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Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Subjective Sovereignty and the Need for an Objective Gospel

Had the whole David and Goliath showdown happened in the age of Twitter, David may not have won. Here’s how it could have gone down today:

Goliath, after voicing his threats for weeks to the nation of Israel, finally finds his less-than-worthy opponent strut to the battlefield, slingshot in hand, nothing but his ruddy good looks and youthful optimism girding him. He says to Goliath, “I come to you in the Lord of hosts…the Lord will deliver you to my hand and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” Goliath, while not the brightest of the bunch, understands…

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Religious Isolation and the Ridiculousness of Play

Religious Isolation and the Ridiculousness of Play

I’ve been meaning to post some quotes from Jack Miles’ interview with The Sun for a while now, but somehow it’s gotten lost in the shuffle. It’s from the March issue on religion. Miles, a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and ex-Jesuit, discussed the current fear of commitment in America (of which he, as a vow-breaker himself, is admittedly a part).

When asked about the recent Pew Research results, which show that young people are turning away from religion, and which we’ve blogged about at length, Miles says:

Yes, I’ve seen those numbers. Some claim that religion has faded because its dogma is contradicted…

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The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

David Brooks’ most recent op-ed discusses the late career of Ernest Hemingway, how he became in his later years “a prisoner of his own celebrity.” Hemingway was a famous writer by 25 and by middle age he was simply “playing at being Ernest Hemingway.” Of course, this is where most of us might roll our eyes, and say few are so lucky. It’d be nice to a prisoner to your laurels instead of your demons. But when it comes down to it, Brooks isn’t just talking about fame. He is instead talking about works righteousness in a most literal sense: that becoming righteous (or noteworthy,…

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The Absolutely Fabulous Canterbury Cathedral

The Absolutely Fabulous Canterbury Cathedral

When I was a kid my parents had pretty strict rules about what we were allowed to watch on television. There was no Full House or Double Dare. And Blossom was totally out of the question. I spent my middle school evenings watching Nick at Nite. So there was a lot of Dragnet and Green Acres. Also, my Dad would, on occasion, let me watch Absolutely Fabulous with him.

Retrospectively, it wasn’t exactly Mr. Rogers. If you have never watched AbFab, then get to work. It’s a show about two drunken, pill popping, ludicrous characters named Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone…

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Life Expectancy (In a World of Expectations): A New York Conference Review

Life Expectancy (In a World of Expectations): A New York Conference Review

A little self-referential praise never hurt, right? Grateful for this one from Sarah Denley Herrington. 

Last week my husband and I were fortunate enough to attend Mockingbird’s ninth annual conference at St. George’s Church in New York City. We grew up in the South, were at one time New Yorkers (I use that title very liberally), and are now living back in Mississippi with our two young children.

Courtesy of Melody Moore Photography

The conference title, Relief: The Boldness of Grace in a World of Expectation, as usual, could not have been more apropos to my life and circumstances. I’m seven months pregnant…

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Failed Evangelist

Failed Evangelist

This comes to us from our friend Emily Skelding. 

I’m a terrible evangelist.

I have never once, not ever, converted anyone. I am suspicious of emotional altar calls after a sermon that starts at a whisper and ends with shouts.  I’ve never wandered a Florida beach converting a hungover college kid. In fact, I doubt these transformations. They ring tinny to my ear.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I even qualify as a born-again Christian.

Still, I cling to the idea of rebirth. God’s grace, the process of God holding my cracked soul to make it healed and whole, carries me through life’s…

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Cords of wool in the EU Colors

String Theory, Shoestring Theory, and Your Entry in Modern Jackass Magazine

In 2010 Kathryn Schulz, a journalist for the New Yorker, wrote a book called Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error. This passage comes from that book, and describes a phenomenon we know all too well: that we pretend to know something that we, in fact, don’t know anything about. Maybe we lay out the chief causes of the Flint, Michigan water crisis because we skimmed a Washington Post story on it. Maybe we throw out some statistics about incarceration in America–statistics even we didn’t know before they came out of our mouth. Maybe we describe to our spouse how he/she should water the fig plant….

