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Posts tagged "Grace in Practice"


The Quiet Dances and Grace in Jojo Rabbit

This review was written by Bryant Trinh. Loud and rambunctious: a couple words that might describe the trailer for Taika Waititi’s satirical new film Jojo Rabbit. We might also add to those: crass, audacious, daring. After the release of Joker a couple weeks prior, the world needed a film that would be a little more […]

When People Tell Me It’s Hard to Find a Church

People often reach out to tell us that they lean on our podcasts, sermons, and articles in lieu of church. While there’s something undeniably encouraging about the gratitude being expressed, at the same time it always makes my heart ache. I worry about who will bring them a casserole when their mother dies. I worry […]

“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 […]

When Your Friends Are the Devil

Do you ever dread meeting with a friend? Do you involuntarily find yourself imagining the ways this is going to go all wrong? Do you feel a knot in your guts when you receive a text message asking to “connect” later (why that word?) and zero elaboration is given? You feel the foreboding circulate through […]

The Scene-Police Punker in All of Us

Every couple of years I get bitten by the nostalgia bug and revisit musical obsessions from my teens and twenties. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s just what happens to you post-40, right? Maybe it’s just me. Of late, I’ve found myself climbing into endless YouTube wormholes. Before I know it, it’s 11 PM. There are […]

My Dad, His Dad, Jesus, and His Bride

Last month, my parents celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary…and the occasion caused me to realize that although my dad has never been a religious man in the traditional sense of the word, he was a picture of Jesus and the church, for me. The most succinct way I can say this graciously is that he […]

Reckless Love: Sometimes Mercy is Uncomfortable

Our friend/favorite/conference speaker John Newton’s newest book Reckless Love: The Scandal of Grace in a Performance-Driven World puts at odds the reality of the grace we receive daily with the ways we think grace is supposed to work. Instead of something given in return for our own goodness, grace can cause outrage by the abundance with […]

Something Major Has Gone Wrong Here: Why Alain de Botton Loves the Concept of Original Sin

A quick excerpt from a recent interview with School of Life founder Alain de Botton in the current Believer. Here, de Botton defends the concept of original sin as the starting point for functional relationships:

BLVR: Did you grow up atheist?

ADB: I grew up totally atheist… Christians were a naive lot who had sort of fallen for Jesus. They were sentimental, they were too emotional… It was all very tribal and just ridiculous in a way. But that was the ideology I grew up with. And now I’m very interested in Christian vulnerability, the taboo. So I spend quite a lot of time discussing that, you know… I love the concept of original sin, the idea that we’re all fundamentally broken and fundamentally incomplete. 

BLVR: Why do you love that idea?

ADB: Because it seems to be such a useful starting point. You know, if you imagine a relationship in which two people think they’re great—you know, perfect—that’s going to lead to intolerance and terrible disappointment when they realize that they’re not great, they’re not perfect. Whereas imagine a relationship that begins under the idea that two people are quite broken and therefore they need forgiveness from the other and they need to apply charity to the other and they need to forgive the other, and so that seems a much better starting point. I like these descriptions of human beings as being really quite flawed and crazy and out of control and you find that in Buddhism and Judaism and Christianity. The human being is presented as a very fragile, sort of broken creature. And I like that. It’s a good starting point and also it feels true to my experience.

BLVR: How are you defining broken?

ADB: By broken I mean “not quite right.” And that could mean so many different things but it could mean “with a great tendency to anxiety,” say, or “with a great tendency toward despair,” say, or “with a tendency to panic.” Any of these fundamental dispositions toward low self-esteem or whatever it is; many of us have a background of ways in which we’re not quite right.

BLVR: That’s all of us.

ADB: Yes, all of us. So that’s why the concept of original sin seems so plausible and applicable and also kind, because it basically says, Look, when you meet someone new, don’t just look for the positives; just assume that something major has gone wrong here. Treat everybody you meet as though they were laboring under some really big problem, basically. That’s the starting point of any encounter. Rather than how great are they, it’s more like, OK, where’s the broken bit of them? That’s a much kinder and more interesting way of getting to know someone. And also to say, That’s the bit of you I’m actually interested in. Like, I don’t really want to hear—that’s fantastic that you’ve been promoted, and you know that’s great, but, like, I don’t think that’s where your real self is.

Kinda reminds me of a line from Grace in Practice“Once the grievous nuance and unplumbable depth of the psyche were named, the power of the absolution could rise to the occasion. Once the total depravity of original sin was out of the closet, then the magnificent response latent within the grace of God in the cross of Christ could be portrayed. It could be displayed for people to see.”

Let’s Not Talk About Money (With PZ)

I’ve got stories, good ones, I mean, good ones. Working behind the scenes in church ministry for over a decade, even as a layperson, you build up a huge archive of unbelievable things you’ve seen. I’ve often thought they would make for a good book. Here are a few sample chapter titles: I’m 99% sure […]

“I hate you Dad! Oh, I mean Reverend!”

An old girlfriend of mine—let’s call her the Girl from Ipanema…no, on second thought, we better not—had a type when it came to men: blond hair and blue eyes. That worked out well for me—for awhile. Then a ghost showed up—taking the form of an ill-fated previous relationship with a man who looked remarkably like […]

A Clockwork Theology and the Un-Free Will

A friend recently noted that TV post-Breaking Bad seems to be getting more violent. Typically I’d discard this as your run-of-the-mill “kids these days” complaint, but somewhere between grimace-inducing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale and Fargo, I realized, well, maybe he had a point. Game of Thrones fits the bill. So does HBO’s adaptation of Big Little Lies, […]

From the Archives: Law and Grace in the Competition of Marriage

As with most of the provocative second half of Paul Zahl’s Grace in Practice, the following excerpt goes well beyond abstractions and gets uncomfortably close to the bone–in the best possible way. The language here has to do with marriage, but you could easily substitute a variety of other relational contexts: Men and women encounter a […]