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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

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

(2) Comments | Posted February 8, 2016 | 5:08 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 | 10:03 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 | 1:19 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 | 11:46 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 | 1:34 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 | 4:20 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 | 4:56 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 | 10:15 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

(1090) Comments | Posted August 24, 2015 | 8:23 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

(367) Comments | Posted August 3, 2015 | 6:43 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 | 4:05 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 | 7:14 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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Can Evangelicals and Christians Coexist in America?

(590) Comments | Posted June 9, 2015 | 5:34 PM

I just read an article entitled, “Can Gays and Christians Coexist in America?” Once again, I find myself annoyed by the presumption--the enduring arrogance present in unself-critically asserting that the “Christian position” with respect to LGBTQ people is by definition condemnatory.

This just in: There are Christians who...

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Six Things Christians Should Worry About More Than the Decline of Christianity

(1049) Comments | Posted May 19, 2015 | 2:45 PM

Christians of all stripes are freaking out a little (some a lot). Given the recent bleak news from the Pew Research Center, which indicates that Christianity is on the decline in the U.S., such exercises in hand-wringing are understandable -- even if not particularly helpful.

Protestant mainline denominations have...

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President Obama: Pretty Sure Jesus Isn't Cool With the Drones

(2) Comments | Posted April 25, 2015 | 2:33 PM

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve had you on my mind lately, what with the fallout over the drone thing. I thought I’d write you a little note, since it seems I’ve failed you.

In sixth grade I punched Russell Burgess in the mouth. He never saw it coming. Well, I mean,...

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Note to Franklin Graham: Having to Live with Muslims and LGBT People Isn't Persecution

(11) Comments | Posted April 9, 2015 | 8:42 PM

At Garissa University College in Kenya, 150 or so people suspected of being Christian are slaughtered. In Syria, 21 Christians are ritually beheaded. These are outrages that should evoke disgust and a cry for justice from all of us -- Christian or otherwise. There are unquestionably places in the world...

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What Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter Don't Understand About Christianity and RFRA

(390) Comments | Posted April 7, 2015 | 7:32 PM

RFRA. I know, right?

I’m annoyed. Think about it for a minute: Has it dawned on you the intellectual contortions the backers of this law require of us in order to take them seriously?

Distilled to its essence, the argument put forward by the enthusiasts for RFRA legislation is...

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

(1577) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 11:09 AM

Well, Franklin Graham is at it again, giving Jesus yet another face-palm moment and ensuring that everyone else thinks Christians are mean-spirited whiners.

“What’s he done now?” you ask.

Franklin Graham continues to beat the drum that suggests President Obama and his administration are under the sway of a...

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The Bible's for Losers (And Why That's a Good Thing)

(4) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 2:01 PM

Taking everything into consideration, the Bible was written mostly by losers for the benefit of other losers.

That’s not a value judgment, just an observation.

Think about it. The various authors of the texts we call Scripture, both the Hebrew and Christian versions, generally occupied the less aspirational end...

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Why Liberal Protestantism Should Quit Living in Fear of Its Own Death

(2) Comments | Posted January 5, 2015 | 11:46 AM

I’ve grown accustomed to the popular ecclesiastical trope, which argues that liberal denominations are dying because they’re liberal. As somebody who writes about this stuff, I can spot the whole liberals-are-killing-the-church thing from a mile away -- because of their love of gay people, and black people, and poor...

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