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Derek Penwell

Derek Penwell is an author, editor, speaker, and activist. He is the senior minister of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky and a lecturer at the University of Louisville in Religious Studies and Humanities. He has a Ph.D. in humanities from the University of Louisville. He is the author of articles ranging from church history to aesthetic theory and the tragic emotions, as well as the forthcoming book from Chalice Press, The Mainliner’s Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World, about how mainline denominations can avoid despair in an emerging world. He currently edits a blog on emergence Christianity, [D], and blogs at his own site. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Entries by Derek Penwell

So You Think There's No Difference Between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?

(13) Comments | Posted May 27, 2016 | 12:12 PM

You love Bernie Sanders. I get it. How could you not really? I mean, if you care about the poor as something more than just a sociological abstraction, or if you think college education for everyone should be made available, or if you believe that healthcare ought to be universally...

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Donald Trump and Why Political Incorrectness and Bullying Amount to the Same Thing

(1) Comments | Posted May 12, 2016 | 11:29 AM

In the abstract the idea that bullies have friends and followers seems counter-intuitive. Why would anybody want to spend any more time than is absolutely necessary with someone whose core personality trait is intimidation? After all, who looks up from the rugby scrum of everyday existence and thinks, “I don’t...

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I'm Trying to Be More Intolerant (and You Should Too)

(14) Comments | Posted May 4, 2016 | 4:59 PM

I think progressives need to embrace intolerance. I do. Seriously. Hear me out.

Whenever I write a smart-alecky blog post taking aim at some social injustice or injudicious theological dim-wittedness, an enterprising polemicist will invariably use the comment section to highlight my obvious hypocrisy, denouncing my intolerance of … wait...

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Donald Trump and the 'Woman's Card': Why Men Need to Speak Up

(229) Comments | Posted April 27, 2016 | 3:53 PM

I was busy watching the returns from the Northeast primaries last night. My 8-year-old son and my wife were sitting in the room, doing origami as I followed the political commentary. It was still early after the polls had closed, but the news anchor seemed excited to let us know...

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Maintining My Own Moral Purity at Your Expense: State RFRA Laws and the Return of Pharisaism

(6) Comments | Posted April 7, 2016 | 5:04 PM

In Christian hands the Pharisees have always been an easy target. The way the Gospel writers customarily depict them doesn’t leave much room for a sympathetic reading. Abstemious, pinch-faced, high-handed hypocrites and know-it-alls. Leaving aside the question of whether these Pharisaic depictions are fair to the true Pharisaic tradition (which...

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When Did We Get to Be Better than God?

(3) Comments | Posted March 19, 2016 | 2:54 PM

I sense a move afoot that expresses a profound anxiety with where the future is headed. That the world feels like a foreign place to so many is simultaneously distressing and unsurprising to those who feel they’ve somehow been left behind. The tectonic plates of science, morality, politics, and religion...

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Too Many People Are Still Waiting to Make America Great the First Time

(9) Comments | Posted March 1, 2016 | 4:07 PM

Make America Great Again.

The slogan sounds innocent enough, right? There are baseball caps with that slogan on it, for crying out loud.

Seriously, how do you argue with making America great again? You’d have to be a real hater to want America to stay … un-great. If you...

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Why Your Criticism of Politics on Facebook May Mean You're Part of the Problem

(1) Comments | Posted February 25, 2016 | 10:38 AM

How many times have you read on Facebook that politics should be something people keep to themselves? You know what I’m talking about, right?

Said in a smug voice:

“Erm, only idiots think that posting political nonsense on Facebook changes anybody’s mind.”

Distilled to its essence,...

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Franklin Graham Is the Worst Thing to Happen to God (and America) in a While

(2) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 4:08 PM

Franklin Graham, for whatever reason, seems like a guy convinced that the whole Inquisition thing was just a misunderstanding. Not that bad, really. If you’re going to make an omelet (at least one that keeps people from burning in hell), you’re going to need to break a few eggs. Amirite?

