MLK vs Gandhi: The Path of Bonhoeffer

Martin Luther King, Jr and Mahatma Gandhi stand as shining examples of the power of non-violent resistance  to overcome profound injustice.  The similarities in method between the two have oft been noted, as has the one’s (Gandhi) influence on the other (MLK).  What I offer here is a reflection not on their similarities but on one key difference:  MLK knew not just the power of non-violence resistance; he knew its limits. Continue reading

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Mary’s Unexpected Christmas: How to Handle When God Interrupts

I wrote previously about how Christmas is not about having the perfect celebration. Christmas is about God interrupting our plans. He does so for His glory and our good. He has a grander plan that is coming true and He is inviting us to be a participant in it.

No greater example of this can be found than in the person of Mary. Mary goes from being a young girl from a small town, engaged to be married, to being personally invited into a much larger plan, a plan which will “ruin” many plans that she has already made.

I am sure you have had your plans interrupted too; perhaps by crisis or catastrophe. Maybe it was the loss of a job, the unexpected diagnosis, or the unanticipated accident that interrupted your best laid plans. You didn’t see it coming and it makes you wonder what is going on and whether God is in control. My challenge for you: watch how Mary handles it.

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Stop Trying to Have a Perfect Christmas

Image result for christmas

The way we celebrate Christmas reveals a great deal about us. Our society is celebrating in a huge way and we get swept along with the hysteria.  Somewhere along the way, we realize the radical commercial nature of what is going on and the ways the society secularizes it with phrases like Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays. Pretty soon, Christians get upset and start proclaiming religious sounding slogans like “Keep Christ in Christmas” and “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  What is sad and a little revealing is that many Christians insist vocally about the religious nature of Christmas, then proceed to celebrate it just like the world.  By and large, we take our cue on how to celebrate Christmas from the culture around us.  We try to spread a thin veneer of Christ-centeredness to it, but be honest, except for a few bible verses or a manger scene, Christmas morning at many Christian’s house wont look all that different from any other house in America.

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You Should Take Latin

“You sstatue-augustushould take Latin.” I bombard every student I meet on campus with this phrase. So much so that normally students see me coming and instead of running away turn to meet me and see how long it takes for me to turn any conversation into an apologia for the Latin language. They think they are impervious to my wiles. They think they wont be the ones to give in. But they are wrong. Eventually many relent. Frequently it’s the ones who put up the biggest fights up front that tap out first. But what is my secret? How do I persuade? Here is favorite approach. I tackle head on most people’s chief complaint.
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I hate the metric system

I know the title probably upset all my friends who are either European, or scientific, or of the forward thinking academic persuasion.  But I do…I hate the metric system.  Maybe not with the burning fire of a thousand white hot suns, but it is definitely not a “live and let live” relationship.  I prefer the other way…the old way…I am not even sure what it is called…I think it goes by names like the Imperial system…or Apothecary Measurements…and stuff like that.  Since the rest of the world seems to have abandoned it (except for England with regard to some things)…I propose claiming this unwanted or unused thing and renaming it the American system.

Why do I dislike the metric system so much?  Continue reading

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Two Roads Diverge: Mary and Martha

Text: Luke 10:38-42

Martha is mad Mary isn’t doing anything.  Martha wants credit, thanks, encouragement, and help.  She blames Mary for being idle. She blames Jesus for letting Mary be idle. We know Jesus rebukes Martha and praises Mary.  We know Jesus said Mary has chosen the better portion.  We pretend to believe.  But in reality, we spend our lives acting out Martha.  Not just that, we think to ourselves that Jesus must be wrong.  If everyone sat around doing nothing like Mary, then nothing would get done. We fail to realize that Jesus wasn’t talking about how we spend the entirety of our time, but rather emphasizing the two possible starting places for our work.  Mary and Martha represent two roads you can take in regards to your work.  And Jesus is very clear in other places about where these roads end up.
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The Spiritual Discipline of Chicken Wings

 wingsI love chicken wings. But I don’t just enjoy eating chicken wings because of their obvious deliciousness. I do it as a spiritual discipline.   Before you dismiss me as either being sarcastic or idiotic, hear me out. I am being serious. Eating Chicken Wings is a Spiritual Discipline and I will explain how.

I owe my conversion to the joy of Chicken Wings to a friend inviting me to partake. When I declined, he inquired as to the reason I would refuse such culinary awesomeness. I responded that it was because of the bones. “Well then I got good news,” he said cheerfully as if he was about to both make my day and debunk my objection in a single swoop.  I sat afraid at what he would say next, anxious he was about to claim that “boneless” chicken wings were anything other than glorified chicken tenders which spared grown men the humiliation of ordering off the Kids Menu. But he ended the sentence with insight not just into wings but into the world, “You don’t have to eat the bones….you just eat the meat and spit out the bones.”

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How to Anger English Majors

I love languages.  I specialize in the “dead” languages of Greece and Rome.  But the history and development of languages has always fascinated me.  I was hooked the first moment I heard about Indo-European (which was first hypothesized by William Jones, whom I hope is a long lost relative).    One thing I firmly believe about language is that grammar is primarily descriptive not prescriptive.  Though it does give us rules about (prescribes) HOW to speak, it is mainly a reflection of (describes) how we in fact DO speak.   Languages change.  And as languages change, so do the rules.

One group of people who just don’t get this is English majors.  Maybe because they enjoy knowing the rules and condescending to those who don’t, who knows?  And so, in defiance of our self-appointed grammar overlords,  I give you 2 things that are absolutely true about English but which will absolutely infuriate English majors.

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The Jones Hegelian Movie Hypothesis

Summary of the Jones Hegelian Movie Hypothesis:  Every movie is the Hegelian synthesis of two previous movies.

Every truly great idea has a birth narrative.  This particular idea was conceived while I was departing the theater at the conclusion of the movie Pearl harbor…you remember, the one with Ben Affleck and that other guy….as I was walking to my car, I realized I had seen this movie before…twice…or more precisely, I had seen pieces of this movie in two previous places.  Pearl Harbor should have been subtitled: Saving Private Titanic.  And that’s when the idea for the hypothesis hit me.  That is when I realized that every movie can be understood as Hegelian synthesis of two previous movies.  Continue reading

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Shepherding a Child’s Thumos


Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.
-Colossians 3:21

When it comes to parenting, the verse I keep coming back to as the cornerstone of my parenting philosophy is Colossians 3:21.   Paul commands us to parent our children so as not to provoke, irritate, exasperate, embitter, or drive them to resentment. He doesn’t say give them whatever they want. He also doesn’t say avoid discipline. Paul clearly expects parents to do things for and to their children that the children might not like (hence the command in the previous verse to the children to obey) but Paul desires parents to treat their children in such a way as not to embitter the children and more importantly so that they don’t lose heart. The Greek word heart here is “thumos”, and means “strong feeling and courage.” A person without a thumos has become discouraged, passionless, timid. We don’t want children like that. We want obedient and respectful children…but children that still have their thumos, their passion, their life, their energy, that drive that makes them uniquely themselves. Continue reading

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