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Miniblog #315: The Challenge of Regaining Trust in Severely Broken Relationships

Trust. Surveying the course of my life, there’s good news and there’s bad news on that front. The good news is that, despite all the abuse and neglect I’ve endured, I remain more than capable of trusting people. I’ve grown more cautious with age, to be certain. When I pick up bad vibes I no longer default to giving people the benefit of the doubt.11.Instead I rely more than ever on my gut feeling, gift of discernment, high iNtuition, or whatever you want to call it. Read more

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Miniblog #314: Getting Tired of the Cultural Over-Saturation of Homosexuality

Yesterday afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and stopped after 20 out of first 30 stories were about homosexuality. Read more

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Cap’n Passive-Aggressive: The Reason I Don’t Give Casual Hugs Anymore (Miniblog #313)

I used to be a hugger. You know the sort. It’s the guy whose default is the bear hug instead of the handshake. It was my way of making people feel welcome, letting them know I cared. It reflected my naturally trusting disposition. That changed on June 8, 2012. Read more

Miniblog #312: Unintended Consequences of Disengaging the Evangelical Sub-Culture

In 2002 I recommitted my life to the Lord and began to take my faith seriously for the first time. Not knowing that there was an alternative, I embraced the American evangelical sub-culture hook, line, and sinker. I got rid of all my secular music, wouldn’t watch rated-R movies (with the exception of The Passion, of course)… the whole nine yards. By 2004 I’d come to my senses. Read more


Miniblog #311: What University Abbey Is Not

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition they use apophatic theology, or negative theology. It’s premised around the idea that we can more clearly describe God in terms of what He isn’t like than what He is like. Perhaps we can apply the same approach to University Abbey. As nebulous as the community might be, we know what it is not: Read more

Introducing “Anapiscopanglican” Christianity

Preface: This post is a follow-up to “Miniblog #309: After a Decade of Searching and Gleaning, Has the Time Come for Creating?” 

There are different schools of thought concerning how language should be used. My experience is that some folks prefer word choices that resolve dialogue so that matters can be neatly settled whereas others prefer word choices that facilitate dialogue so that complex issues can be explored. A terrific example of this difference is the term “Episcopanglican.” Read more


Dismissing Donald Miller as Self-Absorbed Is Too Easy And Deflects the Real Problems

Has it occurred to anyone that it’s not Donald Miller who has rejected local churches but local churches that have rejected Donald Miller? Let me explain. Read more


Birthday Resolution: Double Down on Being an INTP (Miniblog #310)

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution but after much consideration decided to make a birthday resolution. On the ol’ Myers-Briggs I’m an INTP. And you know what? I like it, dang it! Read more

Miniblog #309: After a Decade of Searching and Gleaning, Has the Time Come for Creating?

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

These lyrics, among the most famous ever sung by Bono, perfectly encapsulate the experience of my ongoing disappointment with Christianity. Read more


Interview with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

Excellent interview. That is all. Read more

Reflections on Subtle Christian Spirituality: Pray Without Ceasing – Part I

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 the apostle Paul exhorts his brothers and sisters of Thessalonica to pray without ceasing. That verse has long tormented me, if I’m to be perfectly honest. It always makes me feel like a giant turd. The first time I recall reading it was in the eighth grade while going through the New Testament shortly after my reluctant born again experience. I simply couldn’t fathom what it meant in practice. Read more


“What Now?” Rather Than “Why?”: I’ve Never Struggled with the Problem of Pain

It’s said that human suffering is among the foremost intellectual challenges facing religious adherents of any faith. Over the years I’ve read a fair number of books about it. A couple examples are Elie Wiesel’s Night and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Likewise, I’ve read books exploring why God allows it such as C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain and Philip Yancey’s Where Is God When It Hurts? I’ve also been intentional about not shying away from films like Schindler’s List and Hotel Rwanda. The truth, however, is that I read those books and watched those films largely in an effort to understand the inner turmoil of others. It wasn’t to delve into my own questions or objections. Read more

The College Paper I Wrote About My First Visit to an Anglican Church

In March 2008 I was taking “The Church: Its Truth & Destiny” at Toccoa Falls College. One of our assignments was to do a worship service analysis. We were to visit a type of church we’d never experienced before, then write a paper assessing our experience. I took the liberty of expanding the assignment to biographically tie in my past experiences and thoughts on the larger tradition. I share that paper in its unedited form because it’s fascinating to consider how my past self initially perceived my present tradition. Read more


Freedom through Violence: The Real Reason I’m Not a Full-Fledged Pacifist (Miniblog #308)

In yesterday’s blog post I publicly acknowledged that I was raped as a child. There I explained how I freed myself by inflicting great harm upon my abuser. Though I’ve hinted at it for years, this is the real reason why I cannot be a full-fledged pacifist. Read more


I Was Raped As A Child. That Influenced Me.

