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Text Messages

Text Messages

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The Last Text Message

posted by Patton Dodd

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 […]

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Quitting Church: A Q&A with Julia Duin

posted by Patton Dodd

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 […]

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Rob Stennett vs. Marilynne Robinson

posted by Patton Dodd

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 […]

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What is spiritual restoration?

posted by Patton Dodd

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 […]

It’s Not TV; it’s Ted TV

posted by Patton Dodd

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 […]

Q&A with Alexandra Pelosi on “The Trials of Ted Haggard”

posted by Patton Dodd

Alexandra Pelosi is the talented filmmaker behind “The Trials of Ted Haggard”–though, as she put it in the New York Times yesterday, she prefers to be considered a maker of television, not documentaries. Fair enough, as her light, earthy, humanizing […]

Mike Jones Had to Say Something

posted by Patton Dodd

Yesterday, Mike Jones posted the YouTube video below, upping the ante on the breaking news about Ted Haggard: there were other young men involved with Ted, he says, and their parents knew about it. He does not, and probably will […]

Jason Bateman vs. Earnestness

posted by Patton Dodd

I remember a lot of gaping, earnest love for George W. Bush among his supporters during the early years of his presidency. I remember an admiration for the man and his manners that fueled a kind of blind hope in […]

Haggard Comeback, Interrupted

posted by Patton Dodd

Ted Haggard has been making the media rounds in advance of next week’s release of HBO’s “The Trials of Ted Haggard” and an Oprah Winfrey episode featuring Haggard and his family. The documentary captures Haggard’s life in the months after […]

Obama and the Mexico City policy

posted by Patton Dodd

Steven Waldman and David Gibson list a bunch of data from a group called Third Way that attempts to prove that lifting the so-called gag rule, which would allow U.S. dollars to go to clinics in developing countries that perform […]

Choosing Life Creates Possibilities

posted by Patton Dodd

It’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and it doesn’t seem right to just say nothing. So consider  this pro-life ad that has been making the rounds:  Of course, we can’t all have mothers like Obama’s. But the video closely […]

A good tweet, no doubt

posted by Patton Dodd

I’ve been mulling a long post in defense of doubt. For the last few months, I’ve watched hard questions and varieties of doubt do a great deal of good among some of my Christian friends, and I’ve been reading Luke’s […]

No Best Picture for Wall-E

posted by Patton Dodd

Oscar has fickle and pedestrian taste, and the awards are rarely an indication of a movie’s potential shelf life or artistic merit. (See: Crash. Or, if you haven’t, don’t.) I was shocked when Atonement didn’t win last year, because its […]

Lowery’s Prayer…

posted by Patton Dodd

…is a marvel. Amen indeed. 

Rick Warren’s Jesus prayer

posted by Patton Dodd

Given the massive flap over Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to offer the inaugural prayer, there will no doubt be a new flap over Warren’s decision to pray his prayer “in Jesus’ name.” Lots of people on the left were […]

President Obama’s best line

posted by Patton Dodd

“…a man whose father, less than 60 years ago, might not have been served in a local restaurant, now stands before you to take a sacred oath.” Consider that. Today, my 5 year old daughter came home from kindergarten and […]

Was the Hudson crash a miracle?

posted by Patton Dodd

I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving yesterday when I heard the news that there were no fatalities or injuries after an airliner crashed into the Hudson River. All good things come from God–so says the Bible, and so says my […]

R. Crumb’s literal Genesis comic

posted by Patton Dodd

The famous comic artist has been laboring over a comic retelling of Genesis for ages, and it’s apparently coming in 2009. Everywhere I’ve seen this mentioned on the web, people use the word “literal” to describe it, as in “it’s […]

Have you had Scripture Shock?

posted by Patton Dodd

Jeff Sharlet, in his review of Peter Trachtenburg’s The Book of Calamities at Search Magazine, coins a phrase–“scripture shock”–to describe reading rattling, blood-curdling Bible passages. Consider Psalm 137 (where the psalmist blesses the one who would bash the heads of Babylonian children), […]

Obama’s Inauguration Bible

posted by Patton Dodd

This thing is stunning. It’s the same Bible Abraham Lincoln used in his first inauguration, and the symbolism couldn’t be sweeter. I can’t find a good photo online that isn’t in Flash and can be pasted here, but the best […]

The Inaugural Prayer of Confession

posted by Patton Dodd

Steve Waldman has created an archive of inaugural prayers throughout history. In my first read through these prayers, which go back to the 1937 prayer at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration, I was struck by how rarely we see a confessional […]

