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Pilgrimage, Geography, and Mischievous Theology

One hundred years ago, the Scottish poet Edwin Muir mourned that Christianity had apostatized by abandoning its incarnate, embodied grounding. In his poem “The Incarnate One,” he laments that “The Word-made-flesh here is made word again.”[1] In our generation, Charles Taylor coined the problem even more succinctly: excarnation. This inclination to strip Christianity of its more fleshly elements for an exalted spirituality of the mind has dogged Christianity from the start,... Read More

The Forgotten Brush Strokes of Painters

As the universe is composed of solar systems within galaxies, so do we exist as a swarm of molecules, corpuscles, and atoms. The essential building blocks of the stars are the same as those of human beings. We exist within a universe we did not create that was formed by dynamic events we are still trying to comprehend, within a planet that is the only one (as far as we know) among hundreds of billions with the right amount of hydrogen and helium to sustain life. Either by chance... Read More

Reclaiming Christian Marriage: What the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Needs to Learn from the Southern Baptists

On June 19, 2014, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to allow their pastors to perform “same-gender marriages in civil jurisdictions where such marriages are legal.”[1] As expected, this has caused no small hubbub among American Christians. While gay rights advocates and Christians on the left have lauded this progressive decision and praised the denomination for changing its official policy on marriage, conservatives vociferously oppose the change and some have even threatened... Read More

Spirit, Tradition, and the Pneumatology of Liberation

The Holy Spirit and the Logic of Tradition According to the French Dominican theologian Yves Congar (1904-1995), the term “Tradition” [1] (from the Latin, tradere) was originally used in Roman legal documents, where it signified the transfer of property from a donor to a beneficiary.[2] When the term was adopted by Christian theologians, it came to signify a transmission from God to humanity, with humans understood as the recipients of God’s revelation, the deposit of faith,... Read More

The Spirit Helps Us in Our Weakness: A Review of God, Sexuality, and the Self

Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay “On the Trinity” (Cambridge, UK: University Press, 2013).   In her recently published prayer journal, the influential southern writer Flannery O’Connor wrote, “Dear Lord please make me want You. It would be the greatest bliss. . . . Oh Lord please make this dead desire living.”[1] O’Connor’s prayer is the unsung chorus of Sarah Coakley’s important new work, God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay “On... Read More

A Religion of Losers: Dissenting Voices in Church History

The 1930s debate between Emil Brunner and Karl Barth has come to have iconic status in the history of Christian theology. It has been said that if you understand what’s at stake in that debate over natural theology, then you understand the situation of Christian theology in the first half of the twentieth century. Stanley Hauerwas recounts that when he was being interviewed for his first seminary field placement, he was only asked two questions: Do you have a car? And what side... Read More


The past spring, my fourteen-year-old cousin died huffing keyboard duster. Her sister found her in bed, nostrils taped shut. I picture it, the rooms of her house nightsodden. Her young legs gathered like cream. Note-to-self marked on one arm. Cream growing slack. My cousin was not a substance abuser. Clear away what you first imagined: she did not sneak out of her bedroom window at night to touch boys or cuss at her parents or nurse a secret self-destructiveness. She was curious... Read More

Redeeming Body Knowledge: Contemporary Art and the Reshaping of Theology

A body affects other bodies, or is affected by other bodies; it is this capacity for affecting and being affected that defines a body in its individuality . . . . That is why Spinoza calls out to us in the way he does: you do not know beforehand what good or bad you are capable of; you do not know beforehand what a body or a mind can do, in a given encounter, a given arrangement, a given combination. —Gilles Deleuze, Spinoza   Profound respect for both the enrapturing relationality... Read More

An Ordinary Nine Innings

All baseball games begin with no runs, no hits, no errors, a player scuffing his shoes at the plate, and nobody on base, but I’m going to start by telling you the final score: John Sexton’s Baseball as a Road to God is a flawed but insightful look at how something as ordinary/pedestrian/unchurched/free from theology/etc as baseball can help us explore the deeper meaning of things. First Inning Sexton loves the game of baseball. For many years he has taught about the game at... Read More

Power, Economics, and Christian Faith from Below: An Interview with Joerg Rieger

Joerg Rieger is an internationally recognized activist and scholar who has engaged in questions of liberation, theology, and economics for over twenty years. His visionary work uses tools from cultural studies, critical theory, and religious studies to examine the relationship between theology and public life and to probe misuses of political and economic power. In this interview, Rieger discusses his recently published book on religion and the Occupy movement as well as the theological... Read More