Archives For Default

Nothing to Envy?

August 5, 2012 — 1 Comment

Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea offers sweeping insight into the day-to-day living of one of the world’s most closed societies. She draws her accounts from extensive interviews with defectors from North Korea and her own travels in the region.

Demick’s journalistic writing keeps the book moving. She weaves together several narratives to expose the reader to the history, politics, triumphs and trials of North Korea. She has little to offer when it comes to the faith of those in North Korea, but such is not the focus of her book.

What can be found about the faith history of North Korea is interesting, however. She asserts that before Kim Il-sung came to power, North Korea had a vibrant Christian community: Continue Reading…

Wild Goose East ended a week ago and I’ve been reflecting on the experience. I went to the festival guarded, having heard that the previous year’s iteration was marked with tones of bitterness and cynicism toward institutional forms of Christianity, unimaginative rehashing of failed theological liberalism, and exploration of a bland and consumerist non-distinct “spirituality.” I was ready for more of the same, yet hopeful that the theme for the festival, “Exile and Return,” might offer a way forward.

In that regard, I was not disappointed. There were still plenty of angry people, many of them rightful so. They’ve been injured by “people of faith” and have a hard time reconciling the hurt they’ve experienced with a community that is supposed to be marked by God’s love for the world, in the world. For many, the anger developed into cynicism toward Christianity and “the church.” These people are in exile and sometimes it is helpful to be able to call it what it is. Continue Reading…


I opened Saturday’s sessions by listening Cathleen Falsani talk about Anam Cara, a Gaelic phrase that means ‘soul friend.’ Falsani talked about how she gave up on involvement in Christian community after the church she was part of split over a doctrinal issue. The split was painful and it left her feeing jaded and disillusioned.

So, she became a ‘wolfpack of one,’ and counted herself among that growing number of ‘spiritual, but not religious’ exiles from organized Christianity. That all changed in the wake of the death of one of her friends from college.  Continue Reading…

Overheard at the Goose

June 23, 2012 — 4 Comments


Just a quick update after a full day of Wild Goose action… I’ll wait until sometime next week to post more thorough reflections on the experience…

The theme for Wild Goose 2012 is Exile and Return. From what I’ve observed and heard, both parts of that theme are present in nearly every conversation. There are plenty of people who are hurting, sad, angry, or cynical about “organized religion,” in general, and “institutional Christianity,” in particular. This is spirit was present last year as well.  Continue Reading…

Listening to the Goose

June 21, 2012 — 1 Comment


For the next several days I’ll be at the Wild Goose Festival at Shakori Hills near Pittsboro, North Carolina. This is the second annual iteration of the event. My wife and I were supposed to have attended its inaugural last year, but an unexpected job change followed by a cross-country move resulted in us forfeiting our tickets. Boo.

This year, George Fox Seminary is sending me as a representative to talk to people about our programs. What a great job! I love the place where I work (and where I’m also a student, working on my DMin) and it’s easy for me to talk to others about why they should consider seminary education in general, and GFU in particular.

Unfortunately, my wife isn’t with me, though. Bummer. But that means I have plenty of time to meet new folks and to listen.


That’s what I hope to do at WGF this year. I heard very mixed things about it last year (read my friend Chris’s posts for some insight) and am interested–if not a little concerned–about the shape of the conversations this year. Last year there seemed to be a lot of evangelical ressentiment, a path I’ve gone down (or through) and have found a nice, less-cynical, more-hopeful place at the other end. I’m not sure it’s helpful to camp there for long.

So, I’m looking forward to Ian Cron’s conversation on “The Post-Cynical Christian” and Jim Wallis on “Baseball, Unexpected Hope, and the Vocation for a New Generation.” Oh, and also the “Theology of Beer” session… I’m also going to pay a lot of attention to the Sacred Space at the festival. I’m on the planning committee for Sacred Space for Wild Goose West, debuting later this year.

But most of all, I want to listen. I want to hear the shape of conversations and let them enwrap me. It seems that last year the participants wove a hair shirt. What will this year bring? As I am able, I will update this space with thoughts, reflections, and images. 

And if YOU want to come to the Goose, I could use some help staffing my exhibitor booth, especially on Saturday and Sunday, since I have to leave a bit early. I have a pass for you in exchange for your volunteer labor! Send me a message on Facebook:

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been slowly working my way through Thomas Merton’s Cold War Letters. The anthology is a collection of 111 pieces of personal correspondence written between October 1962 and October 1963, the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In the period just before he wrote the letters, Merton came under fire from the Archdiocese for his increasingly vocal opposition to nuclear war, an opposition the Catholic Church was slow to adopt. As a result, Merton circulated the collection of letters privately with a disclaimer on the first page: “Not for publication.” The letters weren’t made public until 25 years after his untimely death in 1968.  Continue Reading…


Over the next few weeks my reading for my doctoral coursework is self-selected, rather than assigned by the program’s lead mentor, Dr. Jason Clark. He gave us space this summer to pick one or two books and take our time reading them deeply. The books could be classic literature, theology texts, works related to our own research, whatever we like. 

I hemmed and hawed for a while. At first, I settled on reading through Jim McClendon’s three volume systematic theology set. I have it and I’ve always wanted to read it. But that just seems tiring right now. Plus, I’m slated to dig into some of Paul Ricoeur’s work for my own research this summer. I think that’s heavy enough. Continue Reading…

gty everest lpl 120525 wblog Everest Overcrowding Could Be Fatal This Weekend

Image Credit: Getty Images

According to an ABC news story, more than 200 people will attempt to reach this summit of Mount Everest this weekend alone. In recent years, anyone able to fork our $75,000 in permits and supply adequate equipment, can attempt to summit the world’s most famous peak. Just last week, four climbers died of exhaustion and exposure on their descent from the top. Experts fear that more may die this weekend.

Continue Reading…


My second guest post for Faith ON Campus explores reasons that you might consider seminary, especially if you have no desire to be a pastor. I’d love it if you would give it a read and leave me a comment there:…

That video gets me every time. I posted it to my Facebook timeline a few days ago, commenting that we should all have a daddy like Derek Redmond’s dad. One of the favorites to medal in the 400 meters at the 1992 Olympic Games, Redmond tore his hamstring halfway through his semi-final race. Clearly in pain, Redmond refused the stretcher-bearers and hobbled toward the finish, determined to complete the distance under his own power.

The man who comes to Redmond’s aid, despite attempts by security to deter him, is Derek’s father, Jim. In a touching act of solidarity and support, Jim helps his son get across the finish line. The part that chokes me up the most is the moment when Derek puts his head on his dad’s shoulder and weeps. His father responds by putting his son’s arm around him and they keep moving forward.

Now, I don’t wanna get all “Footprints in the Sand” on you, but that’s some touching stuff. Do you know why I think that video gets to me? It’s not because that’s the kind of relationship I want with my dad (I already have that), nor is it because it reminds me of the kind of relationship I have with God. No. It’s because it reminds me of the relationship I want to have with God, but feel like I don’t have. Continue Reading…