Christianity without doubt

posted by Patton Dodd

Reading N.D. Wilson’s account of his father’s public debates with Christopher Hitchens put me in mind of a certain kind of Christian I’ve met a few times, and always with a shock: intellectual Christians who don’t doubt.  As I explained to […]

The Top Comfort Movies

posted by Patton Dodd

Movie Mom blogger Neil Minow put together a list of the top Comfort Movies–flicks that go down just right on those no-good, crummy, sniffling, sneezing days. Not a bad list, and hard to quibble with something as idiosyncratic as this. […]

Who Would Jesus Smack Down?

posted by Patton Dodd

That’s the apt headline over the New York Times Magazine’s profile of Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll. Fascinating story, not least because there is so much theology in it–Molly Worthen does a commendable job of summarizing Driscoll’s neo-Calvinism and capturing how […]

How well stocked is your pantry?

posted by Patton Dodd

More from the NY Times Most Emailed List: This week, foodie extraordinaire Mark Bittman (author of my most-used cookbook, How to Cook Everything) has been at the top of the list for several days with his post about how to […]

The Old Testament, Suffering, and Sin

posted by Patton Dodd

This Beliefnet discussion on the OT and suffering is, of course of course, perennial and ancient and never-ending. But anyone who reads the Bible regularly has to face this question all the time. Is the Old Testament a record of suffering […]

My 5 y.o. daughter on evangelism

posted by Patton Dodd

When she heard in church that she could tell people that Jesus was God:  “There’s NO WAY I’m doing that! People can just believe, but I’m not telling them!” Very Calvinist of her, no? 

There’s No Sex Ed in Seminary

posted by Patton Dodd

So says a report released today. Seminarians might be having it, but they aren’t talking about it. The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing surveyed 36 seminaries and rabbinical schools, and found that ministers-to-be are woefully under-prepared for […]

Stanley Fish’s Top 10 American Movies

posted by Patton Dodd

That’s the top story on the NY Times Most Emailed List right now (another list that never fails to fascinate–subject for another post). Stanley Fish is a hugely influential literary and legal scholar, and I’ve long been an admirer–but Fish […]

What will you eat in 2009?

posted by Patton Dodd

I read the food journalism of Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser for years, and considered myself someone who cared about the production and distribution of food. I strove to be aware of how meals found their way to my plate, […]

Epiphany, Sunday School, and Telling the Truth

posted by Patton Dodd

The Christmas season is all but past and we’re coming now to the Feast of Epiphany, which celebrates the revelation of God in human form as Jesus. Often (depending on which tradition one is in), Epiphany involves the remembrance of […]

My 5 y.o. daughter on origins of life

posted by Patton Dodd

Out of nowhere from the back seat of the car… “I bet after God made all the people for the first time, they looked around and were like, ‘Okay, this is great, but what are we supposed to do now?” 

King David’s Imperfection, and Ours

posted by Patton Dodd

A strangely inspiring quote from Eugene Peterson to begin the new year:  From The Jesus Way, in a chapter where Peterson notes Christians’ odd tendency to idolize David–he of 8 wives and a harem of concubines, he who killed thousands […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Do Ed Young’s sex sermons speak to singles?

posted by Patton Dodd

The most emailed article at the New York Times right now is about Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Texas and his much-discussed sermon series on sex. As part of the series, he challenged all the married couples in his […]

Who is your favorite under-appreciated musician?

posted by Patton Dodd

Mine is Bill Mallonee, whose painful story Nate Anderson tells beautifully in the latest issue of Christianity Today. When Paste Magazine came out with their list of the Top 100 singer-songwriters, I tore through the issue to see if Mallonee made it, and […]

The Power of Negative Thinking

posted by Patton Dodd

Here’s the article I mentioned before. I wrote it right in the middle of an ill-fated week, partly because I was way past a deadline, and partly because I wanted to capture mourning in progress, rather than reflect on it […]

Thanksgiving starts tonight

posted by Patton Dodd

Here in the Dodd household, Thanksgiving starts tonight. My mom flies into Denver from Mississippi early this evening. My beloved sister, her brilliant husband, and their three kids come tomorrow, on my birthday. We’ll cook up a mess of fried […]

Thank Heaven for Todoist

posted by Patton Dodd

If Todoist–the staggeringly simple personal productivity tool–isn’t my #1 app of the year, it’s only because Scrivener took my dissertation off life support. (That it’s back on life support now is not Scrivener’s fault; it’s a user error). But Todoist […]

