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Courtney Ray

Why We Will Aways Have Segregated Conferences

It’s February. And in the United States, that means it’s Black History Month. It’s time for college campuses to ask the school’s gospel choir to perform for chapel. It’s the time of year when non-Black pastors call on their Black colleagues to pay an annual visit to their pulpits. Or, if they have no one on whom to call, it’s time to preach on unity and diversity and the reasons we should tear down racial divides.

Of Greens and the Gospel

Every culture around the world has some particular way to ring in the New Year.

Ears to Hear: Pastors, Seminarians, and #MeToo

A few weeks ago, journalist Danielle Young at The Root published a recollection of her own #MeToo account. It’s worth the read. It’s not about being raped or molested. And for that reason, she almost didn’t write about it. It’s common for many to minimize their experience because it doesn’t involve being dragged into a dark alley and forcibly brutalized.

Oops! The Best of Intentions

We always celebrate protesters after the protest is over. In that moment, though, the people living through it find it hard to possess an appreciation for those who usher in change. Five centuries after penning his 95 Theses, Christians worldwide commemorate the heroic actions of theologian Martin Luther, which spawned the Reformation. Quite different from the dramatic nailing scene that has been captured in popular retellings, most Lutheran historians agree that it was likely a much quieter gesture at first.

Until It Happens To Me

Caleb Keeter, guitarist for the Josh Abbott Band and lifelong advocate of gun ownership, performed at the Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the late hours of October 1, 2017, this became the site of the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Disaster Response in the Eye of the Storm

It is easy to criticize those we do not know or do not like. And nothing brings out our inner critic like a high-profile natural disaster. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, there was a great deal of finger pointing regarding the response times of various private organizations, including Christian churches. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church received the brunt of the criticism: he’s a well known, affluent person, who many people already perceive to be just a 21st-century snake-oil salesman.

Adam and Eves

Excited! That’s how I felt after watching the season premiere of Adam Ruins Everything. For those who don’t know, it’s a Tru TV original show where the host, Adam Conover, tackles ubiquitously held misconceptions about commonplace subjects. Past shows included debunking myths surrounding hydration (do you really need eight glasses of water?), the funeral industry (because grieving families are excellent targets for up-selling), and restaurants (that salmon you ordered was probably dyed pink). The first show of the second season aired a few weeks ago and dealt with childbirth.

People of the Book

I've seen several iterations of this online, and each time it makes me annoyed. Someone posts some wildly inaccurate meme about a biblical story. For example, a post incredulously asking how Adam and Eve are the common ancestors of all people if they only had two sons. Even a cursory reading of the source material demonstrates that this “smoking gun” simply gets the points incorrect and that the Bible clearly notes that besides Cain and Abel they had “other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4).

Living Family Life

When I was a kid—way back in the 1900s—there were a ton of sitcoms that capitalized on “unconventional” families. Who's the Boss?, Full House, My Two Dads, Punky Brewster, Different Strokes, One Day at a Time: the lineup was full of storylines that didn't revolve around the typical nuclear setup with a mom, dad, and 2.5 kids. It's been a long time since the rest of the world actively acknowledged that families come in all shapes and sizes and the importance of telling those stories.

Wrong and Right

Kurtley Knight, Ryan Bell, Alicia Johnston. All young pastors who have publicly left the ministry—each for different reasons. There is plenty of attrition in the pastoral ranks, to be sure. But I mention these three as particular examples because many other pastors leave in a far less publicized way. However, for their exits, each of these former pastors felt compelled to make a declaration about their rationale for leaving. Pastor Knight left for doctrinal disagreements. Pastor Bell left due to a shift toward atheism.

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