Brian McLaren

Brian D. McLaren is a best-selling author, speaker, activist and networker among innovative faith leaders. A former pastor, he has written 15 books, including The Great Spiritual Migration. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow, living in Florida.

Posts By This Author

What Kind of Exceptionalism Is Worth Desiring in America?

by Brian McLaren 01-01-2012

What does it mean to be exceptional?

Most people have to worry about making enemies. You know, they’re constantly freaked out that they might offend somebody or hurt somebody’s precious feelings. But I don’t worry about that. I’m exceptional. Other people in my family worry about everyone getting their fair share at the dinner table. They might really like mashed potatoes or lasagna, but they only take a normal small portion so that their sister or grandmother or cousin can have some too. But I don’t worry about those sorts of things. After all, I’m exceptional. I take as much as I want.

When you’re an exceptional nation, you want other nations to worry about your opinion of them. You don’t really care what their opinion is of you. When you’re a run-of-the-mill country, you’ll be nervous about going against the United Nations or the Geneva Conventions or the International Criminal Court and such, but when you’re an exceptional country, that sort of concern is beneath your dignity. You set expectations; you don’t fulfill them. Of course, with exceptional status comes exceptional responsibility, so we have the sole responsibility to drop nuclear bombs on nations that cause problems for the world—unexceptional nations, that is, which means everybody else but us. It’s a tough job, being exceptional, but somebody has to do it.

Between now and the elections in November, my guess is we’re going to hear the term “American exceptionalism” echoing from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam; echoing ad nauseum. It’s become a powerful political meme in recent years, popular but poorly defined. The history of the term aids and abets in its vagueness.

Thomas Jefferson repeatedly spoke of the United States as a unique—or exceptional—historical phenomenon. As a democratic republic, it differed from Europe, and all the nations of the past. Since then, of course, scores of nations have followed our example in forming democratic republics, so what was exceptional in Jefferson’s time has now, we might say, become the norm.

Does that make us “the nation formerly known as exceptional,” but now typical?

We're Connected by What We Eat

by Brian McLaren 08-23-2011

110823-prayinTo the farmers who grow our food, the harvesters who pick it, the transporters who bring it to market, the grocers who present it, and the cooks who prepare it.

Here's the prayer we prayed at a nearby Publix grocery in the produce section on Friday:

A Prayer for Publix

Living God, you are the Creator of this beautiful and fertile world. You made sun, rain, soil, air, seed, and seasons. We praise you for the green of lettuce, the yellow of lemon, the orange of a tangerine, and especially for the bright red of a tomato. They are beautiful to our eyes, delicious to our taste buds, and nourishing to our bodies. We pray to the Lord, Lord, hear our prayer.

Could a Decline in Numbers Bring New Hope to Southern Baptists?

by Brian McLaren 06-29-2011
Although I've never been a Southern Baptist, I have a special place in my heart for them.

More Great Summer Reading Ideas

by Brian McLaren 06-15-2011

In addition to my summer reading recommendations from the other day, I need to mention a few more.

My Summer Reading Recommendations

by Brian McLaren 06-09-2011
Here are a few books I've been reading and would like to recommend to you for the coming summer:

My Thoughts on Sojourners, Coalition Building, and LGBTQ Rights

by Brian McLaren 05-13-2011
On my personal blog, I traced my journey on the issue of homosexuality and explored the cha

Geronimo: A Revealing Code Name

by Brian McLaren 05-06-2011
A few days ago on my personal blog, I asked this question in response to the celebrations

Violence in the Name of Faith?

by Brian McLaren 04-27-2011
I received a question from a reader recently that asked: You write a lot about the plight of the Palestinians.

America's Greatest Deficit is Spiritual, Not Merely Financial

by Brian McLaren 03-10-2011

With all the angst about the economy, the deficit, and a looming government shut-down, I'm still concerned that we're treating symptoms rather than diagnosing the underlying disease.

I know something about this. I spent a week in the hospital last year having loads of tests done -- blood work, heart scans, stress tests, and sonograms. I was discharged without a diagnosis, merely with hopes that by treating the symptoms, whatever was wrong would go away. It didn't. It turned out my real problem was a tick-born disease, and once it was diagnosed, a ten-dollar prescription of antibiotics cured me. Without that ten-dollar prescription to treat the real problem, I could have experienced life-long disability.

Budgets Are Still Moral Documents

by Brian McLaren 02-28-2011
The "What Would Jesus Cut?" campaign, launched by Jim Wallis and the good people of Sojourners, assumes that

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