Amar D. Peterman (M.Div., Princeton Seminary) is an Indian American author, speaker, and emerging public theologian. You can follow his work at amarpeterman.com.
Posts By This Author
Taylor Swift Needs Fog Machines. God Does Not
While my intentions were not malicious or abusive, I knew that by stringing a series of well-known songs together, saying the right words in a prayer, and hyping up the audience, I could evoke an emotional response out of the congregation. It was a science: A bridge here, a lighting cue there, add a dramatic pause before the chorus and I could feel the mood shift in the room. I believed that creating this environment was the task of the worship leader.
Raised in a white, evangelical megachurch, this style of Christian worship was all I knew. It wasn’t until I left for college that I learned about the scrutiny surrounding these technologically enhanced worship “experiences” and the global Christian monopolies behind them.
Adoption Is Sacramental
Adoption allows us to bring near to us those who hold in themselves the kingdom of God (Luke 18:16). By invoking the language of “sacramental” here, I am naming the ongoing dialectic between the ordinary and the theological. As a sacramental practice, earthly adoption does not hold the same consequences or eternal import as our salvific adoption in Christ. However, these two realities can speak into one another. This is what a life marked by the sacramental looks like: finding spaces where the ordinary, mundane things of life are instilled with a greater sacred significance of liberation and love; and, in return, point us to divine realities that we are invited to participate in.
How ‘The Office’ Pushed Me To Be a Better Christian — And Coworker
Like many during the COVID-19 pandemic, I returned to The Office because I craved something familiar. Rewatching the show led me to this realization: The Office is the first TV series to portray the good, the bad, and the awkwardness of religion in a way that I relate to as a Christian.
Lizzy McAlpine Rid Me of Seasonal Depression in ‘Five Seconds Flat’
The opening words of “doomsday” set the tone for the remainder of McAlpine’s sophomore album, Five Seconds Flat. It is an intense, gut-wrenching journey of love, loss, grief, and the complexities that come with each emotion. McAlpine leans into imagery of death, murder, reckless driving, and other macabre realities to describe this story. Through lyric and melody, she invites us in. I, like millions of others, am here for the ride.
What Happened When Joseph Brought Mary Home?
The following is an act of imagination. It is an attempt to fill in the gaps that are left for us in this story to bring the text to life. My hope is that this could be used as a resource for family Christmas Eve devotions or for congregations looking to creatively imagine the birth of Christ.
‘Ramy' Asks Many of the Same Questions I've Asked as a Christian
Ramy is a Hulu series wrestling with deep questions of faith from Muslim 20-something son of Egyptian immigrants. The show follows Ramy Hassan, played by comedian Ramy Youssef, as he navigates the tensions of dīn and dunyā — religion and the world. Transcending the clichés of blind religiosity, terrorist sympathies, and the social ignorance stereotypically associated with Arab and Muslim American life, Ramy shows us the messy work of finding our own way in the world between halal (permissible) and haram (not permissible).
How I Changed My Mind About Black Lives Matter
As soon as the pastor began to speak, I rose and turned up the aisle, only looking back once in a small act of self-righteous defiance. I hoped the speaker would catch my gaze and feel convicted over the heresy he preached. Pictures of Black Lives Matter protests scrolled across the screen, confirming in my mind that leaving was the right decision.
Four Things to Know About Going to Seminary
We are students of theology. One of us (Amar) has just recently graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary. The other one of us (Yanan) is currently in his first year at Princeton Theological Seminary. Bringing our perspectives together, we hope to offer advice for seminarians from two sides — beginning and end — of the degree program.
No, the Supreme Court Is Not God's Court
Today, Christians are continuing to pursue their political interests while imagining that God is fighting on their side. In the wake of the Court overturning Roe v. Wade, many conservative Christian leaders celebrated the decision as bringing about God’s kingdom on earth. On the other side of the pew, progressive Christians lamented the decision because of the devastating implications it holds for human rights both now and in the future. This leads me back to the question I asked myself in the wake of the Supreme Court rejecting Trump’s bid to eliminate DACA: Is God in control of the Court?
