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Theology/Religion

A Woman vs. Her Roomba: The Battle for Biblical Femininity

A Woman vs. Her Roomba: The Battle for Biblical Femininity

Several months ago, my husband Alex made a peculiar suggestion for his approaching birthday: he wanted a Roomba.

The notion was mildly annoying to me at the time (I wasn’t sure why), but I chose to brush it off as a disturbing lack of imagination on Alex’s part. You want a vacuum for your birthday? Okay, grandpa.

Several weeks ago the thing arrived, and I have never seen my betrothed operate with such rabid demeanor. Excitement and anticipation emoted through Alex’s every gesture. He darted around the house picking up any odd end that might get in the Roomba’s path. He flipped…

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Finding God at Arby's: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

Finding God at Arby’s: Reflections on Doubting Thomas

This sermon was delivered this past Sunday in Charlottesville, by Sam Bush.

This is a very exciting time for the church. It’s one week after Easter. The lilies are still up, the altar is in full splendor. We are living in the aftermath of Jesus’ resurrection. And today we see how the resurrection immediately plays out in the lives of his disciples. Jesus stands among them and everyone is shocked and then they rejoice. I picture it like the end of a movie — there’s a montage of all of them laughing, maybe messing up each other’s hair, or playing a…

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Everything I Never Learned from Seinfeld – David Zahl

In this talk, from the recent Mockingbird conference in Tyler TX, DZ speaks about the personal and spiritual significance of Seinfeld’s trivial obsessions (9 seasons’ worth). It’s an abbreviated version of his essay featured in the just-released Humor Issue, which you can find here.

Everything I Never Learned from Seinfeld – David Zahl from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

On Dead Lions, Live Donkeys, and the Limits of Endurance

David Grann has penned a gripping New Yorker profile on Arctic explorer Henry Worsley. If you don’t have time to read the whole lengthy piece (or even if you do), this 25 minute New Yorker Radio podcast is a fantastic supplement. A retired British army commando, he was obsessed with the Arctic explorer (and current leadership book icon) Earnest Shackleton. Worsley (who once spent the night sleeping near his hero’s grave) adopted Shackleton’s credo as is own: “by endurance we conquer.”

Shackleton’s fame, however, should not obscure the fact that he was “in many ways, a failure.” He emerged physically broken after Captain…

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The Easter Effect, Dolly Parton, and a Specific Kind of Jesus

The Easter Effect, Dolly Parton, and a Specific Kind of Jesus

Happy Easter! By now, the ham leftovers should be about finished, the bonnets returned to their boxes, and the elusive eggs left unfound on Sunday are easily discovered by following the faint smell of sulfur. Clergy are just about recovered from the multiple services of Holy Week. And for those of us from liturgical traditions, Alleluias are back on the table. Lent has passed, and we’re now in an “Easter State of Mind.”

That “Easter State of Mind” is the subject of one of the better think-pieces offered up by the web this year. At the Wall Street Journal, George Weigel…

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On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

On Bleeding Funny (A Magazine Sneak Peek)

Our first glimpse into the issue we’ve all been waiting for, this one comes from award-winning humorist Harrison Scott Key. Subscribers, orders should be hitting the mailbox this week! For the uninitiated, YAW! GIDDYUP! 

When your book wins the Thurber Prize in American Humor, our nation’s most important literary prize for a funny book, people have a lot to say, such as, “Oh, wow, I’ve never heard of that award!” or “You still have to pay for your food.”

Once, I was introduced at a book festival as, “Harrison Scott Key, winner of the largest and most important prize in…

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Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie's Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

Pithy Preachers Proclaiming Perplexing Epigrams: On Preaching, the Pulpit, & Thomas Guthrie’s Christ and the Inheritance of the Saints

This piece was written by Brad J. Gray.

It’s a turn of phrase that I’ve seen around the Internet and various other places in the past, but only recently has it been actually uttered to my face. I wouldn’t have thought much of it but it was said twice in a few short days and it got me to thinking about how prevalent the sentiment is despite its inherent falsehood and treachery. I am, of course, referring to the oft-quoted statement, “God helps those who help themselves.” No doubt you’ve heard this expression before, more than likely from a well-meaning person….

