All Theology is Autobiographical.

The painting above is The Good Shepherd by Bernhard Plockhorst. I remember a print of this painting, or one just like it, hanging in Fellowship Hall at Redeemer Baptist Church in West Los Angeles, the church I grew up in.

It’s an interesting painting. I didn’t notice when I was a kid, but I can’t help but notice now that Jesus looks awfully, well, German. The setting looks very un-Middle Eastern as well.

Why point this out? Continue reading “All Theology is Autobiographical.”

My Conversation With Mara

This photo of me was taken during a mountain bike race in Michigan in 1992,  I’d been training very hard that summer, maybe a little too hard. I’d done a race-simulation workout the week before, and I was still a little tired from it.

When my race began, I had a terrible start. It felt like most of the field left me behind in the first quarter mile. As I suffered through the first bit of the race, I began to have a conversation with myself.

“I don’t know why you bother racing. You’re no good. How many hours a week do you train? Maybe you don’t have any talent. Or maybe you’re not tough enough. You should quit. You should quit right now.”

Continue reading “My Conversation With Mara”

Close Reading

Hebrew Scriptures was one of the first classes I took when I began my theological studies. The class was devoted to what many Christians refer to as “The Old Testament”. But the class began with much time spent on Close Reading.

Close Reading means reading only what is printed on the page, without resorting to any interpretation or overlaying of a Tradition’s understanding of what the words on the page mean. Just read the words. How hard can that be? Continue reading “Close Reading”

Ithaka

ithaka island Greece

I’ve been re-listening to an audiobook of Homer’s Odyssey. The version I’ve been listening to has Ian McKellen reading Robert Fagles’ amazing translation.

Once again, I’m struck by how The Odyssey has influenced so many other stories. Bits and pieces of The Odyssey are found in Pinocchio, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, pretty much any quest story will draw on Homer’s work.

Over the next year, I”ll write some words of my own about the Odyssey, but for now, I’d like to share with you the poem, Ithaka, by Constantine P. Cavafy. As I think of the journey of self-understanding I’ve been on, and the obstacles—some self-created—I’ve faced, I enjoy this poem more and more.  Maybe it will speak to you. Enjoy! Continue reading “Ithaka”

Welcome

The other day I had breakfast with Paul. Paul and I went to Westmont College, an evangelical Christian school in Santa Barbara. I hadn’t seen Paul in years, and we had a fair amount of catching up to do.

As we discussed alternate understandings of Christianity—ideas we had encountered and wrestled with in books and conversations—I explained that leaving the Church and leaving Christianity had been, for me, the only logical step, as I had finally “run out of metaphors.” Here’s an example. Continue reading “Welcome”