Building Bridges (Article for The Christian Standard)

I’ll be continuing the “Dear Church” blog series next week, but here’s a special weekend edition of the blog with an article I had the chance to write for the June issue of the Christian Standard. In case you’re not aware, this is a publication out of the Christian Church movement (in which our church is connected). I had the chance to write about building bridges with Christians from other traditions.

You can click on each link below to read it:

(more…)

Dear Church, from Roosevelt

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

Dear Church,

Thank you, for leaning into this problem of racism and inequality, with a heart for understanding the perspective of the marginalized.

Like you, my heart breaks for the fact that people feel that violence is an answer. I understand it. I fight the same feelings. Undoubtedly you have also felt the same but probably for different reasons. At one time we all thought peaceful was working until everyone got cameras in their pockets and we were able to see the reality, that nothing has changed. I believe the church should be the catalyst for the change.

Let me begin by saying I am black and I am white. I am also a Jesus follower. I have been discriminated to my face and denied opportunities behind my back in ways that I can only attribute to the fact that my name is ethnic, and my photo has darker skin.

(more…)

Dear Church, from Corey

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, 

This has been a very rough week for me. I have experienced some very intense emotions: with most of them coupled with anger and disappointment. When Pastor Jeremy asked me to write an article for his blog, I agreed immediately. I took a couple days to try and stable myself emotionally before I started writing. I did not want my anger to guide my words. I simply wanted to speak my truth. Before I move forward, I would like to give you a little background of who I am. 

I am an African American man born in the south, near the end of the Vietnam War. I am an educator by profession with an undergraduate degree in religious studies and English, a graduate degree in education and a doctorate in Organizational Psychology. Presently, I go to different school districts and help create systems that provide successful and equitable opportunities for students and staff. I was recruited to the Portland metro area for this very reason. 

(more…)

Dear Church, from Jon

This is the first post in a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

Before you proceed, I want to let you know that you may experience some turbulence while reading this post.

Dear church, to those who find themselves shocked, outraged, disappointed, and appalled by the recent protests in our country; to those who are angry and saddened as buildings burned, stores looted, and vehicles vandalized, I want you to know that I share your emotions.

But not for the same reasons.

I need you to understand that “things taste different” to a person of color. I have tasted more about our humanity as a church and our inhumanity in our perspective. I have tasted the utter contempt of NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem and then the initial silence of an officer placing his knee on the back of an unarmed and detained black man.

…silence tastes different.

(more…)

Climbing the Tree with René Girard

One of the things I love about reading and exploring new ideas is continuing to trace the ideas further and further back. When you find a book or author who resonates with you, take note of who he or she quotes (especially if repeatedly). Then read that author and do the same. This allows you to trace the origin and evolution of ideas and allows you to grasp them in deeper ways.

The merits of this thinking have been explained in different ways, but here is an intriguing way to consider it:

“Chew on one thinker – writer, activist, role model – you really love. Study everything there is to know about that thinker. Then find three people the thinker loved and find out everything about them. Repeat this as many times as you can. Climb up the tree as far as you can go. Once you built your tree, it’s time to start your own branch.”

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

One of the “thinkers” whose name has emerged numerous times in my theological studies has been the French philosopher René Girard. Girard died in 2015 at the age of 91. I recently read his book called I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (see: Amazon link). While it isn’t an easy read (possibly because it is translated into English or it’s just really deep), this one offers plenty to chew on.

(more…)

Inspired Imperfection

I remember asking a question to a professor when I was in my undergrad program: “What resource do you recommend to someone wrestling with the inconsistencies between the God of the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament?” I was pointed to a Biblical textbook that was a generic overview of the Bible. Needless to say, this didn’t actually address my question.

Yet it opened my eyes to the gap of people willing to talk objectively about some of the issues with the Bible (and the Old Testament in particular) without either dismissing it or glossing over it. It wasn’t until I met Greg Boyd years later that I found someone willing to tackle this in a way that resonated with me.

Greg’s latest book is called Inspired Imperfection: How the Bible’s Problems Enhance Its Divine Authority (see: Amazon link). I wish this would have existed when I was in college and first beginning to dive into this idea for myself.

(more…)