Showing posts from November, 2015
December 16, 2014
What Psychology Says About Materialism and the Holidays
Six questions for materialism expert Tim Kasser, PhD
Reporters/editors/producers note: The following feature was produced by the American Psychological Association. You may reprint it in its entirety or in part. We only request that you credit APA as the source. We also have a photograph of Kasser for reprinting.
Would the holidays be the same without some materialism in the mix? In today’s consumer society, what does it mean to be materialistic, and is that necessarily a bad thing? Psychologists have conducted research that has helped answer those questions and many more.

APA recently asked Kasser the following questions:  
APA: What does it mean to be materialistic and why is it generally viewed in a negative light? Why are some people materialistic and others not?
Read more at

How Do You Tell the Biblical Story? A Proposal

Everything in the life of the church starts, ends, and depends every step of the way on identity, God’s identity. And from that flows the church’s identity.
God’s identity is confirmed in Consummation, adumbrated in Creation, and fully revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.
1.In creation, God inaugurated the realization of his dream – a community of humans to call his people and with whom he could live forever in loving fellowship on the creation.
2.Humanity’s rebellion trashed that dream and put humanity and creation in mortal disarray.
Good established order – rebellious trashed disorder: the original revolution.
3.The rightful king, now the ruler in exile, begins a counter-revolutionary campaign of reclamation and restoration to subvert what humanity has become and demonstrate what God always wanted.
In reclamation and restoration, God is a subversive counter-revolutionary.
4.In covenant with Abraham and Sarah God calls them to be his subversive counter-revolutionary people (universal family).

Memory, Forgetting, and Hope

A biblical call to remember must be written in the future tense.
Appears in Winter 2015 Issue: Remembering Forward
by James K.A. Smith
December 1st, 2015
One of the saddest books of the modern world is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything—not because the plot is heartbreaking (it’s a cookbook) or because it documents the ravages of hunger. What’s sad is that we need it: it’s a cookbook for a society that forgot how to cook. Read more at

Rites of the Stadium

by Peter J. Leithart 11 . 19 . 15

Modern sports are not simple competition between the two teams. If they were only about physical competition, games would be shorter, less glitzy, less energetic. Sports are ritualized events, liturgies. The crowd’s behavior is deliberately intensified with ritual elements – with mascots who emblemize the team, with fight songs that energize and bind the fans into a single singing unit, with the moments of drama like the team’s bursting through the paper barrier as they come onto the field from the lockerrom for the first time, halftime entertainments. At higher levels, the ritual gets more complex. The Super Bowl is the great annual rite of America’s athletic-military-entertainment complex. The game is integrated into the American dream not only by the singing of the national anthem, but by the F16 flyover. Halftime is extended to make room for popular celebrity singers to perform to raucous crowds. You don’t have to be at the game to participate: You c…

The Life of Faith, as Best as I Understand It or The Grammar of Faith

Our relationship to God occurs in at least three grammatical moods. First, is the indicative mood. Faith in this mood is declarative, stating what is true, usually with a fairly high degree of certainty. Fundamentalists of all stripes (right, left, center) can be found here. Intellectual assent is the key virtue in this mood.
Secondly, we have the imperative mood. Here demand is the main thing. The rules are there and they must be kept. Purity cultures (again, of all stripes) thrive on this imperative mood. Taboo subjects like sex are high profile here. Performance is the key.
Thirdly, we have the subjunctive mood. Here we find the “perhaps, maybes, hopes, doubts, perplexities” of faith. This is the mood we all live in much of the time if we’re honest. The rough edges and loose ends of life are where this mood thrives. And most of life is lived in this mood. If the first two moods are “summery” where all is bright and clear, the subjunctive mood is more “wintery.” It is a hortatory mood…

Healing Our Blindness

ByEssayNovember 16, 2015

As I write, I’m sitting in my living room watching football on a Sunday evening. I just finished eating a meal made with organic tomatoes and peppers we grew in our garden this summer, and now I’m enjoying a craft beer, made not far from my home.

Tonight’s Sunday Night Football game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks begins with a moment of silence to remember the victims of the Paris terrorist attack on Friday night, followed by a slightly altered version of “The Star Spangled Banner.” When the singer reaches the line “gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,” he changes “our” to “your” in a show of solidarity with France. As the song finishes, war helicopters fly over the stadium.

As Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer narrowly avoids a sack, my mind wanders to those around the world who might have a hard time imagining my comfortable existence tonight. Shocked by the violence of Friday night, Pa…

Stand with Paris?

