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In a matter of minutes and in just a few words, Taylor Swift’s music video provides a popular-level version of what philosophers and sociologists call “expressive individualism.” It’s the idea that the purpose of life is to find and express your individuality. You “find yourself” by fighting through all the constraints placed upon you by others. The goal is to emerge triumphant, fully aware of your own unique essence, so you can express yourself to the world.
This is one of the dominant narratives of 21st century American culture, so it’s no surprise to see our musical icons telling this story through song.
As a pastor I’m called to do two things well. First, faithfully preach the whole counsel of God’s Word. Second, devote myself to prayer. About 95% of my pastoral time and energies go towards that first one. The second one…well, I stink at it.
It was in that moment, after my initial thought of how he didn’t deserve to get off the hook so easily that it dawned on me. Isn’t that the whole point of grace? It’s a gift undeserved. It isn’t for those of us who are most obedient, or most well-behaved. Grace is for the chiefs of all sinners, myself included.
An update on the Larycia Hawkins situation at Wheaton College.
President Obama has announced his intention to tighten the nation’s gun control laws through executive action. This action, of course, comes in the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, as well as numerous mass shootings over the past several years. I am often asked, “Is gun control a Christian issue?” After all, some might ask, if we are truly pro-life should we not also be as adamant about gun control as we are about abortion control? Is the gun control debate simply one that we should ignore?
Every book, every sermon, every blog, and every new idea post must answer one question. It is the question I keep in mind as I write each of these posts and the one I used to ask when I evaluated manuscripts for publication. It’s the one I ask when a new strategy gets proposed at work. It’s the question I ask every Sunday morning at church and every time I delve into a new book or blog post.