Why I Stayed: Reflections on Virtue in the Wasteland's "Before You Leave" Series

On a recent two part episode of the show we discussed the trend of "de-conversion" primarily from evangelical circles into more progressive camps.  The interest, for me, began with discussions about Jen Hatmaker and Jordan Peterson.  Hatmaker, as she came out as LGBTQ+ inclusive was rejected by some as no longer Christian.  All I had heard was that she left the church, when I listened to her I realized that she was not leaving the church at all, but expanding beyond the confines of conservative evangelicalism.  Similarly, Jordan Peterson who has become a darling on the right, was introduced to me as a "non-Christian", but reading him allowed me to see for myself that he identifies with the Christian tradition, but he employs exegetical patterns of the Bible reminiscent of Higher Criticism and is thus considered a "wise pagan".

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Daniel van Voorhis
The Hidden Dangers of the Narrative of Decline (Towards an Eschatology of Hope)

I am generally resistant to theories that claim to fully explain large social trends.  This is in part due to the fact that I know that movements are multifaceted and driven from various directions.  But, despite my distaste for what might be called “meta-narratives” I may go against my better instincts in suggesting one overarching idea and narrative that explains so much of what seems to be troubling the church.  This is the narrative of decline. 

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Daniel van Voorhis
Guns, Bibles, and Constitutions: Why Evangelical Readings of Scripture Should Not Inform our Constitutional Rights

The word “literal” seems to have fallen out of favor with even the most conservative of Bible commentators.  Questioning someone by asking “Do you take that literally?” is less of an invitation to conversation and more a snide retort of modern disbelief.  Characterizing someone with a “literal” interpretation of creation and sexuality, as examples, can derail any civil conversation.  And those with a conservative or traditional understanding of the Bible have made pains to show that antiquated or wooden interpretations are not the same as “literal”.

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Daniel van Voorhis
Mental Illness as the Scapegoat for Gun Violence

Mental Illness should not be the scapegoat.

 

In the wake of yet another mass shooting on American soil we are understandably looking for answers.  We hear the refrain not to “politicize” tragedy, but if our conversations are spurred by disaster in an attempt to stem the tide of more killings, what is the harm?  Are the victims and victims’ families offended that we use this as an opportunity to talk not just about this specific event but an alarming trend?

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Daniel van Voorhis
On the XFL, X-Files and Reboots

When Deadspin recently published an article “The New XFL Is Dumb As Hell But Thank God It's Not Actually Real” I had to read it twice to understand if the article was being facetious or not.  The XFL? This is the league famed for nicknames on Jerseys (He Hate Me, Tater, Chuckwagon) and teams with aggressive names like the Hitmen, Outlaws, and Demons, or with the liberal use of the letter X in team names like the X-treme or Maniax. 

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Daniel van Voorhis
#albumtochangemysonslife

I have been given the task for which I believe I was made to be a father.  My primary calling whittled down to one thing at a very specific time in my son’s life.  It’s all on the table and I’m not about to shudder at this once in a lifetime opportunity.  So, I won’t second guess myself, but please understand, dear reader, if the weight of this decision doesn’t seem to weigh heavy on my words as I type.

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Daniel van Voorhis
Christianity and Political Radicalism

Jesus doesn’t care more about blue states than red states.  I don’t think Jesus endorses bumper stickers.  But I also think there are morally repugnant political views on the left and the right. There are good answers and bad answers and better ideas and things to be debated vigorously.

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Daniel van Voorhis
Cleaning House and Sexual Ethics

I’ve come to consider the meaty part of the Gospel according to Luke—the teachings of Jesus recounted in the chapters between the birth narrative and the passion narrative—as the most important treasury for understanding the New Logic of Jesus. That the Incarnate one entered the world at Christmas; the idea that this same Lord died and rose again are of course central to Christian teaching. But we too often skip from the beginning to the end without attending to the powerful teaching of the Messiah. Among other things, I believe a key theme in Luke is that of religion as a human impulse to obsessively keep one’s house clean.

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Daniel van Voorhis
Burn it Down: An Intergenerational Conversation and Review of Star Wars Episode XIII: The Last Jedi

With the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi we decided to see the movie independently with our families and then not talk about it until we could sit down and turn a microphone on to record our first thoughts about the movie.  On Wednesday Dec 20 we hit record at a table with Dan, Jeff and his two sons Auggie and Aidan.  We later transcribed a version for you to read.

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Daniel van Voorhis
All Hail the Christmas Wizards!

I had a number of reasons to not like Roland Rashaan Kirk.  He is most famous for his contributions to avant garde jazz with which I have a few fundamental problems.  But most of all, I had to skip his track on Verve’s Christmas album due to 1) it being a riff on We Three Kings and 2) his use of jazz flute.

 

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Daniel van Voorhis
Promise Rings and Purity Culture

“You’re married?” a twenty-something Irish woman asked Darrin, one of my undergraduate students. She was backpacking through Scotland. He had enrolled in a class I was teaching on religion in the British Isles, with a band of religion and psychology students.

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Daniel van Voorhis
Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Luke, trust your feelings

Sure, Obi-Wan could suggest this to Luke as he was attempting to destroy the Death Star by directing a missile into a vent like he used to bullseye womp rats from his T-16.  But for many of us, the idea of trusting our feelings is anathema.  After all, we know our feelings.  Our feelings are jerks.  Our feelings mess everything up.  Why would we trust them? Why does it seem so much of our culture is obsessed with feelings?

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Daniel van Voorhis
A Christmas Gift For You

Making a playlist is an art. I'm not saying I'm the best artist, but it's harder than I used to think. A playlist has to take you from a jolt to something familiar to something soothing, at least most of mine try to, unless they are super specific.

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Daniel van Voorhis
In Praise of Giving Thanks

Can I get some praise for the Cornhuskin’ Ben Sasse? How about for the bi-coastal and bi-racial Kamala Harris?

Uncomfortable? Yeah, I know.  These are two senators perhaps most loved by their base and reviled by their opponents.  But unless these current battles in Washington are worth ditching your citizenship you can probably see the value in both of them and then also appreciating other things you don’t particularly like.  After all, it is the holidays, lets hear it for some post-Thanksgiving Yule

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Daniel van Voorhis
Pornography, Methamphetamines, and Jesus: Addicted to Religion

We admitted that our lives had become unmanageable and came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  So we kicked the booze, pills or other addictions and turned our lives over to a higher power.  But we are addicts.  We are professionals when it comes to taking something that could be good and twisting it in a myriad of awkward ways to benefit ourselves.  So why wouldn’t we do the same to our higher power?

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Daniel van Voorhis
Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic (and the Occult)

Our post-recession, anxiety ridden age might have found a cure for what ails them.  And don’t worry, it’s not the nihilistic atheism the older generation fears.  Rather it’s the occult and witchcraft.  And this might very well give some in the older generation a heart attack.

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Daniel van Voorhis