view biblical and theological content, my feed often contains helpful resources (along with videos on college football or live music). As I scrolled, one particular video thumbnail caught my attention. The thumbnail contained an aesthetically pleasing animated image of Job. I clicked on the video and had my first exposure to The Bible Project.

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Indigo bunting in a field at sunset
14 Oct 2019

Trusting in God

“Some who think they trust in God actually sin against hope because they do not use the will and the judgment He has given them. Of what use is it for me to hope in grace if I dare not make the act of will that corresponds with grace? How do I profit by abandoning myself passively to His will if I lack the strength of will to obey His commands? Therefore, if I trust

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02 Sep 2019

Round Table: The Knowability of God

The Scriptures are somewhat ambiguous about how fully God can be known by human beings. On the one hand, the Son has revealed God to be our Father and has pioneered the path of faith—offering unprecedented access through grace. Jesus teaches that the pure in heart “will see God” (Matt 5:8). Likewise in the first Johannine epistle: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do

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03 Jul 2019

God Is Bad With Money

There was once a wealthy banker who was so intrigued by what he heard about Jesus of Nazareth that he decided to go hear him preach. The banker listened intently to Jesus’ teachings. Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd who leaves 99 sheep just to save one. He told a parable about an important, honorable man who nonetheless lavishly celebrated the return of his disgraceful, disreputable son. And Jesus responded to questions with

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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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12 Jun 2019

Longings:

Or, Reflections on the Gospel of John in Response to Leonard Cohen I hunger. Bread fills me. I hunger again. I thirst. Wine makes the heart glad. My thirst is not quenched. I question. I have seen all done under the sun. Truth eludes me. I love As the wonder of a man with a virgin. Yet the unity is cracked. I live, Tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling all these mundane joys, Yet I die.

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01 Apr 2019

Thomas Merton and Why I Quit Facebook

About five years ago, I sat in a coffee shop reading Thomas Merton’s New Seeds of Contemplation. During the preceding weeks and months, I considered deleting my Facebook account on several occasions but never found the courage to follow through on my thoughts. I graduated from college in 2005. Somewhere around the second semester of my junior year, Facebook made its first appearance on my college campus. At that time, only users with a valid

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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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30 Jan 2019

Visiting with Jesus

I first caught a glimpse of him through the doorbell camera at church. He looked cold and a little scraggly, and when I went to open the door, he was shorter than I expected. But there he was: the Son of God in human flesh. We talked for a while, as anyone might when they have the chance to speak with someone so important and famous. We talked about theology, about the church, about the

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23 Jan 2019

The Intellectual Art of Tidying Up

  If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are…    -Thomas Hobbes   Since the English translation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in 2014, she has become an international superstar. The book has sold over two million copies and has now been translated into more than thirty languages. She even has her own Netflix

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07 Jan 2019

Exile and Restoration

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness–on them light has shined.” Isa 9:2 NRSV The prophet Isaiah lived at an unusual point in the history of the Israelite people. His prophetic ministry overlapped the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 BCE and their subsequent siege of Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19). The beginning chapters of the book

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30 Nov 2018

The Second Exodus

“To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5b-6 NRSV).” The book of Revelation contains a series of visions meant to comfort and encourage believers under the heavy hand of persecution. When the author, John of Patmos, introduces himself in Revelation 1:9, he says that

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21 Nov 2018

A Protestant Thinks about the Blessed Virgin Mary

Talking about Mary can feel dangerous, especially if you are a Protestant who adheres to Protestant orthodoxy. Sure, we sing about Mary at Christmas, feel her pain on Good Friday, and maybe even read a little about her in the gospels. But for most American Protestants, almost any other interaction with Mary is borderline Catholic. So we don’t talk about Mary, we don’t engage with Mary, and we don’t think about Mary. Life seems easier

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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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