Thanks for reading, friends. It’s been quite a year, but I’m glad we stayed connected, even through this blog. A lot has happened, and the most read posts of the year chronicle that. I always write with current events in mind, and so this end-of-year post is also a reflection on the last twelve months. I write for fun, yes, but also to influence our leaders, to reach out to the next person, to hold power to account, and to be a voice for those who are searching for something new. Here are the most read posts of 2020.
10. I took communion on the Internet and it changed my life (April 1, 2020)
“Nevertheless, on the third week, this time when we recorded the meeting in separate spaces—which we thought was a stretch—we took communion all by ourselves, with whatever we had: Cheez-Its, raisins, Goldfish, seltzer water, old wine. They all were the body and blood of Jesus. And we took it together, after reading the words of the institution, and it was truly beautiful. I was so moved by it, I told them that that disparate communion, without a church building, without priest, with no singular sacrament was more moving than any that I could experience even in the most majestic cathedrals in France. We were bonded together in our common experience and in our common plight. We were connected, even in our far away locations, by the body of Christ. It was a wonderful expression of our solidarity despite our hardship. And that’s exactly why it was more authentic than any other expression of the meal that I’ve experienced. And it’s because we’re hungry for it. It’s hard to be hungry when you’re partnering with excess and empire. It’s hard to feel the need for God when you’re worshiping another god. But that all changed because of this plague and we have a new opportunity to worship together now.”
9. The Love of Christ constrained me to vote (October 28, 2020)
“As a Christian, I don’t vote for the church’s sake, like many of my contemporaries do. I don’t expect the president or any politician to save the church, or preserve its freedom, or even protect it. If we serve God, I expect the world to hate us, like it hated Jesus. Jesus has overcome the world, and so I don’t vote with my salvation in mind, because that’s already covered. Instead of voting for myself, I vote with my neighbors in mind, with the least of these in mind.”
8. Christianity was designed for the end of the world, and yes, for covid-19 (March 18, 2020)
“We are living in our own end of the world, too. Or at least, it can feel that way under quarantine. In just a few weeks, the whole world changed. Nonessential businesses are closed. The economy is crashing and is seemingly impossible to stimulate. Italy is overwhelmed. China is implementing draconian practices. And the U.S. is at a turning point. We can go the way of Italy or flatten the curve, as all the experts are leading us to do.
In Circle of Hope, we are heeding their advice. I was amazed at how quickly our church responded to the crisis at hand. We met online on Sunday. And my cynicism was shattered. I didn’t think we could have a meaningful televised experience, and then there it was, our community on the live chat loving on one another and making it clear that this dreaded plague would not stand between us. It was beautiful. We are beautiful. God is using us.”
7. The hypocrisy of Democrats on Biden shows us that electoral politics is about power (May 6, 2020)
“It is a distressing reality that the powerful only believe women when it’s convenient for them. We need another way. And I think the church has an opportunity to be prophetic in this moment. But it has a lot of work to do this in this regard. In this season of resurrection, let us remember it was women who first witnessed Jesus’ resurrection, and believing them changed the world.”
6. Remembering all of Kobe is the best way to grieve his loss (January 29, 2020)
“When we don’t remember the totality of a person like Kobe Bryant, we don’t interrogate the toxic sexism that touches everything in our society, and we don’t learn from their mistakes either. We don’t grieve fully unless we remember everything.
In order to remember the impact of Kobe Bryant on the game of basketball and all of us, we have to remember the impact he had in his worst moments too. Because of the monumental tragedy that crossed borders and touched the whole world, it is even more important not to ignore his sins, but to learn from them, knowing that it isn’t talent, celebrity, or success that wipes them away, but the work of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration. And that was on Kobe. No matter how much good work he did, reconciliation and repentance don’t undo the actions we did. And that is something for all of us to remember.”
5. The meaning of sex precedes its existence (September 16, 2020)
“And so before we can begin to name the essence of sex, we must deconstruct the sexism and patriarchy that filled the void before we can argue that sex has meaning. It doesn’t just have meaning because it results in reproduction, it has emotional and intimate meaning. I think this is an easy argument to make. The ecstasy of an orgasm itself is meaningful in a way that’s mysterious, isn’t it? There’s love in the air after that mutual experience occurs, and I don’t mean simultaneous orgasms, or some perfect sexual “performance” that turns sex into a physical feat. I’m not talking about pornographic examples of what sex should look like. I’m talking about mutuality and love between lovers, even if an orgasm doesn’t occur or climactic harmony isn’t achieved. There a mysterious, blissful connection, that occurs between lovers. Maybe that can be reduced to some evolved psychology that preserves the thriving of the species. But regardless, I think it expresses a meaning beyond merely the material. I’m not grandiose enough to suggest that the pleasure of an orgasm proves that God exists, merely that it offers meaning to sex. But it isn’t just the trance of an orgasm that offers sex meaning, it’s the relational and emotional quality of it.”
4. Focusing on the riots is avoiding the real problem: police brutality (June 3, 2020)
“The riots themselves are an expression of lamentation. And so, family, in solidarity, we must lament. Not condemn. Our communities are torn apart by state-sanctioned racist violence. We are in pain. We are traumatized. We are hurting. And when one part of the body hurts, we all need to. We need to be troubled, cut to the heart as Peter said in Acts 2. I see the pain expressed in the street, and I lament. We need peace, we need justice. And the unrest that follows is a result of the lack of that. We needn’t judge it, but rather move to empathy, and lament together.”
3. Remember this in 2020, you don’t have to vote (February 19, 2020)
“As for Christians, our loyalty and responsibility isn’t to the state, nor is it to participate in their systems of change and control. We have a higher calling, one that can extend to the ballot box, but not necessarily so, and in fact extends much further. Our law is love. That’s the law of Christ. To love God, to love others. If the state can aid in that endeavor, fine; for the most part, the state impedes that endeavor, and in order to honor God first, we need to protest the state. Sometimes that looks like picking the lesser of two evils, but other times it looks like not voting at all because the miserable choices we have perpetuated the evil that is before us, the ones we are resisting.”
2. Critical Theory is closer to Jesus’ vision for the world than the Evangelicals are telling you (September 10, 2020)
“Our recovery from our addiction to worldly power is going to take time and consciousness. Power that we get from our race and gender is like cursed treasure on an island. We can’t leave with it safely, it’ll sink our ship. But you know that’s hard, someone is gonna want to take a pocketful. But we can resist together. It’ll be painful, but good work. That’s what it means to take up our cross, that’s what it looks like to follow a Crucified God, and embody a cruciform witness. God divested of God’s power to the point of dying on the cross. It killed Jesus. It won’t kill us, because of Jesus, but it will hurt. Recovery always does.
The power we get from our bodies—that is to say not from God—is like the ring in Lord of the Rings. No one can wield it properly, and the only answer is to destroy it. If Jesus is Lord, if we have no king but Jesus, then we need to make sure that our bodily power isn’t actually the Lord of us. We need to rid ourselves of it and follow Jesus. Put down our worldly power and follow God. That’s a big ask, but the reward is bigger. The feast that will follow is wonderful and it’s for everyone.”
1. White Evangelicals are leading me to lamentation (September 23, 2020)
“But it’s not just that they are making this environment inhospitable for new faith to grow, it’s that they are isolating me too. I feel it. It’s hard to know we come from the same family, or worship the same God. I come from an Evangelical background, and even a White Evangelical background, and it’s a credit to them that I even have faith. So it’s painful to see that the values they instilled in me, that led me to becoming a pastor, feel so distant from where they are now. I lament that when I look at my brothers and sisters. I feel like I’m a part of another family.”