Weekly Ponderings

These are a few things I read recently that made me think. Posting these does not mean I fully agree with everything in the article or at the site it links to.

“Food is packaged for people married with children, government policies are designed around them. Sermons focus on marriage development and marriage retreats are given priority. We celebrate marriage, births, and anniversaries with social media posts and parties. The idealized and sometimes idolized trajectory of life is marriage, having kids, owning a house, retirement, and then the enjoyment of grandkids. This progresses to our twilight years being spent together reminiscing nostalgically about the past. There’s nothing wrong with this narrative. I just wish alternatives stories were promoted more in society.”

8 Ways to Rethink the Conversation About Singleness by Karina Kreminski

“Too many Christian theologians writing from the vantage point of imperial privilege talk about the sovereignty of God as though God is Emperor Palpatine holding every galaxy in his fingertips. But if Jesus’ cross is truly the self-revelation of God, then God’s sovereignty looks nothing like the self-validating triumphalism of empire. It is more like the elusive Force in the Star Wars movies that always seems to be on the verge of defeat, but always manages to beat impossible odds.”

Rogue One and the kingdom of God (spoiler warning!) by Morgan Guyton

“We are the winners and that means that everyone else loses. And by loses, I mean they lose everything. They go away into the outer darkness, to cry out for their mommies and daddies, wives and husbands, and sons and daughters, only to have them never come. And we, the ones who never go to their aid—either because we don’t want to or can’t—are supposed to think of our salvation as a victory.

And this gives us hope? Hope for what? Hope that when our loved ones are lost from us for all eternity that the best heaven God could come up with would require either a hardening of our hearts or a full frontal lobotomy?”

We Don’t Win If They Lose by Matthew Distefano

“I don’t want to stir up trouble or cause dissention either. I genuinely don’t enjoy conflict, and have no interest in alienating my brothers and sisters in Christ. I also want to focus on the gospel that unites us. However, if the gospel they are teaching hinges on the fact that men are spiritual authorities over women, then that is not the gospel that unites us.

…as a woman in ministry, I don’t have the luxury of “unity” that these male pastors have. I don’t have the option of learning to work together, because they won’t work with me. I’m not invited to the table, and my voice doesn’t count.”

When Women are Excluded in the Name of Unity by Kelly Ladd Bishop

“People fear those they’ve wronged. Savage knows that tremendous wrongs have been done to black people in America and he (and bigots like him) live in fear of the day when black people will exact revenge. What they’re too bigoted to see is the humanity of black people. He’s too blinded by his own hate to see that people of color want equality, not revenge. His brain is too small to imagine that there are millions of people in America who do not listen to fox news and the NRA and who aren’t plotting how to get even with a perceived enemy. Those millions of people want the same opportunities that jerks like him take for granted.”

People fear those they’ve wronged by DCFem via Libby Anne

“Mr. Bayly reads the Bible to mandate allowing a man’s false teaching to continue rather than have it corrected by a woman. And while he does tangentially say that one way he knows these two women in particular are wrong is because Mr. Piper and Mr. Wilson are not in error (a point on which Mr. Bayly himself is in error), he says the real way to tell that the women are wrong is by recognizing that they are women…

It is of less importance to Mr. Bayly that a pastor is a false teacher. It is of greater importance that women should not speak God’s truth in the face of that false teaching. He finds this supposed rebellion-against-creation-order to be a bigger offense than a false teaching from the pulpit. What an odd position for a person claiming to follow Jesus to take.”

Silencing Women – the guaranteed way for men to stay in control by Tim Fall


” I can’t do this Sam.”

“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you…that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”;

“What are we holding on to Sam?”

“That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”;

–  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R Tolkien

Weekly Ponderings

Here some links I learned from this week. As always be warned some content may be offensive (depending on one’s sensitivities) and I do not necessarily agree with everything in each link.

