On Her Knees – Book Review

It would be many religious parents’ nightmare. Their sweet innocent child goes off into the world, only to get caught in a confusing tangle of debauchery and abuse. Did they not protect her? No. The problem is that the church was over protective. They thought she would be protected by simple ideals. But this left her unprepared. Terribly unprepared to deal with the world—not of the ideal world of evangelical dreams, but the world as it actually is in all its mess. This is a coming of age story.

On Her Knees is a “Memoir of a Prayerful Jezebel” penned by Brenda Marie Davies. Before I go further, I must acknowledge the incredible vulnerability Davies has taken by sharing her darkest secrets in this book. I don’t want to take this lightly. Continue reading

Do Police Need Guns?

“Do Police Need Guns?” This question occurred to me recently. I say this because I’m not sure I’ve ever questioned it before. For as long as I can remember, police have always had guns. It’s a part of the police uniform. But do they have to be? It seems to be just presumed that police need guns. But questioning assumptions can lead to valuable insight, even if one’s answer doesn’t change.

Before I continue, I must state quite clearly that I am not a police officer, nor do I happen to be close to any officers. I don’t claim to know what they go through, but I have little doubt that their job can be very challenging and dangerous at times. So understand this article as my offering food for thought rather than my claiming to have certain Continue reading

Toxic Charity – Robert Lupton Book Review

For years, I’ve heard about two books related to charitable work, Toxic Charity being one. I finally got around to reading it recently. The book is written by Robert D. Lupton and is based on his years of work among the poor in the Atlanta area. The book is valuable because it helps to answer the question anyone who desires to help should be asking, “What can we do to truly help?” One of Lupton’s foundational beliefs is that there are effectively two types of needs: emergency and long-term community development. A main “toxic” element of charities Lupton identifies is offering emergency type aid indefinitely. When this approach is taken over the long term, it separates people into the benefactors and the needy. This unintentionally Continue reading

No More Christian Nice Guy Book Review

“No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice—Instead of Good—Hurts Men, Women, and Children” is a book written by Paul Coughlin. I had never heard of Coughlin before, but he apparently has (or had) a radio program as well as being a public speaker. He also started an anti-bullying organization. From what I have gathered, Coughlin is in the conservative camp and the book is written from a somewhat conservative point of view though it’s not too heavy-handed.

The book obviously examines concepts of masculinity. There are certainly challenges and pitfalls which are easy to fall into when considering this topic. It seems to be conservatives who are most often drawn to hyper or toxic masculinity. At worst, some people worship the idea of Continue reading

Sex Education

What comes to mind when you hear “sex ed”? I’m guessing that for many of us, it brings up a “birds and the bees” conversation and/or an awkward day or two in a junior high/middle school health class taught by a gym teacher. I do remember the latter but I don’t recall ever having the former. (I do remember some kind of kids health/anatomy book which our family had which contained a couple of pages explaining reproduction via illustrations of machines.)

I’ve heard several people saying how sexuality is about more than intercourse. I’ve heard it’s what drives us to connect with others. (Some even consider it the creative force in our lives.) This makes some sense but also not entirely. It seems we can have good relationships with family Continue reading

How to Be Here – Rob Bell

How to Be Here is the eighth book by Rob Bell. As many of you may be aware, Bell was a pastor who started what became a large church in Michigan. In most of his earlier books (and his Nooma videos before this), he is clearly more pastoral. His message in these works was more related to Christianity, faith, God, the Bible, etc. However, there is virtually none of this in How to Be Here. The book sits firmly in the positive, motivational, self help genre. Most of the book is actually an encouragement to create and to view one’s life as an opportunity to contribute to the world. It’s only during the last section of the book where Bell talks about being present. Arguably though, being present is important to recognizing the opportunity Continue reading

Is There Room for Doubt in Christianity?

For my entire life, I’ve been connected to some kind of evangelical Christian context. What I’m going to say here is not new—many have experienced this before. But it’s new for me at least in certain regards.

Recently I’ve had a couple of streams come together in my life. First, I’ve encountered some significant questions as I considered my theology. This led me to doing further study which led to even greater questions about where reality and Christianity intersect. This combined with how I’m not particularly fond of much of Christian culture has brought me to a place where all of the “Christianese” I hear rings hollow.

Many people will recognize there is a lot of baggage in Christian church culture which doesn’t come from Jesus Continue reading

God Kills Kittens—Sex and Christianity

I’ve considered making videos for sometime, and I finally did one. This is my first “sermon”.

Hello and welcome to the first of what I’m calling, “Choose Your Own Sermon”. This is a series where you get to choose what I speak about. For this episode, I received a question about a phrase I’ve used, “The evangelical fear of sex”. I’ve been requested to expound upon this. I didn’t plan for my first “sermon” to be about sex, but here we are. However, I think this uncomfortability highlights part of the problem—the topic of sex seems taboo, so we don’t talk about it which makes it feel taboo. Along similar lines, Jonalyn Fincher once shared how she learned that just because sex is private doesn’t mean it’s Continue reading

Black Deaths and Police in the News Again

I haven’t said anything until this point regarding several recent events. I personally prefer to remain silent until I believe I have something constructive to say, something helpful, something which may lead to positive change. I don’t necessarily believe anyone I know is doing the following, but I don’t want to speak merely to make myself feel better, presuming myself therefore to be part of the solution rather than the problem. But I do have a bunch of thoughts and feelings. And in my case, this deserves more than a short quip or meme.

First of all, I am upset to hear about further instances of black men and women being killed and/or harassed in what seems to be entirely unnecessary ways and for mistaken and/or other reasons which Continue reading

Is God Behind Sickness and Suffering?

A common belief about God (aka theology) is that God is in control. Everything which happens in the world is either directly done by God or is at least allowed by God. Many take this as a comfort because they believe in a good God and find it encouraging to think that everything which happens is under this good God’s control. However, this idea can also be troublesome when bad things happen as they are for many people right now. This raises questions and doubts for many as to if God is good and cares for us. I want to suggest there is another way to look at the problem of suffering.

Before we proceed, it’s important to quickly differentiate between two kinds of suffering. There are those things which are inconvenient and unpleasant but Continue reading