Ring Around the Collar and the Gospel: What’s Your Story?

  Human beings are “enstoried” creatures. We find ourselves inundated, moment by moment, with data of various kinds that must be interpreted, and the stories that we live within form the framework for our interpretation of the world around us. This can be true at the simplest level of life—I recognize and understand the different functions of a fork and a knife because of the narrative surrounding such implements (especially around proper table etiquette)—to the most profound of social difficulties—see, for example, the highly charged competing narratives on either side of various race issues in the United States. The stories we tell … [Read more...]

Grace and Peace: Remembering the Kingdom Work of David Worley

Grace and Peace: Essays in Memory of David Worley is a compilation of biographical essays honoring the life of a remarkable man. A man, that I must admit, I did not know before reading this commemorative work. Edited by Thomas H. Olbricht and Stan Reid, this compilation was penned by 18 very different authors – all of whom knew David well. An honest and intimate look at one man’s life, this book is a collection of memories to be preserved and passed on for the benefit of those who grieve him now, as well as those who never knew him. As the back cover indicates, “David Worley was an extraordinary man of many talents and interests.” In reading … [Read more...]

My Reformation Day Dream: The Catholic Council that Never Was

  “O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions.  Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly Union and Concord: that, as there is but one Body, and one Spirit, and one Hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may henceforth be all of one heart, and of one soul, united in one holy bond of Truth and Peace, of Faith and Charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you: through Jesus Christ our Lord.  … [Read more...]

Blessed with Nothing: The Rich Young Man in Matthew 19:16-30

  The story of the rich young man in Matthew 19 has often been appropriated for the church in a moralistic way. It generally goes something like this: We each have our own thing—something that has become, perhaps, an idol. The thing for this rich young man that blocked him from eternal life was his material wealth. This got in the way of truly loving his neighbor. What is that thing for you, which you need to give up? Mine is coffee and Oreos (not at the same time). There, I said it. That’s not a terrible application. It is certainly something worth reflecting upon. But I think there is more to this story than … [Read more...]

What are we to do with the Baptist?

  For reasons that I hope will be clear shortly, I have titled my words as “What are we to do with the Baptist?”  John the Baptist, that is. Having been at it for a while, I can say that preaching in the church is both the easiest and most difficult thing I’ve done.   … [Read more...]

Calamity and Creation: Does God Cause Disasters?

Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. (Psalm 42:7 ESV)   When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3–4 ESV)   This dispatch is offered as a meditation on the two psalm verses quoted above (honest!). A bit like Pascal, though, I didn’t have time to write a short blog post, so I had to write this long one instead. The headlines that have greeted us as August has yielded to September … [Read more...]

“Revolt of the Masses” First Things Lecture invitation

  I am pleased to announce the third annual Austin Graduate School of Theology – First Things Lecture, to be held in Austin, Texas, on Monday, September 11, 2017 at 7 p.m.  This year’s speaker will be Patrick Deneen.  Deneen is an Associate Professor of Political Science and holds the David A. Potenziani Chair of Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame.  Deneen will be speaking on “The War of All against All: The New Aristocracy and the Revolt of the Masses.”  He writes, “In his 1995 book The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, Christopher Lasch described the rise of … [Read more...]

In the Face of Death: The Meaning of “Faith” in Christian life

My grandmother, Juanita Saxon, went to sleep in the Lord in May of this year. She passed after a long, strenuous battle with congestive heart failure (and other ailments). My grandmother was (as was my grandfather, “Pop”), to me, the very picture of Christian faithfulness. By her last breath she had fully formed her life into the image of her Lord, sharing in his passion in her own (as must we all), and finding herself finally to be alive and ready to be at rest in him. I was with her during the time of her passion, with my family. Seeing her suffer and then pass into her rest has been the cause for much reflection for me. Perhaps most … [Read more...]

Fallout: The End of Atheism

“Meaning” in a world without God I recently read an article about a monument erected on a public space in Florida, counter a ten-commandments monument, celebrating “atheism.” It was billed as an expression of free-speech, and I suppose it was. But thinking about it further stirred a question within me. Beyond the pettiness of it (framed within the context of “protecting atheist rights”), why would an atheist erect such a monument? If one truly rejects the existence of a god of any kind, and thus rejects any sort of telos to the universe (and one’s own life), why would one choose to celebrate this reality? And if one lives out what one … [Read more...]

Confessions of a Smartphone User

Well, it happened.  I am now the reluctant and mostly unwilling owner of a portable, Orwellian telescreen, or, as most people call it, a smartphone.  In view of the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and for cathartic ends, I will now engage in the jeremiad that I have effectively deferred for the last few years.  Caveat lector: if imprecation and lament are not your thing, do not read any further. There have been a few memorable moments over the years that have irreversibly affected my opinion of cellphones.  In 1993, when I was 16 years old, I worked part time at the A&W inside Town East Mall in Mesquite, … [Read more...]