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Mr. Self-Sufficient confronts his helplessness

May 3, 2016

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Suddenly, I feel encircled by kind introverts in white smocks. They deliver good news, but I find myself enveloped in a peculiar angst, only relieved upon re-reading the story of a storm and a sleeping Messiah. Strange: prospects of healing spawn listlessness. Such are the irrational vicissitudes of the life dominated by mouth cancer, which […]

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Is martyrdom marketable?

December 26, 2014

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Slice another pie and mix up more stuffing. The religious festivals tramp on like salivating cholesterol monsters. The Feast of St. Stephens comes on December 26th, the same date as Boxing Day in the former British Empire and Wren’s Day in Ireland. It’s also the Second Day of Christmas (remember the thirteen-day season) and Rummage-through-the-leftovers Day. Because we can.

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ISIS Sex Trafficking

September 30, 2014

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Haleh Esfandiari is the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She describes how the so-called “Islamic State” fills its coffers by sex trafficking, among other things.

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The real message of Genesis …

September 1, 2014

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My suspicions have always nagged: Does the creationism-evolutionism debate totally miss the point? Let’s chill. Let’s listen to the message of Genesis 1-3,

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Praying for Iraq

August 20, 2014

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The traditional answer to pacifism is the so-called “Just War” argument. It’s a classic case of bad branding. Pacifists look like peacemakers while “Just War” advocates look like they’re arguing for war.

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Why pastors look like twisted pretzels

August 2, 2014

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It’s a verified fact: Anyone signing up for the professional ministry is nuts. Don’t waste time on those psychological tests. If they apply, they’re cracked. That would be me. I’ve been throwing myself into the kind of work that lands people on the operating table for 25 years. It’s American Anxiety Employment on steroids. I’m loopy.

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How Democrats Snatch Defeat From The Jaws of Victory

July 14, 2014

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Let’s ask the real election-year question: Why isn’t the Democratic Party poised with forks and knives, ready for November’s sizzling elephant steak? Republican popularity spirals amid denials of verified science, yet there’s genuine fear of a GOP Senate takeover. We should be dreaming of 1964, when Democrats held two-thirds majorities in both houses after routing Goldwater.

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Viewing Good Friday Through Luther, Augustine, and Barth

April 19, 2014

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Perhaps not surprisingly, I find thinkers from previous ages more gripping than the moderns. Three especially shine: Augustine, Martin Luther, and Karl Barth. Each made colossal mistakes – with Luther’s chilling essay against the Jews the most inexcusable – but each understood that theology was a discipline offered to the Church at large, not merely to academia. What’s more, each wrestles with God. They’ve glimpsed transcendence. They’re doing theology on their knees. They’re imperfect because they see things through a glass dimly, but at least they’ve tried. I tried finding what each said about Good Friday. It’s allowed me to gaze at the day through their insights.

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Vladimir Putin and strict pacifism’s false comfort

March 25, 2014

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It’s suddenly clear. We now see why Eastern European countries hustled in their NATO applications after the Berlin Wall tumbled: Mother Russia is a brooding matriarch coveting the children she once kidnapped, and Vladimir Putin stands in the tsarist lineage of thuggish, self-appointed successors of the Byzantine Caesars. Bare your chest and steal Crimea — and throw in that 97 percent vote as homage to yesteryear’s Soviet elections.

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Finding true mentors: They’re next door and down the street

October 27, 2013

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… they’re given a volatility license because their ministries are bloated and loaded. Hats off to them for drawing those crowds and their indisputable communication and organizational skills, but there’s more to Christian success than fund-raising and reaching a target audience. Otherwise, we’d be scolding Jesus for losing his following as he hung on the cross. Christian success would at least embrace Proverbs 14:17: “A quick-tempered man does foolish things” as well as James 1:19-20: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”

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