Thursday, April 28, 2016

I preached a sermon at Leigh's church

You can listen to it here.

It's part of a sermon series called "Half-Truths." Each week the congregation -- Crossroads UMC in Ashburn, VA -- is looking at a popular saying that people think is biblical/part of the Christian tradition, but really isn't a good representation of that tradition. My "half-truth" was "God won't give you more than you can handle."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My friend Morgan wrote a book

Hi friends.

At the beginning of last month, I posted on here and said that I was going to be writing more regularly and that you would be seeing the fruits of that writing.

Fun fact: I lied.

Well, "lied" sounds intentional. The actual fact of the matter is that I've been struggling with a mixture of writer's block, existential doubt, and my old friend depression, who seems to haunt around every corner that looks even a little bit like failure.

Also I have cold. Blergh.

One thing that I have been meaning to write, in fact that I promised to write, is a book review. I was supposed to review a book written by my friend, Morgan Guyton. The book is called How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity.

It's a good book. I recommend it. You can buy it here.

I told Morgan that I would post something about his book on my blog. I told him I would do so last Tuesday. I didn't. Then I felt really bad about it. So I promised myself I would post it on Wednesday. I didn't. So then I started feeling really awful and ashamed about the fact that I had not posted about it, even though (rationally) I doubt Morgan, who is in the middle of launching a book, really noticed that I had failed to do so. Especially since some rather more high-profile folks than me are talking about his book. But I kept feeling worse and worse about not writing anything about it, and kept trying to come up with something clever or good or helpful to say about it, and not coming up with anything, and so not posting anything, and then feeling bad about it. And, if I'm being completely honest, I was feeling a bit bitter and jealous of my friend Morgan, who was able to write a book, while I'm apparently incapable of even writing something about a book that someone else managed to write.

This is not a particularly flattering thing to share about myself, but c'mon, you know you've thought this kind of thing before.

And then, while complaining to my wife about something completely different, she said to me: "Why don't you try to do one thing at a time and not try to do everything at once?"

Which is wise advice.

So I decided I would post about the book written by my friend Morgan.

Which I still have nothing clever or helpful to say about, other than this:

It is a good book. You should read it, if you are interested in faith or if you have become un-interested in faith because of hurtful things that religious people have done or said.

And also, this:

One of the things that Morgan's book says is that our desperate need to justify ourselves and to perform does a lot more damage than it does good, and the grace our faith proclaims is exactly the opposite of all of that. And that is probably a good thing for me to remember, when I have a bad case of writer's block and am feeling a bit depressed and can't, for the life of me, come up with anything useful to write about a friend's book.

Which you should buy.

By clicking here.

Friday, April 1, 2016

In (brief) praise of foolishness

I don't like April Fool's Day.

I hate pranks. Joke news articles that get posted online never rise to the humor level of actual satire, and often involve making light of things that aren't really that funny.

But I did name this blog with a nod to the foolishness of faith, so I thought I'd take a brief moment on this first day of April to celebrate foolishness.

Writing to a church wracked with conflict, scandal, and political machinations, the apostle Paul wrote this sometime in the 1st century:
Look at your situation when you were called, brothers and sisters! By ordinary human standards not many were wise, not many were powerful, not many were from the upper class. But God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong. And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life—what is considered to be nothing—to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing. So no human being can brag in God’s presence.
Not many wise, not many powerful, not many form the upper class -- but God chooses what is nothing to reduce all the "something-ness" that we strive for to naught.


An even playing field.


Compassion winning out over hatred.


Love being the strongest force, the thing that holds the universe together.

Foolishness, foolishness, foolishness.

I hate pranks. But here's to foolishness.