Wayward: Book Review

Wayward is a coming of age memoir penned by Alice Greczyn. First of all, I must say this book is very well written. I’ve read many autobiographies which suffer from problems due to their inexperienced authors. None of that is present here. The writing is so good, on one hand it was a joy to read. On the other hand, the content was often difficult due to being heart wrenching.

The majority of the 300+ page book is focused on Alice’s most formative years from around 10 until her early 20s. her family was evangelical but around the time she was 8, they became influenced by and involved in a Pentecostal style of Christianity inspired by the Toronto Blessing movement. This flavor of Christianity taught that everything was a spiritual battle Continue reading

Abortion

A comprehensive look at the debate over legal access to abortion in the U.S.

(This post can also be downloaded as a PDF.)

I don’t believe it will surprise anyone for me to say that abortion is a very controversial subject. What may be more difficult for people to understand is why it is so controversial. For many people, the issue is so clear cut. This is true for people both for and against it. If it’s so clear, why hasn’t everyone come to the same conclusion? How can it be that people have come to see abortion from such different viewpoints if the issue is so straight forward?

When it comes to the abortion debate, I’ve long thought the two sides have been talking past one another. On one side, you have people talking about Continue reading

What is the Nature of the Supernatural? Of God?

I believe in the “supernatural”. I put “supernatural” in quotes because what I believe in in terms of the supernatural is something beyond our current understanding of the universe. There are certain things in science which we haven’t yet figured out, such as how to unify the theories of general and special relativity (roughly gravity with subatomic physics) or the cause of the rate of expansion of the universe (which we believe has to do with dark matter and energy, but we don’t know precisely what these are). When I talk about the “supernatural” being beyond what we know, I’m not talking about these kinds of things. I don’t have in mind the questions which science knows it doesn’t know. When I talk about the “supernatural”, I’m talking Continue reading

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