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I Don’t Identify as Human: The Hidden Image of the Hidden God – A Conference Breakout Preview

This NYC 2018 Conference breakout preview comes from Adam Morton, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church and associate pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, both in Lancaster, PA.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

You’ve heard that bit before. If not, purchase or steal a Bible (we can work on the ethics of acquisition later), and crack it open to the very first chapter. It’s a good read. This passage is one of the small set that might come out of the mouths of folks who have little or nothing to do with the church; nevertheless, they have heard that humanity is somehow the “image of God,” and this is surely important. But what does it mean?

Modern life is such that the definition of a human being seems to be daily renegotiated. The pet food commercials tell me that my pair of cats (let us never speak of them again) and my son are more or less equal objects of my care. I doubt this, but clearly not everyone does, else General Mills wouldn’t have offered $8 billion to acquire Blue Buffalo. Various experts and news stories have warned me, repeatedly, that if the robots don’t rise up to kill us, they’ll seduce us instead—and that this sort of thing is one day going to be perfectly normal. Silicon Valley appears awash in the notion that humanity can be—no, that’s too weak—will be transcended by way of the proper application of consumer electronics to the body. Sad as it is to say, neither are we anywhere near rid of the notion that certain colors or other configurations of the anthropoid form are markedly less than human.

Hear enough of this stuff and you might begin to suspect that we don’t yet really know what a human being is. This ancient notion of the image of God might be helpful in such a mess, if only we could pin it down. However, the thorny heart of the matter is that this image isn’t all that apparent in my daily life. I can’t see it, and while I could make several plausible suggestions as to its meaning, settling on which one (if any) is true is another matter—which means, strangely enough, that it has something in common with the God whose image it is supposed to be.

In this conference breakout we’ll try to talk about this image-of-God thing, what it means for it to be hidden from us, and how this confusion impacts us on a daily basis. Along the way we’ll enlist the help of Johann Georg Hamann, the greatest 18th century German writer you’ve never heard of (yes, I know, that’s hardly a selling point—but trust me, this guy is hilarious in a very un-German and un-18th century way).

You can sign up for the 11th annual Mockingbird conference here! No human beings will want to miss this!

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) - Part 2

40 Years in the Wilderness: God’s Search for Bruce Cockburn (in 27 Songs) – Part 2

This is the second in a 3-part series on Bruce Cockburn. To read the first part, go here. 

Act II: The Struggle Against the Darkness of the World (1980-1986)

Three dramatic changes occurred in Cockburn’s life around 1980: (1) his 10-year marriage to Kitty—which had included the birth of their daughter Jenny in 1976—ended in divorce, (2) his music caught fire in the U.S. and brought him fame he’d never had and was ill-prepared for, and (3) he moved from his 1970s home in rural Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario, to downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Perhaps as an effect of these changes, it was…

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What to Wear at Easter: A Sermon on the Resurrection

What to Wear at Easter: A Sermon on the Resurrection

This sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville. Happy Easter, everyone!

Welcome to Easter Day at Christ Church! Whether you are here every week or just once a year, Easter is THE day to come to church. The news we have to tell just doesn’t get any better than this.

Which is why the church is adorned with lilies and the choir is dressed up with brass. It’s also why you probably spent at least a little extra time thinking about what to wear on Easter Day. Easter stokes the urge, or remnant of the…

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For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

For Once in Your Life Just Let It Go: The Terrible Mercy of Lament

My all-time favorite YouTube comment has to be this one, left underneath a clip of the penultimate scene from 1982’s film, Blade Runner. Taking place immediately after an epic battle between Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, we are witness to a self-delivered eulogy:

boxerking1000
Best…Death…EVER!!! I sometimes sit down in the shower naked and quote this line as the water falls down my face…I’m not allowed at 24 hour fitness anymore…sigh.

Legos make everything better, don’t they?

Comedian Jimmy Pardo is fond of saying, “You know me, I’m an open book — but, I have secrets.” I’ve kept something from you, dear readers;…

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When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

When Compassion Hung on a Cross: Mr. Rogers, Janusz Korczak, and Other Unnecessary Miracles

Of all the questions I get in the ministry, “Why aren’t there miracles anymore?” is one that has dumbfounded me for a long time. We read the Gospels and see Jesus enacting one miracle after another. A banquet of food is made from a lunch pail. Healings come one after another. People are raised from the dead. To be honest, I have not really had an adequate answer for the why-don’t-we-get-miracles-anymore question.

Not until Fred Rogers entered the zeitgeist (again).

I have been struck by revisiting his old shows and remembering how remarkable he felt to me as a child. He explained…

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