Hello Again

So it’s been a while.

I started this blog way back in 2011, primarily because I was starting graduate school, and I wanted to chronicle my exploration of what I was learning and how that affected my beliefs. Somehow, I managed to get up and write several mornings every week – posts that summarized class lectures or textbooks, others that provided more political musings and eventually a few big series that explored topics separate from my education but to which my studies had pointed me.

By happy coincidence, our three children were either too young for school or being homeschooled, so I could write all the way until I had to go to work without much interruption – no lunches to make, hair to brush, teeth to double-check, screaming matches to referee. But as the kids got older, they needed more help in the mornings, and so it became harder and harder to keep this up. I could feel it drifting away, and although I don’t recall a specific decision to stop publishing, essentially that’s the choice I made.

I wish I’d kept it up.

A lot has happened since 2013, when I last posted regularly – most of it in 2015 and 2016, when I took a new job and moved several hundred miles away, and graduated with my M.A. in modern and American Christianity.

When I was last blogging actively, I hesitated to provide too many details about myself because I worked where I went to school, and I wasn’t sure how my employers would react to my ruminations. That was probably an excess of caution, but I worked in the fundraising arm of the university while openly questioning things like the virgin birth. If the wrong donor found the wrong post, it’s not hard to see how that could get awkward.

But that’s not really a concern anymore. So I don’t mind saying now that I earned that degree from Abilene Christian University, a fairly small liberal-arts school in West Texas affiliated with a cappella Churches of Christ.

We moved from Abilene to the Central Texas Hill Country in 2015, and I graduated a year later. Around the same time, we started attending our local Episcopal Church, which we love. How we joined the long line of former evangelicals to become Episcopalians is probably worth its own post.

Not only do I wish I’d kept blogging to better keep track of my thoughts as I wrapped up my degree, which included some work I’m really proud of regarding mid-century Churches of Christ and their responses to evolution and the civil rights movement, but I wrote a lot of words on Facebook about the 2016 election whose reach was necessarily limited to my friends. I’ll try to fill in the gaps with some flashback posts.

Finally, I wish I’d kept it up because, let’s be honest, this thing was doing pretty well. I’d had some success with Rachel Held Evans and Andrew Sullivan linking to the blog, with Fred Clark throwing some bones. Traffic seemed to be pretty steady, and there was some fairly consistent commentary back and forth from regular visitors. When you stop maintaining a site for five whole years, that pretty much all goes away. It’s probably not born from the highest and purest motives, but I hate the idea of starting from scratch.

But here I am, looking at starting over anyway. Why?

Because I need to write. And while I’ve had some papers published and continue to work on academic publishing and freelance writing, blogging allows almost infinite flexibility in what I choose to say and how I choose to say it.

In this blog’s very first post, somehow written almost seven years ago, I said:

Join me, won’t you? For perhaps the first time in my life, I can’t promise any answers, but I hope we can have some stimulating discussion and share in some amazing revelations as God reveals more and more about his nature to this student.

Let’s become disoriented together and see how God reorients our lives.

A new job, a master’s degree and hundreds of blog posts later, it’s more of a struggle to embrace the humility of that initial post. My brain has always tended toward figuring out and then disseminating the answers. It’s the old journalism background, I guess.

But one thing I have learned over the past seven years is that the life of faith is one of constant disorientation and reorientation. So I re-extend the invitation: Join me, won’t you? Let’s embrace the questions, the doubts, the struggles and see what God turns them into.

Oh, Hi There


Well, it’s been quite a while since I last afflicted the world with a blog post, and I apologize for that. The cycle has been something like: Crazy day at work means I have to stay late at the office, go to bed late, wake up with barely enough time to go to work in the morning, rinse, repeat, with class and homework thrown in.

So it’s been hard to find a time to blog. But I’m going to try to do better, getting back to a schedule of at least weekly. I need to wrap up the universalism series, and I’m reading through Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True, which obviously raises all sorts of questions about the nature and methods of God, some of which we’ve discussed before.

