Category Archives: Uncategorized

Inversion: Parallel Universes

I entitled this piece, “Inversion” because we have a world in which what was previously morally clear and obviously true is no longer seen that way, especially by purveyors of identity politics and anarchistic philosophies. “Parallel universes” is a phrase that describes the lenses through which people see the same events, ideas and trends…and it is stunning how different these visions are!

Two crises dominate the public square, especially in the USA and the West. The first is anthropology: what does it mean to be a human being, and, what is the future of male and female identity? The second crisis is the foundation of the first one: how do we “know” anything? In a world of competing “memes” and “narratives” where is the room for empirical research and critical thinking? Emotions rule the day and how particular persons and groups “feel” trumps careful research and reflection.

Let’s begin with how we “know.” Philosophers and religious leaders have debated for millennia about the nature of reality and the sources of our knowledge. Much of this was confined to the academy and esoteric circles. Most of humankind wakes up to a challenging world of laboring for daily bread and they do not need a lesson of whether or not their toil is “real.” The importance of events has always been debated, but not the reality itself. Historians love gathering different perspectives; however, all but a few would affirm, “Some events really happened.”

For the past 20 years, we have allowed feeling, political agendas, and image- and social media-driven communication to eclipse careful evaluation. From former President Obama’s fictionalized autobiographies to current debates on climate change, gullibility or suspicion is driven by ideology, not research. The very people that scream, “Science matters!” about climate change ignore advances in science completely as they promote abortion and infanticide. Gender confusion is a psychosocial pathology – science is clear that 99% of humans are born with particular DNA designating them male and female.

We need a return to reason and research, a willingness to subject ideas to scrutiny and adapt our understanding after careful reflection. Such progress will not be politically correct or conform to everyone’s feelings. It will, however, help us solve real problems and promote human flourishing.

Next week: human identity up for grabs.

December 31: Reflections and Resolutions

Reflections and resolutions are part of the in between moment as we prepare for 2019. Rather than offer self-help palliatives and platitudes, I suggest that we consider history and hope for our community, nation and world. Here are some reflections and resolutions for our local and global communities.

Mr. President, confrontation and personal attacks are not always the best way for promoting policies for all people. Please consider greater conciliation and principled compromise and stop the personal attacks.

Republican and Democratic Congressional Leaders, you can get your revenge or actually legislate. You can investigate for two years or build a legacy of goodness. You can start your Presidential campaigns or actually help your constituents.

Members of the media, your partisan “gotcha!” journalism has only exacerbated tensions. How about serious investigations of facts and explorations concerning solutions instead on one more hit piece?

Friends of conscience and goodwill, we can begin making the world a better place by discussing serious issues with civility and leaving ad hominem attacks at the door. We can renew our neighborhoods and our nations with new partnerships for the common good.

Lust for power is more potent than money and sex. Will we use our positions and privileges to serve or simple aggrandize more authority? Will we remember why we began a pathway of leadership or will we default into self-protective modes?

2019 can be a great year of courage and wisdom, or a terrible year of anger and competition. May we choose well.

Thank You, Eugene Peterson

I miss the pen and voice of Pastor Eugene Peterson. Author and minister, creator of The Message Bible and mentor to many, he has served as the conscience of those called as shepherds to beautiful and contentious, gifted and distracted flocks called local churches. He generously gave me two hours of his time during a difficult period of transition early in my pastoral ministry. He helped me value the distinction and integration of pen and pulpit. His writings shaped my attitudes and actions and embodied the special call of the pastor-scholar. Pastor Peterson exemplified humility and humor, reverence for God and respect for people and instilled a deep love of beauty. Pastor, we miss you, but your generosity and wisdom in Christ has found lodging in the hearts of many.

How do we honor his legacy? Three things come to mind:

  • Cultivating a rich inner life of devotion to the Trinity, reflection on Scripture and prayer for others. Who we are when no one is looking will prepare us for wisdom when all eyes peer at us.
  • Integrating intellectual rigor and relational generosity. “Christianity is a religion for adult minds.” (Dorothy Sayers) Celebrating ignorance in the name of spirituality is as foolish as thinking our brains are sufficient for all mysteries.
  • Balancing our work, play and rest in our daily lives. Such rhythms must be learned and renewed as our laziness of workaholism wants to take over.

Thank you, Pastor Peterson!