Why are graven images forbidden by the Torah?“ I once heard Abraham Joshua Heschel ask. Why is the Torah so concerned with idolatry? You might think that it is because God has no image, and any image of God is therefore a distortion. But Heschel read the commandment differently. “No,” he said, “it is precisely because God has an image that idols are forbidden. You are the image of God. But the only medium in which you can shape that image is that of your entire life. To take anything less than a full, living, breathing human being and try to create God’s image out of it – that diminishes the divine and is considered idolatry.” You can’t make God’s image; you can only be God’s image.

Rabbi Arthur Green

“…an article from John Piper, where he addresses the question, “Is It Sinful to Be Pregnant Before Marriage?” which includes this quote:
‘That there would be a stigma that attaches to pregnancy outside of marriage is, I think, a good thing…’

…this excerpt from a post I wrote in 2014, It wasn’t like that for Mary. Maybe it’s never like that.

Mary had agreed to all this, telling the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant.” But how on earth could God do this to her? God was making her into the kind of woman she had always judged.

“Doesn’t God know,” she wondered, “that people would judge me, and they’d be right! It’s right to judge a girl who gets pregnant. We put people into categories, pure or impure, and we do it because God commanded it.

“How can this be?” she had asked the angel. How could God make her into a symbol of something dirty? She had done nothing wrong. She was just trying her best to follow God.

People would never listen. They already know that it’s automatically sinful to be unmarried and pregnant. But it wasn’t like that.

Merry Christmas from John Piper from Tell me why the world is weird blog


What’s wrong with the world? “Other people,” says the mob surrounding the adulteress. “What’s wrong with the world is other people … those who aren’t one of us.”

I have never met a person who fell in love with Jesus because a Christian scolded them about their morality or their ethics. Have you?

No One Ever Came to Jesus Because a Christian Scolded Them by Scott Sauls


“Translated into the Jesus story, this would be the first step toward a contemporary crucifixion. We don’t nail people to crosses. We nail them online or on-air with slurs and lies that are widely believed simply because they’re repeated.

The lack of a birth certificate would only be the start of Jesus’s problems in being embraced by the nation that just made it safe to say “Merry Christmas.” After all, the baby Jesus was brown, Jewish, Middle Eastern, and given what’s now a predominantly Mexican name…

May this Christmas be a day when we Christians resolve to “be not afraid” as we stand by those who have been marginalized and even brutalized. That would be a Christmas worth celebrating and a birthday party worth attending — one where I hope Jesus himself would feel welcome and at home.”

Have a Truthful Christmas by Parker J. Palmer


“To the older generation, remember how you felt when your parents’ generation constantly criticized you for everything? Stop doing it to us. Of course we are not perfect, but neither are you. Of course we don’t know everything, but neither do you. Of course we have things to learn from you, but you can also learn some things from us. We are not a lesser part of Christ’s Church. We bring value to it as well. The thing is, this article is absolutely right when it comes to what our world is like, but the Christian should not be content to let it stay that way…”

Defending Millennials Against Christians by Chris Nelson

Links I liked this week

Here are some weekly links that gave me some things to ponder (except the last one… that one I just think is funny). No I don’t agree with everything in these posts and be warned some of these may contain content that some could find offensive.

“The fatal error that most of the white American church makes is to detach God’s wrath from his solidarity with the oppressed as though humanity’s sin is an abstract offense against God’s honor that has nothing to do with the harm it causes to other people.”

God’s wrath is the salvation of the oppressed  by Morgan Guyton

“Without adequate government support, the mass influx of asylum seekers to Athens created a slum where its labyrinth of streets bring together a precarious mix of ethnic rivals, foreign illnesses and abject poverty. With few or no alternatives for refugees whose money and patience has run out, these unfavorable conditions breed another layer of destruction: survival prostitution.

And there is nobody more vulnerable than minors.”

