Articles (all poetry listed in the next section)
On the renewal of all things - Resurrection is the way God works - bringing order from chaos, light from darkness, and life from death, from the beginning to the end
On faith, hope, and love - This "holy trinity" of Christian values totally counteracts the trio of lies that cancerously destroy us: fear, guilt, and shame
On Humility - a word that we often trivialize and get totally wrong
On sacralizing the ordinary - Everything is spiritual, and if we just learn to see it that way, we can do even small, ordinary things with great intentionality
The empty God - God lives in empty spaces, meets us in empty spaces, calls us to make empty spaces.
Why I am (not) a "Christian" - Maybe the most controversial thing I’ve posted, though it wasn’t meant to be that way
On going the extra mile (and how it doesn't mean what you think it means) - on the non-violence that Jesus embodied and taught as the most powerful (but often misunderstood) force in the universe
On turning the other cheek (and how it doesn't mean what you think it means) - Just like the verses on going the extra mile, this powerful little teaching has often been misunderstood as simply about inner spirituality. In reality, it is part of a powerful program for nonviolent resistance in the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are the poor - This article is a response to some comments on my posts on turning the other cheek and clearing the temple courts. Does speaking about a program of nonviolent resistance actually contradict Jesus's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount?
Silly Things Christians Say: "When God looks at you, he doesn't see you. He sees Jesus." - Guest post by Adam Barker.
Prayer beads, Potter, and Pokemon cards (and other things I was told were deadly) - Reflecting on my fundamentalist upbringing and doing my best to find a glimmer of hope for evangelicalism.
Why literal "Creationists" literally don't get the point - This article has nothing to do with the evolution vs creationism debate and everything to do with learning the profound and relevant truths that the author of Genesis 1-2 was trying to communicate.
I don't believe in hell. Does that mean I'm going there? - This article has two purposes, and it is important to note that the first is the primary one: (1) Why does a certain belief in the afterlife/hell (specifically, "eternal conscious torment") need to be a central, non-negotiable part of our statements of faith? (2) A brief introduction to and overview of another view called "annihilationism," justified by a historical/theological overview as well as Biblical support. After a lot of good discussion and critical feedback, I posted a follow-up video addressing some of the main concerns of readers.
Why the cross isn't "special" - Too often we emphasize that the cross was "just for Jesus" and miss the fact that it is the picture of discipleship and Kingdom living, and in that sense it is for all of us
Forgive and forget? Why remembering is essential to forgiveness - This cliche really fails to capture the enduring power of forgiveness, which sees the other just as they are, looks them in the eye, and chooses extend grace anyway.
The lightning-bolt God - Too often, we have made God look more like Zeus than like Jesus. We might cushion it with fancy words, but when we look at a child's drawing of "God", we can see the tragic truth.
This series is a popular-level adaptation of my Master's thesis. Christian Anarchism is a provocative phrase, but it is not a political agenda. It is simply an unrelenting commitment to and application of the fact that there is "no King but Christ" - and therefore, the Kingdoms and Empires of this world are not only separate from, but antithetical to his Kingdom.
Why I am a Christian Anarchist - introduction to the series
The love of power or the power of love? - Here I examine the first of three "genes" of the DNA of Empire: power.
The American Mythology - I look at the second gene: mythology. I lay out detailed schematic of what I see. asthe key components of the civil religion/mythology of America.
A war of myths - This continues the discussion from the last article, comparing the mythological narrative of Empire to the Kingdom of God.
Built on violence - The third gene of Empire is violence. It is foundational to Empire, and incompatible with the Kingdom of God.
To vote or not to vote? (Part 1) - Here I lay out a brief overview of why I have traditionally chosen not to vote as a Christian Anarchist. In part 2, I will take a look at the case for the other side.
To vote or not to vote? (Part 2) - I look at the Christian Anarchist case for voting, which isn't as common and boils down primarily to one factor: solidarity with the poor and marginalized.
Clearing the temple courts: what Jesus did about systemic injustice - Understanding what was going on in the temple in Jerusalem gives us a very unique insight into Jesus' profoundly subversive and political action in this classic story.
Patriotism or idolatry? (Is there a difference?) - American patriotism is generally nothing less than full blown idolatry, the religion of Empire at its finest.
Faith and spirituality
“Presence, patience, and peace” has basically described my spiritual development plan over the past couple years. These three words have changed my life, and I have seen how closely interrelated they are. I posted a three-part series of three brief articles that unpack and give clear examples of what these three values look like.
Dark clouds, silver linings, and the quest for the meaning of life - For some reason, we get so much more energy from anger and fear than from joy and contentment. But in reality, neither optimism nor pessimism is the key to becoming a person of hope.
Power: copyright Satan, Sauron, and Big Brother - After reading 1984, I started thinking about the idea of "power." Why is it always the "bad guys" who are identified primarily with power? Jesus shows us a different kind of power - one that isn't really "power" at all.
Extreme Makeover: Eden Edition - It's like this whole world is the crumbling, dilapidated ruins of God's beautiful "house" for us, and Revelation 22 is God's version of Extreme Makeover: Eden Edition. The Jesus of Revelation 21 is not a Jesus coming to blow this universe to smithereens and start over with a "new" one - although we often get that sense from certain Christian books and teachings. No. The Jesus of Revelation 21 is "making all things new," that is, re-newing all things to their original intent in a way which far surpasses what has come before.
Tell me what you want (what you really, really want) - Thomas Merton wrote that our desire is often not for the things themselves, but for the pursuit. The desire of desire, that is; and it is always ultimately unsatisfying because we are chasing a moving horizon.
