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“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Turns out the quote everyone attributes to Parker Palmer was never uttered by Parker Palmer.
Other lessons learned in this episode: Community organizing during social unrest, Thomas Merton saving the bacon, communism working in the monastery, incarnation politics, internal work, being on the brink of everything and getting old, the ambivalence of “meaning,” contemplative time, depression and medication.

For episode #171, I had the honor of talking with Parker Palmer about his new book On The Brink Of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old.

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

I met Dr. Rolf Jacobson at the Festival of Homiletics where, eavesdropping on me preaching, he said I sounded more Protestant than any of his students at Luther Seminary. You can check out his sermon here.

Dr. Jacobson is the author of Crazy Talk and hosts his own lectionary-based podcast as well. In this episode, he and I talk about the distinction between the Law and the Gospel as a particular emphasis of the Protestant Reformation as well as the role of the Psalms in shaping prayer and giving voice to our emotions before God. In particular, we talk about suffering, his own journey with cancer that’s left him withouth his legs, and the church as a community of care.

It’s a good conversation. Enjoy.

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

 

 

What does preaching sound like from the pew? What do listeners think of a preacher’s preaching?

Not only is Johanna Hartelius my best friend, she is the host of our sister podcast (Her)Men*You*tics. Johanna is also a professor of rhetoric and communication at the University of Texas, Austin. An expert, she offer’s here 3 Do’s and Don’ts for preaching for preachers to consider and for lay people to expect of their preachers.

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

 

 

“It’s a misuse of the word ‘prophetic’ to describe any speech Christians proclaim or exhort to unbelievers. It’s non-biblical. Only those who haven’t read the prophets would so describe ‘prophetic.’

“Protest that precedes prayer is theologically disordered.

“It’s pastorally cruel to exhort unbelievers who do not have the gift of the Holy Spirit to live up to scripture’s standards of justice.”

”There’s no urgency in either Testament for God’s People to get involved in the politics of the Principalities and Powers.”

”The Gospel is a gift. Christians cannot coerce the Kingdom, mandating its values upon the nation.”

”The prophets preached against injustice to fellow believers not to the unbelieving nations.”

John Nugent is professor of Old Testament at Great Lake Christian College and the author of Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church.  

In this episode John Nugent lays down all kinds of tweet bombs as he talks about preaching and politics, the proper role of prophetic preaching, and the current immigration crisis in America.

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

 

 

During our recent live podcast event in Hampton, Virginia we were able to open the space up for questions to our guests Dr. Johanna Hartelius and Dr. Kendall Soulen. In their responses they address kinship language, the fullness of God, proper names, true freedom, and what it means to be the church.

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

Earlier this summer, Crackers and Grape Juice hosted a Live Podcast in Hampton, Va at Bull Island Brewery. Over 100 folks came out for our guests theologian Kendall Soulen from Emory University and Johanna Hartelius, Professor of Rhetoric at University of Texas Austin. Johanna and Kendall helped us reflect on what we talk about when we talk about God.

Frankly, Kendall giving preachers caution about how easy it is to preach our politics rather than attending to the Word and Johanna’s decontruction of ‘inclusive language’ were worth the night- as was (I’m biased, she’s my best friend) her talking about praying with her son. Part 2 of the Live Podcast will post next week.

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

I first heard about a theologian named Karl Barth when, having been a Christian for just more than a year, I was a freshman at the University of Virginia. I dumped a class on Chaucer and added something called ‘Elements of Christian Thought’ taught by David Bentley Hart. DBH and, through him, KB changed my life just as profoundly as Woodlake UMC had in the time leading up to college.

For the uninitiated, Karl Barth is inarguably the most consequential theologian of the 2oth century- at least the 20th century. His theology, starting with his commentary on Romans, declared NEIN to the modern liberal theolgy in which he’d been schooled and in which most Protestant denominations today still exist. He synthethized Luther and Calvin in a way that bypassed the evangelical fundamentalism of his day and ours. He resisted Nazism not through political means but through insistence on Jesus Christ as Lord and as the One Word which God speaks. All the wihle, his personal life personified his insistence on the primacy of grace over law.

Barth reframed sanctifcation as ‘vocation’ in a way, I believe, that allows those in the Wesleyan tradition to reclaim their place in the Protestant family.

