How Do You Like Your Conflict—Rare or Well Done?

“Well, at least this sort of thing is rare,” a friend remarked after a conflict that went south.

My mind (which, if illustrated, would look a bit like a conspiracy theorist’s wall with pieces of string connecting a thousand unrelated newspaper clippings and excerpts from The Catcher in the Rye) immediately associated “rare” with steak.

I replied, “Unfortunately, conflict is like steak—when it’s rare, it isn’t well done.”

Since then, I’ve been meditating on how true that is. Continue reading “How Do You Like Your Conflict—Rare or Well Done?”

#DearPastor: Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?

It’s early Tuesday morning. You shuffle into your study at the church, turn on the coffee maker, and open your laptop.

While the coffee brews, you open your email to find a subject line that says “Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?”

You open the message. It reads: Continue reading “#DearPastor: Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?”

Suspecting Gillette: The Best the Church Can Get?

Gillette recently released a commercial, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” addressing the #MeToo movement.

It calls men to something better than misogyny, bullying, sexual harassment, and the objectifying of women. It encourages men to use their strength and influence to protect the weak, to treat other human beings with dignity and value, and to hold one another accountable. It admits that not all men are bullies and misogynists, and it praises the virtuous acts of those doing the right things.

Nevertheless, the ad has generated a conflicted response from the public.

I hadn’t seen the ad. I wouldn’t have except the social media uproar prodding me to what all the to-do was about. I watched it. I loved it. (I love it with one exception: Gillette products are used to prevent beard growth, which is an abomination.)

I understand there are various reasons that people take issue with it: It attacks masculinity in general. It conflates “toxic masculinity” with all masculinity. It stereotypes all men.

I don’t see those things in the ad. I won’t address them.

There is one criticism that I want to address—namely, that Gilette is being opportunistic, seeking to build a customer base and make a quick buck by pandering to the social issues of the day. In other words, they are acting with insincere motives.

That criticism—insofar as it results in an unwillingness to praise the ad—doesn’t sit well with me. Continue reading “Suspecting Gillette: The Best the Church Can Get?”

Away in a Manger — The Little Lord Who Did Not Cry

This year’s Christmas Eve sermon on Silent Night reminded me of a sermon I preached on Christmas Morning, 2011 looking at the message of the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger.”

Some Christian leaders refuse to sing “Away in a Manger,” citing the lyrics (namely, “the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes”) as “odd or misleading,” saying, “This lyric misses a key aspect of the Incarnation: Jesus entered into our suffering.” I disagree.

This sermon examines the beloved Christmas carol and defends its message—a reminder and celebration of Jesus’ divinity and humanity, his majesty and his humility. Continue reading “Away in a Manger — The Little Lord Who Did Not Cry”