How to Talk About Jesus Without Being Weird (or a Jerk)

About a year ago, I was helping out at an event and one of the servers asked me if I was religious. Earlier in the night, it had come up that I write stuff about the Bible. She was gay, and I suspected she was posing a somewhat loaded question. "I don't think so," I…

The High Cost of Consumer Christianity

For the past four decades, the local and institutionalized church has positioned itself as a place to be entertained, discover your purpose, and "plug in" to community. And it's a strategy that's been wildly successful. Until now. Echoing national trends of a growing distrust of "large institutions," a 2017 Gallup poll found that only 41% of…

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…

Waking Up: Christianity, White Privilege, and the Dark Side of American History

According to a 2016 Barna research study, only 56% of white evangelicals believe that people of color are put at a social disadvantage as a result of their race. However, according to the same study, 94% of white evangelicals agreed with the statement "Christian churches play an important role in racial reconciliation." While white evangelicals…

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…

At the End of the World: Leaving Behind the Rapture and the Cult of Apocalypse

A long time ago, I used to believe God hated the world. I wouldn't have quite put it in those terms, but the God I heard about was God who was merely biding his time before "rapturing" all the "true Christians" and pouring out his wrath and judgment upon the Earth. For those who don't…

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.…

More Thoughts on Sex, Vulnerability, and Spirituality After Two Years of Marriage

We tend to fight when we travel. Which is unfortunate, because we really like to travel. I don't know if it's the accumulated stresses of hurtling through the sky in an aluminum tube at 28,000 feet, navigating the wonders of baggage claim, driving in an unfamiliar city, or simply finding a place where my gluten and…

The Last Week: The Revolutionary Final Days of Jesus

This blog post is the first half of a collection of "episodes" I wrote for Holy Week. In reconstructing the final days of Jesus, I wanted to show how Jesus's revolutionary message and life challenged the political, economic, and religious structures of his day - just like they still do today. For those who don't…

We Are Not the Samaritan: A Jesus Story Deconstructed

In the narrative account of Jesus's life written by a physician named Luke, Jesus delivers the most famous story of roadside assistance ever recorded. According to the parable, a man is attacked by robbers and left for dead. His broken body is ignored by two religious men traveling the same road. He is eventually rescued and…