I think you’ll enjoy the conversation I had with Mark Galli about KB. Mark is the Editor of Christianity Today, the most read Christian magazine. Also an author, Mark recently wrote an introdcutory biography about Karl Barth for evangelicals. You should know, evangelicals have always cast a suspicious eye towards Barth, who was neither a biblical literlalist nor an unabashed subscriber to a penal substitionary understanding of the atonement. Barth’s marriage (you’ll hear in the podcast) was but another reason to dismiss him. Still, Barth has exercised enornous influence over pastors and theologians of recent decades so, by default, he’s influenced congregations as well.

Barth’s massive work is the long form of, a pupil, Stanley Hauerwas’ maxim:

Jesus is Lord, and everything else is bullshit.

Check out Mark’s Author Page. 

Before the interview…Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

What happens when an entire denomination struggles with language regarding human sexuality and three pastors try to ask questions? Teer, Taylor, and I grabbed a spot in the hotel lobby at Annual Conference recently to talk about the sexuality debate in the United Methodist Church.

Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

All proceeds go to support the podcast.

 My podcast, Crackers and Grape Juice, has released an ebook, available in paperback too, as a fundraiser to cover the costs of the show. Below is a little teaser from a reflection I wrote on Romans 3.

You can listen to a podcast the guys did about the book with out me below.

Go to Amazon and get the book. Even better, leave us a review there. It’ll help people find the book.

As many of you know, I do a lot of my work at Starbucks.  I have my reasons. For one thing, I get more accomplished without Dennis pestering me to show him how his computer works. But to be honest, the main reason I go to Starbucks…is because I like to eavesdrop. It’s true. What ice cream and cheesecake were to the Golden Girls eavesdropping is to me. 

     At Starbucks I’m like a fly on the wall with a moleskin notebook under his wing. I’ve been dropping eaves at coffee shops for as long as I’ve been a pastor and, until this week at least, I’ve never been caught. 

     This week I sat down at a little round table and started to sketch out a funeral sermon. At the table to my left was a 20-something guy with ear phones in and an iPad out and a man-purse slung across his shoulder. At the table to my right were two middle-aged women. They had a bible and a couple of Beth Moore books on the table between them. And a copy of the Mt Vernon Gazette. 

     The first thing I noticed though was their perfume. It was strong I could taste it in my coffee. 

     Now, in my defense I don’t think I could properly be accused of eavesdropping considering just how loud the two women were talking. Like they wanted to be heard. Their ‘bible study’ or whatever it had been was apparently over because the woman by the window closed the bible and then commented out loud: 

‘I really do need to get a new bible. This one’s worn out completely. I’ve just read it so much.’

     Not to be outdone, the woman across from her, parried, saying just as loudly: 

‘I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t spend time in the Word every day. 

I don’t know what people do without the Lord.’ 

     “They do whatever they want” her friend by the window said. 

     And I said- to myself- ‘Geez, I’ve sat next to two Flannery O’Connor characters.’

     I assumed that since they were actually reading the bible there was no way they attended this church, but just to make sure I gave them a double-take. They had perfectly permed hair flecked with frosted highlights. And they had nails in which I could see the reflection of their large, costume jewelry. 

     “Baptists” I thought to myself. 

     They continued chatting over their lattes as the woman by the window flipped through the Mt Vernon Gazette. She stopped at a page and shook her head in disapproval.  

     Whether she actually said ‘Tsk, tsk, tsk,’ or I imagined it I can’t be sure. 

     The other woman looked down at the paper and said: ‘Oh, I heard about that. He was only 31.’ 

     ‘Did you hear it was an overdose?’ the woman by the window said like a kid on Christmas morning. 

     And that’s when I knew who they were gossiping about. I knew because I was sitting next to them writing that young man’s funeral sermon. 

     ‘Did he know the Lord?’ the woman asked. 

     ‘Probably not considering the lifestyle’ the woman by the window said without pause. 

     They went on gossiping from there.  They used words like ‘shameful.’ They did not, I noticed, use words like ‘sad’ or ‘tragic’ or ‘unfortunate.’ 

     It wasn’t long before the circumference of their conversation spun its way to encompass things like ‘society and what’s wrong with it,’ how parents need to pray their kids into the straight and narrow, and how this is what happens when our culture turns its back on God.’ 

