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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 a very old Lutheran congregation in Lancaster, PA. In his spare time (which no longer exists, because he has a toddler) he plays games with too many rules and shouts at cats.

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Author Archive
    
    The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey's Gospel Madness

    The Preacher Goes to Fashion Week: Jim Carrey’s Gospel Madness

    Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
        vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

    God, in his mercy, sends preachers. Some are well-educated and institutionally-approved folk serving the faithful in fine old churches, but in these last days we should take no alarm that the same Lord who spoke through Balaam’s ass might again choose an eccentric instrument. His preachers are not necessarily welcomed even under ordinary circumstances – indeed, the urgency of the need and the warmth of the reception seem often enough to have an inverse relationship. Again, this should not surprise, because the preacher’s first word is a word of law,…

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    With My Own Eyes by Bo Giertz - A Review

    With My Own Eyes by Bo Giertz – A Review

    By personal habit, and soon by way of formal study (again), I read a good deal of academic theology. It isn’t always easy going down – sometimes quite far from it, as most working theologians are not sparkling writers. By contrast, I don’t read much popular Christian literature. It isn’t my thing, and I justify this opinion by noting that a huge proportion is bound to be saccharine, moralistic, anti-intellectual, or just plain bad art (though somewhere in this Venn diagram of horror there must be a kitschy sweet spot). There do exist, however, Christian writers who have addressed head…

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    From the Archives: God Is Not The Archives

    From the Archives: God Is Not The Archives

    A throwback from Adam Morton. 

    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…

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    The God of Order and the God of Cabbage Hill

    The God of Order and the God of Cabbage Hill

    Most Sundays you can find me in the pulpit of an imposing brick church on the western edge of downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania. One-way streets join in odd angles and strange numbers before its disused front doors; Cabbage Hill at once rises and descends behind it into a labyrinth of narrow alleys, overhead power lines, and crumbling Edwardian row houses. Not a hundred feet out of sight is our parking lot, one of very few in that corner of the city, but woe to the one who seeks it without aid of GPS. I have on occasion suggested a sign for…

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    The Father You Have, Not the Father You Want: Cross and Glory in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    The Father You Have, Not the Father You Want: Cross and Glory in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

    “A typical American film, naive and silly, can — for all its silliness and even by means of it — be instructive. A fatuous, self-conscious English film can teach one nothing. I have often learnt a lesson from a silly American film.”

    So judged the famously austere Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, fanatical opponent of intellectual affectation and devotee of Detective Story Magazine. Though I knew this remark from memory (they make you learn it when you send in your bottle caps to join the Wittgenstein Fan Club), Tasha and I did not hire a babysitter and head out Friday night in order to be…

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    How to Have (Just) One God - A Conference Breakout Preview

    How to Have (Just) One God – A Conference Breakout Preview

    Perhaps the most basic piece of information about the Christian faith — so basic that in the West it is more assumed than taught, even to the unchurched — is that there is one God. We don’t have to think much about this. When somebody says they are religious, we assume that they believe in one God and not many. People might ask, “Do you believe in God?” or say, “I don’t believe in God,” but the question, “Which of the gods do you believe in?” would take most of us by surprise.

    It isn’t only Christians who speak of one…

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    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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    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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