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Text Messages

Text Messages

December 2008 Archives

Mormons and Evangelicals

posted by Patton Dodd

Dave Banack is Beliefnet’s new Mormon blogger, and this week he’s launched a discussion series for a book titled How Wide the Divide: An Evangelical and a Mormon in Conversation. The book is 10 years old, but the subjects in […]

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How do you choose a church?

posted by Patton Dodd

We’ve just published an essay written by the priest at the Anglican church I attend, Holy Trinity Anglican. It’s an Anglican Mission in the Americas church, which is part of the African-American conservative Anglican movement that is splitting from the […]

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Your New Year’s Resolutions Problem, and Mine

posted by Patton Dodd

Surprise–it’s that we won’t keep them. Past performance suggests that at best, we’ll maintain our resolve for a little while at best, and call it success. I failed mine last year–I can’t even find the list I know I posted […]

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Jake Busey’s Christian Killer

posted by Patton Dodd

A month or so ago I announced that I was looking for movies with Christian killers, and many of you helped out with titles that hadn’t occurred to me. I’ve since seen more religiously motivated violence on screen than I […]

Let’s see, where were we…?

posted by Patton Dodd

Last Tuesday, I wrote that Haggard post, did some holiday volunteering, went home to wrap some presents, and somehow managed to stay offline for most of the next 5 days.  Which is to say: Christmas was splendid. Truly peaceful. I […]

Ted Haggard: Three Complex Issues

posted by Patton Dodd

Like Tony, I’d rather see the Ted Haggard story go away entirely. But it won’t, at least not yet, because Haggard feels he has more story to tell.  As Haggard’s former writer, I was called upon to comment or write […]

What Christmas taught me to believe

posted by Patton Dodd

A personal post for a personal time of year:  Christmas memories hold for me–as I imagine they do for a host of others–a mixture of pleasure and pain.  Some of my sharpest Christmas memories are from the mid-1990s, when I […]

Advent is for everyone

posted by Patton Dodd

Brief but beautiful reflection from Scot McKnight today: Christmas, if it is faithful to the original vision, is to be an event of including those who have not previously been included. It is an event that expands God’s people to […]

Blog of the Year: The Big Picture

posted by Patton Dodd

Few blogs, or media of any kind, have been as arresting as the Boston Globe’s The Big Picture. Alan Taylor’s blog tells captivating stories, post after post. Its big pictures offer windows into the small places we never see.  His […]

Best Religious Books of 2008

posted by Patton Dodd

All Beliefnet bloggers are offering their picks for the best books on religion in 2008. Here are my top 5: Surprised By Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, by N.T. Wright I interviewed Wright about […]

John Mark McMillan is a Keith Green-U2-My Morning Jacket Mashup

posted by Patton Dodd

When I became a Christian in 1993, I became a very radical Christian. (Read all about it.) On some days back then, the only music I could find worth listening to was this odd 1970s worship legend named Keith Green. […]

Joe Pug made me cry

posted by Patton Dodd

Hat-tip to Nate Barksdale and Andy Crouch at Culture-Making.com for introducing me to the musician Joe Pug today. Nate calls the song “Hymn 101″ one of his favorites of the last six months, and I’ll definitely be digging into the tune for […]

Anne Rice takes your questions

posted by Patton Dodd

Former-vampire novelist Anne Rice has to be one of the most fascinating public converts to Christianity we’ve seen in a great while, not least because she is being so open about how she moved from atheism to Catholicism and, from […]

Who said it?

posted by Patton Dodd

“Christianity…is a perpetual breeding ground for violence, abuse, superstition, war, discrimination, tyranny, and pride. Religion and spirituality is a bottomless pit breeding illusion, deceit, and oppression.”  Post your guess below. The answer appears after the jump (no peeking before you […]

Can Liberal Christians be Fundamentalists?

posted by Patton Dodd

So asks Scot McKnight, prompted by a feisty exchange he had with Paul Raushenbush and the commenters at Raushenbush’s blog, which was prompted by Steve Waldman’s interview with Rick Warren.  The “evangelicals vs. fundamentalists” moment was the part of the Warren […]

The Bible retold by Jonathan Goldstein and James Frey(!)

posted by Patton Dodd

As a fan of Bible retellings–songs, novels, poems, films, etc that reimagine Bible stories in some way–I was heartened by something I heard on This American Life this weekend: Jonathan Goldstein, a tAL producer and contributor and the author of […]

Rick Warren’s Job, and Other Highlights from the Beliefnet Interview

posted by Patton Dodd

During Steve Waldman’s interview with Rick Warren last week, Waldman mentioned Beliefnet’s survey of voters after the election. Among other findings, says Waldman, we learned that when asked to rank issues of concern, evangelicals who voted John McCain listed “reducing poverty” […]

All I Ever Get for Christmas is Blue

posted by Patton Dodd

I just got Over the Rhine’s “Snow Angel” album a few days ago, and called it up in iTunes after writing that last post. The first track definitely makes the Delightfully Depressing list: the gorgeous “All I Ever Get for […]

Top Delightfully Depressing Christmas Songs

posted by Patton Dodd

One of the first albums I listen to every Christmas season is Elvis Presley’s “If Every Day Was Like Christmas,” an album that captures what my mother-in-law calls Elvis’ “warbling” stage. It is melodramatic and overcooked, and I love it. […]

Christmas is the Advent of Easter

posted by Patton Dodd

Glenn Paauw says that Christmas is but the beginning of the Christian year, and should be treated as such.  By all means, immerse yourself in Advent and prepare for Christmas. Begin the cycle. But save yourself for the moment that […]

Newsweek, the Bible, and Same-Sex Marriage

posted by Patton Dodd

If you’re not following this issue already, the place to begin is with Tony Jones, who, in calling the situation a “kerfuffle,” reminds me that we should all be using that word as much as possible, and who does yeoman’s work […]

