Best of the Best
Ten year anniversary needs a primer on what was actually worth reading.
In the fall of 2002, I first dipped my toes into online discussion and advocacy. Sure, I had entered into arguments online about church and society, and I frequented several online message boards and forums. But unlike the Christian forums which required assent to pages of beliefs to converse, I wanted to create a space for interfaith online discussion that was respectful but didn’t require people to submit to my idea of what their beliefs should be. Being a web designer and theology geek, that meant I made my own online community that became quite popular. That online experiment lasted for six years, teaching me a lot about managing personalities online and dealing with trolls. Everyone was pseudonymous and that meant that I kept a secret what I was running from the very theologians and social commenters I was meeting in real life. Something needed to change.
So ten years ago, the forum was abandoned and this blog began. I called it “Hacking Christianity” because I had completed a systematic theology class where I used the image of technology as a metaphor to explain theology. It became a good way to talk about faith in ways fellow geeks could appreciate–and eventually progressive United Methodist commentary as well.
You can read more about the journey of the past ten years here.
Here are some favorites by category for both longtimers to stroll down or newcomers to peruse. These include both the most read and my personal favorites.
- To Reach the Nones and Dones, Focus on the Ones. [focusing on discipleship one activity at a time]
- Exit Young Clergy, Stage Left [compilation of posts revolving around young clergy, including my favorite: Here, there be Dragons for Young Clergy]
- Is the Simplest form of Church just a Dinner Table ? [non-traditional church models]
- How many resurrections are in your church worship service? [classroom lesson]
- When Continuing Revelation becomes the Plain Reading of Scripture [interpretation changes over time]
- If Dying Churches have Community Gardens, what do Growing Churches have? [guest post reflections on affirming different types of church growth]
- The Widow’s Mite: Look What You Made Me Do [favorite piece of biblical commentary in 10 years]
Christian Life in Post-Christian Culture
- The None Zone or the Abundant Zone? [re-framing the mission field of the secular parts of the country]
- “Do You Believe in God?” is the Wrong Question. [Pastoring in the None Zone leads to a better conversation than “Do You Believe in God?”]
- Pastors who say “If you don’t like us, then…” [One particular phrase that is helpful in post-Christian culture]
On supporting Clergywomen
- In Her Words: Reflections by Clergywomen on Sexual Assault and Harassment in the Church [compilation of 50 women’s stories of assault in church settings]
- Clergywomen are not equal to men [A churchy version of the excellent viral letter by Jared Mauldin on female engineers]
- Clergywomen Wage Gap [12 reflections in an epic post]
- Why do the largest UMCs not have female pastors? [consideration of megachurches’ lack of women senior pastors]
- Trials and Misconduct within the United Methodist Church [why women benefit from a more just UMC system]
- Empty Vessels no more: defending women in the abortion debate [guest post]
- Personal and Political in the Abortion Debate [chart!]
Various Justice Topics
- Who will watch out for the Watchers?
- Justice is not a Sprint. Or a Marathon.
- Sin of Cain, Original Sin of America
- Amazon Smile, UMC Market, and other ways the Church can help the Empire
- Straight Ally? No problem. White Ally? Uh... [Race, LGBTQ]
- If/Then on Christian Responsibility in Orlando [LGBTQ]
- The Stain of Unworthiness, a Church Called to Love [LGBTQ]
- Why Christians shouldn’t make fun of poverty culture
On a Biblical Hermeneutic for LGBTQ Inclusion
- The Church, not the Bible, determines Sin
- What if the Church is Wrong on Sin?
- Will Better Catechism stop LGBT Inclusion?
- Varieties of Atonement [primer on what Jesus did. Bmost-shared post of all time]
- Varieties of Soteriology [primer on Exclusivism to Universalism]
- Varieties of Inclusion [primer on the differences between inclusion, tolerance, and exclusion]
- What replaces Hell in Progressive Evangelism [if you don’t believe in hell, why do evangelism?]
