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Derek Penwell
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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]mergent.org, and blogs at his own site. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Entries by Derek Penwell

11 Questions for Christian Companies in Light of the Hobby Lobby Decision

(93) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 10:52 AM

By now you’ve probably heard about the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case. The Christian owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of retail stores filed suit, seeking an exemption from paying for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act that covers contraceptive methods it deems in opposition to...

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Jesus Is the Worst Thing to Happen to Christianity in Awhile

(744) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 10:08 AM

2014-06-25-Tract.jpg

Jesus is the worst thing to happen to Christianity in awhile.

Want to know how I know?

I got another anonymous letter sent to me today. Actually, it wasn’t a letter at all; it was a tract. Turns out, they still make those....

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God Doesn't Need Our Protection

(6) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 1:33 PM

Growing up in the evangelical heartland of America, Grand Rapids, Michigan, I came to believe that the highest calling to which one might aspire was apologetics ninja. That is to say, I thought that protecting God from the predations of the faceless hordes of the godless through the proper application...

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The Morse Code of Fear

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 2:34 PM

I remember after class one time in graduate school two of my classmates approaching me to ask if I were going to the parking garage, and if so, could they walk with me. I said, “Of course.”

The class got out well after dark, and the parking garage was across...

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Franklin Graham Is the Worst Thing to Happen to God in a While

(947) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 3:58 PM

Franklin Graham is the worst thing to happen to God in a while -- well, OK, God’s reputation. I’m only slightly exaggerating.

You see, Franklin Graham is at it again, making life difficult for thoughtful Christians everywhere. In a speech at the Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the...

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Prophets in Stolen Bowling Shoes

(1) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 4:04 PM

I got a call one time when I was 19-years-old from a friend of mine, who asked, “Could you do me a favor? Could you ride down to Kokomo with Rich Mullins, so he can pick up his truck?”

I was pretty stoked. I grew up in the Evangelical heartland...

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The Problem With Assuming That It's the Millennials' Fault for Abandoning Religion

(7) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 3:30 PM

I used to work with a guy who had a gift for breaking up with girls. He was so genuine and kind that afterward the girls would invariably leave feeling affirmed and cared for, like George Clooney had just fallen apart on them, relating how unworthy he was of their...

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How's Kirby? Why the Church Has to Get Gay Marriage Right

(18) Comments | Posted March 19, 2014 | 4:34 PM

Not long ago, I had to come home to tell my children that Charlie died.

Back in the '70s Charlie had been ordained in the church where I serve. He soon left the ministry, however, after meeting Kirby -- the love of his life. In fact, he didn't last long in...

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Updating Common Sense: What Christians Really Believe

(10) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 3:59 PM

As a kid I took for granted the fact that popping out of the womb as a male beat the hell out of the alternative. Any girl with half a brain, if given the choice, would obviously opt for checking “male” on the census form.

In fact, so clear...

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Why the Church Needs Some Masculine Feminists

(24) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 12:00 PM

A friend of mine had a baby. After the shock of finding herself the proud new owner of a six-pound bundle of joy, pandemonium and excretion, she went to the mailbox and discovered a bill from the insurance company -- the presence of which bill shocked no one, since babies...

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It's Time for Progressive Christians to Take a Stand for Marriage Equality

(23) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 4:51 PM

It’s time for progressive Christians to take a stand. With same-gender marriage once again making headlines, this time in Indiana and Oklahoma, it’s time that Christians in favor of making a way for people to marry whom they want to stand up and let their voices be heard.

...
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Why Does Jesus Have to Be Such a Lousy Role Model?

(40) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 1:23 PM

I got to thinking the other day: If Jesus is supposed to be the role model that Christianity claims he is, he’s done a pretty lousy job of it.

WWJD? If you read the Gospels, apparently not much that would please the Family Research Council.

Given the pressing social concerns...

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Why I Think Arguing About Gay Marriage as a Slippery Slope to Polygamy Is a Bad Idea

(9) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 7:35 PM

I recently received a challenge of sorts on my Facebook wall from a longtime friend, who wanted me to talk about the “Sister Wives” court ruling in Utah, concerning polygamy.

Turns out, though, that the ruling is favorable less to the prospects of polygamy than to the right...

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What If the Church Took Millennials Seriously?

(4) Comments | Posted December 11, 2013 | 3:32 PM

kids at church

Well, it appears that we’ve gotten Millennials (that generation born 1980-2000) wrong.

Jean Twenge has famously tried to make the case that Millennials are lazier and more selfish than previous generations. In books like Generation Me and The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the...

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Pope Francis and Learning to Take Jesus Seriously

(6) Comments | Posted December 2, 2013 | 6:45 PM

Scrolling through my Twitter feed last week, I ran across a quote that punched me right in the mouth: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to...

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What If Salvation Has Everything to Do With Politics?

(43) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 3:07 PM

“Of course I’m political. I’m trying to follow Jesus!”

Perhaps with a bit too much exasperation, that’s what I said by way of a response. The “constructive criticism” he laid at my feet amounted to this: “For a Christian you’re way too focused on social and political things, and...

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BREAKING: Christians Are Supposed to Love Poor People

(91) Comments | Posted October 24, 2013 | 3:03 PM

Politics. I know right. We’ve had plenty of it lately.

Government shut down. Obamacare. Debt limit ceiling. Default. Cuts to Food Stamps.

So, there I was, innocently minding my own business, posting something smart-alecky about Ted Cruz and his merry band of lackwits. All in good fun, of course.

And,...

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Reunions, Privilege, and Growing Up on the Wrong Side of the River

(0) Comments | Posted September 17, 2013 | 4:43 PM

My high school class recently had a reunion. Good old Grandville High. I’d looked forward to attending, but couldn’t because of a death in the family.

Missing it disappointed me, so I followed the goings-on through a group page on Facebook. I looked at the pictures of people I hadn’t...

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Hypocrisy: Over-Promising and Under-Delivering

(80) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 11:43 AM

The class seemed pretty normal. World Religions for three hours a night in June, however, challenges the patience and endurance of even the best students.

So, when I started grading the final essays, my expectations were, understandably, I think, fairly modest. But every once in a while, a student steps...

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The Failure of Tree-Climbing Fish and Little Churches

(15) Comments | Posted August 21, 2013 | 2:36 PM

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein

It’s school time again, so I’ve recently had teachers tell me how much my children have grown over...

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