Things I Think…

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59 Responses

  1. josh hamrick says:

    1 – For the record, that was not my pushback.

  2. Em says:

    #8 – 😘. I’ve met very few cats that I could “love.”. That said, … 👍. 🙆

  3. Michael says:

    1. I wasn’t referring to you…once again demonstrating the virtue of asking questions.

    What I was referring to were those who thought they had claimed me for their “side”.

    The anti vax folks think I shouldn’t be talking about vaccination in a positive way at all.
    The pro vax people think I shouldn’t be questioning the vaccinations at all.

    This despite umpteen times of saying I’m pro vax for most people…but I have real questions about a whole lot in this pandemic.

  4. Michael says:


    I get your point about reducing the number of voices in order to reduce confusion…but which voices do you silence?

    Yes, we can do without me, but I was hoping to facilitate something better than I had seen elsewhere…didn’t work, but it was worth trying.

  5. Michael says:

    Christianity Todays books of the year…,haven’t read a one of them …only plan on reading one….

  6. Linn says:

    If I seemed to be against asking questions in some of my comments on a particular thread, I’m not. I’m just tired. If you work in a school, COVID info comes at you all the time in the form of questions, criticisms, parents randomly taking their kids out of school…sometimes folks border on hysteria. Between that and all of the news (which I check in on at least once or twice a day), I like my imaginary
    “COVID free” moments when I can just joke with my students, tell a story, or hug my cat. Keep asking questions because that ‘s how we learn and get different thoughts about things as they are.

    The other side of questions, unfortunately, can be to just keep asking them even when you know what you need to do. It’s rather like Eve in the garden of Eden. God’s command was quite explicit; Satan stirred some doubts and she ate, affecting the destiny of all of us. I think some of the questions around COVID by certain parties are just like that-have you considered the efficacy of vaccines? did you know that they are made by an evil medical cabal that only wants your money or your ability to procreate? Have you thought that public health measures are the result of a police state? And, we are now at 800,000 dead with many people still upset about masking and vaccines.

    By the way, sometimes cats are a bit better than people…they’re fairly non-judgmental and are happy with the simple pleasures of life. I appreciate that in a cat!

  7. Linn says:

    Latest book-I’m still working my way through “The Mirror and the Light” by HIllary Mantel. It’s part of a trilogy (“Wolf Hall” and “Bringing Up the Bodies”) about the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell. It has great insight about how people can manipulate religion to their own ends.

  8. Michael says:


    I should probably note this more often…about 2% of the people who read here on a given day comment.
    98% of the people who read here never comment or, if they do, do so privately or on other media.

    I usually respond to commenters here in the thread…the rest I’m addressing in the main article.

    We’re all exhausted by the pandemic and all that’s happened and continues to happen because of it…I get it.

    My Facebook friends know my wall is almost all cat pictures…they keep me from losing my mind.

  9. Dan from Georgia says:

    I need to read more. I see there is a book on that 2022 (?) list about the arts. Intriguing to me. We (Michael and I) chatted briefly elsewhere about asking questions and being willing to admit being wrong. Good words here.

  10. Linn says:


    Thanks for the good observation. This is one of the only blogs I read where I feel free to comment in a safe space because civility is encouraged and maintained. Thanks for that. And, yest, I have mostly cat pictures, too, as well as little vignettes about my students. I guess it’s a COVID-free zone (imaginary, of course).

  11. Duane Arnold says:


    At one time, questions, in one form or another, were the basis of education and learning in the West. The dialectic of thesis, antithesis and synthesis is impossible without the questioning of both one’s own position as well as the person you are engaging. The Socratic method relies on questions to draw out unfounded presuppositions as well as consideration of evidence and facts in contrast to personal opinions.

    When questions, in and of themselves, become suspect we are no longer talking about learning. Instead, we have moved to indoctrination.

  12. Michael says:

    “When questions, in and of themselves, become suspect we are no longer talking about learning. Instead, we have moved to indoctrination.”

