What's Tony Thinking

You’re Too Hard on Yourself, Part 2

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March 3, 2019 — Not long ago I wrote a piece here titled “You’re Too Hard on Yourself.” This post continues that theme, drawing on a recent meditation of Fr. Richard Rohr. Shout out to colleague, Katy Lloyd, for bringing it to our attention. Before I get into Rohr’s meditation, however, I feel I should acknowledge that my last... Read More

Jeremiah and the News of the Week

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March 1, 2019 — The prophet Jeremiah makes the following observation: “The human heart is devious (deceitful) above all else; it is perverse, who can understand it.” (Jeremiah 17: 9) Jeremiah was never accused of being upbeat. This week, I wrote a piece on how retired clergy too often become inappropriately involved mucking around in the life of the... Read More

What Is the Gospel?

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February 27, 2019 — (I’m working on a new book, Letters for Young Ministers. Here is an abridged version of one selection.) At least sometimes, so called “dumb questions” turn out to be the very best questions of all. “What is the gospel?” might be one of those. Okay, so “gospel” means “good news,” but what is “the good news”? I... Read More

The Church and Sex

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February 25, 2019 — The last week has been a big one for the church and sex. In Rome, Pope Francis convened a summit on clergy sexual abuse. Concurrently, a tell-all book, In the Closet of the Vatican, about the gay culture of the upper echelons of the Roman Catholic Church, was published. The Southern Baptist denomination was having a come-to-Jesus... Read More

Speaking Honestly of Depression

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February 22, 2019 — Michael Gerson is a columnist for the Washington Post and a frequent commentator on the PBS Newshour. He is also a person of faith, a Christian. Recently Gerson spoke publicly of his own experience of serious clinical depression. He did so in a sermon delivered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. You can... Read More

Saying Thank You and Churches Renewing

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February 20, 2019 — This post has two themes. One is the power of saying “thank you.” The other is that renewal and vitality is possible in mainline congregations. This morning I got the most lovely thank you note from a lay leader of a congregation in the midwest with which I worked four or five years ago. There... Read More

Another Side of the Coin

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February 19, 2019 — Last week I wrote about being compassionate toward yourself. Here let’s consider a different theme, one that may appear at odds with practicing compassion toward yourself. That theme is endurance. Sticking with commitments when it’s hard. I don’t really think these two themes are contradictory, but there may be a tension between these truths. The... Read More

The Rest of the Story

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February 17, 2019 — The National Emergency  Everyone knows the famous line from the children’s fable, Chicken Little — “The sky is falling!” “The sky is falling!” So exclaims Chicken Little when an acorn falls thumping him on his noggin during a walk in the forest. But do you know the rest of the story? (as the old radio... Read More

You’re Too Hard on Yourself

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February 14, 2019 — As a pastor I often found myself saying some version of this to people who came to me for counsel. “I think you’re being a little hard on yourself.” That was the way I usually put it. Often, on hearing this, it seemed as if a person visibly relaxed. Recently, I had a “physician heal... Read More

Not Even Texas Can Keep Up

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February 12, 2019 — Texas has been known as the land of big talkers and tall tales for a long time. As the joke about a Vermont farmer and a Texas rancher goes: the Vermonter was working his pasture when a Texan in a ten-gallon hat pulled up. He climbed out of his Cadillac. The Texan shouted to the... Read More