“Church after the rain,” Frankfurt, Germany

On Narratives and Central Propositions

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Someone asked me this question recently: “Do authors (of classic literature, broadly, and the Bible, specifically) have an agenda/thesis/big idea/etc. in mind before/when they write? Or do they start writing and let an agenda emerge?”
And I said I think it depends on the genre.
If someone picked up a modern hymn book and tried to find a thesis, they’d be hard pressed to do so. Yet they would find a certain organization. I think the same is true with the Psalms. The psalms are a collection. Same with Proverbs. People look for outlines and central ideas on those books and…nada. That may even be the case with Song of Songs. For sure I think those who see a beginning-middle-end structure to Song of Solomon are pressing a later Greek storytelling structure on a 10th-century-BC book that was more likely chiastic if there is actually even a story to it.…
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Vixens makes INDIE Finalist List!

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Vindicating the Vixens has made the finalist list in the Foreword INDIE awards’ non-fiction religion category. Thousands of books are entered each year, and Foreword’s panel of more than 120 librarians and booksellers “take part in the judging, narrowing it down to a group of finalists and winners that represent the best books, all independently published, in over 60 categories.” Vixens is in heady company with other finalists coming from Stanford University Press, Notre Dame Press, SUNY, and other reputable independent publishing houses. Winners will be announced in June.…

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Biblical Womanhood: What Is a Woman?

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What a woman is.

She is an image-bearer. It was the first day of a class I was teaching on the role of women in the home, church, and society. Driving in to the seminary where I teach, I thought through the material I planned to cover, and honestly I feared that some of what I’d prepared to say was too elementary for graduate-level students. Many of them were raised in church and have heard messages all their lives. Did they really need to hear again that Genesis 1:26–27 teaches that both male and female were made in the image of God? Nevertheless, I determined I’d better make sure.

So I repeated what I assumed they all knew. And sure enough, a woman present was thrilled when she heard my words! She was made in the image of God? And not only that—she did not have to marry to fully

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Happy International Women’s Day!

By | Gender & Faith, Women | 2 Comments

Forty-three years ago, the United Nations (UN) named 1975 as the International Women’s Year. Two years later, the UN General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the annual day for women’s rights and world peace. My friends in Belarus send me Women’s Day greetings annually, and when I visited Peru, I saw costumes, posters, and a parade to mark the event.

  • While some in the US observe International Women’s Day, it is much more popular in the southern and eastern hemispheres. In many places, men give their moms, wives, girlfriends, daughters, and female friends flowers and small gifts.
  • In about 30 countries, including China, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam, and Zambia, International Women’s Day is an official holiday.
  • In Bulgaria and Romania, it is observed as an equivalent of Mother’s Day; children honor their mothers and grandmothers with presents. In places such as Bosnia, Brazil, and Russia, women receive
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Abuse: Rise Up, Church!

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Today I have a guest writer whose story you need to hear: 

<<I’m not even sure if the Hebrew is correct.

But it doesn’t matter.

It means something to me.

This is where girls would have scars from cutting themselves in attempts to escape the pain of abuse. But by the grace of God, and by His grace alone, my wrist doesn’t have cuts. It says “Daughter of the King.”

There have been a few accounts and testimonies of abuse circling around social media lately, including the Larry Nassar case and sexual assault on campus in my hometown. And I want to help raise awareness for the sake of many victims and survivors of abuse who are being driven out of our churches.

My mom worked in the sex industry. I have seen, heard, and experienced just about every type of abuse. That kind of life was my norm. …

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Seminary Online: Isn’t That an Oxymoron?

By | Life In The Body, Writing | No Comments

I confess, I’m a slow convert to distance education. But I’m coming around.

My reservations have stemmed from my commitment to embodiment. Genesis starts with God’s dignifiying of physicality in the first chapter, and that theme runs clear through the Incarnation to the bodily resurrection. Isn’t our faith unique in its appreciation for physical presence?

And if that’s the case, how can any kind of decent education happen without embodiment? How can people possibly learn about our God without engaging five senses in the content? Doesn’t the Eucharist include taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound? As does baptism. How can somebody grow in Christ without the senses?

Yet, as I said, I’m coming around….

