Souls and Selves

There is a concept in Christianity that we have to be very careful with—the soul. Here is why we have to be careful: emphasize it too much and we begin to think the only part of us that exists or is important is the ethereal spiritual essence thing that we call the soul, at the cost of our physical being. There is no separation between soul and body, and emphasis on this enforces a notion that the physical world doesn’t matter—only the spiritual. This leads to a theology that says our only job as Christians is “saving souls,” and our bodies don’t matter, the poor don’t matter, and the well being of the world does not matter. This kind of view ignores the biblical witness that begins with God pronouncing the physical creation “good” repeatedly. This kind of view ignores the fact that Jesus spent as much of his time healing people physically as he did healing them spiritually. All

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ISIS and Barmen

These last weeks have been filled with some pretty despicable acts of terror, the world over. Be it Boko Haram in Nigeria, or ISIS in Syria, Iraq or Libya. And before I launch into any kind of reflection on any of this, I would propose that you stop—wherever you are, and take a moment to pray for the those facing violence, the families who have lost loved ones, the world, and yes, even those twisted people who think that their cowardly and evil acts are in some way related to faith in God. Let us pray… I have had some incredibly interesting conversations with people on this subject over the past week, and a few things have become clear. First, as a religious leader, I have a responsibility to speak with honesty and integrity about what is going on. Unfortunately, we live in an environment where nuance and subtlety are often not heard, and the media tries to put every

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Super Elijah to the Rescue!

I have often talked about being careful about how we understand scripture, and this week is no different. It is Transfiguration Sunday, but this year we will be focusing on the Elijah/Elisha passage instead of the gospel passage. One important thing to understand when approaching any of the Elijah/Elisha stories is the concept of genre. Yes, scripture has genres. Different parts of scripture are meant to be read differently. There is poetry, law, history, wisdom, theology, letters, and so much more in scripture. One of the biggest problems we have with modern understandings of scripture is the fact that we read it as though it should all be heard the same way—some sort of deeply reverent, solemn, historical, factual reading. This is actually a huge problem for us! This flattens out the depths of scripture and greatly reduces the meaning. Frankly, it is one of the more abusive things we can do with scripture. So what does this have to

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Get Over Yourself!

Phew! It has been a week! Well, really…it has been a month! I suppose I could even go beyond that, but suffice it to say there has been a lot going on. It all came to a head this week when, frankly, my body stepped in and said, “NOPE! We’re not doing this anymore!” My family and I all came down with this nasty bug that stopped us all dead in our tracks. There was really nothing we could do but stop and rest—which in itself is no easy task, especially for a 3 yr old! Our bodies definitely have a way of stepping in to let us know when we can’t continue on at the pace we have been running. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that isn’t always so kind as to let us take the time we need to recover…to rest…to be. Perhaps that is why this is such a consistent message in our scriptures. The whole

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