• Unreading the Gospel of Mark

    The year during lent I have been making 1 hour videos walking through the Gospel of Mark in a way the recovers some of the shock and awe of how it would have originally landed on people’s ears.  If you were going to watch just one, this would be the one to watch. Mark chapter 8 remains one of the most influential pieces of literature on my life.   Buckle up, and sorry I get all emotional at the end. Unreading, Mark Chapter 8

  • The Dangerous Vulnerability of What Comes Next

    I can think of two particular stories to illustrate how I have been feeling this Christmastide.   The first s the famous ending of the classic movie the graduate.   Dustin Hoffman dramatically storms the church and steals his love, Anne Bancroft away form the altar where she was almost tragically married to some other dude.   The two board a passing bus and the camera lingers on them…a little too long, just long enough for those of us watching the scene to realize that starry eyed feeling of them staring in each other eyes quickly becomes awkward and uncertain in hardly any time at all, in less time it…

  • It’s Not About the Chocolate:self improvement in Lent. UPDATE

    I like to repost blog entries from earlier years, not only because I like to revisit what I was thinking at the time but I like to consider how changes in our context changes what is important to say in an particular moment.   When I wrote this, I really wanted to underscore the need for grace, in the sense I wanted to emphasize that what happens in lent at its best is a gift of God and not a mere matter of will-power as I am sometimes tempted to think. This year is different. This year I have been experiencing how this is true on a visceral level. I…

  • What is so Magical About Christmas?

    I recognize that, theoretically speaking, there isn’t anything that is more special about tonight than any other night.  so.  there. At least  December 21st, the winter solstice, has some astronomical significance.  But there is nothing about the sun, moon and stars that seem to put Christmas Eve, Dec 24th on the “Big Deal” calendar. Historically speaking, it was Emperor Julius that declared December 25th the celebration of Jesus’ birth, but actually the calendar itself has changed since then.  In fact, in Russia, the orthodox church still celebrates Christmas on January 7th (which would be December 25th in Julian’s Calendar.)  And even if you’re looking for the actual feast day for…

  • The Discipline of Hope, {Advent 2, 2016}

    Cynicism. In many ways it seems like the most logical, natural way to wrap up a year like 2016. There have been so many unexpected deaths: Natalie Cole, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifil, Florence Henderson, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder. (Whew. And those are just a few.). All of these have been layered over a world hell bent on violence, and a campaign so full of insult and vitriol that even some of the campaigns’ mangers were at each other’s throats after the election. So it was a surprise, but a very small one, when many of my friends who had been supportive of the protests in the Dakotas,…

  • Six Advent Practices to Set Us Free From 2016.

    Continued from “I Think I Need an Exorcism, and You Probably Do To.”  Part 1 So here we are at the end of a year that has captured our imagination if by no other means than the fear and spectacle of it all.   Not only have our thoughts and feelings been driven by the political circus of this year, so have some of our actions.  It has demanded our attention, but now it is Advent.  It is time to redirect our attention to where it belongs.

  • I Think I Need an Exorcism, and You Probably Do Too… Part 1

    FaceBook is admittedly a strange land. Is it not? And it has been clear for quite some while that we don’t really know how to dwell there as our best human selves. Even so, in the past few weeks I have noticed something in myself and in others that has lead me to an admittedly bizarre but entirely sincere conclusion: I may be in need of an exorcism, and it is very probable you might need one too.

  • Its Jesus, Not Dinosaurs…that are coming. Advent Day One

    Ah. I begin Advent again with boxes and branches strewn about my small living room.   I just put in the last of what I call the Deadly Poultry Dishes in the dish washer and hope that I have done so prudently enough to keep the infinite number of possible turkey based bacterial death contaminates at bay… I guess we will see soon enough. I worked too many hours selling self described “magic” gadgets to strangers over the past two days and I feel harried and hurried and anxious and I feel certain if I sit down to finish writing this I will once again be late for Church.  …

  • Five thoughts on the war on Starbucks cups.

    Ok. Let me get this over with. As you may well know, there is a small noisy minority of Christians barking up the wrong cup. Their logic is, well,  illogical (no snowflakes = war on Christmas?). I can easily explain how people, who are Christians, are doing it wrong and doing some very unchristian things. That is paranoia looking for an opportunity. But before any of us hop on board the rant express, I invite everyone to remember a few things about how we got here.

  • How to Change a Life With Two Shoes, a Good Story, and Some Gravity

    Some time in the late nineties I was going through one of the worse depressions of my life. It wasn’t one of those depressive episodes where you try to hide what is going on. I had a resigned sort of exhibitionism. Why not spill all my beans? Beans just end up getting spilt eventually anyway… It was dark. People would walk by and ask, “How are you today Doug?” and immediately regret it as I answered them honestly and talked them through the vast landscape of my existential angst. It was usually met with one of four responses, that were for me both a source of dark entertainment, my own…