     After a while they came to a lull in their conversation and the woman opposite the window, the one with the gaudy bedazzled cross on her neck, gazed down at the Mt Vernon Gazette and wondered out loud: 

    ‘What do you say at a funeral like that?’ 

     And without even looking at them, and with a volume that surprised me, I said: ‘The same damn thing that’ll be said at your funeral.’ 

     They didn’t even blush. But they did look at me awkwardly. 

     ‘I hardly think so’ the woman by the window said, sizing me up and not looking very impressed with the sum of what she saw. 

     And so I laid my cards down: ‘Well, I probably won’t be preaching your funeral, but I will be preaching his.’ 

     And then I pointed at her theatrically worn bible, the one resting on top of her copy of A Heart Like His by Beth Moore, and I said: ‘If you actually took that seriously you’d shut up right now.’

     “No one is righteous, not one,” St. Paul indicts us all in Romans 3.

   Go get the book now!

    

     ‘. 

   

          

What does it mean to make an offering? What exactly are we offering? Are we appeasing an angry god?
We talk about offerings each week during worship as metal plates passed through our sanctuaries. Did you know offerings go back to the Hebrew Bible and were a part of how the day-to-day religious life of Israel was organized? What do can we make of Christ’s offering for us? And how then are we making an offering to God? This and more on this episode about ‘offering.’

Help support the show! 

Go to Amazon and buy a paperback or e-book of Crackers and Grape Juice’s new book,

I Like Big Buts: Reflections on Paul’s Letter to the Roman. 

All proceeds go to support the podcast.

 

In this episode I talk with Ken Jones, the pastor of Glendale Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, Florida and the co-host with Michael Horton and Rod Rosenbladt of the radio show and podcast The White Horse Inn.
Ken was formerly the pastor of the large racially diverse Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton, California, a fact which leads to one of the conversation topics we cover; namely, how diversity, according to St. Paul, is the fruit of clear and urgent Gospel proclamation but it is not to be confused, as happens often in the mainline churches, with the Gospel itself.
In the conversation, we also discuss the Scofield Bible, grace over race, serving a church in Compton, peculiar speech, Christian posture towards the U.S. government, and unhealthy alliances.

As always –

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

Ken is an e-friend, fellow Dylan lover, and a great encourager of the podcast so I hope you enjoy this conversation.

“Omni” is a prefix we attached to God without thinking: omnipresent, Omni-powerful. But what does “omni” really mean?

And, if God is all things is Dr. Johanna correct in her 3rd grade question, “is God in my poop?” Heavy, heady matters. Music used in the middle of the episode – “God is Not a White Man” by Gungor

As always –

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

 

Taylor and Teer got together to record an episode shortly before our last live event and on the eve of my transition after 13 years to a new congregation they shared wisdom from their own recent transitions. Having both come up in my congregation and worked alongside me, they offer a few nuggets for my new congregation at Annandale from the vantage point of both parishioner and fellow pastor.

In truth, I haven’t yet listened to this episode so if they say anything unflattering about me you should know right know that they’re liars.

Stay tuned for future episodes. We’ve Ken Jones talking about diversity as the fruit of the Gospel not the Gospel itself, our live conversation with Johanna and Kendall Soulen, Mark Galli of Christianity Today, Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips about their joint comedic memoir Unmapped, and anabaptist friend John Nugent, author of Endangered Gospel, is returning to calm the crazy and reflect on how we can be the Church in an outrage culture.

As always –

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

‘Nomos’ is the Greek word for ‘Law,’ one of the two words, according to Luther reading St. Paul, by which God has spoken to us and still speaks to us. In this episode, we talk about the Law, it’s uses, and its fundamental purpose to drive us to the Gospel of mercy and grace.

Along the way, we talk about Romans 13, proof-texting, Jeff Sessions, and MSNBC. Is the take away ‘its okay to suck’ or is it, as Dr. Johanna insists, that we should have some shame?

As always –

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

For Episode #157, we talked with Erin McKenney who is the Executive Director of Just Neighbors, a legal aid and advocacy organization for immigrants in the DC-Northern Virginia Region. We talked to Erin amidst the furor over the administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border. Erin helps us think about the issue of immigration from a broader systemic perspective as well as biblically in a way that, I think, moves beyond headline hyperbole and avoids perpetuating the cultural antagonisms of Red vs. Blue.

