Category Archives: Culture-Economics-Society

New Article in Journal of Media and Religion

I’m pleased to announce the publication of an essay, coauthored with Jon Radwan of Seton Hall University, in the Journal of Media and Religion: “YouTubing Eudaimoniae? Pachamama, Inspiration, and Manipulation in Platonic and Biblical Rhetorics.” Here is the abstract: Rhetorical … Continue reading

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Guest Post: Is COVID Bringing the Church to a Screeching Halt?

Our governments are against in-person Church attendance because congregating undermines their attempts to contain and subdue the pandemic that has thrown our world into such chaos. The Church needs not to be brave enough to defy the authorities merely for the sake of rebelling against human authorities. Neither should the Church be asleep when battles of cosmic nature are raging. Each congregation and believer need to seek out God’s will. When we know God’s will, we should be willing to lose our lives for the realization of that will; if we must heed the command to honor authorities and obey them, fine. However, we can still meet in our homes. In these small group settings, every member is indeed known, discipled, and held accountable to walk according to the calling they have received from God. Relationships flourish in small groups. Each person gets ample opportunity to exercise their gifts to build up the body in small groups. If we cannot meet in our thousands like we are used to, maybe God is drawing us back to what has worked in the past: house churches. The Bible warns that persecution will break out. Continue reading

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COVID, Tech, and Church: Some Links

I’ve accumulated quite a few readings that relate to the church’s response to the pandemic, which is something I’ve been writing about in the last year. I’m trying to stay away from scientific topics per se, because I’m not a scientist–I’m a biblical scholar, a pastor, and (dare I say it) a theologian. Nevertheless, the limits and proper place of science in society is an issue that I feel needs to be addressed by the church exercising its prophetic witness in society. Continue reading

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Performativity, Privacy, Scrutiny: More Concerns about “Online Church”

The concerns about performativity, privacy, and scrutiny are linked by this idea of maintaining proper boundaries between the church body and the rest of society. Just as the skin barrier that (imperfectly) protects a physical body is sometimes breached in a sterile, surgical theatre for the good of the body–so also the local church should reserve its space to be a hospital for human souls. Continue reading

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Write As Children of the Light

Our work as Christians within the academic system should be redemptive. For those of us at early stages of our career, perhaps this means that we should seek—never at the sacrifice of integrity, always resisting corruption and mediocrity—to obtain the credibility within the system that would allow us to make reforms. Those in middle or later stages of their careers may take more active steps to restructure systems of publishing, to lift up and reward others for talent and virtue, and perhaps even to create alternate structures where God’s truth can be drawn out into the light, where all can benefit. Continue reading

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“Ancient” Re-Post: Screens, Fatherhood and Distractions

Screens let me be “present” in some limited way with my sister and her husband across the country or across the world. But they also make me absent from those actually in my presence. Screens connect and disconnect. Continue reading

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Guest Post: Why Go Back to Church?

Jesus wants His people to love one another. To love others, you sometimes have to be in the same room. Sometimes you have to hold their babies, wash their dishes, or look them straight in their unmediated eyes as you listen to them share their story. You have to stay in the room when the stories get rambly. You might have to get up and get a box of tissues. You may have to lay hands on them and pray for them. Yes, sometimes you have to touch them. Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Job 42:10-17 and Isaiah 49:14-23, “Receiving Double from YHWH’s Hand”

COVID-19 and the reaction to it has caused deep divisions in our societies, and right down the middle of Christian communities as well….When we come back to meeting together, as a full church, or as an LCC family, or as societies reckoning with the effectiveness of policies (as I hope there will be investigations and evaluations, based in actual scientific understandings of how these viruses work that we had at the time), there will be anger and resentment that has to be dealt with….If we don’t, we could have a permanent division in our communities, which would be tragic.
…As we build back our lives, and build back our church community, can we think of our process as parallel to this—and also see it as an opportunity? Can we articulate our losses, express our anger and our sorrow, hear the anger and sorrow of others, and pray that God would help us to direct it and deal with it appropriately? Can we accept that nothing happens outside of God’s knowledge or control? Continue reading

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Online “Church”: Are the Kids Really Fine?

The older generations, having come of age in cultures of society, church and education that are formed by reading physical books and encountering peers and authority figures in physical space and time, are better equipped to transfer those educational, spiritual, and social habits into the digital realm and to cope with the shortcomings of digital media, than are younger generations. Put succinctly, we think the kids are fine (even perhaps doing better than we are with all this Zooming!), but they’re not. Continue reading

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Online “Church”: United, or Merely Simultaneous?

If the entirety of my pre-COVID worship experience has been simply passive and receptive (hearing and observing the preaching and the musicians) while I am standing or sitting beside someone else in the assembly with whom I am barely acquainted—then there is little benefit to the incidental simultaneity of our passive reception of the information presented to us by the pastor or the worship leader. If this is all that church has been, then it is not surprising that people would feel little loss by introducing the mediating technology, i.e., receiving preaching and music while at home—with or without a pandemic. Continue reading

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