    Exactly…and that scares the hell out of me…

  13. Em says:

    In the 9th grade I had a wonderful social studies teacher…. One class a week was open discussions. My town was a bit blue nose – the only business open on Sundays was a pharmacy and the Adventist bakery.
    The subject of Billy Graham came up and the class found him an obnoxious deviant. Legalism does condemn!
    This website leaves room for discussion and disagreement!
    Michael should be proud of it! IMNSHO. 👍

  14. bob1 says:

    I always thought, when Billy Graham was in his heyday, that a church or denomination’s view of him said a hell of a lot more about them than anything else.

    To those on the Christian Right (think indie Baptists) Graham was a dangerous ecumenist.

    To those on the Left, he was a theological rube.

    Speaking of Graham, I’ve always appreciated how the historian George Marsden has defined an evangelical:

    “Anyone who likes Billy Graham.”


  15. PM says:

    1. Don’t you know we have to have our minds made up, at all times, with 100% certainty? Based on what ‘fill in the blank’ said. 🙂

    American Gospel -Meacham
    Power of the Dog -Winslow

  16. Pineapple Head says:


  17. josh hamrick says:

    Read a bunch of classic novels this years.
    I’ll say Heart of Darkness was the best.
    The Great Gatsby is super easy to read, and a really good story.
    The Cider House rules is a great 300 page book spread out over 600 pages.
    Ulyses is unitelligible.

  18. Shawn says:

    I started to panic thinking I haven’t read a single book this year which would be doubly embarrassing as a bookseller. I may have started Farenheit 451 at the beginning of the year but have not finished it. Reading that book is a yearly ritual. I have been so focused on trying to record the hundreds of song ideas I have that I have not spent much time reading. Does your blog count? I read just about every article. I actually interact by writing down my thoughts on most of them but only post 2-5% of them. It is your blog after all no needed littering it with my ramblings. Ah then it occurs to me that I have been slowly digesting the book ” Dionysos Rising: The Birth of Cultural Revolution Out of the Spirit of Music” by E. Michael Jones. It is an book that ties Wagner especially the opera Tristan and Isolade to Nietzcthe, Schonauper, Schonberg, and the 1960’s musical experiment. I am only about halfway through the book. Besides sporadic Bible reading and study I got nothing to show for your reading project, sir.

  19. WenatcheeTheHatchet says:

    the best book I’ve finished this year is a tie between two little books. One by Thomas F Torrance called Time, Eternity and Incarnation and the other is G. B. Caird’s book on Powers & Principalities in Pauline literature. My sense is basically nothing in mainline scholarship or even liberal scholarship in the last half century from Walter Wink on back has basically topped Caird’s short but erudite observations about powers and principalities in Paul’s epistles.

    The book I’m not yet done with but am enjoying a lot is Dalit Rom-Shiloni’s Voices from the Ruins: Theodicy and the Fall of Jerusalem in the Hebrew Bible.

    I’ve been binge-reading Crawford Gribben, Jeremy Begbie and Daniel K L Chua too much to be able to single one one title from each … but Gribben’s work on the evolution of millenarian though in the context of revolutionary movements in the British empire reminds me of why I’m very much not a postmillennialist! Writing the Rapture is a darkly funny read on the whole paranoid genre of WASP anxiety about End Times as the flip side of the utopian entitlement that evolved in British millenarian thought from the 1600s onward. I still like Puritans like Richard Sibbes but I’m pretty against postmil eschatologies and would be probably even if my dad hadn’t been Native American.

  20. Captain Kevin says:

    Keep asking questions, Michael. I, and I’m sure many here, appreciate them.

    Now to ask myself a question. How did I get through an entire year reading only one book?