You can find out more about Just Neighbors, donate, or sign up to help by clicking the link here

The whole podcast posse was together in Hampton, Virginia for a live podcast event with theologian Kendall Soulen. Over 170 people came out. We’re incredibly grateful for the support, thoughtful feedback, and encouragement. We ran out of our 50 free pint glasses an hour before starting!

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

If its true that clergy suffer from certain health issues at a rate higher than the general population, the why are pastors in such poor health? And what can be done to help them step into the abundant life God desires for them?

We tackle these questions and more with the co-authors of Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, and Jason Byassee.

From the book –

“Although anecdotal observations about poor clergy health abound, concrete data from multiple sources supporting this claim hasn’t been made accessible–until now. Duke’s Clergy Health Initiative (CHI), a major, decade-long research project, provides a true picture of the clergy health crisis over time and demonstrates that improving the health of pastors is possible. Bringing together the best in social science and medical research, this book quantifies the poor health of clergy with theological engagement. Although the study focused on United Methodist ministers, the authors interpret CHI’s groundbreaking data for a broad ecumenical readership. In addition to physical health, the book examines mental health and spiritual well-being, and suggests that increasing positive mental health may prevent future physical and mental health problems for clergy. Concrete suggestions tailored to clergy are woven throughout the book.”

You can find the book here.

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

 

Is the trouble with Christian engagement with public issues today because social media makes it impossible for us ever to be truly alone? This and more in the latest episode.

It’s almost a podcasting rule at this point. The interviews assigned to us by publicists and publishers (I’m looking at you, Chester Johnson) are the ones I force myself to do, expecting little, and, sure enough, they turn out to be the ones I’m most grateful to have done.

Robert Hudson is a damn good writer and a damn good interview. He’s edited about half the religious books you’ve ever read, and, a Bob Dylan scholar, he’s written a book of his own: The Monk’s Record Player: Thomas Merton, Bob Dylan, and the Perilous Summer of 1966. In case, you don’t know Thomas Merton was a Trappist Monk and author of Seven Story Mountain who, despite being a hermit, had quite a worldly record collection. Dylan, meanwhile, employed his own Christian-ish kaleidoscopic poetic imagery that found its way into Merton’s own writing and poetry.

Listen to the interview yourself, he’s infectious for his delight about Merton and Dylan and the faith both of them share(d).

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

 


A little over a week from today, the podcast posse from Crackers and Grape Juice will be hosting a live event at Bull Island Brewing Company in Hampton, Virginia. This is our 3rd annual kick-off to the Virginia Annual Conference.

Professor of Theology at Candler Seminary, Kendall Soulen, will be our special guest. This year’s theme is “What We Talk About When We Talk About God.” 

The event is free, but you can register ahead of time here. Or, just tell us you’re coming on our Facebook Page.

The first 50 to attend will get a free Crackers and Grape Juice pint glass.

DATE AND TIME

Thurs, June 14, 2018

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT

LOCATION

Bull Island Brewing Company

758 Settlers Landing Road

Hampton, VA 23669

 

Do good fences make good neighbors? What’s the limit to the scope of our moral obligation to another? How do Christians model the command to the stranger when the State does not?

On (Her)Men*You*tics, we’re working our way through the alphabet, one stained glass word at a time. We’re in the N’s and, like Mr. Rogers and the lawyer who wanted to justify himself, we’re asking about the meaning of Neighbor.

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts

If you’re getting this by email and the show doesn’t pop up, you can listen at www.crackersandgrapejuice.com

In this latest episode, Teer and I talk with Episcopal priest, school chaplain, and Mockingbird writer Connor Gwin about deconstruction, doubt vs. faith vs. authenticity, Stan the Man, formation, and life after near death.

Here it is. And, you remember the drill:

Help us reach more people: 

Give us 4 Stars and a good review there in the iTunes store. 

It’ll make it more likely more strangers and pilgrims will happen upon our meager podcast. ‘Like’ our Facebook Page too. You can find it here.

Help support the show! This ain’t free or easy but it’s cheap to pitch in.

Click here to become a patron of the podcasts