Category Archives: Theology After Google

9/11, Lectionary Readings, and the Challenge of Interfaith Living

Sometimes, lectionary readings just get it right.

On September 11 as I was driving to HIEC I passed one of those famous church signs. It simply read: “There will come a judgment!” If I’m honest I was a little annoyed by the fact that on 9/11 the last thing that people need to be concerned with, or thinking about, is the kind of divine judgment that may be around the corner. After all, like most tragedies that become memorialized, many people who have lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks or in the wars since still ask why God would let such things happen to their loved ones, their communities, and America.

While the Lectionary readings on Sunday did not offer an answer to the question of why, they did suggest a posture of living in the face of tragedy and evil that is hard for anyone; namely, the posture of forgiveness. If there is anything that is hard for those who have experienced loss or hurt at the hands of others to do, it very often to forgive. But Jesus’ teachings on forgiveness are not easy nor simple. That one should forgive is an often overstated part Christianity. What is more difficult is to allow the act of forgiveness to transform the memory of the event into something that fundamentally changes one’s character. That is, that forgiveness (even 77 times as the Gospel reading suggests) is not simply a matter of giving up one’s right to hold someone a culpable, but rather a matter of allowing the event to redefine how one might live in relationship to that person, persons, or others.

In this regard, it wasn’t just the Lectionary readings for Sunday that gave shape to my experience of that church sign on 9/11; rather, it was also the weekly readings from Acts 15. After all, these stories about the inclusion and welcome of Cornelius’ family on the testimony of the Spirit of God are extremely important when considering how the church should go about its use of personal experience in the process of discernment and inclusion in the community. In these few chapters, according to Luke Timothy Johnson, Scripture itself canonizes a way of decision-making that ought to influence the way the church thinks on a whole host of issues.

By my read, these two sets of readings, those about forgiveness and those about the church’s process of decision-making, raise fundamental questions about how the church in practice should embrace the call of active dialogue with “the other” down the street. In the case of 9/11, the “other” that most commonly comes to mind are those who worship in the mosques down the street. But if I’m honest, I’m challenged by the readings just as much in my own life to learn how to forgive and be transformed by my forgiving of those whose ideological renderings of Christianity fly in the face of what I believe it to be all about.

In this sense, maybe one of the real challenges for those of us committed to living interfaith lives isn’t just learning how to respect, honor, and welcome the beliefs of Muslims, Jews, and Baha’i in our neighborhoods; but rather, applying this same sense of forgiveness and radical hospitality to those who believe different than us within our own religious groups. Truly, maybe like the challenge of living in a family marked by difference of opinion, this is one of the real challenges of forgiveness and inclusion today.

Walk on-

Joshua C

The Abuse of Power: Why People of Faith Should Not Text and Drive







Recently it occurred to me: the reason why people text and drive is because they don’t take seriously enough how their technology participates in their personal demonstration of power.

If people of faith understood that both the phone and the car were extensions of themselves, maybe they would see that to text while driving is to abuse the power of their position.

In driving one has already chosen to extend one’s self powerfully in the world. To dare to text while driving is suggest that one’s personal right to the unlimited extension of the self is greater than the responsibility for the other that comes with the use of power (with car).

Yes, as people of faith, to say no to texting while driving is not merely a matter of obeying local laws, but a prophetic statement about how we understand power and how seriously we take our responsibility to the other in our world.



Digitally Enhanced Worship Song

Can I implore someone to go with me on this and to use this song during a worship service, gathering, or curated space? I’m becoming convinced that until the church takes up the technologies of the age with its narrative, rituals and prayers, our technology will only ever be seen as other than us!

I think you may know the tune…

Open the eyes of my ipad,
Open the eyes of my phone,
I want to see you,
I want to see you.
See you tweeted and retweeted,
Ustreamed live in all of your glory.
App out your power and love,
And we’ll tell facebook your whole story!

Let me know if you use it! I’ve got gifts if you can prove it;)

A Suitable Tweet?: 2 Kings 9 in Twible

Jana Riess tweets her way through a chapter of the Bible a day. Very fun interesting way to go about it! Today, she tweeted: “#Twible 2 Kgs 9: Alpo Corp. tests new “Jezebel” flavor; wins canine pre-approval in focus group. Lick it up, dogs. Wait, you missed a spot.”

What do you think? Suitable tweet for said violent chapter? Indeed, even though it’s fun, what do you think is getting lost or gained in Jana’s project?
Just thinking…

Podcasting and Soul-Selling

Here is a link to our most recent podcast. In it, we have a podcast with Evan Drake Howard who talks about his new book The Galilean Secret.

He has an essay on Washington Post On Faith today about the need for a spirituality of hope to undergird a politics of hope, here is the link

Nick also drops a bombshell, he is selling his soul back to Jesus, if you buy him an iPad, check it out. And let’s be honest, this is Nick doing what Nick does. He is being skeptical, and yet hopeful!No really all kidding aside. The more I think about the events that have led Nick to suggest re-entering Christendom through the use of a ipad, the more I think he may be on to something. Only time will tell really what that something is, but, it’s worth exploration.

You can pick up a copy of The Galilean Secret here on Amazon.

[Direct link to – ep 153 – Evan Drake Howard and The Galilean Secret]

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Creation Care Podcast! Oil Spill Thoughts!

In this podcast Josh grabs another round table podcast with the likes of Julie Clawson, Ben Lowe, and Tom Sine. The four of them discuss the (lack of a) Christian response to the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico as well as other issues facing the American Christianity’s move towards more active caring for creation.

For more on the three guests click below: Julie Clawson, Everyday Justice
Ben Lowe, Green Revolution Tom Sine, The New Conspirators and Mustard Seed Associates (also, see Christine Sine’s blog)

You can also read Josh’s blog on the oil spill here.

If you wish to volunteer to help in the clean up efforts, please click here.

Finally, there is a first in this podcast. Drop us a line if you think you know what it is!

Nick & Josh

[Direct link to ep 151 – Oil Spill Roundtable with Ben Lowe, Tom Sine, and Julie Clawson]

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Dr. David Pacini: Through Narcissus’ Glass Darkly, A Podcast

In this podcast, Josh grabs an interview with Dr. David Pacini from the Candler School of Theology.

Dr. Pacini’s current research focuses on problems in Kantian and post-Kantian philosophy and philosophical theology, especially those of aesthetics and psychology as they evolved in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century texts that explore the boundaries of theological thinking.

This podcast, with Alex as a guest co-interviewer, focuses on Pacini’s most recent work entitled Through Narcissus’ Glass Darkly: The Modern Religion of Conscience.

Nick mentions the Brian McLaren, Bishop Spong, and Phyllis Tickle Podcast, it’s here



[Direct link to ep 150 – David Pacini, Through Narcissus’ Glass Darkly]