What's Tony Thinking

Flipping Churches

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September 27, 2022 — HGTV or “Home and Garden TV,” the network that does all those shows about remodeling homes featuring hunky guys and good looking gals, may soon have a new show featuring church flipping. There are a lot of churches on shaky ground following the pandemic. Clergy tell me that the congregations now are about 60 –... Read More

The Most Important Story of Our Time

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September 26, 2022 — “The most important story of our time.” That’s how journalist George Packer describes the war in Ukraine in his article “On Democracy’s Frontlines,” in the current issue of The Atlantic. Packer traveled to Ukraine,  although as he writes, “I had no business going” there. It has been too long since he was a war correspondent.... Read More

Belonging and Believing, Part 2

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September 22, 2022 — Let me follow up on my recent post about “Belonging and Believing,” with some further observations about the relationship between the two, and how a congregation helps people come to a deep and mature faith. The weakness of my “start with belonging, finding a community of faith, rather than prioritizing questions of belief” proposal, is... Read More

Believing or Belonging?

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September 21, 2022 — I had a chat with a newish friend the other day about matters of faith, religion, God, Jesus, etc. It is a conversation that I have had with lots of people over the years. Sometimes I feel like a “father confessor” to the disenchanted. While each person and conversation is unique, there are some common... Read More

Small Town Life

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September 19, 2022 — Yesterday morning I took a load of stuff to the Soroptimist Thrift Shop in Enterprise, the nearby town that is the County Seat of Wallowa County in Northeastern Oregon. The volunteer who greeted me said, “I hear you jumped in to help out at the Methodist Church yesterday.” She’s part of the Enterprise Congregational Church.... Read More

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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September 18, 2022 — Here’s my sermon from yesterday on the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, one of Scripture’s stranger texts. I ask is God fair? Or is God gracious? What’s Wrong With This Picture? Joseph United Methodist Church Luke 16: 1 – 13 September 18, 2022 Well, I didn’t expect to back here in your pulpit again this... Read More

At Week’s End: Rain, Birds and Saving Your Own Skin

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September 16, 2022 — After 10 days of smoke and haze from nearby wildfires, it’s a beautiful clear day. The key? Rain. The great gift of glorious rain on a dry and thirsty, and fiery land. We’ve had several days of intermittent showers, which have tamped down the fires and cleansed the air. It almost feels like some sort... Read More

Grace in Practice

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September 13, 2022 — We’ve got a new webinar coming up, “Grace in Practice,” based upon the book by Paul Zahl of the same title. I’ll be back with my friends from the “Crackers and Grape Juice” podcast, Jason Micheli, Teer Hardy and Josh Munnikuysen to explore Zahl’s book. There’s been a lot of focus in recent years on... Read More

Voting on How We Vote

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September 12, 2022 — This November Seattle voters will not only vote on candidates for office, we will vote on how we vote. Two measures to change how we vote will be on the ballot. One is called “approval voting,” which allows you to vote for several candidates of whom you approve. The other choice is “ranked choice voting,”... Read More

The High Value of a Low Anthropology

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September 11, 2022 — What is your “anthropology”? No, I’m not talking about people studying lost tribes in the Amazon or cannibals in New Guinea. “Anthropology” as I am using it here is simply your view, or doctrine, of human nature. Are human beings intrinsically and/or basically good and destined to achieve amazing things, including the eradication of hunger,... Read More