Preface: This is a follow-up to “Miniblog #307: Shouldn’t Personal Conflicts Be Kept In-House?

Today I write a post the content of which I never thought would be made public. Unfortunately, it has become clear that my approach to life, ministry, and blogging will never be fully understand until people know. So here goes… In criticizing my public sharing of personal conflicts, a number of people have said something to the effect of “if you’d been raped, that would be one thing. But this is different. There’s no need to air others’ dirty laundry.” Such comments are well-intentioned but unaware of the facts, so let’s set the record straight: I was raped as a child. Read more


Miniblog #307: Shouldn’t Personal Conflicts Be Kept In-House?

Shouldn’t personal conflicts be kept in-house? These past several months quite a number of people have asked me this general question in relation to everything from the Waco Anglican drama to my estrangement from my brother. It seems to me that, in the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, there’s a time for everything: Read more


Miniblog #306: The Motives Behind My Distance from My Brother

People keep second-guessing me, so I need to be crystal clear about my intentions, motives, and perspective. I’ve five thoughts to share. Read more

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What Do I Admire About My Brother?

This morning I was asked by a mutual and lifelong family friend what traits I presently admire about my brother. It’s a solid and timely question. With a fair amount of editing and expansion, here’s what I replied: Read more

Miniblog #305: Taking Responsibility for My Part of the Estrangement with My Brother

Sorry. This got kind of long to be classified as a one paragraph “miniblog,” but I don’t care to invest the time to reformat everything.

A number on onlookers have felt that I’ve publicly condemned by brother while portraying myself as a flawless saint.11.That is, they believe I’ve turned him into a villain while making myself out to be the innocent victim. Read more

Dear Clayton: An Open Letter to My Brother Regarding Reconciliation

Dear Clayton,

I’m utilizing this medium for two reasons. First, I want my tone and perspective to be available for the public record, especially to our mutual family and friends who’ve leveled steady criticism at me over our estrangement. Such well-intended, if uninformed, guilt trips have caused me great pain.11.Because I principally value psychological health over family, people seem to think that I’m insensitive and obstinate. Not only is that just plain false, it’s the exact opposite of the truth. Second, there’s no other line of open communication available. In our last correspondence you concluded with such comments such as: Read more


Miniblog #304: Wrapping Up the First Semester of University Abbey

This post was written back in mid-December, but I forgot to post it. Better late than never. Read more

Miniblog #303: What Happens When Bill Maher Talks to an Intelligent Christian

Bill Maher is, to be certain, an ass. The same held true of the late Christopher Hitchens. Of course, both men exemplify the condescending contentiousness of New Atheism so many Christians today loathe and fear. At the same time, I cannot help but love ‘em. Read more


Miniblog #302: Why I Don’t Trust Nice People

Preface1 Read more

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Miniblog #301: I Don’t Believe in Being Nice

“That was nice.” This sentiment is often used in Southern cultural contexts to deflect or soften criticism when someone is asked what he or she thought about, say, an awful musical or theatrical performance. Read more


Satire Inspired by the Polar Vortex: Weather, Climate & Kindergarteners

Me: OK, children, repeat after me: wea-ther.

Class: Wea-ther.

Me: Cli-mate.

Class: Cli-mate. Read more

Laziness: The Reason Why We Shouldn’t Value Everyone’s Opinion Equally (Miniblog #300)

Living amidst not only the Information Age but a Western culture of instant gratification, that which should be plainly obvious apparently needs to be said explicitly: There is (and should be) a direct, causal relationship between serious thinking and having your thoughts be taken seriously. You have to earn it. Read more

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Spiritually Bipolar: Weaving Together House & High Church Elements in Communion (Miniblog #299)

While I now describe myself as an Episcopanglican Christian, I’m anything but captive to that tradition. Indeed, my faith and practice are as influenced by Eastern Orthodoxy as by Anabaptism. It’s a direct result of having spent a full decade as a vagabond, intentionally exploring Christianity’s numerous traditions on my journey. Read more


