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…

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…

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 American 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.…