Of course, I still believe face-to-face is best. After all, the elder John wrote, “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, …

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How the Tamar Narrative Functions in the Judah and Joseph Narratives

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I’m happy to have Carolyn Custis James as my guest today. In Vindicating the Vixens, she contributed the chapter on Tamar. In November she served on a panel of contributors who talked about narrative analysis at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Providence, Rhode Island. Here are some quotes from her remarks: 

[In the Genesis narrative] just as the Joseph story reaches a fever pitch and readers are on the edge of their seats, instead of following Joseph into Egypt, the narrator follows Judah away from his family into Canaanite territory and into a salacious R-rated story involving prostitution with his daughter-in-law Tamar. From a literary perspective, the narrator’s choice seems counterproductive. From a pastoral perspective, this sordid story is problematic, unsuitable for a G audience, and devoid of any spiritual value. Pastors often skip it….

Far from being a literary gaffe, the narrator’s decision to …

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Class in Multicultural Worship Arts

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DTS Offers a  New Winter Course on Ethnodoxology Jan 8–12

Check out this highly interactive and practical course, in which students will do the following:

  • develop a biblical and missiological framework for arts in cross-cultural ministry
  • gain practical tools for multicultural congregational contexts
  • learn songs and experiencing the arts of a variety of world worship traditions
  • integrate ethnodoxology principles into a community in which the student serves.

This one-week intensive course is offered in partnership with Dallas Theological Seminary and the Global Institute of Applied Linguistics’ (GIAL) Center for Excellence in World Arts on the GIAL campus Jan 8–12, with online work through the end of January. See these comments from past participants:

  • “I cannot imagine that any institution committed to evangelism and mission would not make an ethnodoxology emphasis an essential part of campus culture and academic life” (Dr. Mark Boughan, President, Emmanuel Bible College).
  • “This course is rich
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Lots of Updates and Links

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November was a bit of a whirlwind. I signed a contract with AMG for another book in the Coffee Cup Bible study series—Earl Grey with Ephesians. I taped an episode on the Empathy for the Devil podcast comparing the queens Jezebel and Bathsheba and the sexualization of powerful women. Check it out.

The Kregel Academic Book for which I served as general editor, Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible, was finally released Yay! Took a long time to ship, but it has finally arrive in the hands of all those who preordered.

An interview with me about the book appeared on the Christian Authors Network blog; on the Beyond Ordinary Woman site; on the Seana Scott blog; and in Fathom Magazine, where you can also read an excerpt—Eva Bleeker’s chapter on Rahab. I spoke on …

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Fathom Magazine interview w/ me about Vixens

By | Arts, Blog Interviews With Writers, Books, Gender & Faith, Life In The Body, Women, Writing | No Comments

This interview with me ran in the latest issue of Fathom Magazine.  Today we’re happy to have as our guest Dr. Sandra Glahn. Sandi earned her ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and her PhD at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in Humanities–Aesthetic Studies. A professor in the Media Arts and Worship department at DTS, she teaches courses in writing, medieval art/spirituality, gender, and sexual ethics. She is the author of more than twenty books, including the Coffee Cup Bible Study series. But today we want to talk with her about her latest book Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting the Sexualized, Vilified, Marginalized Women of the Bible (Kregel Academic), which just came out.

Tell us about Vindicating the Vixens.

Vindicating the Vixens has been on my heart and mind for more than a decade. As I studied history and cultural backgrounds at the doctoral level, I ended …

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Interview with a Charlotte Pastor/Author

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I’m happy to have as my guest today pastor/author Winn Collier, whose writing I love. His latest project is an epistolary novel—that is, a story told through the medium of letters written by one or more of the characters. It’s titled Love Big, Be Well: Letters to a Small-Town Church.

SG: Did you have in mind any specific congregations as you wrote?

Winn: I carried all the people and churches I’ve been part of my entire life. And of course, All Souls Charlottesville, the people I serve now, is so interwoven with my life that they are always with me.

SG: Charlottesville has been at the epicenter of America’s culture wars in recent months. How has your church continued to be a voice of hope in the midst of such toxic events?

Winn: The Klan rally in July, then the Alt-right rally in August, were horrific. I’ve never …

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Buy a Shirt/Help a Family Adopt

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If you know the Glahn family, you know our “son” Carlos and his wife Karla. They are in the process of adopting a little boy from China. And they are raising funds by selling adoption t-shirts. The styles include a long sleeved and a baseball raglan in addition to a typical t-shirt.

Our grandson-in-love is 9 months old, and they have named him Asher (Gen. 30:13). They expect to travel in five to six months, though Carlos is praying for a miracle of January travel.

Their adoption agency has asked them to get the remainder of their funds in order. Because or their friends’ generosity and spreading the word, they have sufficient funds to cover their final agency fees. But what they lack are  in-country adoption costs and travel expenses.

The agency has stated that a good estimate of in-country + travel costs is $15,500. (This estimate includes official …

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“No Greater Love” film headed your way?

