• 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…

  • “Jesus’ Two Daughters”  You are not an exception to the Love of God.  

    Last night, again, I sat with a Christian friend who is struggling very deeply with his faith.  In fact, what is more clear to me than it probably is to him is that he lives with a kind of anguish, a internal and unspoken resignation to believing he will never fully being a full member of the Body of Christ, but only, at best, as an exception God might endure if he tries hard enough.  While this kind of conversation is particularly heartbreaking to me, it is anything but new.  In fact, I have distinct memories of late night dorm room conversations more than 20 years ago around this very…

  • To the Persecuted Church in America: A Biblical strategy for living in times like these. 

    Every time I have tried to sit down and write a coherent reflection this week I have stalled and stammered.  Not only are the events of the past several days complex and overwhelming, the endless grandstanding, commentary, and politicking is absolutely deafening. It is hard to wrap my brain around everything that is going on.  Meanwhile, A pastor threatens to set himself on fire in the wake of gay marriage while across town several churches are actually burning even while we are still morning the deaths of the nine slain brothers and sisters whose kindness almost turned the heart of their murderer.  It is here in the midst of the elation…

  • A Sermon at Burning Flipside on Pentecost Sunday, 2015, “Why Does God Want a Church at This Time and in This Place?”

    This year, for the first time that I am aware of, we held church at Burning Flipside.   Fr. Eric, an Episcopal priest,  presided and I preached the sermon.  To put it most simply, we had church because that is what we do.  After 11 years of missing church on Memorial Day weekend, it just seemed it was time.  Pyropolis is our home for one weekend a year and we wanted to be our full selves while we are there. I am grateful to everyone who showed up for church at Flipside since noon is still considered an early hour.  I had to wonder who had not been to bed yet,…

  • The End of the World as We Know It and I Feel Fine:  A minority report from one of the last living Christians in Austin…. or something like that. 

    On Friday April 17th the Austin American-Statesman ran a front page article with my mug plastered on it that highlighted how the religious culture of Austin has changed. It is a good article and I felt it deserved as thoughtful of a response as I could produce on a Friday night.   So here it is.   The original article is here.  In graduate school, one of the few books I read that radically changed my life was a little book by an ethicist and a chaplain called “Resident Aliens.”  Its premise was simple, but it pried open a very hopeful window for me and changed the trajectory of my…