On Post-Partisanship, Conservative Condescension, & Hope | Patrol Magazine

I love this post from Patrol last week, where Jonathan D. Fitzgerald replies to a recent post by David French at Patheos. In Fitzgerald’s piece, he encourages us to keep our post-partisanship and hope, no matter what “real life” might throw at us.

One point of dissent, though: what he calls “Idealism”, I think is a lot closer to “Realism”. Post-partisanship is very earthy, ground-level, and pragmatic, not simply conviction to an idea; it’s a commitment to the world that actually is, rather than a world conformed to pre-conceived “ideals” of right and left.

Christ isn’t pushing us to an idealized world, but rather a realized one. Just as in God’s Word and on Christ’s body, in the New Creation there will still be scars and grit and paradoxes–hardly an “ideal”–but there will also be the full realization of all the intention, promise, and telos of Creation.

This is all semantics, probably, but I think many in Church History (especially Neibuhr) would agree with this re-phrasing. Either way, read the post:

We Will Not Give in to Pessimism: A Response to David French by Jonathan Fitzgerald


I’m Obsessed with Myself (a blog fast)

I haven’t talked about it much (on this blog or to many people), but for the past 6 or 7 months I’ve been in professional counseling, primarily for anxiety (and it’s various outward expressions). There is a constant tension and busyness inside me that keeps me from living so many aspects of life. The counseling has been challenging, amazing, and painfully slow in the growth it has been producing in me.

But growth it has produced.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to take a week off from the blog, somewhat as an experiment. That week, I experienced more freedom from the various expressions of anxiety in my life than I had for years. I began to experience once again that communion with Christ I’ve written about wanting before. I was reading his Word, praying, and serving those around me with such calm and freedom.

I then thought to myself, “Wow. That was amazing! Now, I can go back to blogging.” I came back to the blog all last week, and all the anxiety came rushing back with it.

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Yep. Still Easter. (and you’re already Resurrected)

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, it’s still Easter. Yesterday was only the fourth Sunday of Easter (out of seven).

We’re only half-way through Easter!

The fundamental thing happening at the Resurrection was this: God was ushering in the first part of what would be called the “New Creation”. We usually think of something being “resurrected” as being “brought back”, but what Jesus did was far more than simply moving the clock backwards and rising again. In a sense, he was instead  “brought forward.

As my pastor loves to say, “Jesus is God’s future in our present”. Or, as Eugene Peterson put it in The Message translation, Jesus is “leading the resurrection parade” for the rest of us (I’ve always loved that image).

But how do we personally relate to this Resurrection/New Creation now? When I think of “Resurrection” and “New Creation”, what usually comes to my mind is Jesus, the World being glorified, institutions being made just, a bunch of future stuff that I’ll participate in, and my role in ushering in New Creation; I don’t so much think about my participating in it right now in the present.
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Why I “hate” Mark Driscoll so much (p.s. I don’t)

[This is a reply I wrote to an email asking me “why do you hate Mark Driscoll so much?” Driscoll is a prominent Evangelical pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. He is controversial for his outspoken views on women, sex, homosexuals, men, church government, church culture, biblical interpretation, and theology. In other words, he can’t seem but to attract attention. In the particular circles I run in, his name and views often come up, so I felt it warranted some discussion.]

I “hate” Driscoll like Luther and Calvin hated the Catholic Church: maybe too much, but not without very, very good reason. So, in other words, I don’t actually hate him. I love him dearly, but my heart breaks over some things about how he conducts himself and his ministry.

The “New Reformed” need a new reformation, in my opinion, and my problem is mainly with individuals that happen to be put up as the main faces of this “movement”: Mark Driscoll, Justin Taylor, Carl Trueman, Al Mohler, and Douglas Wilson (at times). My problem is with these particular people, more than it is with the movement itself. They just happen to “define” much of that movement.

I will never discourage people to not listen to Matt Chandler (as I also said here), John Piper, Francis Chan, or even D.A. Carson, even though, theologically, I disagree with them on a lot (mainly on very secondary issues–even though they wouldn’t think they’re very secondary–and that’s another problem I have).

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Holy Day Apathy & Holy Years to Come

I found myself sitting in our joint Maundy Thursday service alongside the other congregation from which we rent space, frustrated. I was a little distracted because I had arrived late and my adrenaline was still going, making my senses heightened and my self-diagnosed ADD kick-in. I was also mad at myself for my own liturgical snobbiness, which had taken note that the service was technically a Good Friday liturgy that they were using on Thursday.

Now, I know I can go too far in chasing mystical and intense dynamics in my relating to God. But still, I was so wanting to feel God on this night, and I sat there in this service confused and saddened at my failure in finding it.

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HAPPY EASTER! Free Easter Mixtape Now Available!

Today, we usher in the season of Easter. This is a time that follows that mournfulness and quiet meditation that is the season of Lent.

During Lent, the tension and angst between who are and who we know we should be grows and grows. Good Friday is when Jesus bears the weight of this angst, Holy Saturday is when he enters into it fully, and Easter is when this tension breaks as we celebrate how Christ has overcome the weight and darkness of it all. This is meant to be a time of giddy joy and freedom and worship.

