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 (

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?”

Rumors of my Excommunication

Screenshot 2014-12-08 04.48.30Rumors of my excommunication have been greatly exaggerated. The other morning I received a message from a Facebook friend saying that some folks over on the “TradOx” Facebook group were saying I had been excommunicated. When I found the conversation he was referring to, I realized he was not quite right. It was more like they were celebrating my excommunication. (Seriously! Who “Likes” someone being excommunicated?) The TradOx criticisms were more hurtful than the usual trolling I get from time to time, in part because the rumor apparently started with one of my fellow parishioners. It also brought back memories of the time when I really thought I was going to be excommunicated. Continue reading “Rumors of my Excommunication”

Rev. Tillotson’s Ridiculous Defense of GTS

Rev. Ellen Tillotson weighed in yesterday on the mess going on at General Theological Seminary in New York. Her article and the faculty’s response need to be read, but the short version is that the eight protesting professors were not fired. They resigned. Rev. Tillotson makes her case by talking about some of the things the faculty wrote to the Board of Trustees (of which she is a member).

In it [their letter], they said, twice, that they were unable and unwilling to work with Dean and President Kurt Dunkle and that unless certain changes were made, they would be “no longer able to serve in our positions at General” [sic]…

They stated again, at the end of the letter, that “If Dean Dunkle continues in his present position, we will be unable to continue in ours.”…

In [a] second letter, the eight members also stated that “the damage has been done,” “no working relationship is possible,” “we can no longer work with President Dunkle.”

Tillotson also challenges the narrative that the faculty had only one demand: to bring their grievances to the board. In fact, she says, the faculty laid out a series of conditions for the board to meet in order to have a discussion.

I feel like Rev. Tillotson has insulted my intelligence. I am in a bit of a leadership position. If someone presented similar complaints to me, I would see it as the start of a conversation. If the complaints came from several staff at once, in the form of a letter, I would interpret it as the opening gambit in a negotiating process (hence the conditions for meeting). I suppose if I were drunk or recovering from some kind of brain injury, I might ask, “So…are you resigning?” Basically, it is hard not to read Rev. Tillotson’s account and infer either that she and the entire board of GTS are lying, or they are extremely incompetent.

I am not an Episcopalian. I don’t have anything personally at stake in this issue except for the fact that one of my friends (whom I have known since 2004) is among those who have been fired. He has a wife with two kids, student loans, and a PhD in a market where jobs are few and far between. It is hard for me to see him, or anyone in his position, seeing a work stoppage as anything but a last resort. I am outraged for Josh, but I am also outraged by the obvious injustice (and possible illegality?) of firing protesting workers, particularly when it is a religious institution doing the firing. Is this how the Episcopalians respond to collective bargaining? They fire the people on strike and then lie about it?

Rev. Tillotson seems to be saying that what is going on at GTS is sad, but it is not her fault or the fault of the Board of Trustees. They are not responsible.

No matter what else you might think about this situation, that is just bad leadership.

Benefits of #Doctrine: Theology in 140 Characters or Less

The following concludes a series I had intended to end last week, but my laptop needed to be repaired. Rather than delay any longer, I have decided to go ahead and conclude this series so that I can move on to a new series of lenten posts I am very excited about (mostly because I get to read a bunch of great guest posts). I am typing this on my iPad, so I apologize in advance for any formatting issues. WordPress for the iPad is great, but not as good as it is on my laptop.


There are some “perks” to public theology. Warm fuzzies from online readers really strokes the ego. My heart is strangely warmed whenever I get a new Twitter follower. But if I let who I am and why I do this get mixed up with what other people say about me, then I’ve got a problem, because a lot of what people say about me is not very nice. There are other benefits to doing this. I do make a difference: Continue reading “Benefits of #Doctrine: Theology in 140 Characters or Less”

The Blessing and Burden of Holy Tradition

Having been caught up in other projects and deadlines, I picked up Pantelis Kalaitzidis’ Orthodoxy & Political Theology last night after several weeks’ absence. The following words reminded me of how our love for “Holy Tradition” can kill our witness.

A certain version of theology…[has] turned Tradition into traditionalism and taught us to associate the identity of the church mainly – or even exclusively – with the past, making us accustomed to an Orthodoxy that is permanently out of step with its time and history in general. In fact, Orthodox theology often suffers…from a kind of inertia with regard to participating in history and the socio-cultural context…Speaking about the church’s transforming presence and activity in society, culture, and politics is reduced to nothing more than wishful thinking. Continue reading “The Blessing and Burden of Holy Tradition”

I am Not a Gun-Virgin (and Other Responses to my Critics)

Like everyone, I sometimes get into tit-for-tats online, but on those rare occasions in which I am being the better version of myself, I keep in mind that online discussions tend to generate more heat than light. The nastier the critics, the less likely they are to change their minds, and the more frustrated I am going to feel. So it is best to stay out of it.

But yesterday I received a “pingback” that led me to a couple of rather civil criticisms (here and here) of my latest piece in the Huffington Post. So I wanted to offer a brief response to a few points the authors make, which I have also seen reflected in other comments on my article. Perhaps this can be one of those rare internet moments when dialogue leads to mutual understanding. Continue reading “I am Not a Gun-Virgin (and Other Responses to my Critics)”