Revolution in the Manger: The Untold Story of the First Christmas

Growing up, I never thought the story of the first Christmas was very interesting. Oh sure, it's a nice story, but for a ten-year-old boy who couldn't even begin to grasp the meaning of the word "Incarnation," the Christmas story was the one with the cute baby surrounded by barnyard animals. But as I got…

The War On Christmas Is Over, and Other Holiday Misadventures

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm happy to announce the War on Christmas is over. And it's been over for about one hundred and fifty years. The Puritans waged the original War on Christmas in 17th century England and, later, the American colonies. A bunch of killjoys, the Puritans were a super-conservative branch of Protestantism that believed…

We Are Not the Prodigal: A Jesus Story Deconstructed

If you were compiling a "Greatest Hits" album of Jesus stories, the Parable of the Prodigal Son would definitely make the cut. During his three year ministry, Jesus told many parables, or short stories. Parables were a popular form of storytelling and preaching in Jesus's day. Most modern religious writing and teaching is meant to change…

The Divinity of Doubt: A Letter to Those Who Struggle to Believe

To the Poor in the Spirit, I may not know you, but I know how it starts. A visit to another church, a sentence in a book, a comment on a podcast, an encounter with a classmate, a shared article on Facebook, a changing political stance, a travel experience - whatever it was, something jarred the…

Dispatches From Purity Culture: How Sexual Shame Overtook a Generation

The guest speaker stands behind the podium. A clear pitcher of water sits on a stool at his side. Our youth group listens with rapt attention. The guest speaker is talking about sex. He invites three boys to the front and tells them to spit into the water pitcher. Like, really spit. To make it…

A Better Way to Read the Old Testament

The Old Testament is a formidable beast. Maybe you're discouraged by the mind-numbing genealogies, dietary restrictions, temple blueprints, and obscure prophecies. Or, maybe you're turned off by the graphic violence and apparent endorsement of slavery and oppression against women. Or, you're tripped up because no one in the Old Testament seems concerned about the afterlife.…

Unveiled: Women, Misogyny, the Bible and Church

The Talmud - a vast collection of ancient Jewish laws and traditions - said it's better to "burn the Torah [the first five books of the Bible] than it was to teach it to a woman." Saint Clement, considered to be the first Apostolic father of the Church, said, "Every woman ought to be overcome with…