Jared Witt - July 16, 2018
“The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.” – Mark 6:26
Have a look at Mark 6:14-29, the Beheading of John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod Antipas. Now answer this question: what is Herod’s major character flaw.
When I was a little kid, I was taught that Herod (I didn’t know that there were several of them) was just a moral black hole, raw evil, more a prop for Satan than a person. In many ways, that made his character very dismissible. We don’t really have to wrestle with what went wrong in the case of old Herod, if we assume on the outset that he he is just flatly evil without exception.
Jared Witt - July 5, 2018
I couldn’t be bothered with generosity of spirit the other day. I was busy rehearsing a sermon.
That’s how it goes sometimes. You have to talk about the love and grace of the Origin and Redeemer of the cosmos in a couple hours. So when my friend sends me a nice thought via text—“I just saw a bumper sticker that said ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.’”—what was I going to do? Reflect on it with new eyes? Allow myself to be moved that my friend would think to share a little spiritual gem with me that morning? Enjoy the profound realization that we are not alone in this spiritual journey? That there are travel partners on the road with us?
Not this bona fide saint and sinner, specializing in sinner. No no no. The snotty, know-it-all words that spilled onto my iPhone keyboard were “St. Francis was an aphorism machine.”
Evelyn MacDougall - June 28, 2018
I snored so loudly that I woke myself up.
Drool was actively falling onto my neck-pillow while on a bus passing through where the Alps jut across the meeting of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria’s borders. Cliffs and icy mountain tops softened to bright blue rivers and lush meadows – all thriving in the shadow of the summer solstice. I wondered to which languages the cows and goats would respond.
In the presence of such immense natural beauty, my drool wasn’t exactly what I wanted my seatmates or I to experience. However, I wouldn’t trade that puddle for the encounter I’d had the night before which I already exchanged for sleep. And I refuse to apologize for missing a couple hours of views on my seven hour bus ride.
Jared Witt - June 21, 2018
Do we get our beliefs from our Bible or our Bible from our beliefs?
This is a pretty urgent question in this twilight zone time in which we’re living, when so many of my pastoral colleagues are being reprimanded by their congregants for “getting too political”—typically by the same congregants who want to see the ten commandments and Christian prayer mandated in public schools and who see no problem with our Attorney General saying in an official statement on an urgent public crisis:
Jared Witt l June 15, 2018
There’s no science in the Bible.
There’s no science in the Bible.
Should I say that again?
There’s no science in the Bible.
Science is a disciplined method of testing observations and hypotheses about the natural world, which was more or less invented over the last few centuries.
There is history in the Bible.
Jared Witt l June 7, 2018
You’ll forgive the beggar if he’s turned a bit cynical about people. A lifetime of paralysis will do that to a person (Acts 3:1-10).
Or maybe cynical isn’t even the right word. He’s been at this so long, it would be more accurate to say that he’s a realist. He doesn’t hold the resentment of a true cynic, not at this stage. He’s grown very realistic about the economy of guilt. He knows his place, and it is what it is. He knows that few motivators are as reliable as guilt. And by the same token, few are as limited. Guilt is almost always worth a shekel or two, never much more than that. You can’t get from guilt to respect or to honor. There is no progression from guilt to love, certainly not to friendship.
Jared Witt l May 31, 2018
The best Bible reading advice I have: always pay attention to sidebars and surprises.
Serious Bible study is Bible study that can surprise and even upset you. It’s a waste of time to read a book which only confirms what you already think. And the thing you thought was of central importance is often just that: the thing which you thought was of central importance. The point is to figure out what the Holy Spirit thinks is of central importance on a given day.
Something surprised me the other day when I jumped down a rabbit hole after just one line in the Book of Acts, “[Herod Agrippa] killed James the brother of John with the sword.” I of course knew of the martyrdom of James from the lore of early church fathers (such stories were often written down hundreds of years after the fact, so it's tough to tell where they originated), but I hadn’t recalled it being mentioned anywhere in the Bible.
Jared Witt l May 24, 2018
My freshman year at Colorado State University, I lived in the dorms with my best friend from high school. There are some pros and cons to living with a lifelong friend your first year of college. One pro is that it puts you in a rare position of personal security versus the other new younglings, who are frantically (and sometimes literally) grasping at each other for a place to fit in these new unchartered waters. One con is that lifelong friends tend to develop a shared sense of humor with a frequency and wavelength, which, they forget, diverges more and more from the norm over time.
Back then, we were into a form of practical joking which frequently took the shape of informal social experiments. One day, we thought it might be a lark to take out a piece of paper and write the names of about half of our dorm floor-mates on a list, leave the other half off, and then post it to the outside of our door (about 25 of 50 people in total). No labels. No contextual clues as to the what the list meant (and, in fact, it meant nothing).
Jared Witt l May 17, 2018
This is based on a real conversation that I had a while back, though I've frequently inserted what I would've said if not for kindness. If I were this condescending in real life, everybody would lose, no matter how right a side. Nonetheless, there is something strangely cathartic about reviewing such exchanges in safe anonymity. The name of my conversation partner has been changed. Btw, avoid conversations like these if at all possible.
Smitty (S): All of scripture was intended to be read literally. Anything else is a cop out that people use to avoid any commands that they just don’t feel like following.
Me (J): Sucks for your eyeballs.
J: Sucks for your eyeballs. Maybe you can donate them to science?
S: What are you talking about?
Jared Witt l May 10, 2018
My soul needs a biergarten.
It's a national health emergency in my country. Loneliness is epidemic. I mean that. Literally and officially: epidemic!
I’m being neither figurative nor hyperbolic. Vivek Murthy, the former United States surgeon general, has written that loneliness and social isolation are “associated with a reduction in life span similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity.”
Even Britain has recently appointed it’s first “Minister for Loneliness.”
On how Castle Church is stirring up a movement from a brewery in Florida.