Likewise, I’m taking Restoration History this semester – a history of the Stone-Campbell Movement, a unity movement seeking to restore the practices of the New Testament church that, ironically enough, birthed three denominations: Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ/Christian Churches and Independent Christian Churches – and that has led to a lot of questions worth considering about the nature and difficulty of unity in Christ.

So I’ve got some things to talk about; now all I need is time! I’m hopeful that I’ll better manage my time and go to bed earlier so we can continue to have these conversations. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy them, and they’re helpful for me as I process my thoughts on this journey.

Sorry again for my absence. Let’s talk again soon!

On Re-Entrances and Exits

exodus-international-EVENT-love-won-outI kind of accidentally on purpose took a two- or three-week sabbatical from blogging before last week’s post about homosexuality. Truth be told, most mornings I just didn’t have it in me to jump onto the computer and type away. So I didn’t. Call it burnout or just plain laziness, but that’s why I disappeared for a while.

With my post last week, I intended to resume a more consistent schedule closer to how I had been posting for most of the first year-plus of this little diary: twice to three times a week. But then my wife and I both got hammered with upper respiratory infections, hence my more recent absence.

But now I’m back! I definitely have some things to follow up on from last week’s post, but for now, as I re-enter the fray, I for one am grateful that one major player is exiting it:

Continue reading On Re-Entrances and Exits

Life: Kind of in the Way Right Now

You’ll have noticed by now that my usual rigorous haphazard schedule of blogging has gotten a bit off-kilter of late. My usual tendency is to try to post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes one of those gets forsaken, and so I supplement with a Tuesday or a Thursday post. Sometimes, I have so much to say, I’ll even manage four or five posts in a week.

But this semester, my class is at 8 a.m. Mondays, which means I have no flexibility in the mornings to sit and write a post. I have to be out of the house by 7:30. On top of that, the class sis so writing-intensive, I’m taking two study nights a week, and a study night guarantees a 1 a.m. bedtime. Which means getting up early to write something is quite difficult. So that leaves Wednesdays and Fridays for posting.

I enjoy blogging, and I think it helps me process and retain what I learn in class, so I’m not about to stop. Nevertheless, the blog will be a little slower, at least until May.

Best Reads of 2012

51BCeNuiSkL._SS500_I wound up reading 38 books in 2012, not all of them incredibly germane to this blog (ahem, Hunger Games), but I wanted to take a brief glimpse at the ones that affected me most, regardless of whether I’ve mentioned them here already. These aren’t necessarily the best books written in 2012, though a couple do qualify in that regard; rather, these are simply the best books I managed to read last year, in the order in which I read them:

Continue reading Best Reads of 2012

Happy 2013!

Well, I’d planned to do a lot more blogging over the Christmas break, but stomach bugs have ways of changing one’s plans, and my wife and I spent most of Christmas and the days immediately thereafter awash in nausea and/or poop as one by one we all fell to the virus.

On that lovely note, Happy New Year! To ease back into the swing of blogging, I’m going to follow the crowd and list the most viewed posts from 2012:

1. Christians Have Power. How Will We Use It?

For all the talk about post-Christian societies and all the fear mongering about impending secularization and persecution, the reality remains: If you are Christian in America, you are most likely comfortable, accepted – and extremely powerful.

The question, then, is what do we do with this power?

2. The Radical Femininity of Christ

The men didn’t get it. They betrayed, abandoned and hung him on a cross. Yet while he was there, who stayed with him? The women. They got it. They stayed at the cross. They returned to the tomb, and as a result, were the first to see the risen Christ. The crucifixion and resurrection stories do not have a “masculine feel.” Indeed, the whole life of Christ is decidedly opposed to the masculine norms of his day.

