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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

Does Declining Membership Mean God Thinks You Suck?

(1) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 3:51 PM

I found myself tangentially involved in a Facebook flame war the other day. Invigorating.

I know that when ministers and theologians have a flame war it’s never as good as when everybody else does it:

“Barack Obama embodies everything that’s going wrong with America. He’s killing the economy, the...

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Why Knowledge of Injustice Without Action Makes You Part of the Problem

(4) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 4:27 PM

Let us imagine that you live in a circle of eight houses, seven of which have fertile gardens in back -- enough to feed a family. Unfortunately, however, the eighth house has a patch of swampy land that makes growing a garden impossible. Consequently, the people that live there spend...

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7 Reasons Not to Freak Out About Protestant Mainline Decline

(11) Comments | Posted August 14, 2014 | 3:53 PM

I received an email from a friend of mine two days ago, after the 2014 Yearbook and Directory for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) came out, which contained some dispiriting numbers about membership decline. In the email my friend noted that, year-over-year, our loss of Total and Participating Membership...

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'I Like Jesus -- It's His Followers I Can't Stand'

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 2:32 PM

"If you follow Jesus and don't end up dead, it appears you have some explaining to do."

--Terry Eagleton1

There's a gap. I'm convinced of it. A Jesus gap.

There's a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional view of the...

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Breaking: The War Over Same Sex Marriage Has Been Won!

(26) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 9:59 PM

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The war for same gender marriage has been won. I received the news today. I didn’t read it in the newspaper, didn’t see it on the news crawl at the bottom of the screen on CNN. I heard the announcement from a 17...

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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

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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

(949) 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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