Straight Talk on Gay Marriage

posted by Patton Dodd

Pun intended. Starting today, two of our bloggers–Tony Jones and Rod Dreher–will begin a debate discussion Beliefnet Blogalogue on same sex marriage. They’ll post on their respective blogs and link back to one another.  Here’s what’s unique about this discussion, and […]

Roger Ebert, speechless and chatty

posted by Patton Dodd

My undergraduate literary theory professor warped my brain, for better and worse. One item in the Worse category: He ruined my love of Roger Ebert. One dumb morning, Professor Grumpy (not his real name) worked up a full head of […]

7 Delightful Things

posted by Patton Dodd

For a variety of reasons, it’s been a distressing week. And it’s only Wednesday. And I didn’t sleep last night. Times like these, nothing to do but think about delightful things. Here are 7: 1. The new Life photo archive. […]

Colorado Springs, 2-paper town

posted by Patton Dodd

A tale of two ledes: Focus on the Family just announced a layoff of 20% of its workforce–big news here in Colorado Springs, where the ministry is one of the ten largest employers. Here’s how our daily paper, the Gazette, reported […]

This Just In: Obama Not Orthodox

posted by Patton Dodd

Based on remarks President-elect Obama made to Cathleen Falsani four years ago (and recently reprinted on Beliefnet), there’s been a dustup over whether he can legitimately be said to be a Christian:  Joe Carter at Culture11 says no. Rod Dreher […]

The Filmmaker of Light

posted by Patton Dodd

Vanity Fair reports on an internal memo from Painter of Light Thomas Kinkade in which he outlines 16 principles for making a film modeled on his paintings. (The film is called “Christmas Cottage”–which could also be the name of virtually […]

Which Bible translation is best?

posted by Patton Dodd

Scot McKnight says to find the answer, you have to ask another question: What’s your purpose in reading it?  

Three things from Steve Martin

posted by Patton Dodd

Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up is the most fun weekend reading I’ve done in a long time. Pensive yet page-turning. Three moments I’ll remember: 1. While studying Wittgenstein in college–which Martin was paying for by doing standup comedy–Martin was wrestling with […]

Evangelism or Entertainment? (Or, Evangelism IS Entertainment)

posted by Patton Dodd

A curiosity I noted over my cereal flakes this morning: Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) linked this week to a year-old article by the New Yorker’s George Packer about the Creation Museum. In his summary of the article, Spencer says […]

De-versifying the Bible essay

posted by Patton Dodd

Without further ado, here is the promised essay by Glenn Paauw on International Bible Society’s additives-free Bible. I must say, I’m rather fond of the deck: Bible literacy is lower than ever. Who’s to blame? Try Bible publishers. Read it […]

Celebrity Bible characters

posted by Patton Dodd

Paul Asay put together a cast of characters for an imaginary “Genesis: The Movie,” with suggested celebrities to fill the roles. My favorite moment: She has no lines. She has no name. Lot’s wife is famous for one thing: turning […]

Pixar’s “Up” is totally cheating

posted by Patton Dodd

This looks to be another in a series of Pixar directors moving further away from pure pop and closer to pop art (though Brad Bird kinda skipped over the pure pop stage entirely). But does it bother anyone else that […]

Culture War and context

posted by Patton Dodd

On election night, a Facebook (and real life!) friend, Brandon, posted a status update to the effect that Americans were naive for voting for Obama. I took issue with Brandon’s remark, which he had first delivered to me over iChat, […]

The changing of the evangelical guard

posted by Patton Dodd

Sociologist Michael Lindsay (author of Faith in the Halls of Power, one of last year’s best religion books) weighs in on the shifting ground of evangelical influence in the Beltway. 

Cultivators and Creators: An Interview with Andy Crouch

posted by Patton Dodd

Andy Crouch’s Culture Making: Rediscovering Our Creative Calling is the Christian book of the year–its Publisher’s Weekly nod for best religion book won’t be its last. The concept of “culture” has been something of a snare for American Christians–we’ve critiqued culture […]

Welcoming Scot McKnight and Tony Jones to Beliefnet

posted by Patton Dodd

Join me in welcoming two new blogs to Beliefnet: Jesus Creed, crafted by the careful hands of Scot McKnight, and The New Christians, the brainchild of Tony Jones.  Jesus Creed, long one of the web’s most popular religion blogs, is […]

Christian reactions to Obama’s victory

posted by Patton Dodd

From status updates on my Facebook profile, a bird’s eye view of Christian responses last night. All names have been replaced with “Sally.”  Sally is no longer proud to be an American. Sally loves America. Sally is sad that America is […]

Tell us how you voted, and why

posted by Patton Dodd

Take Beliefnet’s Election 2008 survey. 