Living out of control: how openness and acceptance can change your life way more than a pandemic can - The title sums it up. These fifteen words have forever changed my outlook on life: "I can't control this. The only thing I can control is my response to it."
Learning contentment the hard way (and how to handle delays, disappointments, and yes, pandemics) - This article tells a little of my story over the past 12 months - by far the craziest year of my life - and how I have learned to cultivate contentment during seasons of serious uncertainty.
The word "identity" has been central for me in the past few years. This section draws on a number of writings I have done, both academic and popular level, to explore the fact that defining ourselves purely in terms of our role in life or our personality or our psychological makeup lead to identity crisis. Instead, I explain “narrative identity theory” in an easy to understand way to make an important point: my identity is based in my story, not what I do.
I am passionate about whole, healthy, and vibrant singleness - a topic which I think our society, and especially church culture, doesn’t really understand. In these posts, I explore five of what I call “myths about singleness,” along with their corresponding truths that we need to embrace.
I also had a few miscellaneous posts that don’t quite fit into any other category.
What I learned from posting every day for a month - more than just my writing, a reflection on how we can set big goals and accomplish them well
When Dumbledore made me cry and Samwise made me sob - how the beauty and importance of sacrificial friendship seems to be built into the fabric of the universe
From printing press to podcasts - the minefield of mass media - Technological development has brought so many blessings, but we have to be mindful of the dangers of how it affects the way we view ourselves and others.
Crossing to the "other side" - what to do when you've been a real jerk - An article on conflict management and, more specifically, how better to handle being confronted by someone we've wounded. I use some insights from Speech Act Theory to describe a simple but powerful paradigm shift in the way we look at confrontation.
Virtual dialogue in a divided world: a plan for healthy social media interaction - Sort of a manifesto for one of my newest and most daunting life goals.
Seeing the world through a screen: how trying to "capture the moment" often makes us miss it - Our obsession with trying to document every experience and memory through the cameras on our phones has dulled our ability to actually live the experiences in the first place.
Breaking news! (Exploring media bias through a journalistic thought experiment) - This shows how two short "news articles" can tell two very different stories about possibly the most famous man in history.
These poems might not be click-bait, but I think there is some real beauty in here.
Precious Cargo - about my move to the Middle East to work with refugees and orphans
29 - An Autobiography in Free Verse - looking back on my own personal “character development” in the drama of life
Confessions of an ENFP-8 - I’m an ENFP on the Meyers-Briggs chart and an Enneagram 8. If you have either of those things in common, you’ll probably resonate with a lot of this.
These also don’t really fit into any category specifically, and they don’t have a lot in common apart from the fact that they are inspired very specifically by Christian faith and Scripture.
the phoenix - allegories shouldn’t really be explained, but in this poem I talk about the “phoenix” (Christ) and the “dove” (the Holy Spirit) and the ways in which we have tamed and domesticated them, thereby surgically removing their capacity to truly transform us and the world
All Creation is groaning - a meditation on the brokenness of the world as it eagerly awaits renewal (for what it’s worth, I am incredibly proud of the way this poem uses imagery and symbolism and has an almost exactly parallel poetic rhythm and meter without feeling “forced” to fit a specific mold)
Cleopas - a poem and short article I wrote years ago on Cleopas, an often-ignored figure who I have called the “patron saint of depression”
All of these poems are different, but they have two things in common. First, they are all brief, freeform poetry without following a specific structure. Second, they are all meditations on the nature of life or spirituality. In these, I see how strong of an influence reading Christian mystics and non-dualistic thinkers (like Richard Rohr) have had on my spiritual development as a Jesus-follower. In their own way, each of these embrace the mystery of spirituality while acknowledging that truly everything is spiritual.
I’m not sure quite what to call this category, so “social commentary” seems broad enough. Each of these points out some of the uglier side of human existence.
It takes a village - on the capacity of community for the greatest good as well as the greatest evil
isqaat an-nizaam (overthrow the regime) - a meditation from the first days of the Lebanese revolution (I live in Lebanon) against one of the world’s most corrupt governments
It's easy to live with an "other" - as mentioned above, this is all about how we all seem to need a scapegoat, or an “other,” to keep our communities together
We live in massive castles - on all of the “walls” we put up in an attempt to hide our true selves from a world that we feel we can never really trust
The I and the Thou - on the fact that we can really only find ourselves in relationship, not with other people as objects, but as other subjects to be encountered and loved
In you - I got the privilege of tutoring a very poor, uneducated Syrian boy at our school for refugees. This poem is about the profound impact he had on me, and how serving him gave me a better understanding of the heart of God
I really enjoy writing spoken word, which for me is an opportunity to play with language focusing not on line rhyming, but on meter and turns of phrase and internal rhyme and alliteration. These poems are all very different, but they have one central quality: they really are meant to be heard and not just read (which makes them a bit difficult to share on a blog).
Seasonal Affects - using each of the four seasons as a metaphor for peace (affects here meaning “emotional quality of a thing,” but also a wordplay as I talk about the effects of the seasons on us)
Posts, Comments, and Things Worth Saying - a little bit about the tragic effects of social media on human communication
The beginning of what? - a piece on the creation of the universe that steps way outside the boundaries of the way Christians have traditionally “explained” creation, recognizing that truth is often communicated best through poetry rather than prose (after all, the “Creation” chapters of the Bible were poetry themselves)
Life is Full - on how we can get so overwhelmed by busyness that we fail to see the beauty of a life that is truly “full” of good things
I have had a lot of fun learning and experimenting with the poetic form of the “triolet.” The themes of these poems are totally different, but they all use the same repeating lines and unique rhyme scheme of the triolet.