Because I like to go against the grain, I wanted to try to stick up for Tony Jones (or sympathetically deconstruct him?) since he’s taken a lot of heat (here, here, here, here) in the progressive Christian blogosphere lately for his exhibition of white male privilege, most recently a rant about “being called a racist.” I’m less interested in arguing with anyone else’s criticisms or reflections which have generally been useful and thoughtful than I am in looking more deeply at the specific context that got Tony into trouble for better diagnostic and learning purposes. Basically, the “emergent” theology that appeals to post-evangelicals who grow up in a privileged context is very different than the theology that attracts the poor in the Global South, with whom emergent post-evangelicals desperately want to be in solidarity and whose theological dissonance is a huge source of anxiety. This is what I would call the white emergentsia’s “Pentecostal problem.” Continue reading
Several months ago, someone from the United Methodist communications office emailed me to see if I could blog about the Methodist “Imagine No Malaria” campaign. She gave me statistics about how many kids in Africa die from malaria each year and tried to make a case for it being an important enough issue for me to write about. To my discredit, I didn’t take her up on the offer. Why? Because campaigns against malaria and the other quiet, methodical ways that God’s people change the world aren’t sexy enough. They just don’t get blog hits the way that scandals do! But this weekend, Methodist churches around the world will be doing a coordinated missions push called Change the World in which the world will be changed through hundreds of thousands of humble, unglamorous acts of Christian servanthood, even if people like me aren’t paying attention because we’re wrapped up in our favorite scandals. Continue reading
In Sophocles’ great tragedy Antigone, a civil war has taken place in the city of Thebes between the two sons of Oedipus, Polynices and Eteocles, who are fighting for power. They are both killed, and when their uncle Creon takes throne, he decrees that Polynices is forbidden to be buried and must have his body eaten by animals outside the city walls. Antigone, the sister of Polynices and Eteocles, disobeys Creon’s order because leaving a human body unburied like that is not only a dishonor but an offense against the gods. Martha Mullen, a United Methodist from the Richmond area, is a Christian Antigone. Continue reading
So I thought some of you who are tired of my blogomaniac hubris would get a kick out of watching me get owned by one of my friends in a response that he sent to my critique of suburban culture. He gave me permission to share it as long as he could remain anonymous. He’s absolutely right that “suburbia” ends up being a scapegoat depository where hipsters like me project everything we don’t like about America or even just modern culture. Anyway, what I really love is the way he shows how different aspects of worship are the antidote to the social problems I described. So it’s an excellent application of James K.A. Smith’s liturgical theory. It’s way better than what I originally wrote, so enjoy. Continue reading
A facebook friend shared this meme. It’s scary how perfectly it captures a phenomenon in both the mainline and evangelical worlds alike which I’m going to call the idolatry of the mission statement.
Postmodern thinkers sometimes settle for deconstructing the motives of their critics instead of making defensible arguments. Unfortunately, a recent Mere Orthodoxy piece exhibited this behavior, promising to explain why the American suburbs are a good, wholesome place, but focusing its energy on developing a caricature of suburbia’s critics as “urban gentry and intelligentsia.” I’ve used that rhetorical trick before: Bob criticizes X; Bob is a snobby aristocrat; therefore everyone who criticizes X is a snobby aristocrat. Well, I’m not an urban gentry. I’m a suburban pastor. And there are things about the suburbia where I live that hinder people from entering the kingdom of God. Continue reading
I read a very disturbing post on Patheos by a woman named Libby Anne who grew up with parents who were influenced by the parenting philosophy of Michael and Debi Pearl. The Pearls are very popular in the homeschooling world; they could be described as an extreme version of Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson. The idea is that your most important task as a parent is to break the will of your child so that they will be obedient. My four-year old Isaiah is a very strong-willed child, and I often let him get his way, so I would fail Michael and Debi Pearl’s parenting class if I were taking it. Continue reading
I had an outbreak of worldviewism today on my Facebook page today after I shared my post on privilege and Biblical interpretation. Worldviewism is a school of thought within the evangelical world, particularly among the homeschoolers and tribulation preppers, that divides the world into thought-systems (there are often said to be four) which are completely self-enclosed, disconnected, and incompatible with one another. Your task as a Christian is to make sure that your Christian worldview hasn’t been infiltrated by traces of other ones (except for capitalism which isn’t one of the other three worldviews since capitalism is just the way God created the world to work ). Continue reading
So I got an idea of a way to turn the “smoking hot wife” meme against its patriarchal self. Let’s share some smoking hot sermon podcasts from some on-fire preacherwomen like Nadia Bolz-Weber, Amanda Garber, Lillian Daniel, etc. I heard one from Charith Fee-Nordling at the Missio Alliance conference; my word, it about burned a hole straight through me. So if you’ve heard a smoking hot sermon from a preacherwomen, put a link to it in the comment section or if you just know of a preacherwomen with some prophetic fire, then put her name. If you participate, then I’ll check out these links and come up with a top ten or something like that.
Complementarian megachurch pastors are like pitchers who only throw 40 mile an hour change-ups. It feels cheap and dirty to swing at their pitches, but I’m genuinely bothered by what I’ve been hearing lately from that strange foreign land where Christians believe that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands. First I learned that it’s trendy for pastors in that world to tweet out photos and commentary to their congregations about their “smoking hot wives.” And then Mark Driscoll busts out his latest gaffe (transcript here) about how nagging wives who refuse to submit to their husbands are like leaky faucets that keep you awake at night with their dripping. So I just needed to say that my wife is not a rotisserie chicken or a leaky faucet. Continue reading