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But Now Let's Have a Surprise

But Now Let’s Have a Surprise

I love church mishaps. Once, at a Baptist service, I spilled my little cup of communion Welch’s on a neighbor’s new white pants. He was so kind about it but also probably mad, and I was so embarrassed. There was a soft piano playing in the background while the preacher, up front, invited the congregation to commune with the Lord and, when we were ready, to go ahead and drink. I tried mopping up the spill with my sleeve, until parishioners from all sides descended upon me and told me to stop: “It’s okay,” they said, “it’s okay.” It didn’t…

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A New Year & A Better Immanuel...

A New Year & A Better Immanuel…

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

Immanuel, God with us, epitomizes the Christmas season and carries certain implications which we could summarize in the following respects: Firstly, God has come near us not to condemn, but rather to be condemned for our sins. We understand this as a fitting contrast to Genesis 3:8 (and they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden…and they hid). As well, we can see in this a foreshadowing of the blessed future state John…

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Can’t Stop the Signal: Enduring Hope for Divided Times

Been waiting for the right opportunity to post a video of this talk, which I had the privilege of giving twice this past Fall. I actually prefer the San Diego one (from the Here We Still Stand conference – sorry, DC!), partly cause it’s a little more theological, partly cause the lighting was better–read into those signals what you will. But as I was ruminating on a possible ‘state of the union’-type New Years post, I realized it contained a good deal of what I’d want to say:

p.s. As you’ll discover, you can hear but not see the clips I reference. The second one makes sense without the video (read a description), but the first one from Curb Your Enthusiasm is a lot funnier if you can see Larry’s face.

Wendell Berry's Plea for Grace

Wendell Berry’s Plea for Grace

Have you ever seen your dog or cat suddenly turn its head, tense up, and stare intently into an unoccupied space? It’s quite unnerving. They obviously see something we can’t, and if the more instinctual part of our brain trusts their superior senses enough, we tense up as well. It’s an interesting cross-species bit of performance art that happens, and we, of course, have learned to harness those senses for our benefit and protection.

There are certain people throughout history that fill those roles in our own species. Martin Luther, and his namesake, Martin Luther King Jr., are obvious examples of…

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Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

Hopelessly Devoted: Genesis One Verses One Through Five

This morning’s devotion was written by K. Marc Choi.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5, NIV)

“Formless and empty.” These are the two words that the writer of Genesis uses to describe the world, pre-creation. They are frightening words. Enter God the Creator. He brings shape and substance to…

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If Only In My Dreams

If Only In My Dreams

I love Christmas music. I say that fully aware of the considerable aesthetic shortcomings that this love means I must endure, and yet every year as dusk falls upon Thanksgiving Day, I tune in like a character in a Lou Reed song waiting for their man. I find it easy to overlook the saccharine sweetness that under most other circumstances would be a disincentive, to say the absolute least: at no other point in time would I ever even consider sitting through an entire Barry Manilow song. But if it’s “Jingle Bells” with Expose then you bet your duff I’m…

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We're Better Than This (and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves)

We’re Better Than This (and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves)

Grateful for this reflection by Connor Gwin.

In high school, I wanted to be the President of the United States.

It was a humble goal. I was involved in politics on a local level in my small town in Alabama. I kept up-to-date on all the top political news. I was a top debater for both the Model U.N. and the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Club.

When I got to college I immediately double-majored in International Affairs and Political Science and began mapping out my career. You know, work a few years in the foreign service through the State Department then transition to local elected…

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The Failure of the Prequels and the Fidelity of Creators

The Failure of the Prequels and the Fidelity of Creators

The release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi has sent shockwaves of emotional heft throughout known space. Scores of Simeons awaiting the consolation of geekdom have found it in this latest installment, a truly surprising tour-de-force that delivers a similar blend of space opera wonder and classical tragedy the justly revered Empire Strikes Back administered thirty-seven years ago. Whether you left The Force Awakens wanting more or just wanting, rest assured: you will catch every one of the feels from The Last Jedi. The fact remains, however, that Force Awakens isn’t the dumpster fire…

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Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Another wonderful piece by Charis Hamiltonius, continuing from last week’s entry on Luther and Paul.

“Shall we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” This rhetorical question, dropped in the middle of Paul’s lengthy argument in Romans against a Law-oriented life, is not without merit. If grace is freely given to the ungodly, if the moral ordering of the universe is upside-down, and if our works have no bearing on our righteousness before God, then a reader of Paul’s letter would understandably wonder whether Paul cares about morality at all. To this question, Paul emphatically says, “HELL…

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Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

Anne Lamott and What Dies (and Grows) in the Creative Struggle

If you write, you’ve probably read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. She is the shy, neurotic, wise, funny, dread-locked, recovering alcoholic, who is a font of sanity and encouragement for many of us engaged in the compulsion of writing. Anne grew up in a family of atheists, but came to faith and got sober — in that order, as that sobriety wasn’t instantaneous. Her descriptions of the struggles and joys of parenting, the messiness of life, and the wonders of being part of a church family are alternately hilarious and weepingly beautiful.

There aren’t many interviews with her, but when…

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The Mockingcast Rides Again!

Exciting news: we’ve just dropped the first new episode of The Mockingcast in eight months, complete with fresh artwork and music (ht JAZ), as well as the debut of new co-host RJ Heijmen! Among other subjects, David, Sarah, and RJ talk Disneyland, church aunts, harassment, male libido, Advent, and the difference between justice and revenge.

Click here or on the image above to listen and/or subscribe. And remember, our feed changed over the hiatus, so if you think you’re already subscribed, you may not be. (Oh and the iTunes reviews and ratings didn’t survive the hiatus either, so if you feel so inclined… it’d be a huge help). You can go here to access the links we discuss on the program.

Thank you x 1million for your patience. We’ll have another episode in two weeks!

p.s. Those suffering interview-withdrawal are enthusiastically encouraged to check out Scott Jones’s wonderful Give and Take podcast.

The Future of Protestant Theology with Dr. Simeon Zahl

Very pleased to share following lecture on the future of Protestant theology. Delivered this past Monday, November 27th, by Dr. Simeon Zahl (University of Nottingham), it was the inaugural event of the Aberdeen Centre for Protestant Theology at King’s College, University of Aberdeen. Enjoy!