We know what stories do. The words bind us into a larger narrative. They give us an emotional and historical connection. They allow us to transfer important values. But they also allow us to build an intergenerational self.
Many of our institutional theologians wonder why they ought to be on Facebook. Many look at social media as a trivia game that they’d rather not play, while the basic architecture of human existence is being rearranged through our avatars.
I am tired of pretending that we want to hang out at the country club and eat cucumber sandwiches in fancy hats. We are not some sort of upper-crust elite society. Now, it's time to discard that tired label that ties us too closely with a particular race and class. It's time to call forth another name.
The religious landscape in Chattanooga is interesting. It may be a magnified version of what’s happening in a lot of places. There are many culturally hip churches that are utterly regressive when it comes to women.
It happens all the time: I’m reading a beautiful piece of theology, and while the thinker is waxing on elegantly about God and man, he barrels in on the subject of women or Jewish people, and suddenly I’m hit by a barrage of nastiness.
What will we do in the next ten years, if we have choked out all of the available pastors in this clergy bottleneck and the shortage comes upon us? Even if we simply plan for 70 percent of our positions to go away as 70 percent of our pastors retire, we will still need the 30 percent who are left.
I was reading Morgan Guyton’s blog post asking if Christians can transcend celebrity culture. I resonated with that weird feeling of being not-quite-famous. I’m usually at a conference center, where people are looking at my colored leader’s nametag, trying to figure out who I am, while looking over my shoulder, to see if there’s someone more important behind me. Sometimes people figure out who I am and say, “Tribal Church! You’re Tribal Church.” Then 5 seconds later, “You’re so much shorter in real life.”
And I wonder how I could be shorter than a one-inch avatar.
Nick, Doug and Aric noticed a trend in movies and games—there seemed to be a lack of creativity when it came to resolving conflict. Violence seemed to be the only resolution and when the killing occurred, that was the end of the story. There was no wrestling with the consequences or struggling with the moral injury.
I always savor the chance to speak with Dr. Meredith Gould. She is a sociologist who has written nine books. She is also deeply in love with the church. We used to live in the same general area (before I moved to Chattanooga), so I would drive to her apartment for home-made soup and advice.
I saw the stranger across the crowded room. My eyes were drawn to him like a dog to a raw steak. He looked lonely. I could tell that he needed a friend. I smiled broadly at him. He smiled back, and that was my cue.
Most spiritual leaders have wrestled with faith. Most of your pastors and most of the people that you look up to have questioned their faith and doubted God. It’s just that when we do it, we call it fancy, poetic things, like, “The dark night of the soul.”
Thistle Farms is a social enterprise to create handmade products as good for the earth as for the body. They work with the community and graduates of Magdalene, a residential program of women who have survived sex work, trafficking and addiction.
Closing a church is like eating the last slice of bread—somehow if you eat the last slice, you’re responsible for consuming it all (never mind that someone else ate the last 27 slices). A church can be declining for 40 years, but if a pastor comes in and starts to talk about closing a congregation, then she closed the church. Many people don’t want to be that pastor.
I turned the knob of the radio until I could hear the public station. It was a local program, a prolonged piece on a mother talking about the fear and anticipation of the "shavee." I admit. I rolled my eyes.