24 Mar 2021

Marriage is the Guardian of Love

When I was newly-married and newly-ordained, I often spent time trying to imagine my future. I envisioned book-lined studies, glorious liturgies and long evening walks hand-in-hand with my beloved. Needless to say, I never suspected I would one day find myself sitting before a giant, tottering Jenga tower, watching a dear friend and her new husband carefully remove block after block while my four excitable children crowded around and cajoled them, running back and forth

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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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19 Feb 2021

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Several years ago, I tripped down an internet rabbit hole and found my way to an article by Laurie Penny, a writer for the British political magazine New Statesman, entitled “For many in my fearful, frustrated generation, ‘having it all’ means opting out of monogamy.” Penny’s argument is that polyamorous relationships, which she defines as “any arrangement in which you are allowed to date and snuggle and sleep with whomever you want, as long as

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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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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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26 Oct 2020

The Longest Lent

Lent began eight months ago today.   Eight months ago I was in a cool, dark sanctuary, listening to my vicar say “You are going to die.” I didn’t know how accurate that statement would be for this year. We rose, row by row. Ashes were traced across my forehead, I returned to my seat. We rose, row by row, again going forward—this time to receive the bread, the wine. In darkness we stepped into

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14 Oct 2020

Of Gnosis and Seagulls

The first time I read Richard Bach’s beloved novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I was charmed. This slim volume tells the tale of a young seagull, Jonathan, and his quest to master both the art of flying and the depths of self. On the surface, there’s much to enjoy. The story has a forthright, fable-like quality. The themes of youthful idealism, self-discovery, and growing wise are compelling and relatable. Even the grainy, black-and-white photos of seagulls

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18 Sep 2020

A Simple, Hard Truth: God Loves You

The world is not well. Though in a fallen world this is always true, the brokenness around us now feels particularly visceral. I need not provide a list of the ailments, catastrophes, disasters, etc. You likely know them as well as I, and each person experiences this brokenness differently in their own situation. So, rather than enumerate the maladies besetting us, I wish to focus on a simple, profound, foundational truth: God loves you. It

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27 May 2020

In Lucem Beatissimam

Why squint, O eyes, which love the night, At grey bodies blurred that creep? What hope have you to see the form Of light itself? Veni, Spiritus, da tuis fidelibus sacrum septenarium.[1] Dispel this seven-fold dark.   Love for pleasure inordinate Downward tends me on broken wings. ’Til pierced my flesh with your fear be, I Wallow low. Sancte Spiritus, doce principium sapientiae nobis.[2] Hands kept from evil grasp good.   With sinner’s crowd I

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06 Apr 2020

Divine Dissatisfaction Part 2: Joy as the Realization of the Beloved Community

O. Fernandez, New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer / Public domain In part one of this article, Divine Dissatisfaction: Loving Rage and the Imagination of a Better World, I argued that an important aspect of Martin Luther King Jr.’s theology—what he calls divine dissatisfaction—can be better understood if connected with the concept of rage. Rage, in this context, I define as a refusal to operate within the status quo bounds of rationality, a

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06 Mar 2020

Divine Dissatisfaction: Loving Rage and the Imagination of a Better World

James Cone states at the beginning of his paradigm-altering first book, Black Theology and Black Power, that he writes with “the attitude of an angry Black man” but also with “a certain dark joy.”1 Why does he simultaneously name these experiences, anger and joy, that are seemingly in conflict with one another? And what is it that makes his joy dark? I argue that Cone names his joy as dark, not because it is evil

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10 Feb 2020

The Pun That Saved Britain

For the Christians of Britain, the fifth century was a dark time. Their homeland was attacked and partially taken over by Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, non-Christian Germanic people from Continental Europe, and these aggressors behaved ruthlessly toward the Christian inhabitants of the land. They killed innocent people mercilessly, even slaughtering Christian priests at the altar, and enslaved many who, unable to survive in hiding, surrendered themselves.[1] Some believers must have been concerned about the future

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30 Jan 2020

Jeremiah and the Burden of Being

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth! a man of strife and contention to all the land! Because I bore your name, O LORD, God of hosts. I did not sit celebrating in the circle of merrymakers; Under the weight of your hand I sat alone because you filled me with indignation. Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? You have indeed become for me a treacherous brook,

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A brick building with the word "work" on the side.
20 Sep 2019

The Work of Faith

“We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 NRSV). Paul’s second missionary journey began as an excursion to revisit churches planted throughout Asia Minor on his first missionary journey (Acts 15:36). Along the way, the Spirit of God gave Paul

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16 Aug 2019

Welcoming The Stranger

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. . . Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:13, 21, NIV). I was looking for a good devotional last year over Christmas and found a hidden gem in a used bookstore. It’s called You Are The Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living, a compilation of Henri Nouwen’s writings by Gabrielle Earnshaw (Convergent Books, 2017). Nouwen has some timely words

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19 Jul 2019

Letter to My Son Abraham

Abraham, my eldest, my firstborn, the one who taught me that I have enough goodness in me to help produce life. I love you. I want you to know that—and I want to live my life in a way that you have no question that this is true—that I will do everything in my feeble, human frailty to show that I love you and that there is nothing you can do that would make my

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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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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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15 Apr 2019

3 Reasons to Study Church History

For many Christians, especially, I think, within Protestantism, Church history is a foggy and mysterious realm somewhere beyond the borders of normal thought, beyond the more familiar lands of biblical interpretation and spiritual discipline. Occasionally, one of its more conspicuous citizens (St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, and a few others) makes an appearance in familiar territory, but in general the land and its inhabitants seem far away and shrouded in darkness. Many evidently prefer

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10 Apr 2019

The Theology of Jordan Peele’s Us

Jordan Peele’s latest movie, Us, is an intense horror film that confronts issues of duality, identity, sameness, otherness, sin, and judgment, just to name a few. Part of what makes Us so rich is not just its carefully crafted storytelling, but its strategy of navigating weighty topics from different approaches: philosophical, social, psychological, and theological. This makes Us an excellent resource for theological reflection, with theological claims that are as bold as they are relevant.

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