What's Tony Thinking

Emerging Slowly (2) “We Will All Be Newcomers”

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April 13, 2021 — Let me build on yesterday’s thoughts about “emerging . . . slowly” with a particular look at the life of religious congregations. I was struck by the comment of one pastor, about which Alban’s Nathan Kirkpatrick wrote in this week’s Alban newsletter. Her comment was, “When we return, we will all be newcomers.” Perhaps an... Read More

Emerging . . . Slowly

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April 12, 2021 — In the years we were at the Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu, we were fascinated by the Monarch butterflies emerging from their cocoons on the church grounds at just this time of the year. It was a gradual and sticky affair, at least as I recall. The lovely golden, black and white Monarchs didn’t... Read More

The Enchanted Forest

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April 9, 2021 — There’s a way in which reading a great novel about a particular part of the country can enchant, or re-enchant, that landscape. Layers and voices are added. At least that’s my experience on reading Karl Marlantes’s novel┬áDeep River, and returning now to northwest corner of Oregon, and southwest corner of Washington, where his story is... Read More

Notes of a Conscientious Objector

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April 7, 2021 — After a whole lot of soul-searching I did file for “conscientious objector” status during the Vietnam War. I was very torn about doing so. In my heart of hearts, I knew that if it were a generation earlier I would, like my father before me, have gone to war against the Nazi’s and fascism. But... Read More

Church Membership Falls Off A Cliff

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April 6, 2021 — Just in time for Holy Week the Gallup organization published its latest data on American membership in religious congregations, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish or others. For a long time that number stayed at around 70%, confounding those who expected the U.S. to follow the drop-off in Europe. Starting around 2000 that steady 70% began to... Read More

Look Who’s Making America Great Again

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April 5, 2021 — For those who regard irony as a delectable dish, the announcement of the Biden infrastructure plan is quite the feast. Trump was right. American greatness was on the skids. But his idea of greatness had little to do with the reality of the thing. He defined greatness as gaudy wealth and power, or at least... Read More

Exult in Glory!

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April 3, 2021 — A favorite part of Easter worship, for me, was to begin the service with the words from the “Exultet.” I would speak (shout) them from the back of the sanctuary before the procession of choirs and worship leaders. (Shout out to Lorain Giles for helping me find this text.) These words of exaltation from the... Read More

Easter . . . You Feeling It?

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April 2, 2021 — Are you feeling it? Joy, faith, excitement, wonder? Or maybe holy fear, terror (Mark 16: 8), stunned disbelief (John 20: 15)? A confession. As a pastor, in the midst of the many demands of Holy Week, I often found it challenging to make a transition, emotionally, from Maundy Thursday/ Good Friday to Easter Sunday. As... Read More

Has The Threat of American Fascism Been Defeated?

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April 1, 2021 — Two of the columnists I pay attention to both recently addressed a topic I have also been pondering lately. Are we now safe from an American version of fascism? Are American politics and governance stabilizing and less vulnerable to a far-right take-over? Or are we in our own version of Germany’s Weimar Republic, that is... Read More

Sole Salvation

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March 29, 2021 — Sometime last year I was in a shoe store when I overheard a clerk say to another customer, “You know, you can have these Samuel Hubbards completely re-soled.” My ears perked up. I had a pair of said shoes that I liked very much but which had become quite worn. In an earlier era, I... Read More