After Fifteen Years

When I was young, I would listen to older people recall where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot. I remember thinking, “That was so long ago!”– though I was two years old when it happened. Today’s freshmen and military recruits were three years…

The Eternal Generation of the Son

I thought Nicea settled the Trinitarian debate for Christians, for the most part.  But it seems that it has become fashionable in some circles (Evangelical and Adventist) to reject the “eternal generation of the Son.”  Those who reject it claim that it leads necessarily to Arianism and subordinationism–which is ridiculous, since it was a response…

Little Journeys with Martin Luther

When I was a student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg some thirty years ago, a professor, Eric Gritsch, told us about a book of Lutheran satire, Little Journeys with Martin Luther, by William Nicholas Hardy (1916).  In it, the statue of Luther at Luther Place, in Washington, DC, comes alive, and wanders American Lutheranism looking…

The Flag

So a rich young athlete is in the news, not for his football playing, but for sitting during the National Anthem.  Now, lots of us who believe in freedom would normally respect such an action–like when young Jehovah’s Witnesses, out of religious conviction, choose to sit in classroom ceremonies, despite bullying. But what irked many,…

While We Wait

(Sermon preached at College Station Adventist Church, August 27, 2016). This past week, I saw an interesting discussion on a friend’s Facebook page. He posed this question: “If Seventh-day Adventists really believe in the soon return of Jesus, why do we have a health care system?” Some see a contradiction, my friend said. Some Adventists contrast…

Adventists and Non-Combatancy

Important article for Adventists. George R. Knight, “The Great Disappearance: Adventism and Non-Combatancy,” Journal of Adventist Education, 2008. “In the early 21st century, the church is in danger of losing an important teaching related to the Christ who claimed that Christians must love their enemies, rather than be trained to kill them. … What should…

Religious Blindspots

Pew did a new study of why people choose a new place to worship.  They included non-Christians, but in all the graphs they are lumped together as “non-Christians”–Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, etc.  It is assumed that “houses of worship” have “clergy.” Emma Green at the Atlantic writes about it in “It’s Hard to Go…

Ecumenical Obfuscation

We’re a year away from the five hundredth anniversary of Luther’s “95 Theses on Indulgences,” whose posting generally marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  In light of that, ecumenical dialogues are hoping for irenic celebrations of dialogue and consensus.  Towards that end, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical…

Desmond Doss: Coming to a Theater Near You

In “Hacksaw Ridge,” Producer Michael Crosby and Director Mel Gibson tell the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist Conscientious Objector who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as an Army medic during World War 2.  You can see the trailer at YouTube.  A documentary, “The Conscientious Objector,” was made in 2004.  You…

Faith or Fear?

(A sermon I originally preached at Epiphany 2016, but adapted and preached in Rutland, VT, in July 2016–Note, there are references to some pictures and charts that I haven’t had time to add to this post.  I also want to give links to some stats.) If you were to drive a few miles southeast of…

Independence Day

Though I am a veteran, I must remind my friends who post social media memes thanking us that Independence Day isn’t about remembering veterans, or the military, or those who died in combat. We have other days for those groups.  Rather, Independence Day is about remembering the ideals for which they fought. It’s about celebrating freedom–freedom that…

Smashing Boxes: Young Adult Ministry without Preconceptions

Malvina Reynolds’s song, “Little Boxes,” satirized the boxy houses that dominated suburban landscapes in the mid-20th century, and the conformist spirit they symbolized: they were “all made out of ticky-tacky and they all looked just the same.” Today, we’d see them as symptomatic of an even larger reality. To live in a certain place, in…

Questions on Military Chaplain Education

I been thinking lately about how the Army educates chaplains. It starts with the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course (CHBOLC), which is designed to both introduce chaplains to the military and help them adapt their civilian skills and experience to the military. Later, chaplains attend the Chaplain Captain Career Course (C4). Majors do Intermediate Level…

Arabian Nights

Three years ago I was writing poetry in the Kuwait desert … Arabian Nights A half moon joins scattered stars In a gray sky brightened by dancing lights Of growling Blackhawks While whining generators chase shadows Into the corners of concrete bunkers and barriers Surrounding boxes, “little boxes, Little boxes made of ticky-tacky” And the…

Is Drone Warfare Moral?

