Dear Christian: No Matter How You Live Your Life, You'll Always Be Wrong

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Photo by Brendan Church

I've called the essay, Dear Christian: No Matter How You Live Your Life, You'll Always Be Wrong. Here's how it begins:

No matter how you live your life, you’re wrong. 
At least, that’s true if you listen to what others have to say. The ultra religious will say you’re not pious enough. The world will say you’re not liberal enough. 
Have a beer? 
The Pharisees will condemn you for partaking of alcohol, you drunkard. The world will condemn you for drinking just one, you pansy. 
Watching a movie? 
Make sure your elders don’t know about it. But do make sure you tell your secular friends because they can’t believe you haven’t seen it yet, and they’re dying to talk to you about it.

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What I Read in 2017

The turn of the calendar is the time of year when we must endure those inane end-of-year lists on blogs, on television, and on podcasts. At first they are interesting. They may spark your memory about an event from the previous twelve months or remind you how far—or how little—you’ve come since last January 1. But after exposure to a few lists, subsequent countdowns become nauseating. 20 Most-Liked Celeb Instagram Posts of 2017. Seriously?

Aaron Burden

Just as a photograph or a song (or a web page detailing the most creeped upon celebrities) can spark memories in one’s mind, so can a well read book. For example I recall the chill of the vinyl hospital rocker as I read Frank Viola and Mary DeMuth’s The Day I Met Jesus. The room was quiet that day as Abram, my asthmatic, and his mother rested in each other’s arms, passed out in exhaustion after the ordeals of illness gave way to the relief of albuterol, prednisolone, and a couple liters of oxygen—just one in a series of hospitalizations the youngling has had to endure in his short span on earth.

2 Corinthians 6:14 Is About So Much More Than Marriage

Sebastian Pichler

Did you know I write a monthly article for subscribers to my email list?

I just sent this month's out, and I think it turned out pretty good. (Of course, I might be a bit biased.) Here's how it begins:

If Ridgeview Elementary School no longer conducts three-legged races, it’s probably my fault.
When your contest ends with two second-graders on the ground wailing in pain, administrators tend to reconsider the merits of such activities.
As you know from Under The Sun, I’ve always been a super competitive guy. Call it nature or call it nurture; I enjoy competing. So on that sunny day at Ridgeview when they linked my right ankle with the left of classmate Elizabeth, my blood started pumping in anticipation of that word, “Go!”
But if you know anything about three-legged races, you know success relies more upon coordination than determination. As such, forcefully running down the field even if it means dragging your companion through the dandelions, would not be a good strategy. Maybe someone should have told me that earlier.

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What You Miss When You Miss Church

Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? Luke 2:49

The sound of a modem connecting to the internet can be disconcerting the first time you hear it.

The uninitiated might conclude this is how robots communicate with one another or that aliens have finally invaded earth, or worse yet, that his or her computer is about to explode. For all of you youngsters out there who have not had the joy of listening to the noises generated in the modem-dialing procedure, I’d recommend you YouTube it just for edification.

The process begins simple enough with a typical dial tone followed by dialing. Then the magic happens.

You might hear a couple of beeps then noises so diverse and bizarre English’s onomatopoeia has yet to catch up. Although I’m sure brighter wordsmiths than yours truly could conjure up better descriptions, I would describe the dial up sound like this. Imagine a man at the beach with a bird on his shoulders. The bird is attempting to squawk repeatedly with a beak full of water while the man strikes a triangle in rapid succession. Behind the fowl and human, construction is underway on a new condominium. And in an instant, a tsunami force wave envelopes them all.

Now imagine all of this cacophony digitized and auto-tuned to a key unbeknownst to even the most progressive musicians. Yeah, it's kind of like that.

And yet, while that sound is far from melifluous, for me in late 2002 it brought much anticipation.

How to Survive Tranquility

Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true! Ask anybody.

Photo by Khurt Williams

I just sent this month's out, and it's about how to rest even when you have ten million things to do. Here's how it starts:

When you discover you have spent over a day of your life playing a game called Cooking Fever two emotions descend upon you.
First is dismay at the incredulity of logging over thirty-four hours in a meaningless casual Kindle Fire app. Second is depression at the amount of time wasted in such trivial pursuits. (As opposed to the board game Trivial Pursuit, which, plainly put, is never a waste of time.) Such is the wave of feelings I experienced yesterday upon stumbling across my gaming statistics. I didn’t know Amazon even logged those kinds of things.
If you’ve read my first book, Do No Work, then you know I have struggled with balancing work and rest—between checking boxes and allowing myself to breathe. And based on the response I received from the book, I know many of you do too. I call this the Mary-Martha dilemma.

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5 Reasons You Should Think Twice Before Skipping the Book of Numbers

The fourth book of the Bible gets a bad rap. First, there’s the title. The word “numbers” scares away math phobic people to begin with. And even if you’re not afraid of arithmetic, who would want to read an entire book called Numbers?

Jazmin Quaynor

For those brave enough to crack open its pages, many still will turn away after realizing what it’s all about: a census. Imagine downloading the US Census data and reading the names of every person with the last name Smith. Yeah, it’s kind of like that. At least that’s how Numbers begins. Even for someone like me who happens to love the book, all those names often leave me dizzy or comatose. But if you can muscle through the censuses and genealogies, you’ll be rewarded by one of the richest and most bizarre narratives in the entire Bible. From talking donkeys to spontaneous serpent outbreaks, here are five reasons you should think twice before skipping the book of Numbers.

Why You'll Never Hear the Fourth Verse of the Star-Spangled Banner

Freedom is the cornerstone of Christianity.
Brennan Manning [1]

Alex Martinez

To hear my pastor tell it, America, as she stands today, is a post-Christian nation.

When I first heard him say so a couple of years ago, I pushed back against his assertion, citing the swath of strong Christian values entrenched in the Bible belt.

Nevertheless as time marches on, I begin to see what he saw.

Before I continue though, I must say that from my perspective, the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth. This does not mean we haven’t done reprehensible things. This does not mean we don’t have some serious cultural defects or systemic political corruption. We have and we do. But the US constitution strikes a precious balance between freedom and protection like no other. (If only politicians and judges would bother to read it.) But more on that in a moment.

As an ancillary piece of evidence in favor of the post-Christian argument, consider the fourth verse of the Star-Spangled Banner: