I figured I would end 2012 by reviewing a selection of my posts from throughout the year chronologically, starting with 10 posts from January and February, which I have listed below with a brief description for each of them. These don’t necessarily have any ranking to them; they are just the ten that first jumped out at me for being either popular or important.
1) Why I Hate Doctrine But Love Jesus (Response to a Similarly Named Video)
I wonder how many enthralled atheists were among the millions of hits that Mark Driscoll protegee Jefferson Bethke scored on his spoken word video “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus.” Bethke parrots the standard evangelical line that Jesus is above “religion” (aka Catholicism or another one of those forms of Christianity that still traffics in “irrelevant old rituals” and doesn’t understand how much our awesome God deserves my 2 minute guitar solo). During the last year, I have learned perhaps more than any other year the value of “religion.” Fasting and prayer has contributed a lot more to my spiritual growth than arguing about “doctrine” (which is what I mostly do even if I say that I hate it). The major flaw with evangelicalism is that we have replaced discipleship with position-taking (and I include myself in that “we”). I’m hoping that in 2013, I will do a lot more “religion” and less “doctrine” so that I will be more of a disciple and less of a polemicist.
2) Selling Sex in the Christian BookstoreAnother example of megachurch disgustingness was the publicity stunt of Ed Young sitting on top of his church building with his wife to promote their book on sex. American evangelicals continue to valorize the suburban middle-class obsession with marriage and the nuclear family as its number one priority.
3) We are not all Catholic now
This post was in response to Glenn Beck’s opportunistic declaration, “We are all Catholics now,” in the wake of contraception-gate. I read Beck’s post while sitting in the Catholic basilica in Washington, DC. The ideological sectarianism of our society that Beck and the rest of the outrage industrial complex represent is the antithesis of what makes Catholicism beauty. Haeresis, the Greek word that we cognate as heresy, means “faction” in Greek.
4) What makes pregnancy a disease?
In this post, I tried to present the perspective of the Catholic hierarchy on contraception sympathetically (I often argue multiple sides of an issue in a series of posts). Human sexuality has been ruined by its commodification in laissez-faire capitalism as its most effective marketing tool. One of our society’s chief problem is the ideological schizophrenia by which the same people who supposedly want to defend traditional values are also cheerleaders of the free market which is most responsible for undermining these values in the name of profit.
5) Persecution and Epistemic Closure
This post was about the condition coined “epistemic closure” that describes our ideologically polarized society in which we only listen to people who already agree with us and reinforce our opinions. I have often called the world we live in “post-truth” because there seems to be little interest in integrity amidst the culture of talking points and selective data that we have created. Christianity can either contribute to the culture of epistemic closure or rescue us from it depending on how it’s interpreted. If I understand Christ’s atonement to give me the freedom to be wrong, then I can risk leaving my echo chamber and taking seriously the ideas of my enemies.
6) Letter of a Christian Martyr
I shared a letter that Brian Zahnd had printed in his book Beauty Will Save the World from a priest named Christian de Cherge who wrote it instructing that it be read in the event of his assassination by Algerian terrorists. It shows what real martyrdom looks like in contrast to the exhibitionist faux martyrdom that many Christians exhibit in our own country.
7) Pastor Cheri
This post was in response to Rachel Held Evans’ call for evangelical men to address John Piper’s claim that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel.” Pastor Cheri was the first female pastor I ever had and one of the most important mentors I’ve had in a time in my life when I was going through a whole lot. It’s also the case that Central Avenue United Methodist, the church I attended where she was the pastor, was mostly gay.
8) Stop Abusing the Word “Biblical”!
I wrote this post after coming across the biography of Ken Hutcherson, a former pro football player turned “Bible” church pastor who led the charge against gay marriage in Washington state. Hutcherson said that his belief in “biblical truth” is the reason he believes that “the only way to make your enemy a friend is to defeat them or kill them.”
9) The Name that Shakes the Earth
This was part of our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer for the line “Hallowed be thy name.” I looked at the way that the seraphs literally shook the earth by hallowing God’s name in Isaiah 6, one of my favorite passages, and asked the question of what Isaiah saw that made him say, “Woe is me; I am lost,” so that he needed the purification of a seraph’s coal before he could say, “Here am I; send me.”
10) The Father Who Isn’t Fair
This was the lead-off sermon for our series on the Lord’s Prayer, reflecting on what it means that the creator of the universe is someone we address as “our Father.” I talked about the difference between God’s justice and our fairness, using the prodigal son story as an example. I have continued to reflect on this theme throughout the year. What God does through Jesus’ cross and resurrection is to draw humanity into a family which respects the reign of His merciful fatherhood.