Santa Claus and My Socratic Five Year Old

posted by Patton Dodd

Last night, while my wife was at her book club, my kids and I visited some friends. On the way home, my 5 year old, Isabel, calls out “Dad?” from the backseat.  “Yes, Bel?” “Did you know, um, that some […]

Richard Cizik Resigns from National Association of Evangelicals

posted by Patton Dodd

Cizik resigned because he changed his position on civil unions. Christianity Today has all the pertinent info, and an interview with NAE president Leith Anderson. Two moments from the interview I’d like to point to: First, this very good question from […]

In His Name All Oppression Shall Cease

posted by Patton Dodd

That’s the hope Christians cherish, and the center of our longing in the season of Advent. That line from “O Holy Night” was very much on my mind this morning as part of the process of a longer, personal blog […]

Lost Christianity: A Q&A with Philip Jenkins

posted by Patton Dodd

I was introduced to Philip Jenkins‘ work several years ago through his Atlantic cover story, “The Next Christianity.” There, Jenkins explained that the center of global Christianity was shifting to the southern hemisphere. In The Next Christendom and the two related titles that […]

Is “Merry Christmas” a Tool of the Devil?

posted by Patton Dodd

I’m kidding. Mostly. But:  For the last few years, many conservative Christians have been concerned with the secularization of Christmas. Following the lead of Bill O’Reilly and others, they’ve spent a lot of energy protecting their right to say “Merry […]

Best of Beliefnet

posted by Patton Dodd

My favorite stuff from the last week: Scot McKnight on how a Third Way approach rankles liberals and irritates conservatives.  Rod Dreher on learning to be still in the face of constant media. Tony Jones on Multi-Issue Evangelicals (ie, the […]

Again: Why is Focus on the Family cutting jobs?

posted by Patton Dodd

The Colorado Springs Gazette revisits the issue. They quote yours truly to the effect that Focus’ influence among younger evangelicals appears to be waning. The balance of the article suggests that my guess-timation is misguided, and that Focus’ decline has […]

Merry Christmas to Alan Jacobs fans

posted by Patton Dodd

The good news: Alan Jacobs has a new blog at Culture11.  The too-good-to-be-true news (warning: Geek Ahead): he says the blog will be about “technologies of reading and research and, well, knowledge.” Woah. Thank goodness for venture capital, aye Culture11?  Tapping […]

TV = Internet for Geeks?

posted by Patton Dodd

So says Rod, and I have to agree. I’ve pretty well broken the habit of aimless, passive TV viewing–in addition to my shameful sports radio gluttony–but I’ve replaced it with other media. Like many addicts, I have good days and […]

Free Trip to Africa

posted by Patton Dodd

This is Josh. He’s a student at a small college in Pennsylvania, and I had the pleasure of calling him a couple days ago to tell him he’d won the trip to Africa we sponsored with Children’s HopeChest. He’ll be […]

Farming Against the Anti-Christ

posted by Patton Dodd

Some of my colleagues and I have been following the discussion about how some Christians believe that (or have wondered if) Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ. While we think about putting together something on that story, in Other Anti-Christ News, […]

Hollywood’s Christian Killers

posted by Patton Dodd

I’m looking for movies that depict Christian killers of some kind, from slasher films like The Night of the Hunter and Martin Scorcese’s remake of Cape Fear (where the killer is a Pentecostal) to less incendiary accounts like Robert Duvall’s The Apostle. […]

Jesus in Italy and Hand-Rolled Pasta

posted by Patton Dodd

Two months ago, my wife and I took a trip to Italy. We saved for this trip for ages, cancelled it a time or two due to complications with kids and cross-country moves, saved for it all over again, and […]

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Advent

posted by Patton Dodd

I wrote this (ahem) incredibly wise and insightful entry on Advent yesterday, and it was apparently lost in the ether. But that’s for the best–the truth is that I don’t have much wisdom or insight on a tradition that I’ve […]

Thankful that Thanksgiving is Over

posted by Patton Dodd

A little over a week ago, I apparently jinxed our family Thanksgiving by posting about how wonderful and perfect and celebratory it would be. How sweet of me. How sweet and cute and terribly, terribly dumb.  Ten minutes after my […]

Previous Posts

The Last Text Message
Today is my last day with Beliefnet, and my last day as the author of this blog. The Text Messages archives will remain live at this location, but posting will cease. If that sounds gloomy, it's an accurate reflection of my mind this ...

posted 3:47:12pm Feb. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Quitting Church: A Q&A with Julia Duin
Why do people stop going to church? This big question is the subject of Julia Duin's small book, Quitting Church: Why teh Faithful are Fleeing and What To Do About It. Duin is not a disinterested observer of the phenomenon of church-dropping; ...

posted 4:03:51pm Feb. 03, 2009 | read full post »

Rob Stennett vs. Marilynne Robinson
I'm overjoyed that my good friend Rob Stennett has won the Award of Merit from Christianity Today for his novel The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher. (Here's CT's review of the book.) Stennett's hilarious book is about a real estate agent who ...

posted 2:36:44pm Jan. 30, 2009 | read full post »

What is spiritual restoration?
Slate asked for an essay on Ted Haggard's spiritual restoration. I'm okay with what I came up with for now, but the more I think about it, the more I think we need better thinking on what restoration looks like for very public, outspoken, ...

posted 9:00:56am Jan. 29, 2009 | read full post »

It's Not TV; it's Ted TV
A blog might not be the best medium for an essay like this. But I want to offer some more considered thoughts on Ted Haggard and his HBO documentary; I hope this performs some kind of service in a story that I hope will end--in its public ...

posted 3:57:44am Jan. 28, 2009 | read full post »

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