The Taste of Truth (John 18:33-38)

“Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” (John 18:37–38 NRSV)

I, like Pilate, want to know what is truth.

I want to be able to identify truth the way that I can identify the notes of coffee from Ethiopia and distinguish it from coffee that came from Central America. I want to recognize the hints of truth the way I can recognize the hints of berries, chocolate, and orange in a fresh cup of Joe.

Pilate’s question, what is truth, is an honest one. It is a universal one. It sums up every question that has ever been asked. Is God there? Does she or he love me? Is this job the right job for me? Have I done good enough? What is the right thing to do?

Then Pilate asked him, “What is truth?” Continue reading The Taste of Truth (John 18:33-38)

The Contours of Convers(at)ions

Yesterday I began to sketch out some thoughts on how my approach to teaching the Bible has shifted towards a participatory understanding of learning and community. (This is no small part is influenced by the research of my dissertation and is reflected in much greater detail there and in my forthcoming book.)

Today I want to say something about why this play on words, convers(at)ions, which I take to reflect the interplay between conversation and conversion.

It is my belief that we are shaped by many micro-conversions throughout life. I’ve written about three of my own in the past (a, b & c). There may be one central moment where we “wake up” from a like Lazarus, but as I look back through my life I see many points at which my life took on, sometimes, radically new information and incorporated it into my existing framework or even shifted that framework in a new direction. Continue reading The Contours of Convers(at)ions

Convers(at)ions With Scripture

There has been an evolution of thought for me when it comes to understanding how to read, interpret and teach Scripture within community. That evolution has taken place over the course the last 18 years or so (I’ve been leading bible studies since I was in High School myself). It began with the basic thought a biblical teacher’s role was to teach the text. This meant raising key ideas and helping people to get the right answer about how to understand what God is saying in this verse or passage.

But over time, my approach has shifted away from this teacher-based model to one that is more participatory and dialogue oriented. There are a few factors that have helped me make the move.

Continue reading Convers(at)ions With Scripture

The Maze Dull Truth (Mark 1:21-28)

Expectations and Maze Dull Rats

Robert Rosenthal was a psychologist who is famous for his experiment with rats in a maze. The experiment looked at “expectancy effects” and how our expectations have a direct effect on the outcome of what we are doing (link).

In 1963, Rosenthal took two groups of students to test how well they could get their rats through a maze. The students were to help guide their rats through the maze as fast as they could.

To one set of students he gave them, what he called, “Maze Dull” rats and to the other group he bestowed to wonderful “Maze Bright” rats.

Of course, in reality there were not differences at all between the rats, but the students didn’t know this.

Can you guess what happened? Continue reading The Maze Dull Truth (Mark 1:21-28)

Writing the Ending Is Always Hard

One of the things I struggle with the most are endings. Whether it is writing endings, envisioning the ending of a project, or saying goodbye. I struggle with exit strategies. I have no problem getting started. I love a good opening story. A hearty laugh or a compelling metaphor. I set goals like a maniac. But when it comes to putting the period on the last sentence, now that’s a challenge.

When I think about it, I don’t even struggle all that much with the middle. I like the middle because it’s where the synthesis happens. I love putting this one thing and that one thing together, comparing them, seeing how a dialogue between the two creates something new. The middle is where we get our weave on. But when it comes to wrapping it up and putting a nice bow on it, that’s where I falter.

I’ve never been good at cutting things short. I have no problem writing. It’s the editing things down into word limits that is my kryptonite.
Continue reading Writing the Ending Is Always Hard