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Posted by on Aug 13, 2020 in Politics, Work | 0 comments

How Should Christians Think About Politics? 11 Insights from Reinhold Neibuhr

How Should Christians Think About Politics? 11 Insights from Reinhold Neibuhr

\ It’s hard to find the right metaphor for our current political moment. Are we in an echo chamber with megaphones? Are we, like a nuclear reaction, splitting atoms and roasting all our opponents? Or perhaps we’re more like vikings on social media: we land ashore, pillage and plunder all who oppose us, and then sail off once again to hang out with our village people. Whatever the metaphor, we’re in an election season, and the weight of pandemic-soaked culture is turning up the dial on every debate. How should people of Christian faith think about and respond to the politics of our day?  There are as many answers to that question as there are people, yet few have more insight than Reinhold Neibuhr. His book, Christian Realism and Political Problems, first penned in 1953, is a hidden gem. In his chapter on “The Christian Witness in the Social and National Order,” he masterfully diagnoses our situation, turns a critical eye toward secular society and then the church, before...

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Posted by on Jul 29, 2019 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Politics, vocation, Work | 0 comments

‘Tis a Gift to Do ‘Undignified’ Work (Christianity Today)

‘Tis a Gift to Do ‘Undignified’ Work (Christianity Today)

Blue-collar labor often goes unappreciated and under-rewarded. How can that change? When I was growing up, the best TV shows all featured blue-collar characters. Cheers, The Simpsons, Love and Marriage, The Wonder Years—each centered on the lives of loveable laborers. Cliff from Cheerswas a postman, Homer Simpson pulled levers in a nuclear power plant, and even the disgruntled Al Bundy sold women’s shoes. One episode of The Wonder Yearsfeatured Kevin learning about his dad’s career path from a loading dock worker to a distribution manager. “You have to make your choices,” Mr. Arnold told his son. “You have to try to be happy with them. I think we’ve done pretty well, don’t you?” What a difference two decades makes. Since 1992, nearly every Emmy for Outstanding Comedy has gone to shows depicting white-collar adults working in Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, New York, or Washington, usually without kids. The exception would be The Office, but its humor is based on the idea that selling paper is an utterly miserable and meaningless job. In the NBC drama This Is Us, the...

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Posted by on Feb 14, 2019 in Politics, Theology, Work | 0 comments

From the Archives: Book Review, “Migration Miracle”

From the Archives: Book Review, “Migration Miracle”

Who doesn’t love a good adventure story? In my opinion, there are few contemporary stories filled with more hope and tragedy than those of Central Americans and Mexicans taking their chances and migrating north to America. I recently published a review of Jacqueline Maria Hagan’s Migration Miracle: Faith, Hope and Meaning on the Undocumented Journey (Harvard Press, 2012, paperback) in The Review of Faith and International Affairs. Here it is: Suffocating from the sweltering heat, Cecelia, a migrant from Puebla, Mexico, crammed into the back seat of a sealed van. She and a dozen other women and children dared not speak, despite the lack of oxygen, because their coyote insisted immigration officials were close behind. During the seemingly eternal trip across the U.S. Border, in tears Cecelia remembered, “I prayed in silence to God and pleaded with him to let me live.”Compelled by stories like Cecilia’s, sociologist Jacqueline Maria Hagan tells the harrowing tales of undocumented migrants traveling from Central America and Mexico to the United States in Migration...

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Posted by on Jan 4, 2018 in Economy, Politics, Theology | 0 comments

Loving Faithful Institutions: The Building Blocks of a Just Global Society (From Comment Magazine)

Loving Faithful Institutions: The Building Blocks of a Just Global Society (From Comment Magazine)

  Occasionally I’ll post on this blog an article I really like. And I really like this one by Dr. Jonathan Chaplin, who’s on the divinity faculty at Cambridge University. It’s about an unpopular topic that should be popular: the importance of institutions. One of my convictions at the founding of DIFW was that in order to change the conversation about faith and public life in Denver, we needed not just an event or a “network” – we needed an institution that can last for years, decades…generations. And that meant doing things like admin work, building a board, building long-term relationships, writing emails, and zillions of other unsexy tasks.   Happy reading – and I hope you’ll commit yourself to building strong, healthy institutions as well.  Postmodern Christians won’t get very far in transforming society until they learn to love institutions again. Institutions and organizations are out; networks and relationships are in—or so goes conventional “postmodern” wisdom on how to transform society, at least among those who hold out hope that societal transformation is still possible,...

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Posted by on Sep 12, 2016 in Culture, Politics, Work | 0 comments

The American Bible

The American Bible

  How do we restore civility to American public life? This will be the topic of conversation on October 13 at a lunch in Denver “Civility: Becoming People of Peace in an Age of Deep Division.” This book review, originally published on The Gospel Coalition, evaluates religion scholar Stephen Prothero’s attempt to bring civil discourse back to a raucous political culture in Washington DC by looking back at her most sacred, formative texts: what he calls, “The American Bible.”  America is not just a country; it’s a religion. The faithful sing her praises at baseball games, pay homage to her heroes in Washington, D.C., and recite her pledge of loyalty in schools. They remember the tale of her exodus from England, and fancy themselves as a chosen people. They chide themselves for the original sin of slavery, and praise redeemers like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. who shed their blood in atonement for the sins of a nation. They spread the gospel of freedom, equality, and democracy, and when doubts arise, they...

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Posted by on Apr 25, 2016 in Culture, Politics, Work | 0 comments

From Rage to Responsibility: Why Our Work Matters More Than Our Vote

From Rage to Responsibility: Why Our Work Matters More Than Our Vote

  “Against stupidity we are defenseless.” German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer could have written this about the 2016 GOP election race. I’m like most Americans. Religious, white, middle class, and ticked off. But far from supporting either Trump or Bernie Sanders, after months of feeling outrage and then disbelief, my anger at the American political machine has subsided, and now I find myself looking for hope far outside of Washington—and much closer to home. Here’s what I mean: the past six months of political campaigning have given me emotional heartburn. The unpleasant reflux came in three phases. The first emotion was shock. When Trump calls Mexicans who cross the border rapists, enthusiastically endorses torture, hints that Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was assassinated, and advocates the killing of terrorist’s families, my blood boils. How could Americans be voting for this man to lead the party of Abraham Lincoln? And how could 37 % of evangelicals support him? What on earth is going on here? Second, moral outrage gave...

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