More Loving than God?

One of the chief arguments against hell is that a loving God wouldn’t consign anyone to eternal punishment.

I appreciate this sentiment and think it’s a typical response to the notion of eternal suffering, at least in the West. (Punishment, judgment and severity are not strangers to some religions of the East.) The assumption in this argument is that God is good and, in his goodness, and love he could not, with any real finality, give anyone over to eternal punishment.  Continue reading

Posted in Books, Film, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Beginning And End

Sometimes an image or a moment, a word spoken or a flash of understanding hits us such that we not only never forget it, but are left imprinted, changed. Such a moment hit me several years ago.

In a former life as a home inspector I looked over residential properties to determine their condition and repair needs when a home was transferring ownership. I was in and out of thousands of homes in that role and unless a house was empty besides seeing what kind of roof or foundation a property had I also saw something of the lives of its occupants; married with children, elderly, young, winding down a life or starting up a life, single or single again. Continue reading

Posted in Personal/Reflective, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Review: Choosing Donal Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him

Choosing Donald Trump: God, Anger, Hope, and Why Christian Conservatives Supported Him, by Stephen Mansfield.  Reviewed by Mike Halpin

I gained unlooked for sympathy for Donald Trump from Choosing Donald Trump, and a wish that the author would have stuck to the story instead of making this book his own pulpit. I loved learning about Trump’s family, early years and key means of personal formation; I also grew tired of Mansfield’s use of this story to grind his own ax against evangelical Church leaders.

From the opening epigraph/quote from Martin Luther King Jr. Mansfield makes clear that he’s not only writing about Trump and the Christian conservatives who helped elect him, but  he’s using King’s vision for the Church speaking to power as his own measuring stick, or club, or both, as he reproves evangelical leaders.

Continue reading

Posted in Books, Political, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lest We Forget

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling wrote Recessional for Queen Victoria’s 60-year Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Her life and reign were winding down, she would die in 1901, and though the British Empire was at its zenith, it too would soon descend from its lofty heights to earth. After World War II the British Empire would become a less fearsome nation, and a smaller, but still important player on the world stage. Perhaps Kipling was thinking of the eventual decline of empire when considering the aging Queen’s Jubilee.

A timely, perhaps even prescient piece, Kipling repeated words of warning spoken over three thousand years prior to the nation of Israel, words spoken as that ascending nation anticipated entering the Land of Promise. “Lest we forget–lest we forget!” in Recessional echoed the words of Moses to those who would enjoy YHWH’s blessings in the land promised to their forebear, Abraham.  Continue reading

Posted in Personal/Reflective, Political, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Batter My Heart

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

from “Holy Sonnets”

These words of John Donne’s come to my mind often. I feel the truth of them. I bear witness to them. His grasp of the dilemma of the converted and his poetic and succinct means of expressing our thralldom and need for liberation, and a liberator, from outside ourselves, is profound and true and acknowledged by all in our honest moments.

Continue reading

Posted in Books, Personal/Reflective, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Kavanaugh Goes to Washington

Screenshot 2018-10-04 14.30.21Allysia Finley has an outstanding article in the October 4th, 2018 Wall Street Journal Opinion section titled, “Will the Senate Kill A Mockingbird?” It’s a great, point-by-point comparison of the treatment Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is receiving with Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”, my wife’s favorite book of fiction, and a favorite movie. I hope you can read the book or see the movie.

Continue reading

Posted in Books, Film, Political, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

There Must Be Factions– Social Justice

In Evangelical circles in the U.S. a factionalism that’s been growing has recently been publicly called out, a factionalism having to do with the loaded phrase “social justice”. (Regarding defining social justice, see the end of this article.)

The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel was released on September 4, 2018 and it has created instant controversy; factions have formed and battle lines have been Screen Shot 2018-09-18 at 8.45.35 PMdrawn. The statement conveys the belief that the Evangelical foray into “social justice” movements has and will dramatically and negatively impair the Church’s ability to clearly proclaim the gospel.

The sharp criticism in response to the statement levels a variety of charges ranging from– the Church is not in fact proclaiming the gospel apart from action in social justice arenas, to– the Church is failing to fulfill it’s prophetic role to the culture apart from calls for social justice in the political arena. Continue reading

Posted in Political, Religious/Spiritual | Tagged , | Leave a comment