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Disgusted Young People: How Martin Luther King Predicted the Decline of the Mainline Church

(22) Comments | Posted January 18, 2016 | 9:03 AM

So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent--and often even...

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Jerry Falwell Jr. Is Now the Worst Thing to Happen to God in a While

(1) Comments | Posted December 7, 2015 | 12:19 PM

It usually takes someone like Franklin Graham to make Christianity look like an econo-sized box of derp. But Jerry Falwell Jr. has managed to elbow his way to the front of that dubious line with his gun fetish, telling the students for whom he is theoretically (though...

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Why Caring for Syrian Refugees Isn't Optional for Christians

(0) Comments | Posted November 30, 2015 | 10:46 AM

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the Syrian refugees, and the response to them by many in the U.S. The push to refuse entry to Syrian refugees on the part of so many politicians who are otherwise so publicly Christian strikes me as profoundly problematic.

Let’s say you're...

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What Kind of World Would It Be If the Rich Admitted They Need the Poor?

(4) Comments | Posted October 12, 2015 | 12:34 PM

While working on a sermon about Jesus’ encounter with the young man who wanted to know what he must do to inherit eternal life, I ran across a Catharine Rampell article on presidential candidate Governor Bobby Jindal. It seems Jindal has put forward a new tax plan that would...

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An Open Letter to Al Mohler on Taking a Transparently Meaningless Stand on Reparative Therapy

(0) Comments | Posted October 6, 2015 | 3:20 PM

Dear Al,

I want to offer my congratulations on your recent conversion to advocacy against conversion therapy (see what I did there?)--that discredited form of therapy that seeks to turn LGBTQ folks into “normal” people. It takes a great deal of courage to jump off a train as...

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Ross Douthat and the Shocking Misunderstanding of Liberal Christianity

(23) Comments | Posted September 29, 2015 | 3:56 PM

In other news, the Pope visited the United States last week. You might be forgiven for not being aware of this fact. It’s been pretty hush-hush, a quick but discreet papal expedition onto American soil. The Pope slipped in and out of three major American cities over the past few...

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"Evangelicals Love Donald Trump!" Wait, What?

(68) Comments | Posted August 29, 2015 | 9:15 AM

As I watched Donald Trump’s August 25th campaign speech, something occurred to me. I had a question.

Beyond his widely remarked upon habit of offering a seemingly endless concatenation of political-social-economic non sequiturs, stumbling from one subject to another like John Belushi with a ladder outside a sorority house,...

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9 Arguments From the Bible Fundamentalists Should Have to Make

(1074) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 7:23 PM

Word on the street has progressives engaged in a "war on freedom of religion." Obviously, it's the liberals' fault. Liberals, socialists, feminists, and other traitors to the widely held conservative canard that America is a "Christian nation" have declared war on religious freedom. Several of the Republican candidates for president...

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5 Reasons Franklin Graham Is Once Again the Worst Thing to Happen to God in a While

(363) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 5:43 PM

Man, this guy never gives up. Franklin Graham seems once again to be suffering from an all too common form of fundamentalist pathology that has him spouting off hateful imprecations in the name of Jesus without the apparent filter that allows most properly socialized adults to navigate the world without...

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"I Love the Sinner" Is Often What Abusers Say

(52) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 3:05 PM

“I love her, but she’s got to learn right from wrong,” he said … after beating her half to death. And there she lies, one foot in this world and another in the next--but fully “loved.”

I imagine that’s what LGBTQ folks hear when yet another Christian says, “I love...

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A Pastoral Word to My Conservative Friends After the SCOTUS Decision on Marriage

(9) Comments | Posted June 29, 2015 | 6:14 PM

Writing is difficult.

No kidding, right?

But I don’t mean writing is difficult because it’s hard to find something to say or because saying it well takes a lot of practice. Those things are true, of course.

What I mean in this case is that writing is difficult...

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