Christianity and Narratives of Eternal Guilt

Christians, have we been forgiven? If so, then whom should we forgive?

As a teenager in a church-going family, I was secretly involved in various illegal activities and later became suicidal. During that deep soul searching, I met God personally, and became a new person: I shed old habits and friends and perspectives, all painful changes on my own “road to Damascus.”

Later, while working with a church youth ministry, I told a group of teens a summary of my story. The next day, their parents called the church to say that they were pulling their kids from the youth…

“The white policeman, standing on a Harlem street corner, finds himself at the very center of the revolution now occurring in the world. He is not prepared for it — naturally, nobody is — and, what is possibly much more to the point, he is exposed, as few white people are, to the anguish of the black people around him. Even if he is gifted with the merest mustard grain of imagination, something must seep in. He cannot avoid observing that some of the children, in spite of their color, remind him of children he has known and loved, perhaps…

Excuses from Professionals Behaving Badly

Anton* parked semi-legally on a side street in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. Something was bothering him. “Hey,” I said. “You OK?”

“No,” he growled, frustration rumbling in his voice. “‘OK’ is a thing I am not.”

Anton had moved to the city years earlier and found work as a private driver. He was on call for executives and their employees who needed to get places quickly in an upscale car, especially late at night after the last trains had pulled out of Grand Central and Penn Station. In the years before Uber and Lyft…

Photo: a view from the road on Pike’s Peak mountain in Colorado.
Photo: a view from the road on Pike’s Peak mountain in Colorado.
Descending from the summit of the 14,115-foot Pike’s Peak in Colorado, the edge of the road can be unnerving.

America became our museum as my kids and I took an epic road trip across the country.

Inching up the icy trail, we were acutely aware there were no railings to grasp if we slipped toward the snow-crusted mountainside. Fortunately, we arrived intact. There, in Wyoming’s Bighorn National Forest, we contemplated the ancient stones of the Medicine Wheel. Looking out from the Wheel, we were dazzled; the view was like being on top of the world. Looking into the Wheel, we were humbled by the knowledge that indigenous peoples have trekked to this spiritual site for thousands of years.


What child is this
Who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

…I mean, you know he’s going to wake up the moment you try to put him down. Every. Single. Time.

Away in a manger,
No crib for a bed.
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down his sweet head…

…and thus, going down to sleep for the night was really Christ’s first miracle.

Shall I play for you,
Pa rum pum pumpum,
On my drum?


As a child, I watched the TV specials that were on every single Christmas season. Everybody did. Nobody had hundreds of cable channels or endlessly bingeable streaming video. Heck, my family didn’t even have a VCR until the 1980s.

Now, as a 21st-century dad, I’ve been rethinking all that animation. Why are they part of our holiday traditions? Why are outcasts and depression so common in the plots? Seen through a modern lens, what are these plots really about?

“If you’re [a] white man in the USA, it’s open season on you.”
Bill O’Reilly

“The white man is a low person on the totem pole. Everybody else is above the white man.”
Dennis H., registered Democrat and Trump supporter

“There is no doubt that blacks, minorities, and people of color had it rough for many decades. Women, especially in the workplace, had the system tilted against them. We get it… But that was then, and this is now. And two wrongs don’t make a right. The sorry truth is that the pendulum has swung way too far…

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, barbarian, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters.” — Colossians 3:11

Imagine that you are a white minister — or at least you are light pink, as Stephen Biko noted — and you’ve married a black woman. Your own sister, also white, complains bitterly to everyone in town about your interracial marriage, and uses it to question your spiritual judgement.

Her racist complaints reach the ear of the Almighty God, who answers by punishing your sister with a disease that turns her skin truly pure white. …

Maybe the “F” should be for “feminist.”

“Blessed are You, God, who has not made me a non-Jew.
Blessed are You, God, who has not made me a slave.
Blessed are You, God, who has not made me a woman.”

For centuries, a version of these lines have been prayed every day by Jewish men. The words express a widespread religious belief that persists today, and they stand in stark contrast to a verse in the New Testament:

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This begs the question: how…

When someone presents data and models — whether for restaurants or criminals — it is important to look at the choices being made.

Years ago, I was waiting to be seated at an Italian restaurant when I noticed a framed certificate on the wall. It proclaimed this business was the best Italian restaurant in the area, according to an annual survey by a local newspaper. There were several Italian restaurants in town, so I thought this was notable.

I assumed that the survey would also offer certificates for other common cuisines in the area: Chinese, Mexican, seafood, and so on…

Tor de Vries

Father, husband, professor, designer, writer, philosopher, teller of dad jokes… but that’s redundant. Also at and

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