Category: Blog Posts

Literalism, Originalism, and Dynamic Communities

 “In the very first question put to her in Day 2 of her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Judge Amy Coney Barrett was asked to define, ‘in English,’ the meaning of the legal concept of originalism. ‘“In English that means that I interpret the Constitution as a law,’ she said, ‘and that I interpret its text […]

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Oblivion Is Not the Answer

If you type the word “obliviate” into your search engine, the first references are to the charm in the Harry Potter books that causes an individual to forget. For example, Hermione used the obliviate charm to erase her existence from her parents’ memories in order to protect her family in case the Death Eaters paid […]

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Doing Theology in Public

If you want to know the range of what kinds of public theology residents of the U.S. are doing, we live in a glorious time! Here are a few examples of theologizing I see around us, mostly around COVID-19 and the president—a little good, a lot bad, and some really ugly. The president’s recent diagnosis, […]

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Question Not the Beliefs but the Therefores

The Constitution protects the freedom of religious believing. Citizens should be tolerant of other’s beliefs. The government cannot be used as a tool for heresy hunting or for burning an alleged heretic at the stake—figuratively or literally. Yes, there have been seasons in our history where there was deep suspicion of Catholic candidates for office, […]

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1619 Plus 1776 Plus 1830 Equals What?

Teach your history in church. It may be one of the most subversive actions a congregation can take. America needs a better story. Nearly everyone agrees on that. What that story should be: now, that’s where things get interesting, and potentially as divisive as the Civil War. The President and allies are massing their power […]

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A Capitalist, a Democrat, and a Right-wing Christian Walk into a Bar

Several spiritualities conflict in the United States. Among the most prominent, sometimes doing battle and often shaping each other, are capitalism, democracy, and Christianity in its incarnation as the Christian Right. Every society has a spirit and, therefore, a spirituality. By spirituality, I mean a set of beliefs and practices that orient persons and communities […]

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Mr. Smith’s Washington, without Destructive Religion

Last week, I took an afternoon to watch Frank Capra’s classic film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. It was a treat! What I saw in this 1939 film was both familiar and foreign, and the absence of religion from the film was among the most striking differences. To recap the film (I’d say “spoiler alert,” […]

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Christianity is Judged in Public by What Christians Do, and That is Good

Protestant Christianity is rooted historically in Martin Luther’s interpretation of St. Paul’s words that followers of Jesus are saved by faith and not works. That theological statement is central to the so-called evangelical confession, to “accept Jesus Christ a Lord and Savior.” That confession is regarded by millions of Christians as the key to salvation. […]

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The Cost of Craving Power

A cautionary tale. Once upon a time, there was a group of Christians who found themselves in the wilderness. I will call them This Group. And in the wilderness, that place of deprivation and longing, The Tempter is extremely powerful. Prior to being in the wilderness, This Group lived in the villages, just like other […]

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What Kind of Spirituality Does a Healthy Democracy Need?

Every culture has a spirituality, a spirit, a soul. Spirituality used in the context of culture refers to the life energy, the desire, the aching toward something. A true and good spirituality should ground a people, deepen them, make them wiser, keep them focused. Spirituality is evident in answers to the question, “What kind of […]

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