What's Tony Thinking

Desacralizing Politics and the State

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June 6, 2024 — Shortly after the 2016 election I was in Dallas where I was working with a congregation in the midst of a pastoral transition. Over lunch several members of that church asked what I made of the recent election. I said, “Our politics have become too religious; and our religion too political.” By which I meant... Read More

The Age of Grievance

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June 3, 2024 — I have long appreciated Frank Bruni’s columns in the NYT. So I looked forward to reading his newest book, The Age of Grievance.  Bruni is a great writer who has come across to me as both wise and fair. And this book exhibits those qualities. It is also, I regret to say, disappointing. Why disappointing?... Read More

Finally . . . But Not Final

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May 30, 2024 — Finally, Donald Trump has been held to account. For so long, it has seemed that no matter what he did or said, it didn’t matter. There were no consequences. No downsides. “Character Counts!” Well, forget that. Now, it’s all on “The Deep State” and a “weaponized justice system.” Trump’s lead attorney, Todd Blanche, tried to... Read More

Too Much Mystery?

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May 27, 2024 — In my last post I wrote about the existence of God. The point was to say that if we think of God as a kind of thing, another object in the world or a being among beings, it is not God of which we speak. I argued that God is, to use Paul Tillich’s phrase,... Read More

Does God Exist?

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May 23, 2024 — Funny the things you remember. In the waning weeks of my ministry at Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu, an older couple in the congregation, Kimiko and Bunichi (more than half the congregation were Japanese American), took us out to dinner. Kimmie had a question that she wanted to ask, but doing so was a... Read More

Bird Behavior

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May 21, 2024 — We’re in the Wallowa Mountains in Northeast Oregon, the ancestral homeland. It is our first, post-winter, visit of the year. We call it “opening up.” Water and power get turned on. We check for winter damage and rodent incursions. We clean gutters, mow the lawn and chop wood. Generally thaw the place out after a... Read More

A Commencement Address You Won’t Hear

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May 19, 2024 — ‘Tis the season for commencement addresses. Here’s one from a prof at University of Virginia who took on what is the pervasive ideology on elite college campuses these days. Professor Robert Parham first expresses a concern for the spiritual/ mental health of his students, who are deeply pessimistic about the world and the future and... Read More

The Blessings of a Long Friendship

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May 14, 2024 — Had lunch, and a pint, the other day with my longtime friend, Rob Wall. We first got acquainted in the late ’70s, when I invited Rob to be a speaker for the first ever church retreat of Tolt Congegational Church, in Carnation, Washington. My first church post Union Theological Seminary. Several years later, when I... Read More

Go Stormy!

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May 11, 2024 — The expert legal commentators have told us that however engaging the courtroom testimony of Stormy Daniels was this week, it is not really at the heart of the case and probably won’t have much effect in a trial that is, in the end, about fraudulent business practices. They may be right. But on the larger... Read More

Grace on the World’s Largest Cruise Ship

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May 9, 2024 — The Atlantic magazine fronted the cost of a suite ($19K) for writer Gary Shteyngart to make the maiden voyage on the world’s largest cruise ship, “Icon of the Seas.” It was a one week cruise on the newest of the “Royal Caribbean” fleet. The “Icon of the Seas” can accommodate 7,600 passengers, but for the... Read More