- Chiming in on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral [various models of this Methodist archetype]
- Improving the Metaphor of God as a Mountain [critiquing this interfaith theology]
Against Creeping Orthodoxy
- Orthodoxy: It doesn’t mean what you think it means
- Are We Reframing Long-held Basic, Orthodox, and Other Christian Beliefs?
- Orthodoxy Purity Tests, from Karl Barth to the Internet Age
- Unity requires Flexibility, Not Rigid Orthodoxy
- Fearing Theological Innovation, Clinging to Orthodoxy
- The Paradox of Generosity and Orthodoxy when Reforming Christian Systems
- The Playground Problem for the Country Club of Orthodoxy
- WWJWD? The Problem of Wesleyan Originalism
- Methodists: BOTH-AND People in an EITHER-OR World [Uniqueness of Methodism]
- Denominations are Dinosaurs, except when Disaster Strikes
- Methodism: Crowdsourcing before it was cool [populist principles and origins of UMC]
- American Nations and the UMC [novel application of Woodard’s thesis to United Methodism]
- Echoes of Jim Crow in the United Methodist Church [comparing LGBT-affirming clergy to poll workers in racially segregated times]
- A Way Forward for Whom? [epic guest post by Dr. Dorothee Benz refuting A Way Forward]
- The Release of Methodism 2.0 [Over 100 comments for this manifesto that set the tone for 2014 in a big way]
- Time is Ticking on a UMC Tipping Point [are we already past this?]
- Seeing Communion Again for the First Time [my re-introduction to the standard communion liturgy and my response]
United Methodist Schism (topic du jour from 2014-2019)
- What’s going on in United Methodism in 1000 words
- Who will have Power of Attorney to care for an ailing UMC?
- The Battle for Middle Methodism Has Begun
- UMC Schismatics are now in Plain View, but Why?
- A Hostile Takeover during a #UMC Ceasefire
- Practice the #UMC Covenant Before You Prosecute
- As goes Mississippi, so goes The #UMC, Part Two
- As go the Mormons, so go the Methodists?
- [More here in this category]
Critical Reading for United Methodists
- Most importantly, our ongoing series on the Wesleyan Covenant Association, a renewal group dedicated to preserving global LGBTQ Exclusion in The UMC and, failing that, siphoning off the capital, property, and people from The UMC to a new Wesleyan denomination. Click here for the category (and the key piece of reporting is this one)
- May the Fourth Be With You [Star Wars parody worship service]
- Look Nerds, Jesus was NOT a Zombie. [being particular about parody]
- Last Rites with a Bullet [World War Z ethical conundrum]
- The Hulk’s Secret to Discipleship [Avengers illustration]
- Jesus played 3D chess [changing the game]
- Two articles on Batman (the Christian Bale one): The worst Hell is Hope and Fear. Batman. Chaos. Exile. Pain. Freedom
Online Discussion and Presence
- Why Academics have a hard time conversing online
- Disarming Internet Trolls [1of3]: Are they in the Arena?
- Disarming Internet Trolls [2of3]: Can you be a Honeypot?
- Disarming Internet Trolls [3of3]: Engaging the Tribes
- Facebook Guide for Pastors in Transition [1of2]
- Facebook Guide for Pastors in Transition [2of2]
Bonus: Five pivotal posts
- Methodist Kudzu: The Problem of Beth Moore [what United Methodists should do with the popular author and speaker — this one has the most comments and reads of any post]
- Mission Holiness Rankings of UM Seminaries [snarky piece that got HX first on the radar of the UM conversations online]
- Why Straight White Men Want to Close General Conference [This one merited 7 blog posts in rebuttal and online academics began an embargo/ban on future conversations with me since 2014. Good times]
- Reporting on the Traditionalist Plan for The UMC in 2019, given that it is a viable threat to the unity and sustainability of United Methodism. Various posts here: 1,2,3
- Three charts that work well as classroom discussions for a local church: Atonement, Salvation, and Inclusion
Thank you for reading, commenting, and your shares on social media. It’s our community that has formed me the most the past ten years and I’m looking forward to whatever lies beyond.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Your turn: what did I miss that you really enjoyed?