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We All Get to Go Home with Beth Moore (and Jesus)

This week across my newsfeed, clergy colleagues shared an article from 2018 entitled “Women Bishops Were Active in the Fifth Century.” Now of course, as an ordained woman utterly unqualified to be a bishop but with worldly ambitions, I eagerly clicked: The fifth century image of a woman named Cerula shows her surrounded by open, […]

Ancient Samaritans and 70s Seminarians

It was curious to me that the first Christians didn’t see the parable of the Good Samaritan as a purely ethical mandate. I’m talking about the oft maligned, rarely approved interpretation of the Good Samaritan parable that nearly every early church father embraced. If you dabble in the waters of church history, then you know […]

The Seculosity Creed

Thank you to 1517 for the opportunity to put this bit of sub-Nicene ridiculousness together and then have 400 people recite it in unison…! I’ve made a couple tiny tweaks since then. Probably goes without saying but this was written in a spirit of play and confession, not superiority. A big shoutout to Ben Maddison for his help:

 

When Tara Isabella Burton Ran Out of Magic

A remarkable essay by Tara Isabella Burton appeared last week on Catapult entitled “I Spent Years Searching for Magic—I Found God Instead” in which the esteemed religion journalist (and novelist) charts how her lifelong fascination with magic led her to Christianity. She covers a lot of ground, and the sum is a conversion narrative par […]

The Utter Strangeness of Christ’s Divinity

Making my way through Tom Holland’s new book Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind (or as it will be known in the US when it comes out later this month, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World), and it is chock-full of tasty anecdotes and asides, all written in prose far more sparkling than one expects to find in work of history, popular or no. We’ll no doubt be posting from it quite a bit in the coming months. Here’s a portion of the preface:

The utter strangeness of [Jesus’ resurrection and ascension], for the vast majority of people in the Roman world, did not lie in the notion that a mortal might become divine. The border between the heavenly and the earthly was widely held to be permeable. In Egypt, the oldest of monarchies, kings had been objects of worship for unfathomable aeons. In Greece, stories were told of a ‘hero god’ by the name of Heracles, a muscle-bound monster-slayer who, after a lifetime of spectacular feats, had been swept up from the flames of his own pyre to join the immortals. Among the Romans, a similar tale was told of Romulus, the founder of their city.

In the decades before the crucifixion of Jesus, the pace of such promotions into the ranks of the gods had begun to quicken. So vast had the scope of Roman power become that any man who succeeded in making himself its master was liable to seem less human than divine. The ascent into heaven of one of those, a warlord by the name of Julius Caesar, had been heralded by the blaze across the skies of a fiery-tailed star; that of a second, Caesar’s adopted son, who had won for himself the name of Augustus, by a spirit seen rising—just as Heracles had done—from a funeral pyre. Even sceptics who scorned the possibility that a fellow mortal might truly become a god were happy to concede its civic value. ‘For the human spirit that believes itself to be of divine origin will thereby be emboldened in the undertaking of mighty deeds, more energetic in accomplishing them, and by its freedom from care rendered more successful in carrying them out.’

Divinity, then, was for the very greatest of the great: for victors, and heroes, and kings. Its measure was the power to torture one’s enemies, not to suffer it oneself: to nail them to the rocks of a mountain, or to turn them into spiders, or to blind and crucify them after conquering the world. That a man who had himself been crucified might be hailed as a god could not help but be seen by people everywhere across the Roman world as scandalous, obscene, grotesque. The ultimate offensiveness, though, was to one particular people: Jesus’ own. The Jews, unlike their rulers, did not believe that a man might become a god; they believed that there was only the one almighty, eternal deity. Creator of the heavens and the earth, he was worshiped by them as the Most High God, the Lord of Hosts, the Master of all the Earth. Empires were his to order; mountains to melt like wax. That such a god, of all gods, might have had a son, and that this son, suffering the fate of a slave, might have been tortured to death on a cross, were claims as stupefying as they were, to most Jews, repellent. No more shocking a reversal of their most devoutly held assumptions could possibly have been imagined. Not merely blasphemy, it was madness.

Those looking for a bit more to whet their appetite should check out the interview Holland gave to The Church Times in the UK.

NOW AVAILABLE! StoryMakers – Advent

Thrilled to announce that StoryMakers’ next kidzine has arrived and is available through the online shop! In addition to Creation and the Flood, children can now journey through Advent with comics, striking visuals, plays, and more. Activities are recommended for ages 6-12.

Advent Comic Series: Joy to the world…! Advent is here and so is our Comic Series. Order one Comic per child and discover the true meaning of the season. This 4-week series takes you through the epic arrival of Jesus. Kids will discover the incredible events that led up to the birth of our Savior. This illustrated comic brings the season of Advent to life.

Advent Pageant: Dive right into the story of Jesus’s birth. The StoryMaker pageant tells the story from the perspective of two shepherds. The story is simple and easy for any group of children to engage. There is plenty of room to add barn animals, angels, and stars as non-speaking roles. Remember to delve in, use your imagination, and have fun!

Advent Guide: The Christmas story can be a little tricky to teach little ones. There are many dramatic elements, miracles, and the appearance of angels, which leaves plenty of room for questions. Our Guide for Grown-Ups does the heavy lifting and will help any teacher or parent navigate the depth of the Christmas story. All you need is one per class or parent.

Advent Starter Kit: Includes all of the above: our seasonal Comic series, a Christmas Pageant, and a Guide for Grown-Ups. The Advent Starter kit has everything you need to share the greatest story shared every year.

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Preaching Politically in Turbulent Times

Was Rudolf Bultmann a Nazi sympathizer? Short answer—no. And yet…the accusation is commonplace within some sectors of scholarship. In his recent Gifford lectures, the New Testament scholar N.T. Wright said as much, accusing Bultmann of Lutheran “quietism” in the face of the Third Reich because he was a “friend and philosophical disciple” of the infamous Nazi, […]

All the Life We Cannot See (and All the Death We Should Be Doing)

Recently my four-year-old son has become obsessed with all things Hamilton: the musical, the person, the coffee table book I bought my husband and repurposed as a spontaneous gift for my boy, who flips through it daily and asks me to sing him the songs. He’s turned his older brother onto the soundtrack, which means […]

Help Kids Hear the Story: With StoryMakers

Like a lot of children raised in a denomination, I remember my Sunday school classes teaching me about my denomination. There were the seasonal colors, things about the liturgical calendar, and something to do with sheep. To be honest, I was never sure if the goal was to make me Christian or just to make […]

On the Seculosity of Fandom, or How I Almost Got Beaten Up at a Guns N Roses Show

If you don’t move, I’ll f&%*-ing make you move, he said. I was standing in a stadium, watching the reunited Guns N Roses perform. A dream I’d harbored for actual decades, finally realized. Our seats were decent but a few rows up a large-ish party hadn’t shown, so me and my friend did what serious […]

Memory and the Trauma of History

What does remembering tragedies like September 11th accomplish here and now? What do we channel in remembering, and what dangers are there in it? “Remembering,” I once heard a minister claim, “is the art of the mature.” I wrote it beside the second verse of Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget […]

“But I Need Those!” What Happens When A Pastor Flushes A Congregation’s Religion Pills

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a pastor, convinced of the truth of grace, actually tried what Robert Farrar Capon suggested here in The Foolishness of Preaching? I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion […]