Christian Piatt is an author, blogger at Patheos and founder/cohost of the Homebrewed CultureCast podcast, where he focuses on the intersection of faith and popular culture. His latest book, “Leaving A-holiness Behind,” is available now, and his next book, “Surviving the Bible: A Devotional for the Church Year 2018,” will be available November 1, 2017.
Posts By This Author
Resurrection: Bending Toward Love
Lots of folks love preaching about the risen Christ on Easter Sunday without talking about what he went through to get there. It’s a bad habit we Protestants have, but plenty of us skip right over Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to Easter.
You Might Be an Emergent Christian If …
I’m working on wrangling the final submissions for book three in the Banned Questions series, which will be Banned Questions About Christians. It’s funny because sometimes the seemingly easiest questions are the ones that respondents struggle with the most.
So in order to clear up any confusion, once and for all, I thought I’d compile a list of simple criteria to help you figure out if you are officially an emergent Christian or not.
Richard Dawkins: The Atheist Martin Luther
As further evidence that atheists are as diverse as their faithful counterpart, Alain De Botton has penned a controversial new book called Religion for Atheists. And not surprising, he’s gotten no small amount of push- back from the atheist community for his work.
He’s hardly the first to write a book examining the value of religion for an atheist perspective, but his is the most recent. Bruce Sheiman wrote a book in 2009 called An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity is Better Off with Religion Than Without It. I’m sure you can imagine the subject matter didn’t thrill all of his fellow nonbelievers. Botton’s book goes a step further, however. Rather than just looking at the merits of organized religion from arm’s-length, he proposes actual practices that atheists could employ in daily life that reflect religious practice, only without God as the focus.
Critiques of the “Blue Like Jazz” Movie and My Thoughts
I should recognize up front that I can hardly be considered a neutral party with respect to the Blue Like Jazz movie. First, I got to see a screening of a rough cut a few months ago, and then sit in on a podcast interview with Steve Taylor, the film’s director. I also got to meet Taylor, Don Miller and Marshall Allman at a screening in Colorado Springs, and I was invited with my wife, Amy, to write up the study guide that I posted earlier today.
When you get that close to a project, it’s hard to be objective. But people have been interested in my opinions both about the book and the film, so I thought I’d reflect on both a little bit.
Guns Don't Kill People. Hoodies Kill People.
Seldom does anyone accuses Geraldo Rivera of being a reporter. More often than not, he’s good for audacious soundbytes and a campy mug at the camera while sporting his trademark “look at me” mustache. He’s more circus performer than analyst, but in as much, he’s a sign (or symptom) of the state of “news” in today’s media.
Opinion journalism is one thing. I do it all the time. There’s a time and place for opinion. But there’s an important distinction between expressing genuine, informed opinions and lodging verbal salvos into the media fray sure to garner one some much-coveted attention in the next 24-hour news cycle.
Geraldo’s most recent stunt had to do with the case of Trayvon Martin. Most folks are familiar with the story in which neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman shot teenager Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, and that Zimmerman remains a free man because he claimed self-defense. I’ll forgo rehashing the details, as you can find them elsewhere, but there’s much discussion about what’s to blame for the boy’s death.
Four Reasons Why I Came Back To Church
I’ve written a couple of pieces recently that have gotten a lot of attention about why younger people tend to walk away from church.
If you haven’t seen them yet, here are the links:
Some readers suggested I might also post a piece about why young adults come back to church. Though I can’t say for sure why ALL young adults in church do so, I can share a few reasons why I, as a young adult, returned to church after an absence of ten years.
Church Sign Epic Fails, Continued
You’d think I’d eventually run out of material for this weekly series I’ve been doing. Fortunately for me, there is no apparent end to the phenomenon that is the bad church sign.
Walking a Mile with a Meth Head
Emmanuel shows up on our front porch about once a week. His name means “God with us,” but if there’s anyone on the planet who appears to have been forgotten by the Divine, It’s him. He stands at about 5’4″ and has maybe a handful of teeth left. when he speaks, I catch about half of what he says, but there’s a childish innocence in his eyes that betrays the years of hard living he has endured since then.