3. Opening Communion for the 3-Year-Olds

Two weeks ago, our church did communion down front, “Catholic style.” We all stood up and took the crackers and the little plastic cups from servers at the front of the auditorium. I brought my daughter, mostly because I didn’t want her getting into trouble way in the back while we were at the front. After I had taken communion, the sweet older ladies who were serving us leaned down to my daughter’s level and said (paraphrasing): “Jesus loves you very much, and this is the life he gave for you.” And she took her first communion.

4. Christians and the NRA

Often when I discuss politics on here, I cast it in terms of morality and compassion. What does a moral, compassionate society look like, and how do we as Christians work to achieve that? I firmly believe one way is quit supporting organizations whose positions are morally repugnant and uncompassionate. The NRA is one such organization.

5. John Chrysostom and the 47 Percent

This insidious notion of the “deserving” versus the “undeserving” poor has infected every level of our discourse. It determines whether we roll down the window and give change to the guy with the cardboard sign. It shows up in our attitudes toward the impoverished who live in the neighborhoods around our churches. And it reveals itself, sometimes more surprisingly honest than others, in our political discourse.

6. Love Wins

Many Christians would likely condemn Les and Scott GrantSmith for their relationship. There was a time I would have, too. But love is a mighty, inexorable power. It leads a man to accept his partner’s new identity, and it leads a man to sacrifice himself for a people who despise him. It saves us all from the slavery of sin and death.

7. Keep the Mithra in Christmas!

It’s no coincidence that Christmas occurs so closely to the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. In premodern rural cultures, the lengthening of the days (i.e., the “rebirth” of the sun) was a significant sign of hope for the coming spring and reason to celebrate. The parallels between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son were simply too easy for the church to ignore them – and indeed why should it have?

8. How Should We Worship?

[O]ur professor certainly advocates a return to the way things used to be, and that’s a fairly conservative position, even if what he envisions would be considered a radical change from how things are practiced in most churches today.

I’m not sure I agree with him – culture often has defined worship services more than any particular doctrinal stance.

9. Transgender in the Church

[R]ather than spend my morning turning exquisite phrases of outrage, allow me to focus on something positive. This weekend, I read an amazing story from The Washington Post‘s Petula Dvorak about a transgender 5-year-old. Yes, you read that correctly.

10. The Purpose of Worship

The prophets in each case argue the technical aspects of the worship simply don’t matter – the songs, the offerings, the feasts, the prayers – it’s all worthless compared to how the congregation treats the poor, upholds justice, opposes oppression and loves others.

It was a good year for the blog; thanks for coming along for the ride. I’m grateful for your readership this past year and in the one to come.

Research and Papers and Finals, Oh My!

With a paper due in less than two weeks, a final the week after that and Thanksgiving right around the corner, blogging is going to be light for a little bit. I have to get up pretty early to get blogging done before work, and late nights at the library make that a lot more difficult.

So have a great Thanksgiving, and we’ll resume our conversations next week!

One Year and Counting

Today is the first day of class, which means I’ve now been in grad school for a full year. I have no idea how that happened.

It also means I’ve been blogging for more than a year – I started this thing in late July 2011, and here I am, somehow still trucking along. In celebration, here are the top 10 posts by pageviews this blog has had since its inception. If you’re newish, maybe you’ll find something you like; if you’ve been here from the beginning, thanks! Maybe you’ll find something you missed or forgot you liked. Or maybe the fact that these posts are the most viewed here will make you once again wonder why you’ve wasted so much time reading this blog.

Without further ado:

Continue reading One Year and Counting


So I fully intended last week to write a “going on vacation” post. But the stress of getting everything packed up and into the car drove it from my mind, and though I brought my laptop with me, never even opened it until this morning. So instead this is a “sorry I went on vacation and didn’t tell you” post.

I’m pretty sure dropping off the face of the earth without warning for a whole week isn’t right up there on the list of things you should do to sustain your blog traffic, but the average hits per day actually increased when I was gone. Apparently, the masses have spoken: We like your blog better when you don’t say anything.

Undaunted, I’ll continue posting anyway, starting tomorrow. Be warned.