What's Tony Thinking

Preaching on Tough Issues in Polarized Times

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April 30, 2020 — Leah Schade, an ELCA pastor and professor of preaching, interviewed in this linked article, is out with a new book on an important topic. How do preachers preach about, and how do congregations engage, tough issues of the times: e.g. climate change, the opioid crisis, gun violence or race? Her book is called Preaching in the... Read More

Why Trump’s Base Never Doubts

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April 28, 2020 — One of the great questions of the current time is why President Trump’s base is so solid and immovable in their devotion to this despicable man? Time after time people like me have thought, “Surely, this will do it!” Bragging about sexually assaulting women? Insulting Gold Star (fallen veteran) families? Ridiculing the disabled? Bragging about... Read More

Further Thoughts on MAGA Demonstrators and Gubernatorial Leadership

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April 27, 2020 — In a piece last week, in which I spoke of the various demonstrations pressuring Governors to “open-up,” I argued that core issues of the 2016 remain with us. The demonstrations may be bogus, but underlying issues remain. I’ve continued to ponder the phenomenon of these protests, which represent a quite small percentage of the population,... Read More

Six Weeks In

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April 25, 2020 — By my calculation we are six weeks into whatever you call this — shelter in place, quarantine, COVID shutdown. For us March 14 marked the day/ weekend when life as we had known it ended and we entered the current reality. Some observations: First, if someone had said to me, six weeks ago, “Okay, you’ll... Read More

Churches Among Those Feeling the Crunch

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April 24, 2020 — Under the category of “Sign of the Times,” and before we get into today’s topic, here’s a sign I saw outside a nearby parcel shipping business. Many reports on people, professions, businesses and other institutions that are feeling heavy pressure from the overall pandemic crisis. The church is no exception. But don’t worry, there’s good... Read More

Amid the Distancing, Some New Intimacy

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April 21, 2020 — Where I got my start in ministry, as a student pastor at small churches on the western slope of the Catskills in New York State, a big part of it was “pastoral calling.” Visiting people in their homes, and since it was farming country, in their barns. I may have been part of the last... Read More

Core Issues of 2016 Haven’t Gone Away

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April 20, 2020 — Granted the pictures of gun-toting protesters demanding governors lift pandemic restrictions are off-putting (to say the least) and granting that an increasingly desperate Donald Trump is crassly fanning those flames for political advantage, I wonder if the outpouring of condemnation of this protest has forgotten what seemed to be a lesson of the 2016 election?... Read More

I Am Struggling and That’s Okay

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April 18, 2020 — “The only salmon not struggling is the dead one floating away into the ocean.” I keep an eye on the blog of Rod Dreher, the author of The Benedict Option. I wondered what his take would be on the new “resistance.” That is, the protests against the information about COVID-19 and the restrictions on life as “normal.”... Read More

The Generative Power of Disaster

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April 17, 2020 — Rebecca Solnit is a wonderfully provocative writer. Her stock-in-trade is seeing the possibilities of breakthrough in the midst of breakdown. I came to know her work first from her A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which explores the new worlds to be found should we manage to become, or find ourselves, lost. Her 2009 book A Paradise... Read More

Welcome to Our Recovery Program for Activists

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April 15, 2020 — How goes it for you in this time? I’ve noticed that various characterizations are being offered to help us get a handle on it. “The Great Emptiness,” Or “The Long Silence.” Some days it seems we’ve been sent to a recovery program for activists. Life’s pace and intensity have suddenly been dialed back, way back. “What... Read More