As bloggers, we make a hobby of telling people what we think.56 WH

It’s really a natural extension of my everyday life, I suppose. In school, we learned how to think about math or biology. In college, I learned how to think about design. In seminary, I learned how to think about the Bible.

And now I spend my days teaching my own students how to think. And you probably tell your own children what you think of their behavior or their grades or the mess they’ve made at least once a day. And if we run into a rude cashier at the store or an incompetent driver, we will probably tell them what we think of them, through words or gestures.

Yes, we believe that it is what we think that gives us identity. It is what we believe that gives us unity. It is a very “Descartes-ian” idea, that we think, and therefore we are.

Is it not funny that I had to go all the way to Africa to meet some other Americans who would prove to me that everything I have thought about thinking would be entirely wrong?

Continue Reading…

Last night, I enjoyed watching the Academy Awards…

Well, I enjoyed watching some of the ceremony.  Ellen was the best.  Matthew McConaughey’s speech was phenomenal. Plenty of deserving people were recognized.

Awards are enjoyable because in their purest form, we are celebrating excellence. We applaud people who are the best or have created the best.

But…

We also know that awards do not live up to their ideals.  We know that they are political.  We know that they are not pure.  We know that sometimes they are unjust.  The best do not win.  People who should lose walk away with the trophy.  Some people get awards because people think they should get the award, not because they deserve the award.

We know all of this.  But still, it is hard to not watch the Academy Awards and wish just a little that a great crowd of people was applauding us.  Just once, you know.  It would be nice if people thought we were the best (even if we aren’t.)  It would be nice if they gave us an award (even if we don’t really deserve it.)  But most of us won’t ever get the recognition we crave.  Whatever recognition we get won’t really satisfy us if we are pursuing recognition.

And so it is on this day-after-the-Oscars that I am reminded of a man who was decidedly outside the establishment, who shunned applause and recognition, who understood the intoxicating corruption that accolades, awards and applause can create.  He understood that people are often enchanted by things that are not really beautiful, timeless or true.  And therefore, living in pursuit of applause is a lousy way to live.

applause

What if we went about our work today, free from worry that people will not recognize our efforts?  What if we were equally happy for the success and the applause that others receive?  What if we took satisfaction in our work, not because of what others think of it, but because it is what we were born to do?  That would be an amazing thing.

What happened, blog land?

You know, some weeks, things are quiet, and other weeks, there seems to be this subtle shift, this heat that is slowly rising beneath the surface.  I think it was a combination of events in Arizona, as well as the End It campaign.  But there was definitely some energy here this week in my blog reader.  I could feel it.

It’s also funny to me how some weeks, all my bookmarked blogs are written by men, and other weeks, it’s mostly ladies.  Today, it happens to be all ladies.  I didn’t try to make that happen.  It’s just coincidence.  So all of these ladies should be commended for powerful writing.

So You Want to End It?

It is an extremely noble cause, wanting to end human trafficking and sex slavery.  But we live in a time when we can “participate” in virtually every noble cause.  And I for one will admit that my “participation” often does not go deeper than being a fashion accessory or a Facebook post.  Lore Ferguson probably wrote the most important words I read this week about what it’s going to take to truly end sex trafficking. (Hint: a  majority of people, even Christians are participating in something that perpetuates the slave trade.)

The R-Rated, Unedited Gospel

We live in a country that is saturated with the gospel…or some form of it.  But we have a very edited, sanitized, censored version of the gospel, really.  It has been taught to us since Sunday School, cleaned up to be “family friendly.”  I completely agree with Emily Wierenga, that perhaps the truest Christians I have met are living in a continent that is starving to death.

A Dirty Little Gospel

Yes, somehow a theme developed in my blog reading this week.  After reading Emily’s words, I came across Hannah Brencher’s.  For all the ways we have sanitized the gospel to be pleasing to religious people, we have often poisoned the gospel to keep outsiders out.

When Our Christian Faith is Questioned

Finally, came these words, on the insult of having our own convictions questioned, of not being considered “Christian” enough by those who take it upon themselves to know best.  How often have we branded each other “heretic” because its easier than showing grace?  Kathy Escobar talks about having her own faith questioned.

