Private or Public Christianity: Does Your Faith Affect Your Politics?

I sat down next to a tall, bright, 17-year-old guy named Max on an airplane in December. When he asked what I do, I said, “I’m training to be a pastor.” Now, Max described himself as “secular, or atheist…agnostic…whatever.” He didn’t know quite what to call himself, but he grew up in the Catholic church and knew that religion wasn’t for him. Nevertheless, he was thoroughly interested to meet a real live Protestant Christian. Once he had sorted out just what religion I was seeking to work in, he started peppering me with questions.

Among those questions was this pointed (and no doubt loaded) query: “Does your religion affect your politics?” Read more of this post

Pithy Post: Asking Forgiveness

Forgiveness is no easy thing to give, but it is sometimes just as difficult to receive. Part of the process of being forgiven is receiving blame, owning the evil I have committed. And who wants to do that? It’s better, we think, if we just ‘let bygones be bygones’ and forget about it. But without forgiveness the evil we have thrown out into the world just keeps bouncing off of our own soul and others’, and it destroys every beautiful thing it touches.

“Some say that Jerusalem is the very center of the world for asking forgiveness. Myself? I call it here…now.” Godfrey, Kingdom of Heaven.

Pithy Post: Truth in an Age of Politics

During this election season, going to factcheck.org is a necessary but altogether distressing practice. Too often, truth is not nearly as important as repetition and rhetoric is substituted for reason. As discouraging as this is to so many of us nowadays, the reality is that throughout history people in power have used language as a tool to gain and maintain that power. It is in this type of world that Jesus sent his disciples and sends us to speak and live authentically. Read more of this post

Pithy Post: Can We Call People Evil?

It seems like most of us are either too ready to call others evil or too reluctant to say it like it is. Is it good for society for us to quickly label people who are different from us? Is it good for society for us to refrain from ascribing responsibility to people for their actions? And, aside from whether it is good for society, is it true to who we are as human beings? I think the quotes below help us think through these things more clearly. Read more of this post

Introducing “Pithy Posts”

I’m starting a new series of more frequent posts called Pithy Posts. These will be much shorter than my regular posts but hopefully similarly thought-provoking. Quotes, phrases, and short stories are all fair game. Aside from the home page, you can access these more pithy posts under the tab “Pithy Posts” while the more traditional, lengthier ones will be under the tab “Complex Simplicity.”

So instead of the usual smorgasbord of cultural and theological analysis, I intend to provide something like a small delicacy you can savor. I hope they are sources of inspiration, introspection, and insight. But if not, who cares? It’ll only take you 15 seconds to read!

The Hunger Games, Dionysus and Medusa: The False gods of Entertainment and Security

I know, I know…it’s been more than two weeks since my last post. But if you knew that I was traveling in Turkey and Greece for the last fortnight, you might cut me some slack. In fact, my travels have awakened some things formerly dormant in my brain, and I’m hoping that I can generate a few thoughtful posts out of the experience. So consider this the first installment in my debriefing….

By far the most spectacular ancient site I visited during the last 14 days was Ephesus. Read more of this post

New Year’s Resolutions: Needed Resolve or New Law?

I was in a goofy mood. It was 11:45pm on New Year’s Eve and Steph (my wife) was sitting on the couch with me. “Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?” She asked. Then, as I sometimes do while in a goofy, contrarian mood, I responded much too quickly and much too confidently, “I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions.”

Despite the immediate enlarging of Steph’s eyes and the knowledge that I had unwittingly gotten myself into a losing debate, I decided not to back off my off-the-cuff, pseudo-moralistic stance. Hey, my pride was at stake. So I began to give reasons why I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Read more of this post