  21. Officerhoppy says:

    @8–that’s funny

    Best Book?—worship: A Royal Waste of Time—Marva Dawn
    Paul—NT Wright

  22. Reuben says:

    #10 – A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking (likely the most brilliant man ever)
    Das Capital by Karl Marx
    Letters To A Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens (for the 4th time)

  23. Reuben says:

    I carry one Bible until it fails me, the best book I have ever read in my life, God Is Not Great by Hitchens. It would do amazing things if even one tenth of Christians bothered to step out of the box long enough to read that book… and ask the damned questions

  24. Reuben says:

    The first time I read that book, it impacted me twice as hard as Calvin’s Institutes. Calvin’s Institutes ruptured everything I thought I knew about god, and most of what I knew of god was based on the Bible, and then the late Packer’s book Knowing God, followed by his systematics lectures.

  25. Robin says:

    I sympathize with those who question the handling of the pandemic because it seems like whatever precautions we take and vaccines we develop the virus still has the upper hand: we are bumbling around trying to solve and get through this problem. I sympathize with those who are upset with people who dismiss the people who question the handling of the pandemic only because of the damage done by the prior administration, fox news, and evangelical Christians is so severe as to lose their credibility for years to come. They have worked against any measures to control it and have wanton disregard for the lost lives, no amount of reasoning can justify what they have done and the twisted logic they used.

  26. Muff Potter says:

    Rose Madder by Stephen King.

  27. Michael says:


    My complaint…which is grower louder and deeper by the day…is that I don’t believe we’re being given all the information we need to make informed decisions and trust in the authorities is being undermined. It makes the nuts look like they have a point…

  28. Reuben says:

    The information we are not offered, but is plain as day, is the money being made here

  29. Em says:

    This nut says “Amen” to Michael’s 10:36. 🙆

  30. josh hamrick says:

    I think if we filtered all of our Christianity through the lens of Jesus life and ministry…that would be a huge difference.

  31. Em says:

    One of the hardest prayers to pray to the Father are Jesus’ words, “…nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”
    Do we think we understand life and history better than God? Sometimes I think I do. God have mercy!

  32. Michael says:


    I’ll say the amen…

  33. josh hamrick says:

    Michael, you know I’ve been shaken for quite a while. I had the thought about Jesus life and ministry this morning, sort of a red-letter hermeneutic, where all of our interpretation and practice is weighed against what Jesus actually said and did. Immediately I was filled with hope, moreso than I have felt in years. Just as quickly, it was crushing, because I know that if I go after this, I’ll be burned at the stake.

  34. Michael says:


    I went down that road a few years ago and found the same light you did.
    That hope is worth whatever it costs.
    It’s easier for me because I am old and my responsibilities are shrinking…but it still is truth that has to be proclaimed.
    I believe in you, my friend…

  35. josh hamrick says:

    First, I shall commit to study and see where it takes me. If it turns out that this is the way forward, consequences be damned, I’ll shine the light.

  36. Just One of His Lambs says:

    The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers. The best book I’ve read in years. Walking on holy ground during times of reading/listening to this book.

  37. Michael says:


    If I can help. let me know…

  38. Em says:

    Josh @12:15. … Keep that thought … Keep it regardless of consequences, cuz those consequences will come.
    We have among us Christians so-called who hate honesty! ! !
    God keep you

  39. josh hamrick says:

    Michael, I’m sure I’ll take you up on it. Thank you.

    Em, thank you for your encouragement.

  40. Dan from Georgia says:

    #1 & 2…

    Thinking back through my Christian life and how many times I was shut down because I posed a question (sometimes a rhetorical question) or expressed an opinion that wasn’t acceptable to someone else…sometimes I feel down like my faith is being questioned or I am being judged as a bad Christian.

    It’s been a LONG road to getting some healing in regards to not feeling like God hates me or is holding me over the fire. I know I can’t control what other people will say to me or how they will think of me, but it’s encouraging to be here to meet with a chat with those who are not afraid to ask questions or pose a thought.

    I haven’t arrived yet. Still following Him.