Miniblog #298: Stop Ruining the Reverent Gravitas of the Eucharist with Cheesy Music

This morning I attended my first Anglican/Episcopalian church in several months. On the whole it was a delightful experience. I’ll probably go back with great frequency. Yet I have a question: why, oh why, do people insist upon ruining the reverent gravitas of the Eucharist by playing obnoxious “contemporary” songs throughout? This kills me each and every time. Read more


Millennials Arising: The Beginning of a New Covenant Vision (Miniblog #297)

Throughout 2013 I thought long and hard about my own faith journey and the parallel narratives of those kindred spirits who are continually contacting me. My sense is that amidst all our struggling and wrestling, most of us truly do believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Often times we don’t want to, but we do. Yet we absolutely cannot believe in Christianity as it has been simplistically taught and culturally packaged. Read more


Miniblog #296: Developing Emotional Teflon Toward Angry Anglican Priests

This morning an Anglican priest with whom I’ve had, to my knowledge, no prior interaction sends me a Facebook message. In it he lambasts me as an “apostate unbiblical heretic” (no commas) yet also tells me I never should’ve left [That Which Shall Not Be Named until 2015]. Read more


Miniblog #295: Some Wounds Never Fully Heal

This time last year I was finally pulling out of a long depression following the single greatest disappointment of my life. I looked to 2013 with cautious hope and dreams of a better life. Three months later those hopes were once again crushed by disappointment and poor health. Read more


The Day Barney Died

How many years have I been waiting for this?!? Read more

Five Years and Counting: An Update on My Estranged Relationship with My Only Brother

Some people have recently been asking about the status of my relationship with my only brother. For those who don’t know, we’ve been–not coincidentally–estranged since Election Day of 2008. Every other year I reach out to him, reminding him of the conditions under which we can be reconciled. That includes 2009, 2011, and this morning. In today’s email I told him about the Richard Mouw quote that has been so formative in my life and ministry: “A lot of people today who have strong convictions are not very civil and a lot of people who are civil don’t have very strong convictions. What we really need is convicted civility.” I briefly explained that all I’m looking for from him is convicted civility. This I clarified by writing, Read more


Miniblog #294: Pope Francis Isn’t a Marxist. He’s Just Criticizing Secular Capitalism’s Greed.

Fact: Contemporary capitalism exists in a vastly different cultural-historical context than that of the economic system’s earliest proponents. Take a moment to let that sink in because it couldn’t be more important. Today’s capitalism exists in a vastly different world. Read more


God’s Sovereignty & Human Responsibility: Again Refreshing My Outlook (Miniblog #293)

As I approach the final year of my 20s I’ve been once again surveying the theological controversy that has consumed the greatest portion of my mental energy over the past decade. Specifically, I have in mind the unending debate over the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Read more

Miniblog #292: Why I Don’t Particularly Value Rote Memorization

Why don’t I value rote memorization to the same degree most educated people seem to value it? It all goes back to my learning disability. Take the field of history as an example. I would fail any test comprised exclusively of 50 names and/or events and dates that simply had to be memorized and reconstructed in chronological order. Read more

Mapping How Americans Talk

As one who has spent 9 years in Oklahoma, 11 in Minnesota, 1 in Illinois, 4 in Georgia, and is now in his 4th in Texas, I’m always intrigued by regional dialectics and pronunciations. This video helped answer some of my questions. Plus I just thought it was fun.  Read more

Miniblog #291: Recommending N.T. Wright’s Book, ‘After You Believe’

In the earliest years of adulthood I abandoned the rules-based view of Christianity I’d been taught growing up. It never made the least bit of sense that Jesus had fulfilled the explicit Old Testament law only to turn right around and subject us to an implicit New Testament law. Read more

On the Difference Between Dignity & Respect (Miniblog #290)

2013 has been an interesting year. It has been chalked full of life lessons about leadership styles, interpersonal relationships, social etiquette, institutional dynamics, cultural values, and the like. Perhaps the single most important of those lessons has been coming to recognize the difference between dignity and respect. Read more

Miniblog #289: John Cleese on the Conditions Conducive to Creativity

The truth is, I’ve never felt like a typically creative person. Yes, I love to draw and write, but whenever I share a room with artists–whether they be musicians, painters, actors, playwrights, or the like–I always feel a more than a bit out of place. It quickly becomes clear that we don’t process the world around us in quite the same manner. Read more