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PZ's Podcast: Bay of Angels

PZ’s Podcast: Bay of Angels

Episode 242

I’m always surprised when proponents of One Way Love fail to apply it in concrete cases. In other words, we can talk a good game — about how Christ is always there, gets there first (!), when we are at our lowest ebb, in our worst place of sin and paralysis — how no sin, no sinner is ever beyond the reach of His “saving embrace” — but when we or someone close to us — someone we really KNOW, in other words — is lying there bleeding to death from a self-inflicted wound, well, then… I just don’t…

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It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

A blogpost went viral last year with an explosive headline: “If it doesn’t stem its decline, mainline Protestantism has just 23 Easters left.” The article, written by Ed Stetzer, first appeared on the Washington Post’s blog and quickly made the rounds in the echo-chamber of church social media. Some dismissed the article as over-the-top, while others accepted it as gospel and began packing their church offices.

This blogpost came to mind recently as I began looking ahead to the sermons I will preach during Holy Week and Easter. I thought to myself, “What am I called to say on the 23rd…

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A New Chapter

A New Chapter

One of the most memorable moments in all of Western literature is in Augustine’s Confessions. In 383, the future Bishop of Hippo was 29 years old, and not yet a baptized Christian. He was, however, a brilliant and earnest inquirer after truth, and Christianity was a young thing with many sharp competitors. Augustine had traveled from his birthplace in North Africa to Rome: the capital of its time and world, if not yet of gelato. He sought learning there in the schools of rhetoric, supported by his holy mother Monica, and working as a teacher to patrician Latin-speakers. In attitudes…

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The Very Intersection of Love and Death: An Ash Wednesday Sermon

The Very Intersection of Love and Death: An Ash Wednesday Sermon

Grateful to share this Ash Wednesday sermon, by our friend Sam Bush:

Well, in a beautiful twist of irony, this is the first time since 1945 that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day have coincided. It’s such a bad pairing for a hybrid holiday that it makes you wonder if someone screwed up. The ultimate day of fasting — the day we are reminded that we are sinners and that we are going to die — on the same day we give each other cute cards and chocolate? Thanks a lot, Ash Wednesday. Thanks for spoiling our Valentine’s Day party.

At first glance,…

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God Does Not Love Me Because I Am a Christian

God Does Not Love Me Because I Am a Christian

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis poignantly observes that all of history is “the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” He’s making a sweeping macro-scale statement (and he’s right), but even ignoring the broad narrative, we see it play out in our own lives nearly every moment of every day. We have fallen natures, and our own contentment, security, and happiness are the places we see this nature most intimately. I am never aware of my own sin more than when I am made to see that in which…

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Individualism, Community, and Kafka

Individualism, Community, and Kafka

This post, first published on our site in 2008, remains a timely critique that cuts straight to the heart! Written by David Browder:

If one is to enter any sort of seminary situation or spend time in any form of Christian subculture, that person will encounter two things. They are two sides of the same coin. One is “community” and the other is Western individualism. The first (one is told) is good, and the second is bad. I have been doing some thinking on both and would like to publicly “air” out what I have come up with. Perhaps the reader…

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The Deathless Death

The Deathless Death

This one was written by our friend Sean Dwyer.

I’ve recently stopped attending my church. Putting many intellectual issues aside, the heart of the matter is the heart. I do not want to go anymore. I am unable to go. I am unable to bear the weight of the expectations, exhortations, and encouragements. I am sick.

In the words of Hozier, my church has been dishing out a “deathless death.” In his song, “Take Me to Church,” he sings:

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak,
A fresh poison each week.
“We were born sick,” you heard them say it.
My church offers no absolution.
She tells me, “Worship…

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Prohibition (Mostly) Does Not Work

Prohibition (Mostly) Does Not Work

Being one of those Baby Boomer antiquaries, I was caused by (and witnessed) a unique cultural evolution. No, not the 60s. It began with Prohibition, which was tried on my parents’ generation and was an epic fail — its genesis was unassailable and its failure inevitable.

Before the Industrial Age, hard cider was relatively safer to drink than well water, so many were drunk soon after waking. Drinking (and smoking) were just things people did amid the chaos of our 19th century culture, until it became clear that drinking simply killed people. Then, Prohibition became the cause of Saviors. And their…

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Unordained in the Diocese for the Sake of Porcupines: Some Thoughts on "Detachment" in Ministry

Unordained in the Diocese for the Sake of Porcupines: Some Thoughts on “Detachment” in Ministry

“I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” was how I started the conversation with my buddy’s wife. And yes, I was quoting Zoolander, but it was the perfect description for my experience of being friends with her husband. I felt awkward talking to her about it, but I wasn’t sure what else to do. I remember we were sitting outside their home, and I was fiddling with a leaf plucked off some landscaping, making my own ersatz fidget spinner. That particular habit has proven to be a fantastic way to discover which plants cause me contact dermatitis. Quite a few as…

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To Die or Not to Die? by Robert Farrar Capon

To Die or Not to Die? by Robert Farrar Capon

This is an excerpt from from the recently released collection of shorts, More Theology and Less Heavy Cream: The Domestic Life of Pietro & Madeleine, by the inimitable Robert Farrar Capon. Below, the protagonists (Robert and his wife’s alter-egos) discuss church gossip and infidelity.

Madeleine hung up the phone and put her head on the kitchen counter. “People!” she groaned as she pounded the surface with her fists.

Pietro was dicing celery with a Chinese cleaver. “I have a trusty blade here in my hand,” he said. “Perhaps I could sally forth and avenge these wrongs you feel compelled to communicate to the Formica.”

“Thanks a…

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But Now Let's Have a Surprise

But Now Let’s Have a Surprise

I love church mishaps. Once, at a Baptist service, I spilled my little cup of communion Welch’s on a neighbor’s new white pants. He was so kind about it but also probably mad, and I was so embarrassed. There was a soft piano playing in the background while the preacher, up front, invited the congregation to commune with the Lord and, when we were ready, to go ahead and drink. I tried mopping up the spill with my sleeve, until parishioners from all sides descended upon me and told me to stop: “It’s okay,” they said, “it’s okay.” It didn’t…

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Snow Blowers Are Of The Devil (Blue Jeans Too)

Snow Blowers Are Of The Devil (Blue Jeans Too)

We live in a time of raging technology. Everything is changing as the microprocessors are taking everything over. A couple of centuries ago a group called the Luddites simply rejected technology beyond what they knew back when the microprocessor was called the steam engine. Luddites smashed machines to retain control. It didn’t work. Technology won. Everything changed.

In a similar way, I think technology has become a public crisis once again. Not since the advent of The Machines has our culture convulsed as it is now with the advent of the pervasive robot. I know this personally because I…

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