Ten Antidotes to Christian Cliches

Religious words, Genotar/

Religious words, Genotar/

This is the final in a four-part series on the overused (and often insensitively employed) phrases that plague the Christian lexicon. Though I felt like I was offering some insight into what to do instead of offering these cliches, some asked for more specificity or clarity. So in that spirit, I thought I’d offer a final list of things to do rather than pop off with these phrases that may mean little or nothing to the recipient, or worse, may cause unintended – but lasting – harm.

Read article one in the series here: Ten Cliches Christians Should Never Use

Read article two in the series here: Ten More Cliches Christians Should Avoid

Read article three in the series here: Nine (Final) Christian Cliches to Avoid

Now, Ten Antidotes to Christian Cliches.

Rooting for Tiger Woods Now More Than Ever

Tiger Woods photo: Tony Bowler /

Tiger Woods photo: Tony Bowler /

It amazes me how many Christians are willing to criticize those who have fallen. It seems that the Christian army are far too willing to shoot the wounded.

But shouldn’t we be the first ones to come alongside those who have fallen to show mercy, love, grace and compassion? Of all people in this world, shouldn’t Christians always root for restoration?

Central to the Christian faith is the claim that all men and women are sinful and broken, but through God’s mercy they are on the mend and experiencing new life. Those who follow Jesus claim God’s saving grace and forgiveness. Why is it then, so many seem unable or unwilling to give it?

The Pain of Forgiveness

Photo by Gagilas via Wylio

Photo by Gagilas via Wylio

Forgiveness is a form of suffering. Yes, you read that right.

Most of us talk about forgiveness and always speaks of how wonderful it is. But there is a reason so many can’t seem to forgive — it requires a willingness to suffer.

When people commit an offense against us, our natural inclination is to commit an offense against them. Not just any offense, but an offense that is bigger, badder, and one that hurts far more.

We call this revenge.

We tell ourselves that justice has been served, and believe this because deep inside of us, it feels really good to get even. Except, we didn’t get even — we got ahead. So vengeance will come back around to us. We will receive pay back, and then we will pay it back again. On it goes with vengeance — it never ends.

Ash Wednesday: Restoring the Right to Vote

"Penance." Image via Wylio,

"Penance." Image via Wylio,

On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and many others will walk around with ashen crosses (or, by the end of the day, what look like indeterminate smudges) on our foreheads. Those ashes are strong symbols of core principles of the Catholic faith — symbols of repentance, identity, reconciliation, and renewal of baptism in the faith.  

As a voting rights lawyer who is about as passionate about my work as I am about my faith, I can’t help but see parallels between the moral guidance I am given by my faith, and the policy choices that confront us in the secular world. These principles are reflected in the way we worship – and also in the actions we take in the secular world. This has led me and others to the conclusion that the 4 million Americans who lost their voting rights while incarcerated, and now live in our communities, deserve the chance to vote again upon release. It is both the just and the moral thing to do.

As we approach Ash Wednesday during this Holy Season, I encourage all Christians, guided by their core beliefs, to consider this idea.

Tony Campolo: Newt's Surprising Evangelical Fan Base

Red letter Bible via Wylio

Red letter Bible via Wylio

The need for Red Letter Christians to no longer be labeled "evangelicals" became abundantly clear this past Saturday following the South Carolina Republican Primary. Most Evangelicals claim to be politically non-partisan, and say they only identify with the Republican Party because the Republicans are committed to "family values."

The truthfulness of that claim became questionable this past Saturday when South Carolina Evangelicals voted in surprisingly large numbers for Newt Gingrich, in spite of the fact that he's hardly a model husband in their eyes. Not only is he on his third wife, having had divorce papers served to one of them while she was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a mastectomy for breast cancer, but, if his second wife is to believed, wanted an "open marriage" so that he could have a sexual affair on the side.

Now Mr. Gingrich has been converted to Catholicism, and has, as part of his conversion, confessed his sin and asked for God's forgiveness. Evangelicals will say that this being the case we should forgive, forget and move on "to other concerns." I have to ask, however, why they didn't do this when a Democratic president repented of his sin?

Standing at the Gates: A Confession

Sign for the confessional at Lourdes. Via Wiki Commons

Sign for the confessional at Lourdes. Via Wiki Commons

Everybody needs forgiveness.

But it’s hard to face that. It feels threatening, like an accusation. So we tend to get defensive and start justifying ourselves, rather than seeing the one we’ve hurt. 

If we’re honest, though, we all know that we’ve done things that have hurt others. Probably lots of things.

One thing that still haunts me from my past happened when I was just eight years old. There was an autistic boy at the after school program I was in, and one day I got so frustrated with him that I beat him up.

Oregon Announces Moratorium on the Death Penalty

Yesterday Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced a moratorium on all executions in the state, declaring capital punishment to be a “perversion of justice.”

Oregon has carried out two executions in the last 47 years, both during Kitzhaber's tenure as governor.

With convicted murderer Gary Haugen facing the death penalty on Dec. 6 — coupled with the governor's growing frustration with the death penalty — Kitzhaber had had enough and halted Haugen's execution as well as any in the foreseeable future.

"I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor," Kitzhaber said in The Oregonian.

Sparing Haugen’s life is not only a powerful victory for his family and loved ones, but also for anti-death penalty activists such as Naseem Rakha, who has devoted much of her career to writing about capital punishment as a journalist and novelist.