  41. Em says:

    Dan frm GA., it has always puzzled me as to why nay-sayers have such a loud voice among us… We who understand grace need to speak up more? Perhaps….
    Agree that Michael’s website is here to encourage honest questions, which result in Spiritual growth… IMNSHO

  42. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Em!

  43. Owen says:

    I’m not a cat lover per se, but I really feel you with #8…. it’s getting easier to get peopled out these days… And if all your cat pics (and the occasional real cat 😉) are doing you good, then I say may God bless you with it.
    Last book I read was Packer, Knowing God. Long, difficult read, and I can’t say I agreed with all of it, but I still learned much.
    And I am grieved daily by how much non-dialogue goes on regarding the virus, vaccines, etc… Just recently here in the news, two political effigies were burned and a politician’s house attacked over vaccine issues…. WTH?!?!?

  44. Michael says:


    My cats keep me sane…I consider them a gift from God.

    I never agree completely with any author, but I almost always glean something worth the effort…

  45. Babylon's Dread says:

    In Edwards day an unregenerate church led to an awakening. Ours is combined with an aggressive apostasy. One wonders as always what it actually was from which they have fallen.

    The hatred of evangelical christianity is only matched by the fervor for unfolding revelation from beneath, I speak of man not the dark powers. The roots of evangelical fervor are deeply embedded in American revivalism. Is that history held in the same disgust? We must after all admit that Edwards was the heir of those overzealous New England Puritans

    No dark apocalypticism is intended by these assertions the progress of his increase and government is sure.

    My thoughts come from these last two threads though much here is largely unrelated.

    Covid is a pale plague by historic measures and one wonders at the religious fervor that surrounds it within and without the church.

    We have been cast into a great confusion. We grow very near to the end and exhaustion of language and that is the precursor to brute force.

  46. Michael says:

    I don’t perceive a hatred of evangelicalism…but a recognition that they have abandoned the principles that made them vital.
    You should hear my thoughts on the Anglican Communion…

    ” We grow very near to the end and exhaustion of language and that is the precursor to brute force.”

    Nothing worries me more…

  47. Officerhoppy says:

    You said, “ I think if we filtered all of our Christianity through the lens of Jesus life and ministry…that would be a huge difference.”
    Think about that statement. Ideally you are correct but most American Christians worship a Jesus who looks more like their own ideology. In most cases they worship a Jesus who never existed. I dunno if in practicality, your idea would work!

    Em You said
    One of the hardest prayers to pray to the Father are Jesus’ words, “…nevertheless, not my will, but Thine be done.”
    A good prayer indeed. But the challenge is to distinguish between my will from “thy” will. Always a challenge for me.

    Just saying you two!

  48. Officerhoppy says:

    After 52 years of following Christ (and not necessarily doing a good job of it) I ha e found the most difficult thing is to discern the HS’s leading. Once I know it’s God “speaking” (I don’t hear voices), which takes time, I can take the risk. But I often question who is speaking, me or the HS.

    I taught a couple of classes at a bible college in Maui, Hawaii. But there was a better school in Sitka Alaska. Ironically, all the kids felt called of God to go to Maui. Maybe that’s exactly where he wanted them, I dunno. But sounds suspicious to me!

  49. josh hamrick says:

    Hoppy, it would not work. Like I said, I’d be crucified for it. Turn the other cheek? The last will be first? Not that I’ve seen.

  50. Officerhoppy says:

    You know, the more time I log with Christ the less certain I am of a lot of things. Seems I ha e more questions than answers. I once thought I had it all figured out…eschatologically, what Jesus meant when he talked about the kingdom of God, Free will vs choice. I’ve come to realize that rather having my theology neatly packaged in a box with a nice neat bow on top, there is much I don’’t understand—despite my years of study and education. Bottom line is I’am learning to be comfortable in the tension. Make sense?

