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Freelance Christianity –

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Jan 5, 2020

January 4, 2020

On the Art of Discussion: How to Avoid Being an Ass

In final preparation for the spring semester that will begin in ten days, I am reading the final few essays in Michel de Montaigne’s monumental Essais, the fascinating book that will be the central text in an honors colloquium on Montaigne and his 16th century world that I will be teaching for the first time. I am regularly amazed by just how relevant Montaigne’s reflections from more than four centuries ago are to our contemporary world. Case in point: Montaigne’s… Read more

January 3, 2020

Best of 2019 #5: Is Donald Trump the “Chosen One”?

On this third day of the New Year, I am grateful for many things–including the fact that my blog exploded into an entirely different level of readership during 2019 (double the traffic of 2018, which had been my best year)! Over the next few weeks I will be sharing the “Best of 2019” essays from “Freelance Christianity,” beginning today with #5 on my “most read and visited” list. Last August, President Donald Trump suggested in an impromptu press conference on… Read more

December 31, 2019

The Best and the Worst: My New Year’s Hope for 2020

December 31, 2019 By

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There are eight to ten movies that Jeanne and I watch religiously during the Christmas season, from the obvious (“It’s a Wonderful Life,” “White Christmas”) to a few that are not as well-known. We ended our annual Christmas movie-watching binge on Christmas Eve this year with one of the lesser known films, the 2006 French film “Joyeux Noel.” One of my favorites, this film is a fictionalized account of the 1914 Christmas Truce that spontaneously occurred in numerous places along the… Read more

December 31, 2019

Letting God Creep In

December 31, 2019 By

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As I do every year, I am spending the weeks between the fall and spring semesters of the academic year getting caught up on my reading. I have all sorts of novels piled up in the bedroom and our library room, but most of them will have to wait until next summer. My “catching up” energies over the last couple of weeks have been mainly focused on copies of the The Atlantic and The New Yorker magazines that have been… Read more

December 29, 2019

A Family on the Run, and Dead Babies in the Streets

December 29, 2019 By

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This Christmas season seems more dissonant than most, with violence across the globe, an impeachment trial looming in the Senate, and jostling for air space with department store muzak and familiar stories from the pulpit. But the juxtaposition of promise and death, of expectation and suffering, of order and chaos, is nothing new. This dissonance is built into the fabric of the stories that we tend to tell selectively and sanitize for public consumption at this time of year. Today’s… Read more

December 26, 2019

Dammit, It’s the Incarnation!

December 26, 2019 By

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Last year around this time, I posted an essay that turned out to be more controversial than I thought it would be. Since I’m always in favor of stirring things up, I thought I’d run it past everyone again this year. Enjoy! On Christmas Eve morning, I noticed that a Facebook friend had posted a poll on her site. The question was: Which is more meaningful to you—Christmas or Easter? While many respondents commented that their vote was based on… Read more

December 23, 2019

Why the Details of Jesus’ Birth Don’t Matter

December 23, 2019 By

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A couple of years ago, I was asked to take on a temporary administrative position for the following semester in addition to my teaching duties. After agreeing to do so, my first step was to go on a fact-finding and listening tour, talking individually with the dozen or so people most knowledgeable concerning the issues I knew I would be grappling with. As I spent an hour or more with each of these colleagues, I found that it was often… Read more

December 21, 2019

A Really Awesome Stepfather with a Questionable Pedigree

December 21, 2019 By

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In my religious tradition, we didn’t do saints. But we did do Christmas pageants—big time. I remember in various pageants being an angel, a wise man, a shepherd—all of the usual male roles. My most triumphant pageant appearance, though, was the year I got to be Joseph. Wearing a white dish towel on my head secured with a bathrobe belt, I gazed with a holy aspect at the plastic headed Jesus in the make-shift manger while the narrator read the… Read more

December 19, 2019

I Will Bring You Home

December 19, 2019 By

vancemorgan 0 Comments

Baptist preacher’s kids get to do some very odd things. I memorized large portions of the Bible under duress, including–as a dutiful five-year-old–the names of the books of the Old Testament minor prophets to an obnoxious sing-songy tune. I could run through all of them in one breath—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. These obscure texts were written in a ancient time for a distant people in contexts and for reasons known only to the most… Read more

December 18, 2019

Some Thoughts about Impeachment Day–from 400+ years ago

December 18, 2019 By

vancemorgan 0 Comments

Next semester I will be teaching an honors colloquium on Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), one of the most important and influential thinkers and writers in the Western tradition. As fate would have it, the first of Montaigne’s essays I read this morning was “Of the useful and the honorable,” reflections on what Montaigne learned from his life in public service, both as the mayor of Bordeaux and as a liaison and diplomat between warring (literally) factions in violence-torn 16th century… Read more


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