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About Adam Morton

A son, grandson, brother, husband and nephew (three times over) of pastors, Adam somehow ended up in the family business and serves two Lutheran congregations in Lancaster, PA. In his spare time he plays games with too many rules and shouts at cats.

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Author Archive
    
    The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

    The Church Without Christ and the Ghost of Christmas Future

    I am an American Christian, however little I sometimes want to own that label. God, preaching, and proper theology may matter to me, but I know there is a business side of the church that demands pragmatic response. Bills must be paid, complaints satisfied, and attendance must be kept up, and all these things seem to ask technique of this pastor far more than faith. Pragmatism is rewarded, and this pragmatism easily hardens into cynicism when one knows how the ecclesial sausage is made.

    I serve two congregations and converse daily with an assortment of other insiders, and I have to watch my tongue around…

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    Parents in the Hands of an Angry God

    Parents in the Hands of an Angry God

    As I type, my fourteen month-old son is downstairs alone. He is still alive — this is attested by the sound of plastic stacking cups banging together, alongside the odd mutterings and outbursts of a being whose vocabulary includes kitty, Bernie (an instance of kitty), Walter (idem), dada, uh-oh, and duck, but not mama. Mama spends more time with him than I do, of course, but at the moment both of us have things to do that don’t include young John. This is fairly often the case. Our son is neither attention-starved nor dangerously neglected, yet neither parent can quite escape…

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    The Future’s Past: Time Travel and Justification in Fiction, the Bible and You – A Conference Breakout Preview

    Here’s another preview of a breakout session for the upcoming Mockingbird Conference in NYC on April 14-16!

    If one accepts the premise that pop culture expresses, sometimes despite itself, every essential truth of modern life*, then the screenwriters’ super-cliche, “I should have killed you when I had the chance,” is a mirror to our souls. We are awash in regret. Opportunity, whatever it was, has been missed and so failures past have compromised the future. Time is not on our side, but an enemy we must control.

    *This is Mockingbird. Of course you accept it.

    Where science has failed to provide a solution, fiction has succeeded: time travel. Starships and superheroes, Time Lords and terminators, and yes, Bill and Ted have all excellently ventured through the ages to set things right. Time travel is more than a plot device–in practically every case, it is a symbol for the ability of human beings to correct ourselves and our world. Which is to say, time travel is always about justification.

    That is ample reason to explore time travel from a Christian perspective. But there is much more to consider. The Bible makes startling assertions about time and where we stand in it. A dying Moses addresses a generation who never saw the Exodus, yet speaks as if they had, a generation of time travelers. Hebrews tells of Christ who appeared once, at the end of the ages, to remove our sin–but the ages roll on and the death of Christ is long past.

    You can’t get very far in any biblical discussion of Jesus and his love for sinners without running hard into questions about time–what time is it? Is now the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel? The question of who we are is inextricably linked to the question of when we are.  And so, we might also say that justification is always about time travel.

    In this breakout, we’ll discuss time travel and justification along these two avenues, fiction and the Bible, enlisting the aid of as many famous travelers as we can manage, and then take a hard look at where the two trajectories slam into one another. Along the way we might discover what real time travel looks like, how it’s done, and why it’s the boldest good news you’ll ever hear.

    bill-and-teds-excellent-adventure-sigmund-freud

    Pre-register here!

    Forgive Yourself, or Die Trying

    Forgive Yourself, or Die Trying

    Unless it has been replaced, the men’s room mirror at Manning’s Cafe in Minneapolis is a little worse for wear. Not broken, but scratched and pitted, and midway across the bottom the words are indelibly scrawled, “Forgive Yourself.” No telling who wrote it or how long ago, even less what they meant. Was it a pep talk from a weary (and likely inebriated) soul to his own downtrodden self? An encouragement to others? I know a former seminarian (no few have closed down Mannings at 2 am) who was observed, on occasion, to absolve half the room–did someone take offense? Whatever the intent, the message…