Sexual exploitation and the Syrian Refugee Crisis by Katie Bergman

“There is no “thou shalt not have floral arrangements during a bombing” rule because people aren’t going to just throw out their nice things, their furnishings, and so forth, when the bombing starts.
It’s not as though Aleppo was a post-apocalyptic war zone before the war…

Many areas of the world, including the Middle East, have thriving cities with advanced economies, high rises, and everything you’d expect to see in a modern city…

There is a lot Americans have to learn by studying the world around them more broadly. Many Americans have little more than a cursory knowledge of the world outside of the U.S. I would argue that we Americans have an added duty to learn about the world outside our borders, given the impact U.S. policy frequently has on other countries. “

Trading in Stereotypes about the Middle East  by Libby Anne

“More and more young people have come to view church as a hostile environment, one which demands their assimilation and interprets questions as insubordination.

Is it any wonder why so many people have carved out havens for themselves on college campuses, far away from Christianity’s judgmental eyes? If believers hope to impact the next generation in any meaningful way, we need to acknowledge who they are and meet one another with grace…

…people seeking safe spaces are not “entitled brats” seeking comfort, they’re men and women searching for genuine community. If we can’t offer that, then what business do we have calling ourselves the Church?”

What the Church gets Wrong about Safe Spaces by Ryan Duncan

“Men in these denominations and churches can see exactly what it’s like to have no power. They’re not idiots. They think they know exactly what will happen if they put themselves under that same authority they demand over others. They won’t willingly endure what they have demanded of their followers for so long, and in their world…

Make no mistake here, though:

History Continues to Repeat Itself Until the Lesson is Learned…

That’s why you don’t see these kinds of scandals coming out of churches with women in power, churches that don’t enshrine men as the sole group to wield power or have the capacity to speak…

These scandals aren’t an aberration of the system. They are a direct result of the system and part of its architecture.”

Why “Separate but Equal” Doesn’t Work by Captain Cassidy


Ever Wish Yoda Did Less Droning On and On About the Force and More Singing About Seagulls?  by Matthew Dessem



Light overcoming the darkness

The world can be a very dark and unwelcoming place and at certain points in history it seems humanity enters a place of darkness that is very difficult to overcome. Even if the darkness doesn’t win permanently it certainly manages to leave behind a large number of casualties (world wars for example).

In my own life I have realized what I would call a fairly consistent calling in the direction of learning about injustice and then trying to do something to bring a little light into dark places. I have read about various kinds of injustice and human rights issues, worked with those who have been hurt by injustice, and spent time learning about some of the darkest moments in recent history. Some of the most significant places I have visited over the years include the killing fields and notorious S21 prison in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and Buchenwald concentration camp in Weimar, Germany. I have also visited holocaust museums in Berlin, Jerusalem, and Washington D.C.

Not only have I learned about the evil people are capable of in the past I have seen what we are currently willing and able to do to each other in the present. My work as a victim advocate involved various responsibilities including being on call to go to a hospital to meet with a recent victim of rape or sexual assault. Those calls would usually last at least three hours minimum as a woman or child went through a rape kit exam and was given various resources as it applied to them (I personally never met with a male victim during one of these calls but am fully aware that men are victimized as well). I also attended many court appointments with victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse as well as other types of crime doing what I could to be a support and resource for them.

During some of my short term trips overseas I spent time with a human rights group learning about the severe abuses people are facing in Palestine and Jerusalem. I also spent a short amount of during the summer teaching English to Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon.

I mention all these things simply to show that the pain and suffering people inflict on each other is something I do my best to stay aware of and do something about even if only involves bearing witness to the past. Sometimes it involved sitting with or helping someone in their present unjust situation. Of course there are so many other difficult problems and pain people face like disease, natural disasters or just the heartbreak that comes from things like accidents, broken families or discrimination.

I am laying this out to provide some context for the fact that despite knowing the depth of mankind’s ability to commit evil I am also aware that there are good and beautiful things in this world as well. And I maintain hope that evils like torture, ethnic cleansing, and genocide are not going to always be with us. I believe this because of my faith in Jesus and His life, death and resurrection.

That being said however it does cross my mind that maybe its all just a pollyanna dream to want to always come around to hoping and believing that evil, pain and suffering will someday end. Even though I think it will that doesn’t seem like its going to do any good for those who have suffered and died over so many centuries. I mean people still had to live through it so what does making anything right really matter unless that involves a memory wipe?

