Mornings on the Beach

I’ve been in Chicago about a week now, and I’ve got to spend most of that time relaxing and reading and exploring the city, as classes don’t start until September 5th. One of my favorite things that I’ve discovered so far is spending mornings at the Lake Michigan beach.

Our apartment here in Rogers Park is just a few blocks from the Leone Family Park Beach. I’m an early riser, and I can usually get over to the beach by about 7:30. It’s fairly empty at this time of morning, making for a quiet and serene walk.

Here’s my shocking confession for the week: I’ve never been to, or even seen, the ocean. I’ve lived a land-locked 29 years, so Lake Michigan is by far the largest body of water I’ve ever seen. My first visit to our local beach last week was the first time I’ve ever stood on a sandy beach.

I’ve never felt this to be much of a loss; I am a mountains and forests kind of person. I don’t swim; for outdoor adventure, I’ve always much preferred hiking and trails and climbing to water sports. 

That said, I’ve been quite taken with the lake and the beach here. There is a rhythmic beauty and peace there that is something completely new to me. My morning walks in the sand are one of the highlights of my time so far in Chicago. It’s a good time to reflect and think and be at peace. And walking out a bit into the surf, even if it’s cold, is invigorating and thrilling.

(I’ve also found it’s a good opportunity for big, wet dog cuddles. Lots and lots of dog owners like walking the beach in the mornings, and the pups are always looking for free pats and scratches.)

I’ll always be a mountain person. But I’m learning to appreciate the water as well.

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Back from Vacation!

Hello all, and greetings from Chicago!

The silence around here for the past couple of weeks has been for two reasons:

First, an eight-day trip by car to Las Vegas, with my kiddos and girlfriend, to visit my parents, who live there.

Then, packing and loading and driving a moving truck from Tulsa to my new home in Chicago! Classes start in two weeks at Garrett, but we are moved in here and mostly unpacked. I am loving Chicago; we live on the north side, in an area near the lake called Rogers Park.

Now that things are fairly settled, and I’m not driving thousands of miles, the plan is to get back to a regular blogging schedule around here. I do have things to say about Charlottesville, and the despicable, morally-vacuous response by the President. And I hope to share my thoughts on school once we start. Finally, seeing that I just moved 700 miles away from friends and family, I anticipate sharing more about the goings-on in my life here, rather than just strictly topical blog posts. This will include some of the things out and about in the city, as well as maybe my search for a new church home here. We’ll see where this goes.

Thanks for sticking around, and for your patience!

Week in Review: 7/29/17

Doubting Our Faith Like Jesus and the Disciples

“The Incredulity of St. Thomas” by Carvaggio

The fear of doubt, for many Christians, is the fear that God will cast them out for doubting God’s truth. It is a fear preyed upon by those who tell them “The End is Near,” and those who want to use that fear to get in their wallets. What is Jesus came back just in that moment of doubt, and I miss my chance to be taken into heaven forever, because right at that moment I wasn’t so sure about something? Leaving aside the inherent problematic, and non-Biblical nature of such an apocalyptic worldview, the use of fear to coerce people into faith is surely one of the greatest sins one can engage in. “Fear not,” Jesus commanded. “There is no fear in love,” the author of 1 John writes. To cause others to fear, intentionally, is to go against God. To strike fear into the hearts of good people because they might have doubts is spiritual malpractice.

Especially because, doubt is Biblical!

Big Changes Ahead

I have been accepted into the Master of Theological Studies program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, in Evanston, Illinois, beginning this fall semester. Obviously, this means I am leaving Phillips Theological Seminary here in Tulsa, where I have been enrolled for the last two years. A variety of factors have played into this decision, and I am excited to get up to Chicago and finish my Masters work so I can begin working on my Ph.D! I will miss Phillips and all the wonderful colleagues I had there, but I am also excited for a whole new cohort of peers and teachers at GETS!

“Let Obamacare Fail” Is Immoral

The concept of “letting Obamacare fail” is highly immoral. It strikes against the oath at the very heart of the medical field, which states “First, do no harm.”

These guys have your future in their hands. Yikes.

Obamacare has real problems with the way it is built and the way it has worked in the real world. But these problems are all fixable. The mandate needs to have better enforcement. Subsidies could be more generous. CSR (cost-sharing reduction) payments to insurers need to be assured and generous as well. Medicaid expansion needs to take hold in all fifty states.

The three-legged stool of Obamacare – universal coverage, subsidies, and the individual mandate – is a proven model. It’s not perfect; we would be better off with Medicare-for-all, with the eventual goal of single payer. But Obamacare, when it is funded and not sabotaged, works. No one can deny it: more people are insured under Obamacare than were before, and that is a unqualified good. No matter what your opinions on health policy, no one can deny that more people (24 million more people, to be exact) having access to affordable, decent health coverage is a good thing for this country, politically and morally.

What I’ve Been Reading (And Watching And Listening To) This Summer

One of my goals this summer has been to do a lot of reading. During the school year, any personal reading is very obviously out of the question. Being a lover of books, this means that I obtain a healthy stack of “to be read” books. This last year was especially fruitful on this front; between a pastor friend retiring and letting me raid his shelf, another friend downsizing for a cross country move and allowing the same, and just my own general buying and collecting of books, the to-be-read pile on the corner of my desk has swelled to well over 70 titles.

Obviously, getting through all of them this summer is impossible. But I’m doing my best! Here is what I have read so far this summer.

The Bookshelf: At The Heart of the White Rose

Hans and Sophie were brother and sister, alternately the oldest and youngest of a larger brood of children, growing up in the first half of the 20th century in Nazi Germany. In their early 20s at the outbreak of war on the continent, both are conscripted into national service for the Reich, Hans as a military doctor, and Sophie in the compulsory Nazi youth organizations.

Yet, neither are Nazi supporters. Hailing from a highly educated, well-to-do family, they are well-read and intellectual, and both write obliquely of their horror at the rampant nationalism and violence going on around them. Eventually, along with a substantial group of friends and acquaintances their age, they begin writing and distributing anti-Nazi leaflets in Munich. Their group is dubbed “The White Rose.” After six subversive pamphlets, Hans and Sophie are caught distributing leaflets at the university in Munich, and subsequently executed. Hans was 24; Sophie just 21.

At The Heart of the White Rose is a collection of excerpts from their letters and personal diaries, kept between 1937 and their deaths in February of 1943.