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm
Today in Sydney the Daily Telegraph reported that the ‘merciless’ response promised by President Francois Hollande of France had begun with revenge bombings of cities in Syria. There should be no doubt that non-combatants will suffer in these attacks.
I write this with a profound sense of anxiety and personal misgiving. But I feel like I cannot not write when, as I’ll explain below, it looks to some observers as if the church I love has publicly merged its identity with that of Western capitalist democracy. Almost overnight, we have shucked off the theological practice of over a 1000 years.* At its best, the church has kept a clear distinction between itself and the state; suddenly, we have begun using words like solidarity and phrases ‘standing with Paris’. And I think that somewhere in our Spirit-led rush to the kind of compassion that has marked the church through the ages, we have forgotten that to be pastoral is also always to be th…

Reflecting on Terror

Frederick William Schmidt posted the following on FB today. I think he’s identified the issues that we must wrestle with to better understand what is happening in our “terroristic” world of today.
Here are assumptions Schmidt identifies at work in too many of the responses to terror.
Assumption #1: That there is any such thing as universal values.
Assumption #2: That if we simply reasoned with people or provided them with alternatives, that this kind of thing would not happen.
Assumption #3: That this problem is somehow the product of a historical vacuum, without precedent.
Assumption #4: That we can handle the situation through good police work or that when this kind of thing happens, it's due to poor police work.
These would be wonderful reflection points for anyone or group wanting to better grasp and respond to our world.

Forget the War on Cchristmas, The War on Advent is Worse

October 9, 2014 By Mollie Hemingway
I just received an email asking me to “save the date” for a “Christmas” party to be held on Wednesday, Dec. 3. “Hi friends, get a jump start on your holiday planning with our Save the Date for the [redacted] Christmas party,” the email read. Attached was a card that read “sleigh bells will ring, JINGLE, JINGLE, JINGLE So let’s get together to MIX & MINGLE.”
Now, I love an invitation to a party as much as the next girl, but this is a great example of The War on Advent (here’s where you imagine a big FOX News zooming and blinking banner as beautiful talking heads discuss how the culture is hostile to Christians).
You’re familiar with “The War on Christmas,” where we get upset that people turn what is clearly a religious holy day celebrated by the vast majority of the people in the country into a generic “holiday” season where the worst thing you can do is publicly speak the name of the holiday that almost everyone is celebrating. I agree that we shou…

Reflection on the Papal Visit

Pope Francis in America by Ekklesia Project 4 Nov 2015 In September, the news industry lavished attention on Pope Francis’ visit to the United States. Now, autumn has settled in and news outlets have returned to the usual suspects: politics, sports, and turning a profit for the holidays.

EP endorser Barry Harvey reflects: A few weeks ago I received an email asking if I would like to contribute a brief reflection on the Ekklesia Project website on the significance of Pope Francis’s recent visit to North America. I was particularly intrigued by one of the questions in the email that served as a prompt: “In what ways did he fall short or fail?” I would say not only did he indeed fall short, but that the way he failed was a good thing too. Well, maybe not a good thing, but not surprising either.

There is little doubt that people of all faiths and of none intuitively sensed that in this one man there was an intrusion of the extraordinary into the workaday routine that enthr…

Can We Call the Bible a "Love Letter"?

James McGrath, biblical scholar and popular blogger, says not. Recently he posted this on his blog.
“Few assumptions prevent people from understanding the Bible as much as the idea that it is a love letter from God to them. Every part of that – that God wrote it, that it is a love letter, and that it is written with you in mind – is badly mistaken, and so the combination thereof creates a lens that radically distorts and obscures the Bible.” (
On the other hand, no less a theologian than Dietrich Bonhoeffer apparently did so describe the Bible. One of his students remembers this from him:
"There, before the church struggle, he said to us at the new Alexanderplatz, with a simplicity like old Tholuck might have once used, that we should not forget that every word of Holy Scripture was a love letter from God directed very personally to us, and he asked us whether we loved Jesus…

Bible Reading for the Biblically Illiterate - And We're All Illiterate! (Part 5)

5. Who’s Afraid of the Book of Revelation?

Apparently John Calvin was. Revelation was one of the few biblical books he did not write a commentary on. A young Martin Luther, of 95 Theses fame and the Reformation, believed that Revelation was not a prophecy from God and that “Christ is neither taught nor known in it.”
Their reticence and reservations may seem laudatory in view of the many bizarre commentaries and uses of the book of Revelation since. Yet the book remains in the canon of Holy Scripture and we must find a way to interpret it that allows us to separate the wheat from the chaff in the uses of the book that contain to pour forth each year. Presumably the book had a message the early church felt important enough to include in its canon as a vital and genuine witness to the gospel. And it’s that we need to try to discover.
The majority view is that the book was written by a Christian seer named John (maybe the Apostle, maybe another John) in the last decade of the 1st century whe…