Billy Graham, You Complicated Man.

I’ve got a little fire in my belly about a couple things.

Having reflected a bit on the death of Billy Graham, I’m observing the polarization his legacy has renewed within our culture. There will be lots of other events that have the same net effect, but presently his death is an excellent case study.

I note two distinct perceived legacies [the way people posthumously see Graham]:

1. He was a perfect man who led thousands/millions to a meaningful, life changing, salvific relationship with Jesus. 

2. He used the power he had to destroy countless lives, harming Jews, the LGBTQ+ community, and set up a political/religious framework that set up the rise of the religious right. 

There does not seem to be much ground in between these two poles. Part of the polarization has much to do with Billy’s son, Franklin, and his unwavering support of president Trump. I’ve been quite bothered about the influence of folks like Franklin Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell. These men are enjoying the sway they have in high political places, and in my little opinion an American theocracy is not the goal. Actually, it is absolutely nowhere near the interest of faithful Christians. Christians have no business whatsoever becoming enmeshed with the power of empire. Instead, we simply follow Jesus’s instruction: we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

Continue reading “Billy Graham, You Complicated Man.”

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Grit.

Buzzwords come and go, and presently the term grit is fairly popular within the behavioral sciences and beyond. The term stirs up inspiring pictures: entrepreneurs taking a chance, soldiers pressing forward despite seemingly impossible odds, parents determined to support and love a resistant adolescent, politicians or activists standing up for something that is worthwhile.

Writers on the subject rightfully emphasize traits such as optimism, confidence, creativity, resilience, and hardiness; all of these may describe what grit is composed of, but I want to take a look at what is behind these descriptors – the source of grit. Think of it like a spring bubbling with water: if grit is the virtue equivalent of a spring’s clean, cold water, it has to come from somewhere. Like water slowly trickling through porous limestone, becoming cleaner and purer at each step, so is the confidence and hardiness we call grit filtered from a particular source.

And now, as is characteristic of all my writings, the faith claim! No surprises here!

The ultimate well/source is God, the creative One who crafted all that we will ever study or see or experience.

And because God has been made known, we have hope. And the hope of God naturally overflows, giving us grit. When institutions, relationships, concepts, religious systems, or commitments seem to fail, the hope of God remains steadfast.

The hope of God is the source of grit. 

To be sure, there is plenty of pushback that can be voiced against this. The Christian faith can unfortunately be viewed as an escapist paradigm and one could cling blindly to the hope that God will do something for them while ignoring how God has already equipped them to move forward. But this would miss the mark on several accounts.

Continue reading “Grit.”

Digital Distance :: Disagreeing Well in the Age of Social Media

For going on 13 years, I have been connected to social media.

13 years!

That’s a stint, for sure. I’ve been on Facebook for just about as long as it has been a thing [I joined in 2005 with a .edu college account]. Facebook started in 2004. I hopped on the Twitter wagon in 2008; it started in 2006, and at that point I had Tweets coming to me in the form of a text to my *non* smart phone. Oh, and for that wonderful combination of images and text, Instagram, I joined in 2012, two years after its inception [there’s a trend here!].

The digital connection with others has some big pluses, but a few significant drawbacks as well. I want to focus on the problem of anonymity.

Maybe you’ve also had that experience where someone goes postal on your Facebook wall or Twitter feed. Controversy can even invade the gentle Instagram community, despite their profound efforts to make it as positive as possible.

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