Support Kids, see Africa. If you can take it.

posted by Patton Dodd

This month, Beliefnet has teamed up with Tom Davis and Daniel Clark at Children’s HopeChest to raise support for orphans in Africa. You’ll see my charity badge on the right, and you can donate directly to CHC from that badge–as […]

More grist for the atheists-as-fundamentalists mill

posted by Patton Dodd

Alan Jacobs on Richard Dawkins’ suspicion of Harry Potter: It strains credulity, does it not, that someone of Dawkins’s education and intelligence could believe that there is no difference between allowing children to read fantasy stories or fairy tales and […]

De-versifying the Bible

posted by Patton Dodd

I’m particularly excited about a project we’re working on about niche Bibles. Our feature will be a gallery of various Bibles, but it will be supplemented with an essay by Glenn Paauw, a longtime director at the International Bible Society. […]

Top Christian Blogs on Blogs.com

posted by Patton Dodd

Blogs.com asked for a list of the top 10 Christian blogs. The list I offered is not the most representative, I admit, and it’s very idiosyncratic. It’s a combination of blogs I’ve been reading for years, blogs I return to for occasional […]

Subscribing to the Bible (Illuminated)

posted by Patton Dodd

A couple weeks ago, I reacted to the news of the Angelina Jolie Bible (aka, “Bible Illuminated: The Book”) with my eyes rolling, but I also suspected that there might be more to the project than meets the eye. And […]

The new wave of niche Bibles

posted by Patton Dodd

More is coming soon from Beliefnet on the latest round of niche Bibles–I, for one, stagger at the sheer amount of these–but for now, just this photo:  More on this Bible here.

Is “Is the Bible historically accurate” the right question?

posted by Patton Dodd

It’s interesting how this reporter frames a debate that occurred last night between an atheist and a Christian at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The headline: “Atheist, Christian debate historical accuracy of the Bible.” The reporter’s lede summarizes the event […]

The Unshakeable, October 24 Edition

posted by Patton Dodd

Each Friday, I’ll try to post a few things–maybe 3, maybe 10–that stuck with me this week, wouldn’t leave me alone, and probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. IOW, the best kind of reading. This week’s list: From Culture11.com, […]

Stoning “W,” or The Silent Prayers of George W. Bush

posted by Patton Dodd

A quick word on “W,” Oliver Stone’s lazy bio-pic about our current president:  The movie is unimaginative and uninteresting on most every level–how many close-ups of the bottle of Jack Daniels do we need, exactly, before Stone has us convinced […]

Rob Bell’s 4 priorities for churches

posted by Patton Dodd

Relevant asks, “What are some crucial changes that our churches need to make to become a Eucharist that is broken and poured out for the world?” Pastor Bell answers: 1. Master the art of doubt. Faith needs it to survive.  […]

John Piper: Vote as if not voting

posted by Patton Dodd

John Piper’s engaged asceticism is timely advice for American Christians who are worshipping at the altar of patriotism and the electoral process. I wish he’d emphasize that “Godward purposes” are, in fact, a call to deal with the world in […]

Good questions from Culture Making

posted by Patton Dodd

Today’s blogged excerpt from Andy Crouch’s book at the Culture-Making site asks urgent, necessary questions. Forget about the election, and ponder this: If we believe that God is still on the move in human cultures, then our most basic questions […]

Daniel Clark’s culture shock

posted by Patton Dodd

Last Friday, I was working at Wisdom Tea House (a dream of a place) when my friend Daniel Clark came in to join me for the afternoon. “30 hours ago I was in a jungle,” he said as he sat […]

Don Lattin’s Jesus Freaks

posted by Patton Dodd

One of the most unshakeable reading experiences I’ve had in the last year is Don Lattin’s Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge. Taking a cue from Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, […]

Creation vs. Evolution Redux

posted by Patton Dodd

The classic debate between Darwinian evolutionism and young-earth creationism is often seen as a moldy conflict between atheism and theism. That’s never been quite true–some of the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Christians who articulated “The Fundamentals” of the faith (and […]

Prayer for the week

posted by Patton Dodd

Book of Common Prayer, Proper 24: Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession […]

Frederica Mathewes-Green on Suffering

posted by Patton Dodd

Check out this fascinating (if I do say so myself) essay we’ve just published by Frederica Mathewes-Green on suffering and perfection. She writes in response to a host of voices, from James Woods in The New Yorker to Bart Ehrman […]

