000 Introducing Irenicast

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An Irenicon is very excited to introduce Irenicast, our new weekly podcast dedicated to the discussion of faith and culture. Our first official episode will be posted on Tuesday, 3/10/15. Join hosts, Jeff, Mona & Allen as they explore various topics from pop culture to more serious issues impacting religion, society, and day-to-day life.

Syrian refugees

When I See Pictures of Victims

To be sure, a cityscape is not made of flesh. Still, sheared-off buildings are almost as eloquent as bodies in the street.

-Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

A photograph of refugees streaming out of war-torn Yarmouk introduces an online article. A humanitarian advertisement displays a malnourished dog, mostly skin and bones, on the brink of death. A Facebook friend posts infrared photographs of helicopter pilots firing rounds into a group of footsoldiers.

Violent images inundate my daily world.

Which is disturbing. Infuriating. I can’t tell you how many things I’ve seen that I would rather not see. Maybe should not see. My gut reacts and screams these pictures should not exist!

But another part of me thinks that they should. Read More

Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Hunters in the Snow (Winter) - Google Art Project

Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday during the winter? Have you ever wondered why we celebrate his birthday at all? It is not as if we know Jesus’ actual date of birth.

All we know is what the gospels reveal. We know that at the first Christmas, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8). Shepherds in the Middle East only pasture their flocks at night when it is warm out. During the winter, it is too cold. Instead of being in the fields, the sheep like being snuggled together toasty warm in a nice pen. This means that more than likely Jesus was born in the warmth of the late spring, the summer, or the early autumn. This is Read More

My Life With Night Terrors, Demons, And “Alice In Wonderland Syndrome”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

-Lewis Caroll, Alice in Wonderland

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My Childhood Demons

Peering out from beneath a pile of stuffed animals, I saw the shadowy figure sitting at the foot of my bunk bed. It stared at me from between the rungs of the ladder which led up to my snoring little brother; I felt the shadow watching me. A few days later, two more shadows would join the first and crowd around me.

I sunk further into my animals, desperate to avoid its gaze.

So goes my earliest memory and the beginning of my night terrors.

Until age ten, night terrors were a routine part of my childhood. Read More

Why We Love The Rapture

I know you all want answers, and believe me, so do I.

- Captain Rayford Steele, Left Behind 2014.

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I was a child of the late 90’s and an evangelical Christian so, naturally, I read the wildly popular Left Behind novels (and I loved them). Even though I eventually moved on from the unique theology that made them possible, I never quite let go of the feelings they afforded me.

That might be the reason I was fairly disappointed this weekend when I discovered that the newest Left Behind movie is hardly better than the one starring Kirk Cameron back in 2000. Read More

The Cure For “Racial Tensions?”

Answers in Genesis emailed me ten days ago. They claimed to have found the cure for “racial tensions” (and yes, they used quotation marks).

“Racial tensions” manifested by the likes of street demonstrations in Ferguson, use-of-force inquires, the shooting of unarmed black men, and the less than equitable media coverage of these events.

Ferguson Police

Answers in Genesis’ answer to these problems? Make everyone believe in creationism. Read More

The Spirit Doesn’t Protect You From Stupidity

If there is one thing the book of Judges teaches, it’s this:  God’s Spirit doesn’t prevent you from doing something stupid.

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Which turns out to be really good news.

But we’ll get to that. Read More

The Christian community validates Jesus’ legitimacy (or at least it should)

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This is the transcription of a sermon that I preached at Elk Grove Congregational Church on 6/29/14. It is, in fact, the first transcript I’ve ever shared and the form is different from what I normally post on an irenicon.
[Lectionary: Jer 28:5-9   |  Mat 10:40-42]

Good morning, friends.

Thank you, James, for this opportunity to speak and, as he says, “it’s better when we’re together.” It’s good to be with you all.

My name is Allen and, as some of you know, I am a recent seminary graduate. In my past life I was a youth pastor, had even received my bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, but attending Seminary has given me a  new (and ever growing) appreciation for the significance of what we do.

It’s a big thing to speak the words of God.
It’s a big thing to identify as a Christian and claim to know that God would have us do “X” or that God would have us do “Y.” Read More