Everyday we’re posturing (Christian sin-talk with @RachelHeldEvans, @KevinWatson, and @RenovatusPastor)

everyday im shufflingTo paraphrase that annoying hit dance song “Party Rock,” everyday we’re posturing. What I mean by “posturing” is that our conversations are constant performances of self-definition, at least those that happen in cyberspace where words are all that we are. Because conversation itself has turned into a primary object of our analysis, we do a lot of meta-conversation, talking about talking about things. The Christian blogosphere talks a lot about talking about sin, which is different than talking directly about sin. It is in these meta-conversations that a tired debate cycles endlessly: “Why do we need to talk about talking about sin all the time? Jesus ate and drink with sinners.” “Ah… but he would always tell them to go and sin no more.” Understanding the distinction between talking about sin and talking about talking about sin is critical if we are to avoid talking past each other as seems to have occurred in a recent sin meta-conversation between Rachel Held Evans and Kevin Watson. Continue reading

Love is not love unless it becomes flesh

One of the things I acquired from growing up in evangelical youth groups and parachurch organizations was expertise on what love is and isn’t. I imagine it was a trickle-down from C.S. Lewis’s famous book on the Four Loves, which is about the four Greek words for love: agape, eros, philos, and storge. The main thing I remember having drilled into me is stuff like this: “The world says love is a feeling — that’s eros, romantic love, but the love in the Bible is agape, which is a choice.” “You don’t have to like everybody, but we’re called to love everybody.” Etc. I recently heard some words in a sermon at the Virginia annual conference from a Cambodian Methodist preacher named Romy del Rosario that defined what love is and isn’t in a very different way that actually contradicts the evangelical youth group definition. Continue reading

My mommy was my first pastor

mom summer 2011 cropped

This is a picture of my mom holding my son Isaiah two summers ago. I preached a sermon that summer in the Dominican Republic on their Mother’s Day which is the last Sunday in May. My passage was 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. If it sounds more simple and straightforward than how I usually write, it’s because it was originally written in Spanish and my vocabulary is limited. Basically my point was that mothers are called to be the pastors of their family. That’s what my mother was to me, and it has made all the difference. Continue reading

On Responsible Criticism and Hip Hop

Yesterday I experienced a new first: the first time somebody has made up an email address for the purpose of dissing me. Some guy wrote to tell me that my music sucked under the email address juststop@mailinator.com. His comment started off with those two words “Just stop!” There was something pathetic about the thought of someone going to all that trouble to insult me. It exuded a pathology endemic to postmodernity: getting off on the brilliance of your sarcasm.

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Poor, blind, & dead: Jeff Dunn’s “purpose-driven life”

On the same day that Jon Acuff wrote a self-affirmation about his success as a Christian celebrity, Jeff Dunn at Internet Monk posted his own version of the “purpose-driven life” based on three of Jesus’ commonly preached themes: becoming poor, blind, and dead. It was such a fresh contrast from the kind of self-help drivel that Christians have come to accept as Biblical provided it has a few verses from Proverbs slapped on top. The purpose that we are given by the real gospel isn’t good news to the success-oriented bourgeois American ethos that many so-called “conservative” evangelicals have modified their Christianity to fit. The real gospel is good news to the poor, the blind, and the dead and to those of us who accept the utter foolishness that we’d do better to join them. Continue reading

Staying “on message” for Jesus

Burke United Methodist Church is doing a campaign this fall called Jesus is My Candidate: I Vote for Him Every Day. A dimension of this campaign is thinking about how we “vote” for Jesus (maintain our allegiance and focus on Him) when all around us people are screaming for us to make either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney our Lord and Savior (or perhaps saying that the other guy is the anti-Christ but our guy is at least somewhat reasonable). One way that we “vote” for Jesus is by staying “on message” for Him. Political campaigns strive not to let reporters trick them into going “off message” by saying anything that detracts from the real issues. Satan is constantly trying to trick us into committing “gaffes” on the Jesus campaign trail that make our Savior look bad. So here are some ways I thought of that we can stay “on message” for Jesus during a campaign season full of distractions. Continue reading