Wrestling with the Angel

cropped-wrestling-with-the-angel-blog-top-1.jpgI’ve been writing this blog for over ten years. In that time, it’s had a few different names: “Life’s a Lap” became “Noisy Gong”. Now it’s “Wrestling with the Angel”.

I’m changing the name because I am re-launching the blog after more than a year of radio silence. Each week, I will be posting a long post that engages scripture & theology and applies them to our personal and political lives. I wanted a name that reflected what I want us to do together here: like Jacob all those years ago, I want us to meet God and wrestle with our questions, our doubts, and our hopes all at once.

So, if you’ve been reading this blog off and on for a few years—thanks! I hope you like the articles to come. And if you are brand new to the blog—welcome! Please join the conversation, and subscribe to get notifications when new articles are posted.

Here are the topics for upcoming articles. If you have any ideas for articles, please leave a comment here—I’d love suggestions!

Upcoming Articles:

The Trials & Tribulations of Abra(ha)m
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are known as the “Abrahamic faiths”—but who was this Abraham, and why is he so important? We will journey with Abraham through Genesis, chapters 11 to 25, to learn about one of the most important figures in Scripture

The Akedah: Unbinding Isaac
Chapter 22 of Genesis, the Akedah, the binding of Isaac, is one of the most distressing chapters in Jewish and Christian scripture. What are we to make of the (almost) sacrifice of a child? And how do we square this grotesque story with our faith in a loving God?….

Female Sedition in Scripture
It is taken for granted that the Bible enshrines sexism and patriarchy. Any careful reader of scripture will have to admit that this is too often true. Yet, it’s not always so straightforward. Indeed, throughout Scripture, both the Holy Spirit and women themselves broke through the wall of sexism and showed that God was calling us in a different direction…[Gen. 3, Deborah, Hildah, Mary Magdalene (Apostle to the Apostles), Chloe, Junia…]

The Politics of Jubilee & the Theology of Reconstruction
We often feel like our politics and our faith should be more-or-less separate—and at a time when certain kinds of Christianity are becoming perhaps too political. So what happens when we realize that God has put a lot of politics in our Bible?! We will discuss the Jubilee, a radical program of wealth equality present in the laws of Torah, and how it connects with the history of the period of Reconstruction in the US after the Civil War.

The Trouble with Knowing God
As people of faith, we seek to know God—our creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Yet, as we mature spiritually, we find that knowing God is rather tricky—we cannot know God the same way that we know anything else. In today’s entry, we will talk about the difficulty of knowing God and what our spiritual ancestors can teach us about it nevertheless [apophatic theology].

300 vs. the Bible: Reconsidering Sparta and Persia
We often hear that at Thermopylae, the Greeks defended “western civilization” from the ravages of the autocratic East. But is this simple narrative really accurate? And what if we discover that the Hebrew Bible looks kindly on the Persians and negatively on the Greeks—all while valuing, on its own terms, much of what was supposedly unique to “western civilization”?

Wrestling with Biblical Criticism
In the past 200 years, close study of the Bible (historical, literary, redaction, and other forms of text-criticism) have yielded a vast amount of learning for those of us who want to know Scripture well. But of course such work has also generated much controversy. How, exactly, should Christiains engage with and use scholarly criticism of the text? We will focus on the critical response to the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts to raise questions about scholarly criticism and encourage each Christian to be both open-minded—and yet think critically for themselves, too

Faithful Questions
It’s often assumed that Christian faith is about receiving, maintaining, and asserting the right answers. Such an approach has run into a lot of trouble in the last few centuries, though, and many Christians may feel pressure to abandon such a one-dimensional view of faith. The good news is that such a simplistic understanding of faith doesn’t seem to be what Jesus called his disciples to anyway—we will look closely at Jesus’s teaching style to help us find a more open-minded and more faithful approach to being disciples of Jesus.

Of gods and Men
In this article, I will discuss Rene Girard’s The Scapegoat and the ancient idea of euhemerism. Both the modern book and the ancient idea offer tantalizing ideas of how we humans came to many of our religious ideas—and how real faith in God calls us to challenge “religion”.

Worshiping in the Beauty of Holiness
“Holy” is one of those words religious folks use a lot, but what, exactly does it mean? And what is worship about? Does God “need” our attention? Or is worship really about us? In this article, we will tackle the strange idea of holiness and ask what our worship life is really for.

Disciples in the Street: Christian Faith & Political Protest
We are living through not only a pandemic but a huge number of people protesting the killing of George Floyd on May 26. Police forces are responding with extraordinary violence and the president is threatening to essentially invoke martial law. How does faith in Jesus guide our response to this situation?

Prophets as the eyes of the Body of Christ
What is a “prophet”, exactly? And what does it mean to be part of the “Body of Christ”? For most people today, who tend to think of ourselves as individuals and think of our relationship to God as a one-to-one interaction, these terms have lost much of their meaning and power. We will discuss the history of these terms and how reclaiming a communal understanding of identity can liberate us spiritually.

So—those are the topics I hope to tackle in the coming weeks. More topics & ideas will certainly be added. Join me each week as we wrestle with the angel…

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