Thursday, August 10, 2017

Religion and Politics: Non-Profit Ministry in the Public Square

Disclaimer: This is a much longer post than what is typical and resulted in a larger time gap between posts.

For those who know me well, you know my interests are pulled in a thousand directions. I am deeply committed to my Christian faith, I have worked in government and politics (despite my paradoxical disdain for politics), I am an academic (despite my lack of trust in academic work), and I am a musician. However, God in his coolness and sovereignty, has provided me with the perfect job to fit almost all of my interests as CEO of Transforming Jail Ministries.

In this post, I really want to focus on this intersection of government and religion. It is an important relationship to understand and equally important in order that churches are prepared for future changes. After all, like the Apostle Paul, we are citizens of two kingdoms: the geo-political state we belong to and the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jonah and the Kingdom

“Let them die, they don’t care about you.”

“These… [people] are hell-bent on killing themselves. Let them do it before they take someone else with them.”

Perhaps you assume the subject of these two quotes must be terrorists. They aren’t. They are quotes from members of our community here in Cincinnati referencing an individual who overdosed in public recently.

Online news articles almost always end with a comments section. If you’ve never read through them, or posted yourself, I urge you to avoid the temptation. They are almost always disheartening and the bitterness people feel toward their neighbors is downright terrible. Even worse, you will be tempted to chime in and it doesn’t take long before you are behaving in a manner far from our calling.

I have to confess that I did make the mistake of reading some comments recently on articles covering heroin overdoses and other crimes. A couple of quotes from that read preface this post. With each comment I read, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Welcome Back & Prayer for Police Officers

It has been a long time since my last post. Too long. Nearly three years to the day. I’ve decided to begin writing again due to my current situation. As the new Director and CEO for Transforming Jail Ministries (Hamilton County, Ohio), I feel it is best that I share my experiences and what I learn as I take this journey.

In the midst of this transitionary period, I have decided to journal privately each day, tracking the greatest moments. My hope is to have a “first 100 days” journal that could potentially be useful for others who are becoming executives for the first time. 

Additionally, this new position has brought about a number of highs and lows. In my first month, I’ve delivered several death notices, gave an invocation and benediction for a sheriff’s deputy academy graduation, and learned that the relationship between faith and government is simpler than I had thought. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

We Are All Slaves, Pt. III

Support and opposition to Citizens United by political id.
Image is not my own.
How We Exacerbate Our Problems

Today’s post reaches both the series climax and midpoint. With that said, it also necessitates a preface. This post is dangerous for my political career because what I am about to state runs contrary to the conventional wisdom of my party. Without further ado, my preface and defense.

I am deeply committed to the orthodox Christian faith, particularly from a Reformed/Calvinist perspective. Labels may not always be desirable, but they are often helpful. At times I have encountered dissonance between my political philosophy/ideology and my faith. This is one of those moments. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wendell Berry: 2012 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities at the Kennedy Center

“We should give ourselves to things that are true, just, and beautiful. A large machine and a large, toxic, eroded cornfield, subjectively speaking, is not an affectionate sign.”

Wendell Berry, a man keenly set on preserving and protecting creation, has upset many and influenced many more. He is a humble man. A farmer from Port Royal, Kentucky the Kentucky River just south of it’s opening into the Ohio.

Berry has written much, said much, and done much. He is a person who does not fold on his words, but rather, has persisted in his effort towards recovering his plot of land in the rolling hills of Kentucky. That’s not to say Berry hasn’t made mistakes along the way. He admits as much. But he is a simple, honest, and a trustworthy man who has been genuine and true in his pursuits.

Monday, July 14, 2014

We Are All Slaves, Pt. II

Addicted to Stuff and Debt

Do a quick Google search (“average American debt”) and you will see that 160 million Americans have credit cards, the average credit card holder has three, and the average household credit card debt amounts to $15k. What happens when you total this number? The total U.S. consumer debt is around $11.4 trillion. 

As a nation, we are addicted to debt. There are countless stories of Americans committing suicide because they neither understand how they got into such dire straits, nor do they know how to escape. 

Turn on your television and you will see ad-after-ad seducing viewers to purchase more stuff. Annually, new lawsuits surface where consumers have purchased products claiming to do “x” and the products fail to follow through. Marketers suggest if we purchase their products we will look better, feel better, live better, and be successful. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

We Are All Slaves

When I was wee tot, I lived in poverty. Around age six or seven, my mom met her second husband and waved goodbye to the outhouse and stovetop baths.

Before I left poverty, my mom and dad had racked up debt (mostly because of my dad) and I spent much of my time with my grandmother after their divorce. She was a humble lady content with the little she did and did not have. 

Several of my family members ordered a lot of “stuff” from Fingerhut, JC Penny, and Sears catalogs. They amassed unnecessary debt and accumulated piles of junk. I wanted the junk too.

I thank my step-dad who gave me my first wise words of financial advice: most of the people with nice homes, new cars, and lots of stuff aren’t rich, they are in debt.

I didn’t get it.