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Posted by on Dec 24, 2015 in Culture, Politics | 1 comment

Driving Back the Cloud of Fear: A Christmas Meditation

Driving Back the Cloud of Fear: A Christmas Meditation

  If there is anything we Americans hold in common this Christmas, it is fear. I felt it creeping up my neck four weeks ago when my dad called me on the way to work. “Did you hear about San Bernardino?” I confessed I was behind on the news. “The Islamic State is here.” That same day my wife stopped in to buy jeans at the Gap. A Muslim man was buying a jacket for his wife who was draped in an all-black hijab, showing only her eyes. My wife felt guilty for saying it, but she said what so many of us feel: “Jeff, I was a afraid.” As Christmas approaches, the thorns of fear quietly infest American soil. Yet my wife and I hold something in common with many Muslims today. They too are afraid. Since San Bernardino, many American Muslims have feared a backlash. And should they not be afraid? Donald Trump vows to expel Muslims from America, and has even hinted at creating internment camps....

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Culture, Theology, Work | 2 comments

What Greg Thompson Can Teach Us About Living as Christians in Cities

What Greg Thompson Can Teach Us About Living as Christians in Cities

Occasionally you meet somebody that shines with such virtue that you are, perhaps for the first time, made aware of your own poverty of spirit. When I met Greg Thompson during our Thriving Cities symposium in late October, I almost immediately felt the weight of his glory. Before speaking to the crowd, he almost desperately asked me to let him know if there was anybody I knew at the event who had a particular hurt or pain that he could pray for. Unlike my concerns (Will the event be a success? Will people “like” the evening?), it seemed to me that his vision for the renewal of cities was almost completely driven by an other-worldly love. It’s rare that I go back over a talk that a DIFW speaker has given several times to take notes, underline, and to pray. But when Greg spoke about our “shared wound and shared calling” to reimagine what a virtuous civic life might look like, it was not just my mind, but through...

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Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Culture, Work | 4 comments

An Open Letter to Howard Schultz: Why I Love the Red Starbucks Christmas Cups

An Open Letter to Howard Schultz: Why I Love the Red Starbucks Christmas Cups

  Dear Howard, Right now I’m at a Starbucks in Littleton, Colorado, sipping a double shot Americano, using your WiFi, and listening to Christmas music. I also noticed what fine, festive cups you’ve chosen to adorn your stores across the land. As I admired their white, green and red simplicity, I also thought of all the flak you’ve received from Christians who apparently don’t like your red cups. I’m sorry about this. They don’t speak for all of us. Let me give you the top ten reasons why I appreciate the red Starbucks Christmas cups: 10. They hold delicious beverages that I purchase several times a week. 9. They allow nearly 191,000 employees to serve their customers worldwide – and provide for their own livelihood as well. 8. They have a sticker with my name and drink order on it because of the highly efficient system you and your team have created to get my drink order right nearly every time I’ve ever been to a Starbucks. 7. They’re...

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Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Culture, Work | 0 comments

A Gift to the World

A Gift to the World

  Several weeks ago, I sat down to share about the DIFW vision with a prospective donor. As I began to explain our mission, I could tell there was a mental obstacle. “So, you can’t evangelize in schools or business or the government,” he said. “So what it is exactly you’re trying to accomplish?” Before I could reply, the conversation moved to Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, and the contentious religious liberty issues surrounding the overt faith of their founders. Though I’m personally encouraged by the Cathy and Green families, I could tell that our organization was being sucked into a culture war, one that tends to see the Church as almost a drain on a liberal, pluralist society – one that impinges on the  rights of the individual. But instead of getting drawn into the culture wars, I instead decided to say what has been true for millennia: the church is a gift to the world. There’s a reason why we chose the title “A Gift to the City” for our...

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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Culture | 2 comments

Greatness and Grace

Greatness and Grace

Today Christianity Today published my interview with New York Times Columnist David Brooks on his incredible new book The Road to Character. Here it is in its entirety: David Brooks: We Need to Start Talking about Sin and Righteousness Again   The New York Times columnist asks what it takes to build character in a ‘Big Me’ culture. Interview by Jeff Haanen / posted May 13, 2015   Several years ago, David Brooks hit a wall. Although his résumé sparkled—a columnist for The New York Times, a political commentator for PBS and NPR, and the author of best-selling books like Bobos in Paradise—his inner life felt impoverished. Brooks’s quest to fill that hollowness culminated in his latest book, The Road to Character (Random House). He pairs sketches of historical figures like Augustine and Dwight Eisenhower with analysis of our culture’s retreat from biblical notions of sin and righteousness. Jeff Haanen, executive director of Denver Institute for Faith & Work, spoke with Brooks, a cultural Jew, about recovering the classical quest for virtuous living—and great men and women who...

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Posted by on Apr 23, 2015 in Art, Culture | 0 comments

The Calling of Jayber Crow

The Calling of Jayber Crow

“It seems to me,” David Buschart told us over one dollar beers at Old Mill, “that the idea of calling depends on the doctrine of God’s providence.” The four of us had invited David, a theologian from the seminary, to help us make sense of Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic. Of course, the book was just an excuse for four guys in our twenties to get together, look smart, and talk about our lives, wives, and jobs. And by choosing Old Mill’s cheapest possible beer, we confessed to the world we were both woefully ignorant of the what a beer should be—and we were utterly broke. That night I was intent on trying to figure out my winding, seemingly aimless, career path. I got my master’s degree, now had a job in a completely unrelated field, and could barely support my wife and newborn daughter. In my head, the script was never supposed to work out like this. And so when the local wiseman tells me the key to understanding...

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