Posts tagged "Repentance"

Bible Tuesdays: The Serpent in the Wilderness

It’s become fashionable in some Protestant circles to talk about inspiring virtue not through dry rules or frustrated self-discipline, but through a vision of the moral life. ‘Living into the Kingdom’, or looking at a beautiful vision of God’s restoration in the eschaton and ‘mapping backwards’ (see Ethan’s TFA piece in The Mockingbird) to see how we act in light of God’s redemption are ideas and phrases enjoying broad use in American Christianity. Even those who haven’t read the intellectual mainstays of this idea (Wright, Smith, etc) still implicitly think this way. I know I’d rather show my children Caillou’s…

Read More »

Lecturing the Prodigal Son(s) in The NY Times

A few thoughts on some recent Internet Prodigal Son banter, from David Zahl and Will McDavid:

As much as I admire The NY Times, it’s not where I go to read about grace. You? And yet, David Brooks was back at it again this week, talking about the parable of the prodigal son(s) and endorsing grace as an essential factor in crafting social policy for those who’ve squandered their inheritance/potential/goodwill. Check it out:

We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop…

Read More »

Coping with Our Failure to Be Happy: Moral Palliatives vs Repentance

Well, we’re probably nearing our yearly limit for writing about anxiety, and it’s only January, but great articles on the subject have been irrepressible. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that our increasing need to self-actualize, and increasing avenues for doing so, is a root behind the contemporary epidemic of nerves that had 1 in 5 American adults on anti-anxiety or antidepressant meds in 2011, numbers which have presumably risen since. An organization called the ADAA (anxiety and depression, etc) reported that almost one-third of the nation’s health bill is caused by anxiety disorders. You could reasonably ask…

Read More »

The Place Beyond the Pines: Where Toxic Shame is Met with Apology


My wife and I watched The Place Beyond the Pines a few weeks ago, and we’ve been talking and thinking about it ever since. It’s certainly one of the “darker” films to come along in a while, and if you’ve seen Derek Cianfrance’s other film, Blue Valentine, you know what I mean. One of Cianfrance’s main concerns as a director is honesty, and in order to get there, he clearly believes one must show the “darkness as well as the light.” With its dynamic plot, strong cast, and brutally powerful themes, PBP is a strong case in point.

Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a motorcycle…

Read More »

Bebopping, Scatting, and Step Nine Apologies (to Costanza)

Some angel of the Lord put together the Costanza-12 Steps storyline from “The Apology” episode of Seinfeld and who would we be if we didn’t post it here. So rich and hilarious, featuring a great cameo from James Spader and touching on a gazillion of our favorite themes, from scorekeeping to repentance and forgiveness, recovery, motivation, self-sabotage, etc, and ending with a scene of public condemnation of “law-breaking” that backfires to an almost New Testament degree:

Perfect opportunity to plug the Step 9 section of John Z’s Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody:

Amends are…

Read More »

Previously on Parenthood, Pt. 5: Perfect Love & Prodigal Returns

This is the fifth installment in a look at the theological and pastoral wisdom found in the current season of NBC’s Parenthood, mostly regarding the intersection of unsuspected love in the context of suffering. It has been almost a month since I have written anything, mostly because I felt the program was in the middle of a filler-episode streak, understandably serving to carry on the narratives of its many subplots but not standing out with profound moments of grace in ways earlier episodes have. Don’t get me wrong. There were some touching moments in recent episodes like Adam caring for Kristina…

Read More »

John Calvin on Repentance, Regeneration, and Pastoral Care

It’s easy to either write off John Calvin for certain interpretations of his theology or to invoke his name indiscriminately as a supporter of one’s own point of view. Reading his Institutes lately has been an interesting project for me, if for no other reason than to clarify Jean’s actual position on things. Some observations:

“…by repentance I understand regeneration, the only aim of which is to form us anew in the image of God, which was sullied, and all but effaced in the transgression of Adam.” (Institutes, III.3.ix)

1. First, in looking at Calvin’s view of ‘regeneration’, we should see clearly his…

Read More »

Gordon MacDonald and the Pool of Evil

Gordon’s MacDonald’s thoughts on “Vigorous Repentance”:

I once thought that repentance simply meant that when you do something bad, you mention it, say that you’re sorry, and move on. But a revisiting of the Bible on this subject has moved me to understand that repentance is, first and foremost, an acknowledgement of that deeper pool of evil that lies resident in every one of us and which is ready to explode at any moment.

If you know anything about MacDonald, you know that he knows about glory, failure, and grace. I’m thankful for men and women like him who recognize with clear…

Read More »