What's Tony Thinking

From the Wallowas

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July 14, 2020 — It was a beautiful day in the Wallowa Mountains, in the northeastern corner of the great state of Oregon, my home state. I had my first swim of the season in Wallowa Lake. For this time of the year, the water is high. This owes to double the normal amount of rainfall in May and... Read More

Finding Meaning in the Midst of a Pandemic

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July 13, 2020 — Human beings are meaning-seeking, meaning-making, creatures. We construct narratives and tell stories about the world and ourselves to help us make sense of things. I always thought that part of the job, and privilege, of being a preacher was that you were helping people to gain a sense of meaning amid the usual confusions, and... Read More

Becoming Less Defensive About White Privilege

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July 9, 2020 — The publisher of The Christian Century, Peter Marty, has an absolutely terrific piece in the current issue on becoming less defensive about white privilege. Their pay wall may prevent you from getting the entire article free. If so, it’s worth the small price of an on-line subscription. Here’s a key paragraph. I particularly appreciate the last sentence,... Read More

A New Religious Left?

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July 8, 2020 — Ross Douthat, whose work I admire, recently wrote in his New York Times column about what may be emerging as the inheritor and successor of the Protestant mainline religious tradition — post-Protestant Progressives. Also known as the Social Justice movement. The sub-headline, on Douthat’s column is an eye-catcher, “Welcome to the post-Protestant Reformation.” (In my... Read More

The Work of Aging (Archive Edition)

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July 5, 2020 — Being happily busy with grandchildren I want to reach into our archive for some of the most popular blogs  of the past year or two. This post, “On the Work of Aging,” was inspired by an article by Arthur C. Brooks. Some great insights. I was hiking recently with a friend who had turned eighty... Read More

On the Eve of the Fourth of July

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July 3, 2020 — We are nearing the end of a week at our cabin in the Wallowa Mountains with our two grandsons, Levi and Colin, ages 8 and 9. As Linda says, it’s a quite a bit noisier than usual, but that’s a (mostly) welcome change. Riding herd on the grands is part of the reason that I’ve... Read More

A Hopeful Story About Police Reform

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June 29, 2020 — We need all the hopeful stories we can get these days. Stories about change that remind us that progress can be made. I suspect there are far more of these stories than we might imagine. Here’s one from Camden, New Jersey, a 73,000 person city that was once rivaling Honduras for the title of murder... Read More

A Naked Emperor Is A Frightening Thing

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June 27, 2020 — In the old children’s fable of “The Naked Emperor” a little boy blurts out what everyone else knows but no one will say, “The Emperor has no clothes. He is naked.” While many have perhaps felt that this has described President Trump all along, it feels true in some new way in the face of... Read More

Our Little Book

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June 26, 2020 — It’s been a good week for our new little book, Useful Wisdom: Letters to Young (And Not So Young) Ministers. It was excerpted in the “Books Worth Reading” newsletter of The Christian Century, for “this week’s quote.” And Richard Topping, the Principal of Vancouver School of Theology had some nice things to say about it in a... Read More

Statues Are Having A Moment

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June 23, 2020 — When at Union Seminary in New York City we lived near Grant’s Tomb in Riverside Park. The old joke was about the tourist who asked, “Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?” Such monuments and statues have a way of becoming invisible. Mute icons crowned with pigeons. No longer. Suddenly, we’re looking at those neglected figures. We’re... Read More