To help us in this time, I’m offering another mixtape. (I made some for both Advent and Lent.) I pray these songs and words are able to usher us into unfettered joy and gratitude to our God for all he has done, and all he has promised to do. As usual, you can both download and stream it for free. Here it is:

Click here for the Easter 2012 Mixtape

Feel free to download and share this as you like, and may it bless you this Easter season. Be sure to also follow the poetry, prayers, reflections, and readings I’ve offered for this season as well.

[Image Credit: the cover art above is an amazing piece by my favorite artist, Mark Rothko.]

Nietzsche, the Cross, & the Weight of the World | Lent {8}

If every second of our lives recurs an infinite number of times, we are nailed to eternity as Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross.  It is a terrifying prospect. In the world of eternal return the weight of unbearable responsibility lies heavy on every move we make. That is why Nietzsche called the idea of eternal return the “heaviest of burdens”. If eternal return is the heaviest of burdens, then our lives can stand out against it in all their splendid lightness.

But is heaviness truly deplorable and lightness splendid?

…. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to earth, the more real and truthful they become.

Conversely, the absolute absence of a burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into the heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant.

What then shall we choose ? Weight or lightness?

— Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
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Free Holy Week Music: Cool Hand Luke’s “Of Man” & Lent Mixtape

All of us know that one of the things that can affect our mood like no other is music. And so, to that end, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite albums ever, by my favorite band ever (they’ve had that title since I was in high school, so I promise, I’m not just exaggerating for effect), Cool Hand Luke’s Of Man.

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Holy Week & Meditations on Radical Grace

Last year, on Palm Sunday, I got the privilege to deliver a little message to a group of men at the prison ministry my church does each month. I ended up building off of that message and its outline and writing a series of blog posts meditating on Holy Week and the radical, scandalous grace inherent in the story and actions of Jesus over those days. For your mediation this year over Holy Week, I wanted to post these links for your perusal and, hopefully, your blessing.

The Scandal of Holy Week

{i} the forsaking of God | In this post, we meditate on the fact that Holy Week was the week-long process by which everything–from humanity to creation to God Himself— forsakes Jesus. We see that true disciples are not those that never forsake Jesus. In fact, we will all forsake Jesus in radical ways at some point.
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The Slain God of Evolution | Lent {6}

This Lent, we’ve been going through a series meditating on some of the implications of the fact that we worship a God who was “slain before the foundations of the world”–in eternity past–and therefore has some aspect of “slain-ness” to his very nature.

In the last couple of posts, we’ve been focusing on what this means for the many references in which the Bible says that the world was created “through Jesus”. What might it mean that the world came into being through a suffering and slain Lord? What might it mean for our own suffering?

This got me thinking about Evolution.

Obviously, the main vehicle driving Natural Selection is death and dying. This is one of the biggest hindrances that Christians have to the idea of Evolution. If our usual categories are correct of a “good” creation “falling”, and only then ushering “death” into the world, how does the thoughtful Christian deal with the realities of Evolution?

I think this Lenten idea of God’s “slain-ness” can help.
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Christ’s Heart Breaking in Us | Lent {5}

Lent is a season in which God’s people meditate on the slaying of Jesus on the Cross and all that is within them (and outside of them) that made that Cross necessary. So to that end, we’ve been doing a series meditating on the fact that Christ is the Lamb who was “slain before the foundations of the world”. We’ve been thinking through what it might mean that Jesus, in some sense, has been suffering for all time.


We’ve said that the Cross was an in-breaking of the suffering essence of God into our world. Think of it as a volcano that emerges after a millennia of quiet tectonic plate shifts. Eternity and infinity–past, present and future–break into the world at the Cross; eternity is the backdrop against which the death of Christ occurs.

We’ve also said that the world has a certain “slain-ness” to it as well, due to being created “through” a slain and suffering Christ.

Today I want to ask: What might that mean for our own suffering and death?
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prayer & reflections for Lent, wk4 (3.18-24.2012)

prayer for the day.

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
(from the liberti Lent & Easter 2012 prayerbook & the Book of Common Prayer)

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Creation: a suffering world through a suffering Lord | Lent {4}

Lent is a season in which God’s people meditate on the slaying of Jesus on the Cross and all that is within them (and the world) that made that Cross necessary. To that end, we’ve been meditating on the fact that Christ is the Lamb who was “slain before the foundations of the world”. We’ve been thinking through what it might mean that Jesus, in some sense, has been suffering for all time (and some theological issues along the way).

So far, we’ve talked about how this is a reflection of an eternal attribute of Jesus. There has been an aspect of suffering and death woven into the depths of his nature and character since before time began.

But at some point, time began.
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Lent-erpretative Musings {a theological interlude} {3b}

This is the second part of a post in which I’m talking about some of my guttural objections to some of the ways I’m treating the Bible for my ongoing Lent series, and then my responses to my own doubts. [Part 1]


This would not at all have been in the minds of the original writers. The original writers, at most, it seems, would have seen themselves talking about how God simply “ordained” Jesus’ death since eternity past. They probably were not thinking about making a statement about a “slain” and suffering aspect to the nature of God.

My responses: There is no mainstream view of the Bible that I know of that holds that each of the biblical writers had the fullness of theological knowledge at their disposal. They were still human (and poor, uneducated humans at that!).
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prayer & reflections for Lent, wk3 (3.11-17.2012)

prayer for the day.

Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from the liberti Lent & Easter 2012 prayerbook & the Book of Common Prayer)

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