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…

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…

How (Not) To Read the Bible

In April 2018, fashion magazine GQ posted an article titled "21 Books You Don't Have to Read" and listed the Bible in their number 12 spot. Obviously, "the editors of GQ" are not the gatekeepers of literary excellence (Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in…

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…