What My LGBTQ Siblings Taught Me About Christian Theology
Many queer folk bear the scars of wrestling with God in our world today. Rather than running from God, they’ve asked questions, encountering YHWH like Jacob who does not come out of the encounter unscathed. But as Reichel wonderfully articulates, we are not alone in our woundedness. Jesus Christ incarnate also enters God’s creation and is marked by the scars of this wrestling in the divine act of redemption. God is with us, wrestling with us, asking questions of us, and drawing us out of darkness and into a healing light.
Six Bible Verses for Whatever Comes After Graduation
In this cultural moment, I am convinced that the theological education we are entrusted with demands that we advocate for justice in our world. Because the forces of injustice are so great and manipulative, we need brilliant lawyers advocating for immigrants and incarcerated folks, theologians writing books on the biblical mandate to seek justice, doctors who can tend to those on the frontlines of protests, and politicians and activists who can support the abolition of debt.
Good Friday Does Not Glorify Suffering
Many of the white evangelical churches I have visited and grew up in framed Good Friday as a celebration. I have attended services that centered around dramatic skits or clips of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ in order to evoke an emotional response. Another service treated Good Friday like a visitation where congregants were encouraged to reflect on their “friend Jesus” and share words of gratitude.
My Disabled Body Proclaims the Gospel
Time after time, these Christians would lay hands on me while I waited in line at Starbucks or the food court at the local mall. They’d try and cast out evil demons, pray that my faith would be strengthened, or command in Jesus’ name that I get up and walk (even though I could already walk). Each time, they would stand back as if they’d just recited the magic words. Each time, with progressively less optimism and greater anger, I’d step forward only to find out I wasn’t healed. Some would accuse me of not having enough faith, but most just apologized and went on with their day. I was left alone. Still limping, still furious.
Marginalized People Need More Than a Seat at the Table
I believe the material histories and needs of marginalized people demand structural change and not merely a “seat at the table.” As ethnic studies professor Jodi Kim summarizes, “one does not have to be cynical to observe that this liberal or corporate multiculturalism, with its politics of symbolic, imagistic, or cultural representation has replaced, rather than complemented, substantive political representation or redistribution of wealth and power.” The language of representation can present progress but in reality, it is the path toward homogenization.
What Mary Didn't Know
In a cultural moment where religious deconstruction is being widely discussed, Mary offers us hope. I can only imagine over those nine months the questions, doubt, and frustration Mary felt toward the God who called her to be the mother of the savior of the world. And yet, we can have hope in this: that Mary was favored by God regardless of her doubt.
How the Metaverse Will Pull Us Further Apart
Although it is hard to imagine a world without Facebook, we must look critically at the implications of its widespread use and the powerful companies that control these platforms — and us. Whether by making election interference easier, selling people’s data, fostering social division by populating feeds with malice, greed, and dissension, social media provides an opportune venue for users to live into our depraved human condition. The consequences of this, however, are not contained in the digital world.
The Great American Potluck
As Christians, I believe we must reject the project of the melting pot. In the Bible, the church is not portrayed as an ambiguous, homogeneous entity. Instead, difference and diversity are understood as a strength — as God’s gift to the church (Acts 2).
God of Our Mold and Decay
When we do not take care of the earth and allow powerful individuals or companies to plunder the land God has called good (Genesis 1), the people who are disproportionately impacted are the marginalized. This discrepancy between those who benefit and those who suffer highlights the way our society is structured to benefit oppressors at the expense of people who are poor, hungry, and disenfranchised.
There’s No Such Thing as a Colorblind Christianity
In our pursuit of justice, we must learn from projects like CRT which can illuminate the realities of multiracial communities in which the church ministers. To deny these realities or reject tools that help us perceive correctly, is to dishonor the call to neighbor-love and hospitality we have received.
Navigating a White Evangelical World In This Brown, Indian Body
This work of crafting a new narrative for Asian America takes various forms across many locations. It is not linear or systematic, but rather involves the relational work of changing a collective imagination of Asian Americans through both education and experience. Like any story, asserting a new narrative for Asian America requires engaging mind, body, and soul.