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    Fear of a Free Planet

    Fear of a Free Planet

    Ben Franklin was close but wrong on life’s certainties. Enoch walked with God and did not see death, for God took him; Elijah was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot; Apple hardly pays a dime. Death is a statistical lock and taxes hard to evade, but there are better bets still. To wit: the Vikings will blow a home playoff game on a missed FG (the Lord has so ordained it), the identities of Rey’s parents and Supreme Leader Snoke will disappoint fans’ Sherlockian strivings, and any public expression of Christian freedom worth the name will inspire a chorus of anemically orthodox…

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    God Is Not the Archive: To Forget in the Age of Memory

    God Is Not the Archive: To Forget in the Age of Memory

    One great benefit of regularly preaching and teaching from the Bible in exchange for money, aside from the money itself (fine, not spectacular), is that it forces me into confrontation with portions of scripture that would otherwise escape notice. My spiritual discipline is inadequate to compel this in any other way. Take that under advisement as you read. By the call of God I have a certain limited authority, and by sheer divine grace expressed through good genes I have fair powers of recall–nevertheless, my knowledge of chapter and verse would not impress anyone who has long made a habit of studying…

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    This Post Can’t Teach You Theology: Learning with Luther

    This Post Can’t Teach You Theology: Learning with Luther

    Some years ago I had a simple plan for my life. Step 1: head to grad school to learn a bit of theology. Step 2: acquire degrees. Step 3: teach for a living. Forgive my youthful naivete regarding the academic job market. My plan failed, but not for that reason. Neither was I derailed by the process of earning degrees; I proved an able student, did earn one degree, and may yet grab another. But that didn’t matter very much. No, I failed at Step 1, because I presumed it possible to learn something of God by devoting myself to that project, as if I were studying…

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    Thou Shalt Prepare for Baby: Law and Grace in Pregnancy for Husband and Wife

    Thou Shalt Prepare for Baby: Law and Grace in Pregnancy for Husband and Wife

    Tasha Genck Morton is married to Adam Morton and serves as Associate Pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, PA. They are due in July.

    Adam: I have a confession to make: I have read exactly zero pregnancy or baby books. Occasionally I will pick one up from its resting place somewhere near the living room couch, flip through, and set it down again. Tasha, who is due to give birth to our first some time next month, has done more than her share of reading. I am not utterly ignorant–I did attend some classes with her, and can correctly pick…

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    Everything I Like Fits Together: The Disappearance of Things and the Horror of Containing the Universe

    Everything I Like Fits Together: The Disappearance of Things and the Horror of Containing the Universe

    Recently I had the misfortune to fill out an online health assessment provided (one might say required) by my church’s pension plan. The usual lifestyle questions were included: do I sleep well? Not particularly. Do I have a plan to improve my sleep? My firstborn arrives in July. Let’s say no again. How many servings of each of the following do you eat per week? As many as I can cram down my gullet. And so on. I don’t object (much) to an insurance company asking these things. I do object to the odd spiritual language that appeared as the assessment progressed. Do you exercise as part…

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    Water, Blood and Gasoline: The Full-Throttle Gospel of Mad Max: Fury Road

    Water, Blood and Gasoline: The Full-Throttle Gospel of Mad Max: Fury Road

    Heads-up: While I do my best to minimize them, if you’re concerned about spoilers, rush out now and see the film.

    “My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.” The film’s opening words declare an existence that is already hell, life and death hardly distinguishable under universal wrath. Small pockets of humanity, if not civilization, persist within the wastelands, the scraps of the Before Time (an Edenic memory of our world) savagely contested among desert warlords and their gangs of deranged motorheads. Ordinary folk are complicit, brutalized or both. Max himself, tormented by visions of loved ones whose lives…

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    No Fun at All: Trivia and Self-Justification

    No Fun at All: Trivia and Self-Justification

    Three days before I heard Jamin Warren’s insightful presentation at Mockingbird’s NYC conference, I walked out of a bar with my wife following our usual Tuesday night trivia contest. Team Sweet Little Baby Jesus, an ecumenical assemblage of clergy and church workers between 28 and 40, had been trounced by our usual rivals, and I was not happy. It was week one of an eight week tournament spanning twenty or so bars in central Pennsylvania, and this result put us well back of where I felt we should have been.

    Rumor has it I was something of a jerk on the…

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