Category: Blog Posts

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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The Work of Public Health Requires a Public. Do We Have One?

Do we have a genuine “public” in the U.S. or has “the public” (or, the publics) been sold to private interests for the sake of private profits? While one can find counterexamples to those I offer below, the preponderance of evidence is that “the public” in the U.S. is more fiction than reality. And a […]

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Reckoning with History is Very Different from Erasing History

Throughout history, religious-political regimes have frequently tried to erase conquered rivals from history. Jumping from era to era, and citing just a few examples: Scholars have no idea when Jesus of Nazareth was born. But the early Roman church wanted to erase the festival of Saturnalia and picked December 25 in order to smudge out […]

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Which Civility do You Want?

In Western Europe, the 16th century Reformation and its long aftermath broke the Christian churches’ hope for concord in church and society, if by concord we mean peace based on unity grounded in religious belief and practice. While some leaders are hardheaded and have delusions of returning to a religious-based unity, Christian churches cannot claim, […]

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It’s the Economy, Not the Children

What has the pandemic revealed about whom or what we U.S. Americans most value? Whatever the answer, it can’t be “our children.” In a “values clarification” exercise from many years ago, I heard the speaker say something like this: “If someone stretched a tightrope between two buildings in your city, would you walk it? Most […]

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