• Engage

    How Do We Love God with Our Whole Minds?

    Today, I’m happy to feature as my guest columnist Ver-lee Cheneweth, my intern for the past year. You might remember meeting her last August when she shared about her journey relating to racism. During Texas’s February 2021 snowmageddon, all schools, including the seminary I attend, closed for a week. Doing schoolwork in subzero weather was ridiculous, so I chucked it for some recreational reading. Obviously, enjoying a compelling book snuggled beneath a downy comforter was the only sane way to pass the time unvexed. After reading Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez, however, I fumed, saying, “Dang it! What the heck is wrong with us? Why can’t evangelicals think…

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    Post Election: Where Do We Go from Here?

    At the time of this writing, the numbers say 74,939,396 US citizens voted one way and 70,636,322 voted the opposite. The final numbers will differ some. But regardless of what the final numbers are, that is a lot of difference.  NBC broke down the race-based religious data. And they found this—which will come as no surprise: Among white Protestants, 73 percent voted for President Trump, and 26 percent voted for President-elect Biden. Pew Research paints a different picture for Blacks: 90 percent of Black Protestant registered voters backed Biden. Christianity Today reported, based on National Election Pool results, that nationally Trump took 40 percent of the Latino vote; Biden took 59 percent.  …

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    One White Woman’s Thoughts on Being Multi-Cultural

    “Before you go and live in Guatemala to study Spanish, you need to read this book,” my friend advised. Easily detecting my time-is-of-the-essence-say-it-like-it-is-I-can-do-this-on-my-own base culture, she knew I needed a multi-cultural “crash course” before my extended stay in Guatemala. As she is a second-generation missionary having served more than fifty years in Latin America, I heeded her advice, and I’m glad I did. Unknown cultural blinders fell from my eyes when I read her recommendation, From Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot- and Cold-Climate Cultures. The multi-cultural information gleaned from this book not only made me aware of what I had been doing wrong while serving in U.S.…

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    Homogeneity is Easy (But Unity’s Better)

    Can I be frank with you? Homogeneity is easy. Whole cultures exist where people have common stories and experiences, surrounded by people who speak the same language (both literally and figuratively). Exhausted from the fractalization, Americans daydream of such utopia, like Camelot or Wakanda or maybe Finland.    Meanwhile across our melting pot, we don’t share anything but angst. Is holding a door patriarchal or polite? Does our compliment show appreciation or reveal underlying racism? Requiring masks wise or a lack of faith? Is there any politician, educator, or mommy blogger who isn’t accused of being extreme and trying to ruin the country? Chasms cut and crosscut the nation, including…

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    Invoking Culture Change

    “I thank God that Thou hast not made me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.”[1] This was a common Jewish prayer recited in the first century. It made clear the pecking order at that time. As a woman and a Gentile, I would have been considered the lowest of the low. What is your reaction to this prayer? Perhaps it’s one of the following: Oh, that’s horrible. How bigoted. How unbelievably biased.   I’m so glad times have changed. To that last response I ask, “Have they? Have times really changed?” The apostle Paul addressed the crassness of this caste system in his letter to the churches of Galatia:…

  • Heartprints

    4 Ways to Encourage Strong Faith

      Colossians 2:4 “…I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable.”   It used to be that we could feel pretty safe about the influences in our children’s lives until they hit college age and were exposed to a more diverse culture. It seems, however, that radical views are coming into play as early as 3rd grade. And, by middle school, many church going children have decided they do not believe in God.    Some religions are more obvious in how they contradict Scripture; but, many religions have an element of truth which make them seem feasible which makes them dangerous. In fact,…

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    We Were All Foreigners

    Lady Liberty looked on as the immigration officer stamped my great-grandfather’s passport at Ellis Island. He had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from the Netherlands to New York. He ultimately settled in central Iowa. Other ancestors had immigrated before him and their reasons varied. Many simply wanted a better place to raise families. Others fled Europe to escape the atrocities of the Great World War. The Dutch immigrants built homes, planted crops, started bakeries, and established churches. Frugal, yet tidy, their gardens bloomed with tulips from their European homeland. But their lives were not without struggle or prejudice. Not everyone welcomed them. During the First World War (when the Allied…

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    Three Responses to Charlottesville

    Like many of you, I watched in disbelief as white supremacists spouted bigotry, violence, and KKK rhetoric last weekend at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA. For a brief summary of the weekend’s events and aftermath, see: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-virginia-overview.html I’ve noted two common responses to the persistent racial and political divide in our country: 1)     Us vs. Them. Whether it’s Democrat vs. Republican, black vs. white, black vs. blue, male vs. female, gays vs. straights, or Cowboys vs. Redskins, a “vs.” in the middle necessarily puts one group in complete opposition to another. Dividing ourselves into ideological categories is a natural way of expressing our identity, heritage, and values.…

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    The Cost of Our Spiritual Adoption

    Stacks of notarized documents, contracts, home inspections, social worker interviews, fire extinguisher requirements, bank statements, medical exams, blood tests, and more…these are just a few of the many customary items required to receive approval to adopt a child. The process is tedious, time-consuming, exhausting, frustrating, and…expensive. The average cost to adopt a child is $35,000 USD. That is the average cost for just one child. (It takes a village of lawyers, social workers, and adoption professionals.) The cost alone scares many families away from adoption. According to Hank Fortener, founder of the crowd-funding platform, AdoptTogether, 70% of couples considering adoption are deterred because of the costs. In the end, only…

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    Diversity: Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Nazareth?

    Standing in Nazareth's Basilica of the Annunciation, I gazed up at mosaics from all over the world. These works depicted the Virgin Mary with Jesus, and in each case Jesus bore the ethnic identity of the predominate group in the gifting country. That is, the art from Ecuador showed Jesus as Ecuadorian; the work from Japan, as Japanese; and the one from Thailand, as Thai. The baby Jesus from Slovenia even had red hair. The mosaics’ creators made these localized images to remind viewers that Jesus is “one of us”—which he is. Yet so many artists have depicted Jesus as white for so long with such far-reaching influence that many…