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Don’t Tell Me that God Is In Control: On Sovereignty, Tragedy, Sin

“God is in control.” The statement comforts many people because deep down we know that we are not in control. We can do everything we can to protect ourselves and our families, but we know that despite our best efforts, tragedy can strike at any moment. And so it’s comforting to believe that if we aren’t in control, Someone else is. But something inside of me recoils whenever I hear the phrase, “God is in c ...

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Repent For Lent: Renewing Our Minds With Mimetic Theory – Original Sin

Original Sin. For many progressive Christians, these two words are vulgar and repellant. Some consider the belief in an inherent evil to be a self-fulfilling prophecy; that is, they hold the doctrine of original sin itself to be a human-made evil, responsible for dehumanizing others and at the root of all manner of atrocities. Tracing back to Genesis 3, the story of “the fall,” sin appears to originate with ...

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Repent for Lent: Renewing Our Minds With Mimetic Theory – Introduction

  Repent! It’s a word Christians will probably hear a lot for the next 40 days as we settle into the liturgical season of Lent, following our Lord on the path to eternal life that lies beyond the wilderness of temptation and death. For many, this word rings of shame, fear, or maybe resentment. It can conjure images of an angry god pointing an accusatory finger and giving a final warning to us to cease ...

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Relaxing into Lent: Identity and those Voices in Your Head

The Christian journey of Lent is upon us. Lent commemorates Jesus’ journey into the wilderness. After his baptism, where Jesus heard the voice of God say to him, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. After 40 days of fasting, he was tempted by the devil. In good mimetic fashion, Jesus had received his true identity from God at his baptis ...

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Chapel Hill, Atheism, and the Worship of Violence

It’s been a few days since the tragic murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were cut short. They were murdered, shot in the head, by Craig Hicks. Hicks is an avowed atheist. Prominently displayed on his Facebook page is a meme that claims, Of course I want religion to go away. I don’t deny you your right t ...

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Who is God: Part 2: The Holy Spirit and judgmental gods not worth believing in

Ask anyone to tell you about the Holy Spirit and you will likely receive blank stares. How do you describe a spirit, let alone one that is marked as “Holy”? René Girard’s book I See Satan Fall Like Lightning changed my life – and changed my understanding of the Holy Spirit. He points out that Jesus used a specific name for the Holy Spirit. In the Greek of the New Testament, that name is “Paraclete.” Paracle ...

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2014 Raven Foundation Award In Arts And Entertainment Video Conference With Tony Bartlett

This past Tuesday (February 3rd), I had the honor of hosting Dr. Anthony Bartlett, winner of the 2014 Raven Foundation Award in Arts and Entertainment, in a video conference virtually attended by many of our friends. The Raven Foundation presents this award annually to someone whose work aligns with our mission to creatively apply Rene Girard's mimetic theory to make "religion reasonable, violence unthinkab ...

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On Being Like God: Reflections On Judgment From “Pascale’s Wager”

If you could be a gatekeeper for Heaven, whom would you welcome? Whom would you deny? This is one of the many theological questions that struck me as I contemplated Anthony Bartlett’s literary tour de force, Pascale’s Wager: Homelands of Heaven. Now, as I prepare for the live book chat with Tony to present him with the 2014 Raven Award and discuss his powerful novel, this question returns to my mind. While ...

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Book Feature Friday – Marcus Borg and the Unholy God

Marcus Borg, a bestselling author and prominent Jesus scholar, died last week. I read the news on my Facebook feed as many of my progressive friends lamented his death. Borg’s influence is unparalleled in progressive Christian circles. He was a scholar with the rare ability to speak to academics and to the masses. Many in my mainline denominational church claim that Borg helped them to remain Christians. Hi ...

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Meeting Jesus – What My Mom Taught Me About Death, Cussing, and Salvation

I began my second unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) yesterday.  CPE is basically a fancy way of saying that I’m studying to become a chaplain in a hospital. And “unit” is CPE speak for semester. We share our “story” with our supervisor and the other students on the first day of every unit of CPE. Our supervisor says that part of CPE is about owning our “stuff,” and part of the “stuff” we need to own ...

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