Andy Crouch: We are terrifyingly unserious

posted by Patton Dodd

A must-read essay from Andy Crouch: “Why I Am Hopeful.” Andy isn’t gleeful about the fractures we’re seeing in capitalist structures, but the coming hard times, he says, give us a chance to become people of better, deeper, more godly […]

The Dishonesty of ‘Fireproof’

posted by Patton Dodd

At The Daily Beast, Daniel Radosh (who, incidentally, started a Beliefnet book club for his “Rapture Ready”) uses the occasion of the Christian blockbuster “Fireproof” to make a larger point about insular Christian entertainment: Not only does it speak exclusively to […]

Colin Powell, the Undecided Voter, and the Coin Flip

posted by Patton Dodd

I watched Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama with rapt attention yesterday. In terms of rationale, he essentially echoed the Christopher Hitchens approach, emphasizing Obama’s strengths of character, temperament, and personality and trusting that those strengths would be with him […]

Is Bill Maher a secular fundamentalist?

posted by Patton Dodd

In my post on “Religulous,” I made the point that Bill Maher exudes a shockingly self-righteous certitude in his own position–and at the movie’s end, literally preaches a gospel of Maherism and warns doom for all who don’t see his […]

Dr. Oliver’s Islam

posted by Patton Dodd

Congratulations to my dear friend and BU colleague Martyn Oliver, who passed his dissertation defense yesterday in Boston. (He’s also getting hitched in 3 weeks–not a bad autumn.) I’ve had the pleasure of reading bits of his dissertation, which is […]

Colson, Claiborne, Boyd – Three visions of evangelical politics

posted by Patton Dodd

There is a lot of talk about whether young evangelicals are moving anywhere politically, or whether they’ll be more of the same. There is plenty of evidence for the latter so far in this election cycle, but there is also […]

Crisis Pregnancy in Bulgaria

posted by Patton Dodd

Richard Mouw, the president of Fuller Theological Seminary, sent along this story by a woman who had a harrowing, inspiring experience with the delivery of her Downs Syndrome baby in Bulgaria. He heard the woman sharing her testimony in a […]

In “Religulous,” Maher is Less

posted by Patton Dodd

I’m way late to this, but just saw it last night and wanted to weigh in briefly. I had planned to address several of the key problems, as well as acknowledge its (few) pleasures as a movie, but Steve Waldman did […]

Rebuilding the Red Sox bandwagon

posted by Patton Dodd

I’m not sure if any team that has a whole nation of fans can claim to also have a bandwagon…but still, since both Bill Simmons’ father and I turned the channel before the 7th inning last night (in fairness, I […]

While We Wait for ‘Culture Making’…

posted by Patton Dodd

Coming soon in this space: an interview with Andy Crouch on his invaluable new book, Culture Making. Andy’s book is one of the wisest books on the subject of culture I’ve ever read, and it’s the single best work on […]

Blogging against poverty

posted by Patton Dodd

As I was writing that earlier post on Apple’s new MacBook, drooling over a product I want but absolutely do not need, I got a timely dose of reality. My Twitterific updated itself and showed me a long series of […]

Thou Shall Not Covet…

posted by Patton Dodd

…and all that. But, um, this isn’t fair: Not only is it gorgeous, but the hardware updates are impressive. The trackpad is glass, and does double duty as the mouse button. The shell is one piece of aluminum, and it […]

Forgive this Blog

posted by Patton Dodd

I still consider Text Message to be in beta form, and it’s a good thing, aye? Please forgive the blue background, odd layout, and any other oddities you see here in the coming days. We’ve just launched a rebuild and […]

Hindu Threat to Christians – Convert or Flee – NYTimes.com

posted by Patton Dodd

Must reading: Today’s Times has a report on the persecution of Christians in India. The photo above shows Christian refugees praying at a camp in Bhubaneshwar. It’s harrowing, harrowing stuff. An excerpt below, followed by a prayer. God help them:  A few […]

Mark Bittman — Food Culture is Progressing

posted by Patton Dodd

Mark Bittman–author of the most essential cookbook ever (I open it just about every single week)–offers cautious hope about the state of our food culture in this weekend’s NY Times Magazine:  [F]ood continues to be fetishized; organic food has been commodified; […]

Jeremiah laments the 49ers

posted by Patton Dodd

For Sunday morning – A San Francisco Chronicle reader finds a prophecy about the struggling 49ers: Editor – I was doing my daily Bible reading – yes, even in San Francisco some people do this – when I came across […]