In 2012 The International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic of NYU School of Law issued a report, Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan.  See a short video synopsis here. A number of people have written on the topic…

President Obama Goes to Hiroshima

President Obama will be the first president to visit Hiroshima.  The White House insists he will not apologize. I think he should read this August 1945 editorial, and ask for all to reflect on it: This is the ultimate in violence. What consequences will flow from this dis- covery nobody can guess. Of one thing…

Chesterton on War

Provocative quote by G. K. Chesterton: “It may be said with rough accuracy that there are three stages in the life of a strong people. First, it is a small power, and fights small powers. Then it is a great power, and fights great powers. Then it is a great power, and fights small powers,…

America in Prophecy

Sermon preached at Spring Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church on May 7, 2016. This morning I turn to a familiar Adventist topic, the role of the United States of America in Bible Prophecy. It is important that we review this from time to time, so that we can be clear in our thinking. So that as…

Reformation + 500

Next year marks the 500th anniversary of Luther’s “95 Theses,” the traditional starting point of the Protestant Reformation. Lutherans and Catholics and others are preparing for an ecumenical celebration, rooted in the supposed “consensus” on justification achieved in 1997 with the publication of the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification” signed by the Lutheran…

A Chaplain Who Spoke Up

Chris Antal resigned his commission a couple of weeks ago as a chaplain in the US Army Reserve.  He posted his letter of resignation on the webpage of the Unitarian-Universalist Church he pastors. April 12, 2016 … Dear Mr. President: I hereby resign my commission as an Officer in the United States Army. I resign…

A Spotlight on Memories

I started this post two months ago, after watching the movie, “Spotlight.” I wrote some, but then stopped.  The movie brought back a flood of old emotions, because its story intersects with mine in a couple of places.  I tell the story of my journey of faith here, and so won’t now repeat everything.  For purposes…

22 Vets a Day. True/False? Does It Matter?

Twenty-two.  That’s the number you’ll often see associated with veterans who suicide–twenty-two per day. I’ve seen a couple of reactions to it.  Some think it means that service members are coming back from deployments messed up and killing themselves in extremely high numbers.  Others dismiss the number, say it gives us a bad name; they point out that…

Whither Chaplaincy?

Note:  This reflection is a personal response to things I’ve recently read and conversations I’ve participated in. And I’ve made some revisions in response to some of the comments I’ve received. Chaplaincy is ministry.  It is ministry in a specialized setting: hospital, military, college, prison, etc. But it is ministry. It is pastoral. I find…

Goodbye, again.

Garrison Keillor has been saying goodbye as long as I have been listening to him.  I think I first heard him in the summer of 1986.  I was a seminarian, and went out to preach one weekend at one church in a multi-church district in western Pennsylvania.  The district pastor was a friend and classmate,…

Allegiance: A Tale for Today

The musical, “Allegiance,” which recently closed on Broadway, is based on the childhood experience of actor George Takei and his family in an internment camp during World War II. I haven’t seen the play, but I recently listened to the album. While set in the 1940s, the themes are echoed in the hate-filled shouting match…

Four Chaplains

Thirty years ago next month I raised my hand, took the oath of office, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Chaplain Candidate, in the US Army Reserve. That summer, as a student in the Chaplain Officer Basic Course at Fort Monmouth, NJ, I first heard the story of the four chaplains: George Fox, Alexander Goode,…

The God of Abraham

In a recent post, I began to respond to David French‘s claim that Christians and Muslims must worship different gods, since the Christian God is a Trinity and the Muslim God is not. I argued that if he is correct, then it would be necessary to argue that Jews and Christians worship different gods, too.…

Christmas Reflections

(An article I first wrote about 1994) Introduction: Revelation 12:1-6 We begin with a strange, yet powerful image. We see a woman, ripe with child–a symbol of new life and of hope. And as the moment draws near, we see her writhing in pain, her legs spread in anticipation; and crouching before her, gnashing its…