ON Scripture Articles

I am one of the founding and contributing editors for ON Scripture, an article produced weekly by Odyssey Networks and published on a variety of websites. ON Scripture articles interpret biblical texts in light of current events, offering ways of thinking about the Bible’s continuing ability to inform our outlooks on our lives and experiences. These are the articles I have contributed to ON Scripture.

Sorry, Presidential Candidates: Hope Resides in Groans, Not in Your Rhetoric (Romans 8:22-27)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
May 18, 2015
Political campaigns and commencement ceremonies seem designed to rouse feelings of hope from within us, giving us the energy and courage to move toward a better future. But when the Apostle Paul speaks about hope, he anchors it solely in God’s determination to deliver us from the decay and oppression wrought by sin and death. We know this divine determination because of what God has done through Jesus Christ and because God continues to be among us in the Holy Spirit, restlessly groaning in concert with all creation to express dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Daring to Hope in the Stress of Uncertainty (Mark 16:1-8)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
March 30, 2015
When terrified women flee Jesus’ tomb on the first Easter morning, Mark’s Gospel comes to a jarring end, refusing to let us forget that the prospect of Jesus’ resurrection will deeply unsettle us. This Gospel seems to know that we view Easter from a place situated between hope and fear, between disappointment and fullness. What propels us forward, as we live in the midst of uncertainties and events that remind us how beyond control our lives are, is the promise that Jesus continues to go before us.

The Super Bowl and the Church in a Culture of Dominance (1 Corinthians 8:1-13)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
January 26, 2015
The Christian church in Corinth was divided over the question of whether Christians could eat meat that had come from sacrifices to Greek deities. Paul tells them to eat whatever they want but not if doing so would trample the consciences of those in the community who might be enticed back into old idolatrous practices. His words raise questions of what it means to be strong, what it means to be weak, and what it means to pursue unity and mutual harmony. In our American context, in which we’re enticed to equate strength with dominance, Paul’s words encourage us think about our cultural values and how they affect our understanding of what we expect God to be like.

Since We Have to Wait, We’d Better Get to Work (Matthew 25:1-13)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
November 3, 2014
Jesus’ Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids is one of several parables in Matthew’s Gospel that describe the Christian life as actively anticipating God’s promise to bring God’s intentions to fullness. This anticipation involves a readiness that manifests itself in perseverance, obedience, and compassion. It leads Christians to action on behalf of those who suffer, especially those who suffer exclusion.

Why Work to Change the World? (Matthew 21:23-32)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
September 22, 2014
Jesus tells a parable about two sons, neither one of whom lives up to what he says, to show that true, life-giving devotion shows itself in efforts to participate in God’s work on behalf of the world’s well-being. We might respond by thinking about ways to participate in God’s work to improve the lives of our neighbors.

Why You Ought to Leave the Church (John 4:5-42)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
March 17, 2014
Jesus meets a Samaritan woman and tells her that people encounter God, not in specifically designated places, but out there, beyond the walls. If God is not confined to churches, or to gatherings of like-minded individuals, then we may need to reassess who God is and what a life of faith looks like.

Enjoy the Super Bowl; Be Suspicious of Its Values (Matthew 5:1-12)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
January 27, 2014
Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel with nine statements that declare categories of people “blessed,” or content. Yet the people he describes are the ones we usually view with pity. In announcing whom he has come to bless, Jesus upends our ordinary values about where and how success and contentment are found.

I Know What God Looks Like (Luke 15:1-10)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
September 9, 2013
Jesus’ parable about a woman who searches diligently for a lost coin illustrates God’s determined commitment to our welfare. It also invites us to imagine God at work in other situations, sometimes very ordinary-looking situations, when people make themselves present to others. Antoinette Tuff, the elementary-school employee who talked a gunman into laying down his weapon, shows us what God is like.

When “Homeland Security” Keeps Us from Encountering God (John 17:20-26)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
May 8, 2013
Jesus’ prayer in John 17 affirms this: “I need other people. I do, if I want the chance to experience union with God and plunge into the heart of what God is about. And I don’t need only other people who are like me; love requires me to attend to a wider group.”

