What's Tony Thinking

Honest Mitch McConnell

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January 22, 2020 — I know, I know, “honest” is not the word that jumps to mind when you think of Mitch McConnell. I like “Moscow Mitch” better. A sobriquet he earned for his refusal to allow legislation to protect future elections from Russian interference to go anywhere. But hear me out. McConnell’s proposed “rules” for the current impeachment... Read More

What Is Jesus Doing?

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January 21, 2020 — What Is Jesus Doing? God’s Activity in the Life and Work of the Church is a new book, a collection of essays, to which I am a contributor. It was edited by Edwin Chr. Van Driel, a theologian at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. In the introduction Van Driel has this to say about the title. “The title What... Read More

The Morality of Grace

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January 20, 2020 — After the 2016 election one of the biblical passages that was on my mind came from the prophet Amos. Amos indicted the heedless wealthy of his day for their indifference to the plight of their countrymen who were vulnerable and suffering. Here’s Amos: “Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on... Read More

Learning to Love the Doctrine of Total Depravity

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January 16, 2020 — I mentioned a couple weeks back that I was catching up on back issues of the Christian Century. A contemporary Episcopal priest, Heidi Haverkamp, wrote in October of finding help in an expected place. By reconsidering a doctrine of her great-grandfather, a Dutch Reformed pastor. The Calvinist doctrine of humanity’s total depravity. Haverkamp writes of her earnest... Read More

Read More Fiction

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January 15, 2020 — Perhaps you saw this lovely short piece from Atlantic magazine editor, Adrienne LaFrance, about that magazine’s plan to run more works of fiction. She calls reading quality fiction a modest act of rebellion in our information burdened lives. Here’s LaFrance: “Contemplative reading might be viewed as a minor act of rebellion in the internet age. At a... Read More

To Heck with Hell

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January 13, 2020 — The new book by the eminent scholar David Bentley Hart is That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation.  In it he argues that there’s no real biblical or theological basis for a place called “hell” or for a doctrine of eternal punishment. On the other hand, there’s considerable basis for the idea of... Read More

Shameless Self-Promotion

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January 11, 2020 — My newest book, Useful Wisdom: Letters to Young (and not so young) Ministers should be out soon from Cascade Books. It has received some very nice endorsements. Here are several of them: “Into this lovely, affectionate book, pastor and master church coach Tony Robinson pours a lifetime of insights on the joys and the challenges of pastoral... Read More

Don’t Trash Your Predecessor

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January 8, 2020 — Donald Trump never misses a chance to tout himself and his great leadership. Nor does he pass up any opportunity to trash his predecessor. He was true to form in today’s imperial moment, his speech to the nation on Iran. “Imperial,” I say, for his grand, back-lit entrance to the podium. For the carefully arrayed,... Read More

The Value of Disillusionment

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January 6, 2020 — With the encouragement of my book club I am really reading (as opposed to “reading in”) Harvard historian, Jill Lepore’s, big one-volume history of the U.S., These Truths: A History of the United States. I am about half-way through her 932 page book. She’s a great writer and it’s a terrific book. But it is, in several... Read More

Kate Bowler on Celebrity and Class

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January 2, 2020 — I’m a fan of Kate Bowler, a historian of religion in America who teaches at Duke Divinity School. Her book Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved was prompted by having and living with cancer. She’s out with a new book, The Preacher’s Wife: The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities.  Recently Bowler was interviewed... Read More