19 Jan 2022

The Return of the King (Part 6)

This post is the conclusion to a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) | It Is Time (Part 4) | The Already and Not Yet (Part 5) The image above is a fresco from Etrurio, Italy. Painted during the Renaissance and later covered up, this tremendous piece of art was discovered at a winery and restored only a few

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17 Jan 2022

“Let Justice Roll Down”: A Short Reflection on MLK and Amos 5:24

The words of Amos 5:24, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream,” have been inscribed on the American mind through our annual remembrance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This favorite verse of King’s presents a beautiful image. However, because King is generally thought of primarily as a civil rights leader and not a Christian theologian, in

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07 Jan 2022

The God of What-If: Deconstructing the Idolatry of Theological Hypotheticals

Note: This article originally ran at Earth & Altar. “Clearly, whatever you are, you are in your self; you are not derived from another. You are the very life by which you live, the knowledge by which you know, the goodness by which you are good, and so forth.” –St. Anselm, Proslogion, XII As finite beings locked into a linear timeline, it is easy to think about the “what-ifs” that could have been. Where would

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10 Dec 2021

The Danger in Clinging to Life

As I sat in that room, which was filled with people who had more education and experience than me, I thought, “I’m not even sure if I’m supposed to be here.” At the time, I was an adjunct faculty member and this was my first time attending a faculty/staff meeting with the college president. It was well known that the institution was facing financial hardship, and the meeting was called to address concerns around potential

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22 Nov 2021

Evangelicalism Is Moving Backwards in Some Ways

Contemporary Westerners seem to believe, at least most of the time, that society is either driving forward into new territory or staying the same. This idea is firmly reinforced by the popular terms “progressive” and “conservative”; the progressives drag society forward, and conservatives dig their heels into the ground, hoping to keep things exactly as they are. The same idea, from what I can tell, holds true within Western evangelicalism: progressives are trying to move

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19 Nov 2021

What is it About Candles?

What is it about candles? There is no practical reason for them to exist in the developed world in the 21st century, much less for them to be as readily available as milk and dish soap. In the developed world, electric light has been available for 100 years, and we have brighter, more convenient, and more reliable sources of light. Candlelight is feeble compared even to the single bulb on the back of my cell

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12 Nov 2021

Karl Marx: Prophet of Authenticity, Part I

In his new bestseller, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman argues that Marx, along with Nietzsche and others, contributed to the plasticity of man. Meaning that human nature is contingent, not static, and subject to the desires and will of man himself for its ultimate meaning, manifestation, and final end. In sum, it is the erosion of metaphysics and traditional ontology. Marx, capitalizing on his predecessors, represents an inward turn in

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10 Nov 2021

It Is Time (Part 4)

This post is part of a series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) | Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2) | The Long Pause (Part 3) Perhaps the consummate Disney movie of my youth was The Lion King. You know the story, the masterful animated retelling of Hamlet accompanied by the sonorous tunes of Elton John. For a film of many memorable moments, one of my favorites has always been right at the end,

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29 Oct 2021

The Enticing Sin of Ascetic Disdain

In some circles, there seems to be a movement against empathy. Two relatively recent articles demonstrate this: Joe Rigney’s “On the Enticing Sin of Empathy“ at Desiring God and Kevin DeYoung’s “What Does it Mean to Weep with those who Weep?” at the Gospel Coalition. Rigney’s piece imitates C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, in that it is an epistle from the demon Screwtape to his fiendish nephew and novice tempter, Wormwood. Pseudo-Screwtape begins by reminding his protege

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27 Oct 2021

In Praise of the English Bible

In the Anglican Book of Homilies, the first sermon is entitled, A Fruitful Exhortation to the Reading and Knowledge of Holy Scripture. It begins with simplicity, clarity and power: “Unto a Christian man, there can be nothing either more necessary or profitable than the knowledge of Holy Scripture, forasmuch as in it is contained God’s true Word, setting forth his glory and also man’s duty.” I’ve been reflecting on these words as we approach the

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06 Oct 2021

From Essence to Existence: Pondering the Glimpse of Being

And the question which has always been raised, in times of old and still in our day, and always embarrasses us, is ‘what is being?’ – Aristotle I’ve noted previously that our common sense approach to reality leads to a kind of intuition of “being” as that highest of all unities. Everything that is is, as Parmenides put it. Saying it this way, however, is liable to misunderstanding. “Being” is not simply what we come

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04 Oct 2021

The Hungry Heart of Eden

Perhaps one of the most overlooked passages in Scripture for Christian formation is the story of Creation. We are shaped so much and so obviously by the Fall, and the matrix of serpent-apple-temptation-nakedness resonates with our imaginations in such visceral ways, that it nearly seems genetic. As we consider, however, God’s first acts of creative goodness in Eden, we are invited to look upon a lost world, a world that will never return. That prelude

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29 Sep 2021

In Praise of the Holy Angels

When I was in college, my priest gave a sermon for the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels which I still remember. “Angels are like living thoughts flowing from the mind of God,” he said, “and the mind of God sustains and fills all things.” He went on to remind the congregation that the existence of angels is assumed by Jesus throughout the Gospels, and that it seems that God has placed human beings

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22 Sep 2021

The Sabbath Can’t Be Secular

In his new history of Christian politics, The Two Cities, Andrew Willard Jones discerns that modern people, including Christians, erroneously divide the world up into distinct religious and secular realms. The former sits “totally outside of history” and the latter refers to what is “in time,” which is to say, devoid of the timeless, eternal, and supernatural. The religious realm intervenes in the secular only extraordinarily. Absent a miraculous event that defies the status quo,

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08 Sep 2021

A Glimpse of Being

As a concept, being is both the most universal and the most abstract of all. Its extension is the richest, its comprehension the most poor. – Étienne Gilson It is the same with this object of thought, this primordial reality we call being. We have not looked it in the face. We think it something far simpler than it is. We have not yet troubled to unveil its true countenance. – Jacques Maritain In two

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25 Aug 2021

The Birth of Mystery

The morning my second daughter, Eliana Susan, was delivered by caesarean section, I spoke the Nicene Creed over her. This act of devotion was unplanned on my part. Once the nurse had swaddled Ellie and handed her to me, my mind flooded with such relief and joy that the words bubbled up unbidden. “I’m going to tell you a mystery,” I said, as Ellie peered up at me from beneath her pink knit cap, “We

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23 Aug 2021

Another One Bites the Dust (Part 2)

This post is part of series exploring God’s Story: God’s Story (Part 1) The next chapter of God’s Story is one that’s been riffed on in countless ways over the generations: the story of how humanity ate forbidden fruit. Some portrayals are better or more memorable than others, but whatever the specific flavor of the story, the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is part of our cultural consciousness. We’ve got

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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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13 Aug 2021

Duty and Reciprocity in the Pandemic

I have spent a good amount of my Covid pandemic days imbedded in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century New England election sermons, as well as older American case law regarding the state police power vis-á-vis past public health crises. The two seemingly disconnected inquiries have actually cohered quite well. This exercise has kept me, for the most part, from joining the hot take fray on pandemic-related topics. It has not, however, totally kept me from glancing up

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06 Aug 2021

Godforsakenness and Redemption PT. 2: The Cry of Solidarity

“Eloi, Eloi, lama Sabachthani?” by Ann Kim Oil Stick on canvas, 1998, 50″ x 70″ link In my previous article I examined the linkages between crucifixion and lynching made by theologian James Cone, and his argument that Christ’s crucifixion opens up the possibility of redemption despite atrocities like lynching that were designed to demonize and devastate the very humanity of Black people. In this article I move beyond Cone and investigate an experience I refer

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