There is more I could get into here but I will do that at a later time. (It will likely be an entire post on my various arguments with God over the years). So I will simply end with this. Do you have hope? Do you believe something better is coming that will make all the wrongs that have happened to billions of people over the course of history right somehow? And if you are thinking yes then why and what do you think that will look like?

Links I liked this week

This will be a regular feature where I will share links to blogs I have read during the week.  I may not agree with everything the writer has to say but these stand out because they gave me something to think about. (These may contain content or even ideas that might offend some. Don’t say you weren’t warned).

“There are millions of Americans who don’t understand why anyone might worry about the effects of this election. They see it as “feelings” versus their own real concerns. Those of us on the other side need to be clear that Mr. Trump’s callous disregard for people outside his demographic is intolerable, and will be destructive to the entire nation.

If I had not changed, I would have been jubilant after this election and more certain than ever that anxiety from a shrinking white majority would result in the election of more people who tap into this simple narrative. Now I’m convinced this doesn’t have to be our destiny. “


“I’m just not in communion with people who ridicule “safe space” and want a hard and austere gospel to feel awesome about. So I don’t know what that makes me. But I’m with the people making sanctuary….

If we have pristine doctrine and we’re sanctimonious douche bags, then our doctrine has failed us. Jesus’ cross and resurrection will always be the core of my spiritual identity, but if I have to choose between agnostic queer kids and “Suck it up, buttercup” Christians, then I’m with the people making sanctuary.”


“…I think it reveals a lot about American Evangelical culture. Might makes right. You worship God because he’s the big bad power who could torture you if you didn’t. You worship God because he’s the big bad power who’s choosing not to torture you, and how incredible is that? Don’t you feel forever indebted to him because he could kill you and isn’t? You worship God because he’s the big bad power who is now the big, bad power on your side and he’ll destroy your enemies because the Bible promised it…

It’s a perspective that only works if you think that might makes right. Even if you accept the belief that God created humanity, and even if you accept the belief that God has the power to destroy all that refuse to obey him, is that a compelling enough reason to worship him? Only if you think that power alone is worthy to be praised. Only if you think that goodness gets to be defined by the one with the most power.”


“When she told me what was happening, I quickly corrected her. “If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. God loves people more than he loves institutions.”

Jesus said what he said about divorce to protect women, not to imprison them. Divorce was a weapon foisted against women in the first century, not one they could use, and it almost always left them destitute if their family of origin couldn’t or wouldn’t step up…”

Let men realize that behavior has consequences, and that wives are supposed to be cherished, not used, not abused, and never treated as sexual playthings. If a man wants the benefit and companionship of a good woman, let him earn it, and re-earn it, and let him know it can be lost.”


“We asked for too much, and we didn’t say please.

But isn’t the problem the fact that you need oppressed people to prostrate themselves before you in order to grant them the same rights you currently enjoy? Isn’t the problem that you couldn’t rally around justice for those you may not know or like? Isn’t the problem the fact that you think that you can set a timetable on the recognition of someone’s humanity?


“For example, have you ever seen or visited a Holocaust memorial in the US? Many of us have. There are numerous Holocaust memorials in the US. Almost every major US city has one.

By comparison, have you ever seen or visited a memorial to the Transatlantic slave trade?

We Americans do better mourning Nazi sins than we do facing and grieving our own.

And this, I would argue, is the single biggest reason America has not been able to adequately address the racial problems plaguing our nation. Because there has never been a formal and culturally sustained moral reckoning with the American Holocausts we are always starting the conversation about race from two different moral locations.”


“She is the sacrificial lamb like Isaac was.

Only in this story, there is no God to save the day. There is no ram in the thicket for our nameless concubine. There is no angel like the ones in Lot’s story to sweep the family away from God’s hailstorm of judgment. God is silent. And justice is nowhere to be found…

In order for us to truly understand the depth of our need for God, we must take a long, hard look at the brokenness of our world, at the atrocities that surround us, some of which we may even implicitly take part in.”