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I attended the Boston Film Festival in September 2015, where No Greater Love won Best Documentary. A beloved former student, Chaplain Roberts, its creator, is standing on the end next to me.

NO GREATER LOVE—the first theatrical documentary filmed and directed by an active-duty soldier—brings to vivid life the battles of the “No Slack” Battalion of the famed 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan. And the battles he shows us didn’t just happen in the field. They continue after soldiers return home.

One of the coolest parts about this for me is that its writer and that active-duty soldier/producer was one of my writing students.

Friday, Nov. 10, for Veterans Day weekend, his multiple-award-winning NO GREATER LOVE premieres in select cities nationwide. NO GREATER LOVE, after one round of cuts, is still a contender for Documentary Feature in the 2017 Academy Award®.

You can bring this excellent film to a …

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#MeToo: Just Another Trend?

By | Gender & Faith, Justice, Life In The Body, Women | No Comments

My post for October 24 on the Engage blog at bible.org:

A lot of people think it all started on October 5, 2017, when the New York Times first broke the story accusing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment. Actually, as far as I know, the real first “Me Too” movement started a decade ago by the African-American activist Tarana Burke. And ten years from now, we’ll probably still need one.

But about the recent one… Ten days after the NYT story hit, actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

Soon, the #MeToo hashtag took over social media. Twitter alone had more than 500,00 uses. But Facebook had 12 million. Twelve. Million.

I almost didn’t put the following post on Facebook. But I mustered the courage to hit “return”:  “So many have been groped,

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My thoughts on history, Las Vegas, and Texas evangelical women

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An organization for women called IF:Gathering, the brainchild of Jennie Allen, offers lots of resources, primarily for a Millennial audience. I’ve been filming some short commentary for their series on Church History with my colleague Glenn Kreider. And here’s one that ran this week:

AD2 W3D1 – The Crusades Commence from IF : Equip on Vimeo.

Also,  an article on how to minister in the wake of violence in Las Vegas and the string of natural disasters, ran on the Pastor Resources site as well as on KCBI radio’s blog.

Then I got quoted in what I thought was going to be an article about Texas evangelical women, but it ended up really focused on Jenn Hatmaker for Texas Monthly magazine.

And KCBI-Dallas radio station interviewed me for an on-air audio segment about suffering in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy. It aired October 3 and was edited …

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Help Yourself to Mental Health

By | Life In The Body | 2 Comments

Carrying a lot of stress? There are lots of ways you can help yourself cope.

Tell yourself the truth. Treat yourself with the same grace you would extend to others. If you make an error, instead of berating yourself, replace, “I’m an idiot,” with “Oops. I took a wrong turn.”

Confess. Quit living with guilt. Acknowledge sin to God and apologize to people you’ve wronged. Make appropriate reparations.

Care for your body. Take walks, jog, hit the gym. Physical health and aerobic exercise have a direct effect on mental health.

Snack on veggies. Good nutrition affects physical health and outlook, too. So replace chips and sour cream dip with crackers and hummus.

Sleep. Get to bed on time and transition off technology well before you need to be falling asleep.

Get regular check-ups. See a doctor for hormone and mood checks and to monitor health conditions.

Live in community. …

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“All Saints” Film Spotlights Church of 12 That Aided 65 Refugees

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By Michael Foust
When sixty-five refugees from Southeast Asia started attending Michael Spurlock’s tiny church in Smyrna, Tenn., about a decade ago, he welcomed them, even though the struggling congregation was on the verge of closing its doors.

Still, a question lingered in his mind: If the church of only twelve members couldn’t pay its own bills, how could it meet the needs of others? The answer, he says, came from heaven.

Spurlock was walking through a large field owned by the church one day when he sensed God telling him, “I’ve given you land, and I have sent you farmers from the other side of the world. Get to work.”

The solution seemed simple enough. The Karen refugees who fled Myanmar (Burma) had extensive experience in agriculture, and Spurlock’s congregation—All Saints Episcopal Church—had plenty of property. It even was adjacent to a creek. Church members and the Karen people …

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The True Beauty of Women

By | Beauty, Life In The Body, Women | One Comment

Whatever is true…think on these things.

The Thai branch of a Japanese lingerie company, Wacoal, doesn’t feature scantily clad models in their ads. Instead, they tell true stories with life-affirming messages that everyone can watch and appreciate. The ads emphasize women’s true beauty. And the men in the stories are the kind of guys who appreciate goodness, and are not necessarily sexually involved with the women whom they admire and whose stories they tell. Check out the “My Beautiful Woman” ad campaign.

