“I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen how great Downton Abbey is,” I said in a sermon that was technically about evangelism. I was illustrating St. Augustine’s point that when people love, say, a great actor they tell others about him—and so how much more should we tell others about the gospel. A week later I learned how (un)successful that point had been. “I’ve watched every episode,” a parishioner said. “Now what was it you were trying to say about that show?”
One of the most interesting shifts in Christian theology after the Shoah was in how the adjective Jewish was used. In the patristic era, to call someone’s work Jewish was to insult it: the work was too fleshly or legalistic. Since the Shoah, to call someone’s work Jewish is to praise it as appropriately this-worldly, concerned with the ordinary stuff of life, embodied.
With William Willimon set to retire as bishop of the North Alabama Conference in
2012, it is appropriate to consider how the Willimon experiment in the
episcopacy has turned out. It has not been business
Eliza Griswold's book is a nearly perfect puzzle. On the one hand, she is doing some of the most important religious journalism being done these days. If God has, as one of her interview subjects puts it, "moved his work to Africa," then Griswold possesses a sharp pair of eyes for God's new work. It doesn't hurt that Griswold writes like an angel and has an eye for irony and detail.
A manifesto hardly seems like the right genre for David F. Ford. The
Irish Anglican theologian has made a career partly with the splendid
encyclopedia The Modern Theologians, a book regularly blessed by graduate students facing their exams.
On the way to meet a friend whose marriage, I'd heard, was on the rocks, I sifted through the clichés one can offer someone on the verge of divorce. But when I arrived, her husband was with her to welcome me. As we traveled around her campus together I noticed them holding hands (so rare on U.S. college campuses that you wonder if it violates some regulation).
I once had a fight with a more evangelical friend about the nature of resurrection. He would go to the mat for the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I agreed. And he was equally adamant that we will not be bodily raised. “How could it possibly make sense?” he asked, amid references to Night of the Living Dead and Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Wondering what it would be like to have his life turned into a screenplay for a movie, Donald Miller asked himself whether “the experience would be like taking a picture of yourself in front of a mirror taking a picture of yourself in front of a mirror.” That sort of multiplied self-reflection is precise
When I arrived as pastor at Beech Grove United Methodist Church, the community was bitterly divided because one member was running against another to be county commissioner. The primary issue in the campaign was whether to zone Beech Grove Road, on which sat Beech Grove Church. Issues of class weren’t far behind.
Every week tens of thousands of people attend virtual worship services that use an online ministry called LifeChurch.tv. A hundred churches worldwide are part of the LifeChurch network, and 23,000 additional churches have downloaded LifeChurch resources—for free—from open.lifechurch.tv.
Occasionally I’ve tried to hide what I am reading, lest someone catch me perusing a work that they think is too salacious for a minister to read. I’ve never done that while reading the Bible. But then I’ve never before read a book of the Bible illustrated by R. Crumb, godfather of the graphic novel.In turning his talent to producing The Book of Genesis Illustrated, Robert Crumb—usually credited as R. Crumb since he made a name for himself in underground newspapers of the 1960s—has found more sex and gore than even he can represent on the page, though he makes a game effort at getting it all in.
I told a friend that I was planning to visit the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte and he said, “There are no books. They should call it the ‘Billy Graham Experience.’” He was right. The experience is both tackier and more interesting than I'd imagined. The schmaltz has been well documented, like the mechanized talking cow that tells visitors how cold young Billy’s hands were before sunrise on the dairy farm where he grew up. Fortunately, the physical artifacts of Graham’s life have an eloquence that the cheesiness can’t quite spoil.
I remember once defending the doctrine of divine immutability to a renowned New Testament scholar at an academic conference. I was a graduate student at the time, and had not yet decided that I would work on Augustine’s biblical exegesis for my dissertation.
I got this problem. There’s this guy I want to be better friends with. We’ve been out with other people for drinks, talked at professional events and had a few laughs. But when I ask him out on a man-date (strictly defined: lunch or drinks after work) he’s always busy. Should I take a hint or try some other approach?
At the annual banquet of the University of Chicago Divinity School, first-year student Rebecca Anderson knocks ’em dead with a stand-up comedy routine. But then she should: she was previously a stand-up comic. “When I tell people here I grew up in a fundamentalist family, they treat me like I just got out of a POW camp. 'Oh my God,' they say, 'Are you OK?'"