What's Tony Thinking

Getting Power

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January 31, 2020 — “Everybody talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it,” complained Mark Twain. A recent op-ed piece said pretty much the same about politics. A lot of us complain about it, but when it comes to getting really involved, we don’t do much. So argues Eitan Hersh, the author of Politics Is About Power. Here’s... Read More

What You See Is Not Always What You Think You See

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January 28, 2020 — One of the things I find most challenging about painting — and most wonderful — is trying to draw and paint what I see, not what I think I see. We all have conceptual pictures in our minds of all sorts of things, e.g. a tree, a face, a table or a distant mountain. As... Read More

Downtown Shootings Renew “Is Seattle Dying” Debate

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January 26, 2020 — In 2019 KOMO reporter Eric Johnson’s documentary “Is Seattle Dying?” ignited debate by suggesting that Seattle doesn’t so much have a homelessness problem as an unacknowledged and untreated drug addiction problem. Moreover, at least some of the powers-that-be in Seattle, alleged Johnson, are content to tolerate the illicit drug trade and other forms of criminal... Read More

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