Not Cool, Verizon

Preparing for my trip to Germany, I got on Verizon’s webpage and used their trip planner to try to determine which international options would be most cost-effective for me. As I kept trying to fine tune my estimates, I noticed that it kept suggesting the same plan. So then I tried something:

What happens if I kick all the settings to their maximum?

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Continue reading “Not Cool, Verizon”

Public Theology in the Post-Secular?

Martin Marty in full regalia.
Martin Marty in full regalia.

I recently read/pillaged an article by Linell Cady which calls for a re-evaluation of the role and methods of public theology in light of our post-secular context (brill.com/ijpt).

The term “public theology” appears to have been coined by Martin Marty. It was a liberal Christian response to a growing religio-political fundamentalism. Of course, religio-political fundamentalism (i.e. the religious right) was itself responding to secularization. So, in a way, public theology attempted to be a better, more “right” kind of response. Think of it as the “B” side of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, but with a smaller PR budget. Continue reading “Public Theology in the Post-Secular?”

The Manliest Church of All? – My Response to Frederica Mathewes-Green

Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green strikes me as a sincere and eloquent writer. I respect her, but I do not always agree with her. This is one of those times. A Facebook friend posted a link to a well-trafficked article in which Mathewes-Green explains why Orthodoxy is especially attractive to men. Rather than speculate about why men might like the Orthodox Church, she asks them, and then arranges their answers topically. But her suggestions for why Orthodoxy might appeal to men are illogical, silly, dangerous to the heart of Orthodoxy, and maybe even a little bit sinful.

Continue reading “The Manliest Church of All? – My Response to Frederica Mathewes-Green”

The Real Santa: Three Ways We Teach our Kids that Christmas is about Giving, not Getting

 

 

via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Santa Claus Day! We Americans derive our Santa Claus from immigrants’ celebrations of St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6). (I have heard that we call him Santa Claus because we misheard how Italians pronounced “Santo Nicholas;” I don’t know if that is true, but it’s as good a story as any.) St. Nicholas was a fourth century bishop in Turkey. A couple of legends make him the patron saint of children and sailors, but in our house he is the patron saint of gift giving.

Jesus said that we should give so that our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing,

That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:4).

St. Nicholas exemplified this kind of giving. Continue reading “The Real Santa: Three Ways We Teach our Kids that Christmas is about Giving, not Getting”

“Happy Holidays” and the Real Assault on Baby Jesus

 

 

via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s get this straight: If you insist on wishing a Jew, Muslim, or atheist a merry birth of a Savior they do not believe in, that does not make you a good Christian. It makes you a condescending jerk. I know that some people think saying “Happy Holidays” is tantamount to kicking over a plastic baby Jesus in the front lawn of your local Catholic Church, but the so called “war on Christmas” has a lot more to do with what comes out of our wallets than our mouths.

I wrote a recent piece in the Huffington Post that pointed out the irony of the Black Friday ritual. To celebrate the incomprehensible mystery of the birth of the infant God, we rush to fill our homes with new assortments of plastic crap. Continue reading ““Happy Holidays” and the Real Assault on Baby Jesus”

Children’s Church and Christian Narcissism

 

 

From Wikimedia Commons

Shortly before I was to appear on Ancient Faith Today with Fr. John Whiteford, I accepted his invitation to have a brief phone conversation. Telling me about his background, he made an offhanded remark that some decades ago kids began going to “Children’s Church,” and they never left. The more I think about that remark, the more disturbed I become (and not just because I actually agree with Fr. John about something). I think the well-intentioned efforts to meet the worship needs of children has contributed to an increasing trend toward a narcissistic faith. Continue reading “Children’s Church and Christian Narcissism”

Eastern Orthodox Consumerism

 

 

Today, I thought I would sum up some basic points from a paper I presented at the Wesleyan Theological Society Meeting a few years ago. What follows are a few thoughts on consumer culture and how liturgy might help you to live with it.

One of the things I love about the Eastern Orthodox Church is that we get consumption right. I am under no delusions that we are “perfect.” We have our problems, but I think our spiritual practice can help a person live more authentically in modern consumer culture. Continue reading “Eastern Orthodox Consumerism”