A year ago, I published an earlier version of this essay. Since then I've revised significantly, so I'm going back to the well for Christmas 2021. Most of this reworked version also appears here. I am pleased to share a new English translation—or singable free paraphrase—of an iconic Danish hymn, Dejlig Er Jorden. It shares a … Continue reading A New Lyric for a Classic Christmas Song
I wrote these comments for the funeral of my aunt Carolyn, which took place two days ago. I share them here with a few hyperlinks and some light edits to clarify things that were clearer in the immediate context. Carolyn died suddenly a week ago at 81. Her enormous and gracious spirit, and her powerful … Continue reading Carolyn Wedin, Beloved Friend and Mentor, 1940-2021
Last week my beloved aunt Carolyn Wedin died. Today at her funeral, we are singing a hymn that she helped me translate. I wrote about the song before on this blog, but that was part of a train of thought linking back to this one and this one as well as forward to this one. … Continue reading Beautiful is the Earth/Dejlig er Jorden: New Lyrics for the Tune to “Beautiful Savior”
I said that my “12 Songs for Christmas” would be unranked. But that is with an asterisk because there is zero doubt in my mind about the album of the year—and with clear separation from everything else I've heard. For a change this is by consensus—pretty much all the critics agree. I was getting … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Heavy Balloon
“It’s Christmas time in Washington, and the Democrats rehearse. Getting into gear for [an upcoming] year of things not getting worse. Republicans drink whiskey neat and thank their lucky stars. [Thanks to Senate minority rule, with Wyoming voters weighing 68 times more than Californians] There’ll be no more FDRs.” So said Steve Earle, more or less, … Continue reading 12 Songs for Christmas: Christmas in Washington
People have asked about my take on the news du jour—that Christianity Today magazine called for the impeachment of Mr. Trump. As I write, the story is on the front page of the New York Times, all over cable news, and—surprisingly to me and perhaps important—on the second page of my local newspaper in Maryville, … Continue reading Cracks in the Wall of Evangelical Trumpism
Those proud and few readers who knew about MBE from the outset realize that you have been guinea pigs in an extremely small-scale experiment—one that I told few people about and sometimes pondered setting aside. By now have received sufficient positive feedback, and have enjoyed working on MBE enough, that today I took the plunge … Continue reading Rising Out of Beta Mode!
There is a structural conundrum to confront. I was clear from the moment I launched MBE—and have not wavered—that it cannot be one facet of a multi-pronged social media campaign. Emphatically, I did not sign up for the distraction of joining Facebook or promoting MBE via Twitter. Rather, I had a triple zero-sum choice—invest time … Continue reading Should This Blog Live? Where Do We Go From Here?
Recently a reporter for the University of Tennessee student newspaper interviewed me for a special issue on religion. In this resulting article I am a key source alongside some local ministers—mashed together in an effort to capture dominant religious trends in Tennessee under a tight word limit. The reporter took this half-decent picture of me, … Continue reading All the News That Fits the Script
In the strange world we inhabit, the insights I can offer as scholar seem (at least for the moment) to be assigned significant value. Sometimes I complain about the relative value ascribed to scholarship compared to a whole range of other things—say, building prisons or price-gouging people who need life-saving medicines—yet at the end of … Continue reading A Song to Dishonor Joe Arpaio
A few of my friends have been encouraging me to start a blog. Now I’m testing this out as a pilot version. Please let me know if you have any feedback. I have a lot of interests, some of which I hope will be worth sharing here, and all of which might belong together in … Continue reading what is going on here? what is MBE?