Don Lattin’s Jesus Freaks

posted by Patton Dodd

One of the most unshakeable reading experiences I’ve had in the last year is Don Lattin’s Jesus Freak: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge. Taking a cue from Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, […]

If it’s happening in Colorado Springs…

posted by Patton Dodd

Brandon Fibbs, a longtime Colorado Springs resident, political junkie, movie reviewer for Christianity Today, and current DC resident, reads Timothy Egan’s recent blog post on cultural and political shifts in Colorado Springs and adds some observations of his own: I […]

Angelina Jolie, Bible Centerfold?

posted by Patton Dodd

Last year, a Swedish ad man named Dag Soderberg published a Bible made in the image of Vogue magazine. Called Bible Illuminated: The Book, it featured glossy images of models and artistic contemporary photography, and it caused quite a stir–Sweden […]

Young Earth Wins Cameron Strang’s Facebook Poll

posted by Patton Dodd

Cameron Strang, the publisher of Relevant Magazine and the subject of much discussion this summer when he first accepted, then declined an invitation to pray at the Democratic National Convention, posted an informal poll question in his Facebook and Twitter […]

Best Political Film (or, Frank Capra is a Fascist)

posted by Patton Dodd

  The latest YouTube video from the always delightful, always informative Reel Geezers offers a brief history of Hollywood’s political films, focusing mostly on movies about the electoral process. They cover some of my own favorites–Born Yesterday, The Candidate–and also […]

Max Lucado’s Lamentation

posted by Patton Dodd

This is pretty remarkable–you’d think that Max Lucado, of all pastors, would offer an encouraging word, delivered with a smile, about the economic woes facing people today. But instead, he delivers nothing short of a lamentation. The message, essentially, is […]

Now and Later

posted by Patton Dodd

To the 11 of you who have discovered this blog so far: My launch timing could hardly have been worse. Posting has been and will continue to be light until October 9 because Beliefnet behind-the-scenes work is booming–with results you’ll […]

Collect: Prayer for the Week

posted by Patton Dodd

Sometimes the timing of these things is uncanny. I spent part of the weekend with my stomach in knots and my head in fits over the news about the economy. The macro-level questions about the near future of our national […]

Killing the Buddha All Over Again

posted by Patton Dodd

Killing the Buddha was one of my favorite web discoveries in the years just after college–a site packed with essays on religion that combined pained skepticism with genuine desire for human renewal. There was often a real humility to the […]

We Forgot that Borrowers Have to Be Able to Repay

posted by Patton Dodd

Barry Ritholtz observes that one way to look at the current economics crisis is as a five-year hiccup in our approach to lending.  Over the entire history of human finance, the underlying premise of all credit transactions — loans, mortgages, […]

Dick Staub – “The Islam I Know”

posted by Patton Dodd

I admire Dick Staub a lot, and a few years ago had the pleasure of signing books in his company when we both had titles out from the same publisher and were joined in a conference booth. He’s hilarious and smart. […]

Mad Men – Joan’s glass ceiling and the early days of television advertising

posted by Patton Dodd

i should begin by writing lofty posts, but instead I’ll go with what’s most on my mind: “Mad Men.” I watched Sunday’s episode last night, and wanted to think about Rod Dreher’s question–Who is your favorite Mad Men character?–with a […]

Soft Pre-Launch

posted by Patton Dodd

The sidebar over yonder tells you all you need to know about the readiness of this here blog. I have not had time this week to get things up and running as they should be (and just think of all […]

So You Think Christians Can’t Dance? (still testing 123)

posted by Patton Dodd

One reason I love my church: We hardly ever do offertory hymns like this.

Should Christians Be Concerned about McCain? (testing 123)

posted by Patton Dodd

This is what it’d be like to use the “Post to MT” toolbar widget. Hmm. http://blog.beliefnet.com/stevenwaldman/2008/09/is-the-ninth-commandment-a-les.html

This is only a test. Do not adjust your browswer.

posted by Patton Dodd

Stay tuned for a series of tests. If, in your lonely middle of thenight Internet Wave Riding, you should happen across this blog, notabene that it is only a test. A sidebar is coming, complete with neatowidgets. Real posts are […]

David Foster Wallace, R.I.P. (testing 123)

posted by Patton Dodd

The news that David Foster Wallace hung himself this weekend came as such a shock not only because it was the news of great loss for literary and academic culture–which it is–but also because it seemed like such a contrary […]

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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