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.”
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 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 April 27, 2018
The epistle of First John is deceptive. It lulls you into a false sense of security with some very beige sentences. If you're not paying attention, it might even lead you to believe that he is just talking about the same stodgy old platitudes that you would expect of, say, an aging Evangelical tv preacher or one of those self-styled, pan-denominational aunts, who never seem to tire of generic moralisms and conservative protestant party lines.
Example A: “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him.”
(K, great. But how do you define sin and how do we know when we’ve been born of God? What happens if I'm born of God, and it takes for a bit, but then I sin a couple times?)
Jared Witt l March 31, 2018
I’m not wired to be a very religious person.
I say that knowing that not everyone will understand what I mean by it, and the ones who get me right away are likely wired in the same way.
When I first went to seminary in 2008, I was sort of surprised that there were pockets of otherwise normal, healthy people who were really into the whole bit. And whether it be the featureless praise songs or the plodding organ dirges, the Greek tattoo and pompadour haircut or the clergy collar and Great Clips haircut, the professional stage-lighting or the incense burning made no difference to me. This rendered the red-faced debates over "traditional" vs. "contemporary" worship somewhat humorous, seeing as I was what you might call a neutral third party. Without knocking any of it, for me, it all just kind of lumped together as so many different shades of generically religious shtick. I accepted that certain types were just more inclined toward that whole thing than others.
One barrier to entry for me was it all seemed so horribly made up. I couldn’t get over the feeling, “Wait, so you’re telling me some guy just started lighting that candle and this time a while back, and so now we all have to do it?”
Jared Witt l February 22, 2018
[The Lord spoke to Isaiah]
Shout out, do not hold back!
Lift up your voice like a trumpet!
Announce to my people that children are dying!
Announce to this “one nation under God” their sins.
I’m to understand that day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were truly a “Christian” nation
and did not forsake the way of their God;
they presume that their judgments are my righteous judgments,
they claim to be close to God.
They say, “Look, we pray to open up House proceedings. Do you not see?
We place our hands on Bibles, do you not notice?”
Jared Witt l February 15, 2018
“The geeks have inherited the Earth.”
Thus says Justin McElroy, one of the co-hosts of the wildly popular (and wildly nerdy) podcast, “My Brother, My Brother, and Me." He would know. He never expected to become a subculture celebrity when he and his three brothers from Huntington, West Virginia first started a podcast for their own amusement in 2010, where they would provide insincere but good natured advice, "Ask Amy" style, to equally insincere question askers and to somewhat more sincere inquirers on the “Yahoo Answers” platform (the latter remain anonymous, as they didn’t anticipate that their questions would become the fodder for a comedy show).
"MBMBAM" (pronounced muh 'bim bam by its cult followers) now sells out major concert venues in cities across the country and boasts such esteemed guests as Jimmy Buffett and Lin-Manuel Miranda due to a cultural shift, which is tough to prove and yet everyone who has passed from high school into adulthood over the last couple decades is vaguely aware of it: Nerdy = cool now.
Jared Witt l February 8, 2018
Masculinity is a good thing.
Toxic masculinity has become the single biggest threat to all complex life on this planet.
We should talk about that.
I almost feel like, if you’re not already nodding your head, and I still have to define “toxic masculinity,” then I’ve already lost you. But here is the shortlist of its symptoms:
Jared Witt l January 4, 2017
Christians: We try to be good citizens but we pacifist a little.
Or at least we're supposed to.
Yeah, I know. Hey, I know. I get it. Pacifists are a real annoyance. Always reminding everyone of who they should kill (no one), and when they should kill them (never).
Modern societies have had a beastly time trying to figure out what to do with their pacifists. Leo Tolstoy made himself a spoke in the wheels for generations of ruling authorities in Russia when he wrote The Kingdom of God Is Within You, which had the audacity to suggest that getting exiled to Siberia with one's moral dignity in tact was preferable to dumbly pointing a gun at whoever the Tsar tells one to point it at.
Jared Witt l November 10, 2017
If your church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone notice?
My friend and colleague here in Orlando, Pr. Derek Hoven of Salem Lutheran Church, asks this question as he consults with other congregations that are in the midst of a leadership transition. Membership excluded, would anyone in your immediate neighborhood/town/world care if the whole thing just evaporated in a poof?
Sometimes the question strikes people as a little harsh. But, then, sometimes questions strike us as harsh when it is not actually the question but the answer we’re forced to give which is unpleasant.
On how Castle Church is stirring up a movement from a brewery in Florida.