iOS app Android app

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

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

Updating Common Sense: What Christians Really Believe

(11) 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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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.

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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.


Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

Why the Church and Charity Aren't Enough

(33) Comments | Posted August 6, 2013 | 5:54 PM

I’m talking to this guy the other day, as we both sit on overstuffed chairs, waiting to go into a meeting. He’s a Christian, and so am I. So, you’d think we might find more common ground. But alas, we occupy different schools of thought on almost everything, especially politics.

Read Post

A Precedent Is a Precedent... Until It's Not

(66) Comments | Posted July 11, 2013 | 2:05 PM

Society’s attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity are changing. Inexorably. And even though there’s a historical precedent in Christianity opposing the affirmation of LGBT people, the prospect of such a change shouldn’t trouble Christians. A precedent is a precedent … until it isn’t.

Here’s what I’d like to propose:...

Read Post

The Problem With Assuming Liberal Christians Hate the Bible

(1925) Comments | Posted July 1, 2013 | 3:42 PM

I’d had a long day talking to young ministers and seminarians. So, when I lowered myself into the jacuzzi at the hotel, I wasn’t looking for conversation. I just wanted to let the heat work its magic.

Apparently, though, the gray haired man in an over-sized NASCAR t-shirt misread my...

Read Post

The Bruises You Get From Hitting Someone Else

(2) Comments | Posted June 19, 2013 | 6:02 PM

My five-year-old is in training to be a ninja. Part of that training requires hitting me. A lot.

One of the problems with his hitting me, though -- you know, apart from the fact that wayward blows strategically placed, even from a five-year-old, hurt like hell -- is he...

Read Post

Why Christians Might Have Something to Learn From the Dalai Lama

(72) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 4:39 PM

The Dalai Lama came to town recently. True to form, he captivated the city. Everyone loved this gentle, unassuming man whose purpose in life centers on being a presence in the world for mindfulness, for peace and justice. Well, almost everyone …

One local retired megachurch pastor, Rev. Bob Russell,...

Read Post