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Resurrection & The Grace Of Doing Nothing

Resurrection & The Grace Of Doing Nothing

Towards the end of his first missive to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul offers a mini tour-de-force in defense of the veracity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. For Paul this conviction is central not just to the future hope of the people of God but also to orient the pilgrim life of the faithful in this present broken age. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 1 Cor. 15:56-57). Then the argument concludes with something that,…

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Why Do We Work So Hard?

Why Do We Work So Hard?

“Why do we work so hard?” asks one of the lead articles in 1843, the new bimonthly journal from the people responsible for The Economist. The tagline only upped the ante, bait-wise, promising to trace how “our jobs have become prisons from which we don’t want to escape.” Writer Ryan Avent looks under quite a few stones in search of his answer, some flattering and some less so.

He opens with the observation that we work more than ever today, not just because our employers or the economy demand it of us, but because work has become that much more enjoyable….

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Impossible is Nothing… And Everything: A Conference Breakout Preview

what-s-your-favorite-mission-impossible-movie-so-far-404453

I think it was three or four slogans ago that had the Army asking us to be all we can be. I wonder, actually, if that was happening during the same time the first Mission: Impossible movie was coming out. Seems like forever ago. In light of Ethan Hunt hanging on to the outside of an airplane as it’s taking off, “be all you can be” seems refreshingly possible. You know you’re in kind of a sticky spot when you find yourself wistfully remembering a time when things seemed possible, right?

So much seems impossible now.

It’s impossible to graduate from college and get a job in your chosen field, much less one that will begin to make a dent in your student loans. It’s impossible to date in the world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, not to mention that world of Tinder and Grindr. It’s impossible to be the kind of provider for your family that will allow you an undisturbed sleep at night. Impossible is everywhere. Impossible is everything.

And Jesus doesn’t seem to be helping.

With his commands to turn the other cheek, to love and pray for your enemies, to give even more ground to those who persecute you, and to give everything you have away, Jesus only ratchets up the bar of impossibility. Impossible doesn’t just live in the world. If it did, we could boo and hiss at it and think ourselves safe and immune, ensconced in our pews. But impossible lives at church, too. “Therefore you must be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Thanks a lot, Jesus.

During the morning break-out sessions on Friday (10:30am, April 15) of the up-coming Mockingbird Conference, I’ll be hosting a discussion of the impossible. It’s called “Impossible is Nothing…and Everything.” We’ll talk about some of the impossible things God asks of us in the pages of Scripture, and some of the impossible things life asks of us every day. As we see, more and more, that impossible is everything (or, more accurately, that everything is impossible), we’ll get a clearer and clearer picture of the Good News: that because of God’s accomplishments in Jesus Christ, impossible is nothing. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope to see you there.

Pre-register here!

 

On Public Speaking, From Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

On Public Speaking, From Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

This excerpt is from Walker Percy’s edgy mock-self-help book, Lost in the Cosmos, published in ’83, which provides a sympathetic voice for any readers who might personally identify as a “lost self.” This little post is dedicated to any pastors/public speakers who get nervous addressing a crowd:

The Fearful Self: Why the Self is so Afraid of Being Found Out

A recent poll asked people what they feared most. A majority of respondents agreed in ranking one fear above all others, above fear of sickness, accidents, crime, war, even death. It is the fear of speaking before a group, stage fright.

Yet,…

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Sickness, Millennials, and Stunning Nuptial Tethering

Sickness, Millennials, and Stunning Nuptial Tethering

This post comes to us from Chattanoogan essayist, Eric Youngblood.

Poor millennials.

Ain’t nobody love ‘em.

18-34 year-old narcissists. Self-absorbed. Motivated by excessive self-regard.

Lacking in motivation. Devoid of commitment. Absent of toughness. Unconcerned with institutional loyalty, unaware of others….an entire sociological tribe characterized by its deficits.

They got too many trophies for no good reason. They played in too many “everyone’s a winner” soccer games. They didn’t realize there was such a thing as a B in school. A whole generation of the image of God, spoiled, ruined and contaminated by grade-inflation, over-active-affirmation, and excessive-protection.

Whether NPR news reports, Youtube parodies, the Wall Street Journal, or…

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