How to Survive the Sequester, Syria, and Other Threatening Headlines (Luke 13:1-9)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
February 27, 2013
In the wake of inexplicable, frightening tragedies, Jesus calls people to repent. Repentance involves a new way of seeing the world, God’s presence in it, and our place in God’s intentions. The news always reminds us our existence is a fragile one, but we nevertheless play a part in God’s program for grace, mercy, and justice.

Immigration Reform and the Challenges of Generosity (Luke 4:22-30)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
January 30, 2013
When Jesus declares his intentions to bring God’s blessings to others beyond his hometown, the people of Nazareth strenuously oppose him. Why are we often angered or scared by the prospect of empowering outsiders?

Can We Speak of God’s Activity, in Triumph or Tragedy? (Luke 1:39-55)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
December 19, 2012
Tragedies, like the mass slaughter of schoolchildren in Connecticut, prompt some to offer cringe-worthy declarations about how God might be or not be active in our lives. But the song of Mary, Jesus’ mother, teaches us to speak about God more responsibly.

Is It Possible to Govern “Biblically”? (Mark 10:35-45)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
October 17, 2012
Jesus sets his own pattern as a “servant” in contrast to the oppressive, self-serving tendencies of his society’s leaders. Does this passage help us think about government in our time, and about the religious commitments of our candidates?

Jesus’ Death and the Future of Violence (Mark 9:30-37)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
September 18, 2012
“If pondering Jesus’ crucifixion doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you probably aren’t doing it right.”

What Makes a Family? (Mark 3:20-35) 
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
June 6, 2012
What should we take from the biblical passage in which Jesus redefines who qualifies as members of his family? What can this mean for our understanding of what counts as “family” today?

What Jesus’ Death Tells Us about Ourselves (Mark 14:1-15:47)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
March 28, 2012
The account of Jesus’ death in the Gospel according to Mark highlights the abuses of power perpetrated against him. It appears inevitable that someone like Jesus would meet such a fate in his time and place. Against whom is the deck stacked in our society?

Where Can God Be Found? (John 2:13-22)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
March 7, 2012
The Gospel according to John describes Jesus as a new temple, a new “place” where God is accessible to people. This suggests that we might encounter God in any and all aspects of life. What does this mean for our public speech about religion, and for the political rhetoric offered by presidential candidates?

The Inconvenient Truth about Taking Care of the Poor (Mark 1:40-45)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
February 8, 2012
Healing a man with a skin disease alters the course of Jesus’ ministry. It’s a reminder that God’s entrance into human existence involves God in the vagaries of human existence. As  God is affected by the challenges of alleviating suffering, we should expect the same from our own efforts.

Advent: One of Those Dangerous Religious Ideas (Mark 13:24-37)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
November 23, 2011
What should we make of those strange parts of the Gospels where Jesus speaks about his future return? Texts like these encourage anything but passive waiting for “pie in the sky.” They call us to see and to ally ourselves with ways in which Jesus is among us.

The Heavy Cost of Paying “The Emperor” (Matthew 22:15-22)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
October 12, 2011
When Jesus says, “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and God the things that are God’s,” he exposes the ways in which our lives involve us in commitments that demand our allegiances. Without calling us to be ascetics or separatists, he calls us to renewed loyalty to God. This ON Scripturepiece explores the difficulty of cleanly navigating the ambiguities of our social and political lives.

Justice Comes in the Evening (Matthew 20:1-16)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
September 14, 2011
Jesus’ Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard tells us something about the scandalous character of God’s generosity. It also identifies the kinds of people most likely to attract God’s gracious attention. Those people are always with us, and their numbers seem to be getting larger in the current American cultural context, with its persistent unemployment rates and its contempt toward undocumented immigrants. This piece is part of the ON Scripture project.

Faith within the Chaos (Matthew 14:22-33)
The Huffington Post (and also Odyssey Networks)
August 3, 2011
This is the inaugural post for ON Scripture, an initiative of Odyssey Networks and Huffington Post Religion. This piece reflects on faith and fear in the story of Peter asking Jesus to call him to walk on the stormy Sea of Galilee. How might faith like this exercise itself in the midst of America’s economic woes?

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