Monday, February 23, 2015

From evangelical to Episcopal, Part 1

I recently found myself in a conversation on facebook with a friend of mine from my evangelical days.  I was a youth minister at a particular church, and this friend was a recent high school graduate from the church when I knew her.  She messaged me to ask a number of questions about being Episcopalian and about my views on certain Christian themes in general.  In this series, I'll simply restate the questions I was asked and then my reply.  These are pretty off-the-cuff responses, but precisely the kind of thing a blog is for.  In other words, they're pretty rough around the edges.   

1.  So the first question:  What does it mean to be Episcopal, and when and why did I become Episcopal?  Also, when and why did my political views become liberal (or were they always)?

My reply:

First: Episcopal. The Episcopal Church is the church in America that comes out of the Anglican Communion, or the Church of England. When England colonized America (not when the Pilgrims came, but later), most of them were part of the Church of England. During the American Revolution, those Christians naturally set up their own hierarchy (since there is no separation of church and State in England). But essentially it is the same church as it was. You can read more here:

Second, why I joined the Episcopal Church (in 2008). The short answer is, I learned about the history of Christianity. A slightly longer (but still not full) answer is that I learned that bishops, the creeds, and the Bible were all part of the same process in the history of the Church. So much more to talk about here, but I don't want to tax your patience. I also came to really appreciate Catholic theology. The Episcopal church is similar to Catholicism but without explicit veneration of Mary (or the Marian dogmas) and without the pope.

Third, when/why did my political views become liberal. I don't know if liberal is quite the right designation, but that seems to be where I fit in the common understanding of it. They've always basically been liberal in the sense that I think taking care of the poor and ensuring justice for all is liberal. I would rather people took care of each other than pay less taxes, for instance. My father was a factory-worker, so I believe in collective bargaining. If I were a woman I don't think I could ever choose abortion (but not being a woman, how would I know?!), but I don't think it should be outlawed. I think that does more harm than good. Fundamentally, I don't think America is a Christian country, and we do both Christianity and Americans a disservice to think of it as such.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Now in print

 My article on the motivations for Encratite prohibitions in early Christianity was published by Journal of Theological Studies in October.  The article along with the whole current issue is currently available here.  Here's the abstract:

The most prominent accounts of encratism identify it as an early Christian ascetical sect that refrained from sex, and possibly also wine and meat. Scholars usually give protological speculation as the reason for these prohibitions: the prohibition of marriage and sex is linked with speculation on the state of humanity and/or the world from the beginning of creation. This article questions that assumption, and, through a close examination of the evidence of early Christian heresiologists, possible cultural contexts, and certain apocryphal Acts of the Apostles, instead argues that encratism was marked by several motivations, of which the protological was perhaps one. The evidence from the ancient heresiologists and apocryphal Acts points to at least four potential motivations for encratite prohibitions: Hellenistic moral philosophy, demonology, social demarcation, and Pythagorean ethics.

 Also my review of Gordon Campbell's Reading Revelation was published just last month in Modern Believing.

Now in (e-)print

My review of Experientia, Volume 2 has been posted at the Review of Biblical Literature website. 

A brief excerpt:

"This volume offers an array of voices to think with, conversation partners to engage for those interested in examining ancient religious experience and the texts that reflected and elicited them. What it lacks in coherence it makes up for in verve. Experimentation may not provide the solid results we might desire, but it might just show us which paths are worth taking and which should remain untrod."

If you're interested, read the review.  If you're still interested after that, buy the book here or at Amazon

You're still there?

So, it looks as though I still have more traffic here than on my other blog.  At least for now, then, I'm going to double dip.  I'll be posting academic content in both places.  First up, this announcement:

What does Karl Barth have in common with John Wesley, Jacob Taubes, Stanley Hauerwas, and the Coen Brothers?  To find out take a look at what just rolled off the presses at Pickwick.

The Karl Barth Blog Conference of 2010 is now in print, including a modest contribution from myself.  If Barth interests you, you should pick up a copy.  There are some very stimulating essays in the volume.  Travis McMaken has posted the announcement over at DET.  And the book is up on Wipf & Stock's page