Sometimes he offers to do work; sometimes he asks for food. Usually he just wants money. I’ve written before about my struggles with this, as the controlling side of me wants to have a hand in how he spends “my” money. This particular day, he’s looking for fifteen dollars for rent.
“I told you you had to get clean before I’d give you any money man,” I shook my head. “I can give you some food.”
“I’m clean, sir, I’m clean,” he always calls me that, even though he’s nine years older than I am. He was speaking more clearly than usual and his eyes were unusually bright. “Come with me sir. If you’ll drive me to the Catholic Woman’s house, she’ll tell you I’m clean.”
Thesis vs Jesus: When it Comes to Faith, Which Matters More?
Galatians 3:22: Is it the faith of Jesus or faith in Jesus that’s the key?
Amy Reeder Worley: It is both the faith of and in Jesus that lead to salvation, which is another word for “liberation.”...
Pablo A. Jiménez: I have always preferred to speak about the faith of Jesus than about faith in Christ. Most people find this shocking and many have tried to correct my theological statements. However, I persist in speaking about the faith of Jesus....
Christian Piatt: I would tend to say it depends on whom you ask, but based on my personal experience, maybe it has more to do with when you ask someone such a question about their understanding of Jesus....
‘Blue Like Jazz’ Director: ‘The Christian Movie Establishment … is Out to Get Us’
It’s no surprise that some Christians and the organizations they represent are less than enthused about the forthcoming Blue Like Jazz movie. But Steve Taylor, the film’s director, claimed today on Donald Miller’s Blog that certain prominent Christian filmmakers “issued what amounts to a fatwa against Blue Like Jazz.”
One of the concerns involves a movie being released this month called October Baby, which is being distributed by Provident Films. Taylor says he received word that Provident had ordered exhibitors not to show trailers of the Blue Like Jazz movie at October Baby showings.
Taylor also shared this excerpt from an email forwarded to him, which reportedly came from the Vice President of Provident Films (text is verbatim from Taylor’s post):
i think exhibitors are going to try to play the Blue Like Jazz trailer with october baby
this can not happen – the trailer actually has the words “I hate Jesus” in the voiceover along with a number of images that will be very offensive to catholics
it is in the best interest of theaters to not run the trailer because they are going to have a lot of angry patrons if they do
thanks for your help here
Dear Ann Coulter: Stop Making Sense
I’m telling you, these ultra-conservative spokespeople are gonna ruin my reputation if they keep putting stuff out there I agree with.
First, Pat Robertson and I see eye-to-eye on the decriminalization of marijuana.
Then doomsday prophet Harold Camping concedes that his predictions for the end of the world not only were off the mark, but actually were hubristic and sinful.
Now spotlight-hungry conservative bully Ann Coulter and I agree on the state of the GOP.
You guys keep this up and it’s going to be really hard to blindly stereotype you.
Most of the stuff that comes out of Coulter’s mouth when behind a microphone is hateful, angry and divisive. But her recent insights about the prospects of a GOP brokered convention point out some serious flaws in the political-celebrity machine.
BONUS 'BLUE': The Lost 'Blue Like Jazz' Cyber Interview and More
Before he caught up with them in Colorado Springs this week, Christian Piatt interviewed Blue Like Jazz's director Steve Taylor and star, Marshall Allman, via Skype while they were in Austin, Texas for the premiere of the film at SXSW.
We give you, BONUS BLUE: THE LOST CYBER INTERVIEW:
And there's even more bonus 'Blue' goodness inside the blog...
'Blue Like Jazz': The Sojourners Interview
Editor's Note: Earlier this week, our intrepid blogger/reporter/resident-God-Nerd Christian Piatt sat down with the makers of the highly-anticipated film Blue Like Jazz — Donald Miller, director Steve Taylor and Marshall Allman, the actor who portrays protagonist "Don" in the screen adaptation of Miller's best-selling memoir — to talk about faith, film and ... fate.