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The Protestant Reformation at 500

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In January, I had the privilege of going on a press junket to Germany to retrace the steps of Martin Luther. This fall marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, so I visited the Luther sites. My travel/reflection article about it ran today over at Fathom.

But they don’t have this picture of me standing next to Phillip Melanchthon. To get cool inside stuff like that you have to visit my blog here. Thanks for reading!…

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On Feminism and Evangelicalism

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As part of my PhD research, I read Betty Friedan, heard Gloria Steinem in person, and spent a bunch of semesters exploring the history and teachings of feminism. And after I did so, I reached the conclusion that evangelicals in general need to pull back and regroup both in our representations of feminists and in our approach to reaching them.

Just as there is not one “Christianity” but many Christianities (e.g., Orthodox, Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Armenian, Calvinist), there are many feminisms (liberal, radical, Marxist, socialist, lesbian, biblical, difference feminists [we are women—viva le difference! from men] and sameness feminists [we’re the same except for biology]), and more.

Liberal feminists came out of the Equal Rights Movement. Betty Friedan was one of them. They are interested in equality, not to be confused with sameness. That is, they want the law to quit “seeing gender,” i.e., being biased against …

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Update on My Nephew

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In early May, Jonathan, my nephew and a busy college student, began feeling tired and congested. He pushed through to make it to classes, work, and AWANA, where he taught children about God’s love. Then a dark spot appeared on one of his front teeth. Exhausted, he slept several days away, and then another dark spot appeared on one of his upper front teeth—but this time, it was accompanied by intense throbbing.

His dentist, who X-rayed his teeth and found everything to be normal, told him to see a doctor immediately. He suspected something immunological, And sure enough, blood tests showed acute leukemia. The physician called Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) and talked to the doctors there, then directed Jonathan and my sister, his mom, to go to the ER immediately. The OHSU team would be waiting.

Jonathan quickly developed pneumonia and was moved to ICU. And we …

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Drowning? Chris Can Help…

By | Life In The Body, Uncategorized | One Comment

Today I’m happy to have as my guest Chris Maxwell, who has recently authored a new book about some deep trials he and his family have experienced and survived with some wisdom to share. 

Question: Tell us about your newest book, Underwater: When Encephalitis, Brain Injury, and Epilepsy Change Everything.

Chris: Underwater takes readers through my battle with encephalitis—a time I almost died, but lived and became a much different person. I now live with severe brain damage and epilepsy. Many things that were easy for me before I cannot do, or I find them difficult.

My wife, Debbie, and all three of our sons contributed to the book. We included stories about how our lives changed as well as stories from others who live with epilepsy.  We also included advice from a counselor for caregivers—those family members and friends who are often forgotten in underwater stories.

Question: Underwater

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Responding to Religious Freedom Executive Order

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The NEA sent this press release yesterday – The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) commends President Trump for announcing today a policy of protecting and vigorously promoting religious freedom. Religious freedom is a gift from God to people of all faiths and none, and is an indispensable foundation for human flourishing. We are grateful for the extent to which our constitution and laws protect the freedom of all Americans.

We welcome the promise, repeated today, that religious organizations will not be required to provide drugs that may act as abortifacients and services that violate their commitment to protect all human life. Now we call on the administration to promptly issue revised regulations and resolve lingering legal disputes over this issue.

Most evangelical leaders do not think pastors should endorse political candidates from the pulpit, according to the February Evangelical Leaders Survey. As Leith Anderson, NAE president, said, “Evangelicals emphasize evangelism, …

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My Thoughts on Gender

By | Blog Interviews With Writers, Gender & Faith, Justice, Women | No Comments

We Talk Different is a podcast on culture, race, ethnicity, gender, politics, and theology. Recently my friend Jurrita and I were featured on the podcast talking about gender and faith and race. You can get the scoop at iTunes.

5
The “Chrisitanity and Gender” Edition – 3.14.17 – Part II The WTD team wraps up their conversation with Jur… 3/13/2017 Free View in iTunes
7
The “Christianity and Gender” Edition – 3.7.16 – Part I This week the WTD Team brings in the real intelle… 3/6/2017 Free View in iTunes
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I post on the Engage blog for women in leadership at Bible.org every other Tuesday.

On the Nightstand/In My Kindle
Silence, by Shusaku Endo; Silence and Beauty, by Makoto Fujimura; The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature, by C. S. Lewis; The Image of God in an Image Driven Age, ed. by Beth Felker Jones and Jeffrey W. Barbeau; Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God, by Lauren Winner.

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