Critical Thinking

Dumbfounded

There are times that I am stunned to silence (not many, granted, but a few…) by my own denomination.  I wonder what it is that we believe and what our witness to the world really is.  The latest brick in the wall of incredulity came when I saw that William […]

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

One of the sidelights of the research I did into congregational vitality from 1999-2008 was the opportunity to identify and interview young pastors who were doing truly meaningful, serious, and innovative work in the church.  Many of them were not lead pastors, but those who could specialize in youth, young […]

Everybody’s Right

“Why don’t you get more angry with people?” one of my new colleague’s asked me recently?  “You get hammered by people on your blog and you never seem to tell them off.”  There are a number of things wrong with this observation.  First, I do get irritated, but it seldom […]

Dirty Stat Lover

An email I received today asked a question I am frequently asked, “How could someone who distrusts and dislikes statistics as much as you do have been a researcher for over a decade?”  The short answer to this is that it’s not that I don’t like statistics — I LOVE them, […]

Why People Think We’re Crazy

There are times when Christians drive me absolutely nuts.  One way this happens is when I hear well-meaning and sincere Christians confuse faith and superstition, relying on prayer as a magical talisman or incantation.  I listened to a United Methodist colleague share recently that he no longer prays because it […]

Puritanical Victorianimosity

It always amazes me when fairly modern interpretations of scripture are represented as “traditional” or “ancient.”  Most moralizing uses of scripture are as recent as the Victorian era (1837~1901), and many date back to the Puritan era (1550s~1660s) but almost none have anything to do with their original meaning.  Most of our Hebrew […]

Prayer Stupid

Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, we had a term for people too stupid to live — prayer stupid.  The not-all-too-sensitive meaning was that prayer was all that was left for these folks — they had no other options.  Their guardian angels were beaten, tattered, and torn — […]

Open to Interpretation

I have been engaged this week in a lively, fascinating email exchange with a young male pastor out west over the interpretation of scripture.  Think of the “hi, I’m a Mac/hi, I’m a PC” ads.  For the sake of the illustration, I obviously am the PC…  Anyway, my friend and […]

Hard Questions, Hard Answers

A colleague took me aside recently and said, “You know, you’re upsetting a lot of people.”  I looked at him and immediately asked, “Who?”  Furtively, my friend said, “Well, you know, leaders in the church.”  “Like who?” I asked, then added, “A lot?”  He went on to name two people […]