Blue Like Jazz premiered at the SXSW Festival in Texas earlier this month and opens nationwide April 13. Piatt caught up with the filmmakers in a Colorado Springs theater where they were hosting a sneak-peek screening and persuaded the gents to unpack the story of the-little-film-that-could and the Spirit that buoyed them along the way.
The wide-ranging interview covers everything from John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and what Miller calls "dangerous theological ideas" to the astounding grace of God and peanut butter cups. Fascinating and funny, the conversation with the hearts and minds behind Blue Like Jazz is a humdinger.
Watch the interview in its entirety and read Piatt's reflections on the film and his conversation with its makers inside the blog ...
Stuffed Cows and the Self-Imposed Cost of Free Grace
Each of us is our own worst enemy at one time or another. My eight-year-old son, Mattias, takes himself to the mat more often, and more violently, than most.
My wife and I recently accepted a call to pastor a historic church in downtown Portland. When we told the kids, Mattias – my beloved resident Aspie – would go from unhinged excitement one moment, followed by tearful preemptive mourning the next. Kids like Mattias tend to have more dramatic mood swings than average, and pressure just amplifies the swings.
We took a trip to meet the congregation as an opportunity to show the kids around and sell them on the idea of their new home. The beach is a little more than an hour from Portland, so we took them out to the coast for lunch one afternoon. After searching for sand dollars for half an hour under an unforgiving canopy of clouds, we all agreed that a visit to the arcade on the main drag would be a welcome relief from the cool ocean wind.
More Epic Fail: A Tour of Ill-Conceived Church Signage
There are plenty of websites that generate fake church signs, but thankfully there are still more than enough real examples of church messages that can evoke emotions across the spectrum. I’ve collected a few of my favorites here and thought I’d share.
Slavery, Tokenism and the Atheist PR Debacle
Atheist activism is hardly news these days. Folks are feeling increasingly convicted about taking their disbelief public, and more specifically, pointing out the damage done by religion.
But it seems the most recent publicity campaign by a group called American Atheists has gone a little too far, even for those not in the religious sphere.
Human rights groups howled when the following billboard appeared in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:
Following a public uproar, the billboard promptly was replaced with one for the local symphony.
There are some more obvious concerns this kind of campaign raises, while others are more subtle. The point of the billboard is well taken, at least for me; the Bible has some messed up stories and rules in it. But cherry-picking isolated quotes like this from scripture is something that most in mainline Christianity consider a no-no. It’s called proof-texting, and it’s seen as tantamount to using the Bible as a weapon to further a personal agenda.
What is Church 2.0?
Here is a condensed version of a workshop I offer on the concept of “Church 2.0.” I talk in it about the popularity of things like the “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus” video and Mark Driscoll’s Acts 29 Network of churches.
But while we can learn something from what these kinds of voices are saying and doing, we can also do this while still offering the world a more liberating theology and a radically inclusive community.
Watch the video of Christian's workshop inside the blog...
Sh...tuff Emergents Say: 'Ya Goin' to Wild Goose This Year?'
Things I Hate (But Shouldn't)
I know, Christians, love everyone and everything, right? Mister Bluebird on my shoulder and all that jazz.
Well, that ain’t me. Not that I don’t try, but I also don’t try to fake it when I’m not feeling the love.
My wife, Amy, told me that one reason she married me was because she knew she could trust me. It seemed to her that I lacked the capacity to lie. And while this is reassuring on one level, the stark honesty can sometimes be a little jarring, I expect.
What I have found is that naming things out loud is the best way to help you get over them. Some of these might seem like relatively trivial things to you, but trust me – for a quasi-Aspie like me, they are often the bane of my existence.
So without further adieu, here’s a list of things that I can’t seem to shake, they annoy me so incredibly much. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...inside the blog.