  51. josh hamrick says:

    Oh yeah, definitely. I sort of feel like I’m in a tailspin at times, and that’s why I want to take some time and really focus on the life and ministry of Jesus. Then, any theology, doctrine, or practice, I wan tto hold it up and say “Does this look like Jesus?” So far that sounds fine, the problem comes in that so many and practices are technically scriptural, but are unbalanced in some way, and end up looking nothing like Jesus. That’s the type of thing that’ll get you hung. Well, that and when I talk about the church’s politics. Which also looks nothing like Jesus.

  52. Officerhoppy says:

    That’s great! And I hope I have the same goal. But, my question and my challenge is, which Jesus are we comparing our lives, thinking and actions to? The Jesus of history who taught in a culture other than ours? The Jesus of the 50’s and 60’s and their values? The Jesus of the 70’s and their values, The Jesus of the Middle Ages? of the 21st century?

    We all have a hermeneutic thru which we discern Jesus and His teachings. For me I do my best to try to understand the culture and context of the world Jesus lives and taught in,

    I am pretty sure I am complicating things.But I he a real a desire to know the truth. It’s probably right under my nose and I can’t see it.

  53. Officerhoppy says:

    I tend to think that each culture imports their values, at least to some degree, to their interpretation and application of Jesus.

    I find it interesting that images of Jesus in the 50’s and 60’s was of a European looking Jesus, white, with Sandy hair and a distant gaze. . Then in the 70’s Hook came out with a surfer looking Jesus that was adopted by the Jesus People.

    I’ve seen images of Jesus in foreign cultures. In Africa he is depicted as black. In Asia, he looks Asian.

    My brother is a pretty well known artist. He has wanted to paint a picture of Jesus as a 5’7 Middle Eastern Semitic man…probably closer to the actual Jesus of the Bible. But the company’s he paints for say he can’t do that because it won’t sell.

    In many ways, the old adage is true in philosophy, theology and art; “In the beginning man made God after his own image”.

    There was a TV shown in the 6’s allied “who do you trust”. The people would pose as a fireman, a pastor, or what ever and a panel of celebrities would ask yes and know questions of the panel. They would then cast their vote for the individual they thought was the Fireman, cop or what ever. And the moderator would say.”would the real fireman, cop or what ever, please stand up”.

    I kinda feel that way about the Jesus I read about in the Bible: “Will the real Jesus (the one whose teaching I want to follow) please stand up”.

  54. josh hamrick says:

    Absolutely, Hop. That’s exactly my point. I want to divorce Jesus from all the cultural baggage we’ve tied to Him, and then follow THAT Jesus.

  55. Officerhoppy says:

    It’s a life long challenge, isn’t it

  56. josh hamrick says:

    So far it is. I don’t think I expected this when I signed up at 19.

  57. Open24Hours says:

    My “Best of 2021” books:

    Faith After Doubt, McLaren
    A Burning in My Bones, Collier
    How to Be a Liberal, Dunt
    The Sum of Us, McGhee
    A Church Called Tov, McKnight
    Until Unity, Chan
    Terror, Love, and Brainwashing, Stein
    Manifesto for a Moral Revolution, Novogratz
    Fears of a Setting Sun, Rasmussen
    American Schism, Radwell
    The Rumi Prescription, Moezzi
    Reign of Terror, Ackerman
    The Gay Revolution, Faderman

  58. Jonathan says:

    Favorite books by far for me- Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard and Devoted to God by Sinclair Ferguson

  59. bob1 says:

    Hard to pin it down to 1 book…

    But my favorite is Philip Yancey’s recent memoir, Where the Light Fell.

    It’s hard to characterize and once I got into it, I had a hard time putting it down.. It’s a memoir that includes a lot of spiritual/cultural changes that he’s experienced. How he went from a childhood in a racist indie Baptist church to an accomplished author whose writings helped millions of readers, especially those with lots of doubts or are recovering from toxic church experiences and have only experienced “ungrace” from the church …well done, Philip! Highly re commended.

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