And If You Need To Cry Just a Little Bit

I never thought I would say this, but the best thing I saw this week was Jimmy Kimmel.  If you haven’t seen this video, watch all the way to the end, because you can hear the tears coming in his voice, and you’ll probably be crying a little bit too.


For the few great words I named, there were thousands more that I do not have space to share.  But these are a few words that fueled me this week.  What about you?

This week, Arizona finds itself at the center of American political discussion.

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Rep. Steve Yarborough is concerned about religious people being discriminated against.

The reason? The bill that now sits on the governor’s desk, waiting for a signature or a veto, which protects businesses and their “religious convictions.”

The religious convictions in question are specifically those convictions which pertain to whom the business owner should deny service.

Last year, an Arizona couple were denied service by a bakery when they requested a wedding cake. A New Mexico couple were turned down by a photographer because taking pictures would violate his convictions as a “born again Christian.” Both couples were denied service because they are same-sex couples.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steve Yarborough says, “This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

I’ll let you parse the irony of that statement as you see fit. I don’t have a thing to say about it.

But as the cost of doing business in America rises, financially and for some people, morally, there is a lot that I am thankful for as bills like these are debated all over the country. Continue Reading…

What does it mean for a man to be “wise?”

What does it take for a man to be “honest?”

True, most of us think that we are basically honest.  And most of us do not believe ourselves to be fools.  We believe that we are prudent, careful, responsible adults.  And we believe that, as our basic moral principles tell us, it is good to tell the truth.  So we do, at least most of the time.

However, we know, deep down, that as honest as we may believe ourselves to be with others, it is with ourselves that honest often becomes most difficult.

That is why I find these words from one of the history’s great teachers so fascinating.  Because it is not thinking of ourselves as “wise” that makes us wise.  And it is not imagining ourselves to be “learned” that makes us knowledgable.  And it is not looking at ourselves as “grown up” that makes us role models.

Rather, the wise man knows that he is, at his best, still a fool.  An educated man keeps learning because he knows there is an ocean of knowledge he does not have.  And the man who stands tallest among us got that way because he never lost his childlike wonder for the world.

honestman

What if, rather than starting with what we do know, and what we can do already, and what problems we can solve, we instead started with what we have yet to learn?  There might just be some wonder left in the world.

There are some weeks when you just need good words.

This was one of those weeks when good words just seem to soak in like rain.  There has been so much to read, to watch, to absorb, and it has all been very needed.

These are some of the things that fueled me this week.

The Problem with Little White Girls

I have literally never heard of Pippa Biddle’s blog until this week, but she wrote something that suddenly blew up all over the internet.  It’s especially timely for me, having just returned from Africa.  And it made me all the more thankful to have gone to do what I am able to do.  We did not have a bunch of third world people trying to “make a mission trip” for us white people.  The Problem With Little White Girls (And Boys)

The Church Was Super Lucky

Let’s be honest, the internet feeds on criticism.  And Christian blog land is really no different.  I am just as guilty as the next blogger of using the negatives as blog fodder.  I’ve been trying to be more positive, I really have.  But Ed Cyzewski definitely wrote a post that convicted me the most this week.  The Church Was Super Lucky to Have Me As An Online Consultant.

Bad Theology Can Kill

Now, if there is a reason to be negative, it is probably this.  You know about the snake-handling pastor who died (from snake bites).  I’m usually pretty comfortable with a little mystery and leeway in my theology, but it’s this kind of thing that makes me veer comfortably back to a more Type A, Left Brained theology.  There are some lines we have to draw.  And Zack Hunt draws them beautifully.  Bad Theology Can Kill.

Terrified of Bravery

Finally, I know this is from last week, but it really resonated with me.  Yesterday, I knew I was not going to sleep well and sure enough, I was awake at four a.m., brain reeling with some kind of anxiety.  And so much of anxiety is about anticipating what will happen to me, rather than how I will live my life.  That’s why Alece Ronzino’s words really impacted me.  I’m Terrified of Being Brave.

Those are a few of the writers who fueled me this week.  What about you?