A Heart Strangely Harmed

Way back in the last century — 1988 to be exact — I prepared a sermon for the 250th anniversary of John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience.  When I arrived on Sunday morning and looked at the bulletin, I realized that my title had a typo — instead of “Heart Strangely Warmed” the […]

When Fruit Goes Bad

By our fruits we will be known.  What’s that smell?  Why all the flies?  What a waste.  The rotten fruit of the Spirit is this: conditional love, repressed joy, fake peace, pretended patience, niceness passing as kindness, generosity to those who “deserve” it, narrow-minded faith-fullness, passive-aggressive gentleness, and demanding others […]

Invitation to Prayer

A church trial begins today.  Amy De Long, one of our pastors, performed a same-sex marriage and openly proclaimed her personal relationship with a female partner.  She did so in the context of a church that has not accepted either condition as “appropriate” of a United Methodist clergy-person.  And so we […]

The Unforgiving

I am back from Annual Conference (and a few days off to recuperate…).  My inbox is packed with mail from people who loved this year’s conference, hated this year’s conference, were proud of this year’s conference, were ashamed by this year’s conference, were excited by the delegation we elected to […]

Pure Theology

There is one phrase I hear that just drives me crazy when it comes to the Bible: I don’t interpret scripture; I just read it and do what it says. Basically, this is a false statement intended to end discussion by claiming that the person speaking has a crystal clear […]

The Costs of Low Expectations

While cleaning out some files the other day, I came across a folder of interviews I did in 2004 with 22 lifelong United Methodists who, in their 60s, 70s and 80s, made the decision to leave the denomination and join another church.  These people did not make the choice based […]

Plugged In

Two of my colleagues have recently returned from renewal retreats, and it reminds me again how very critical spiritual self-care is for leaders, both clergy and lay.  I conducted a variety of studies on clergy wellness, morale, self-care, renewal and spiritual practice when I worked for the General Board of […]

R.D.E.

I have been reading Paul Watzlawick’s fun and funky, The Situation is Hopeless, But Not Serious — The Pursuit of Unhappiness.  The central thesis of this short work is that human beings create their own unhappiness and discontent in dozens of creative unconscious ways.  In one section, Watzlawick focuses on a […]

Limited Appeal

I got an email this week from a lifelong Methodist who writes: You do realize, don’t you, that you have a very limited appeal?  The majority of United Methodists are extremely happy with the way things are. Really?  We are happy with losing credibility?  We are happy that more people […]