What's Tony Thinking

“All Rise for the National Anthem”

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May 25, 2018 — Congratulations to the NFL for pumping new life into a controversy that seemed moribund. By this week ordering players to stand for the national anthem (or else stay in the locker room) the football owners managed to fire up the whole controversy once again, just when it gave every sign of being out of gas.... Read More

Once More To the Lake

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May 22, 2018 — “Once More To the lake,” is the title of one of E. B. White’s loveliest essays. It recounts the story of White taking his son to a lake where his father had once taken him. Together they did what he and his father had done a generation earlier. They fished, swam and and poked around... Read More

Trump, Jerusalem and Evangelicals

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May 18, 2018 — When the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem this week, two U.S. right-wing evangelical preachers were tapped to bless the venture. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, who also preached at an Inauguration Day service for Trump,  did the invocation. John Hagee, a megachurch pastor from San Antonio, gave a benediction. Richard Mouw, past... Read More

The Season of Passages

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May 16, 2018 — I think of May and June as the season of many passages: graduations, end of school year programs, retirements, weddings. There’s a biblical text for these movements from one place or state to another. Psalm 121: 8, “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” There’s... Read More

Heretical Thoughts on Homelessness

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May 14, 2018 — F. Scott Fitzgerald famously described the sign of a “first-rate intelligence” as “the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” If Fitzgerald was right, we have seemed short on first-rate intelligence when it comes to homelessness in Seattle. One idea, firmly held... Read More

Three Great Books

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May 12, 2018 — Let me put a spotlight on three books I’ve recently read or am reading, all of which I recommend without reservation. The Gap In Time by Jeanette Winterson is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series. Great writers, like Winterson, Margaret Atwood, Alice Tyler, and more, here do “cover” versions of Shakespeare plays. The Gap in... Read More

Cussing In Church

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May 10, 2018 —   Cussing is coming to church. I’m not so concerned with the right or wrong, good or bad of it as the significance. In my sermon at Laura’s ordination I quoted from Nadia Bolz-Weber, whom I described as “the famously tattooed Lutheran pastor, given to salty language.” That is to say, I prepared the congregation... Read More

Ordination Highlights

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May 7, 2018 — Our daughter Laura’s ordination to the ministry, last Saturday afternoon at Plymouth Church in Seattle, was like a devil’s food chocolate cake — rich and many layered. (Laura and her brother Joe, at right.) Dr. Joyce Finch Johnson, professor and organist at Spelman College, played Plymouth’s new organ with tender passion for the service. (Linda... Read More

More Problem-Solvers, Not Purists

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May 4, 2018 — Senator John McCain has been quoted recently to the effect that Congress needs “more problem-solvers, not purists.” He added that Senators these days are more concerned about winning than solutions to vexing problems. Not only Washington, D.C. I would say something similar about Seattle, and our City Council. In the last several years a solid... Read More

With An Open Heart

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May 2, 2018 — “Go with an open heart,” Linda encouraged me as I went off to the Annual Meeting of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Christ last week in Yakima. It been quite a while since I had been to one of these gatherings. Post-Easter has been, for some years, a busy time for me speaking... Read More