The Subtle Art of Giving Three F’s

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Dear friends,

I believe the first chapters of the Bible give us keys for overcoming some of the most destructive trends in contemporary culture. Thanks for stopping and thinking with me about what it means to human and seek a more flourishing life with others.

And special thanks to Andrew, the newest patron of Stop & Think. I’m deeply grateful for the 31 subscribers who make my writing possible.

Much love,

Andrew

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For the last few weeks, I’ve been looking at the Bible’s earliest portraits of humanity. Who are we according to God’s original intent and our existential depths?

Genesis 1 introduces humans as the image-bearers of God. Genesis 2 describes humans as complex creatures with five interacting dimensions: the physical, spiritual, moral, vocational, and relational. And Genesis 3 depicts humans as now divided and disordered in these core dimensions of who we are.

If we embrace this biblical anthropology or way of understanding ourselves, what difference does it make in our relationships with others?.. Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

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Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

You Need to Know This

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Dear friends,

One of the greatest mysteries of our humanity is that we’re able to question ourselves: Who are we? Where do we come from? How can we flourish? Knowingly or not, we live out answers to these questions every day, for better or worse.

This week, I look at Genesis 3-4 and its responses to these vital questions. Rather than outdated mythology, the Bible’s earliest chapters offer us an inspiring and honest vision of human identity. I believe it’s key to our flourishing today.

Please receive this newsletter with my gratitude and prayers for God’s grace in your life,

Andrew

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What does it mean to be human? Who are we in our depths?

Genesis 1-2: God’s Image and Complex Flourishing  

Genesis 1 answers that we’re made in God’s image (1:26-27). Religious objects in temples don’t embody God’s holy presence in the world. People do. And not just elite people like rules and priests with power over others. Each and every person, male and female, is made as a personal representative of God with all the dignity and responsibility of this sacred status... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

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I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Human Identity: The Complex Creature

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What does it mean to be human? Who are we when we’re truly alive?

The foundational chapter of the Bible dares to make a heretical statement: humans are the image of God. When we see one another correctly, we recognize that people are the embodiments of God’s presence in the world with a calling to creatively serve the world’s flourishing. Against a worldview that saw idols, kings, and priests as God’s image, Genesis 1 insists that each and every person – including women – carries this divine dignity and responsibility. No one is lesser or lower.

Imagine if we learned to see others through this ancient lens. Indifference, discrimination, and hatred would be replaced with attention, reverence, and love.

If Genesis 1 is the Bible’s big-picture vision of humanity as God’s image, Genesis 2 is the Bible’s in-depth vision of the core elements of our humanity. Genesis 2 is subtly saying, “Humans, this is who you are in the depths of your being... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Vision, Others, and Our Shared Future

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Source: I took this picture at the 2017 exhibit “Some Were Neighbors” at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In my thirty-fifth year, my mind has been preoccupied with this simple but powerful idea: How we see others produces the society we see.

When we see others as cheap, foreign, and/or enemies, we produce a society of indifference, suspicion, and hatred. Patterns of poverty, conflict, and violence become inevitable. Bodies get dragged through the streets.

But when we see others as valuable, related, and neighbors, we produce a society where care, trust, and love are possible. Patterns of growth, cooperation, and peace become tangible.

How we see others is the fundamental issue for our future.

This applies from the individual to the national to the global levels. Our seeing shapes our attitudes, opinions, speech, and behavior. And these condense into what we call culture, economy, politics, and history.

If we see others as neighbors, we will treat them with kindness, respect, and care... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Human Identity: The Image of God

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What does it mean to be human? What is our core identity?

The way we see ourselves and others creates the world we see. Our basic vision of people shapes our attitudes and behaviors, and these end up structuring our relationships and societies.

From this perspective, the question of human identity is not a speculative fancy. It is immediately practical and deeply consequential for our lives, communities, and world.

The Bible introduced a rebellious vision of human identity that disrupted the assumptions of its cultural context.

Ancient mythology constructed culture-making, society-structuring answers to the question of human identity. For example, see the cover picture above, the influential Mesopotamian myth Enuma Elish (“When on High”) explained that humans were made from the blood of a murdered god. The hero god Marduk (pictured as a warrior) slaughtered his rival goddess Tiamat (pictured as a dragon), and this is where we begin. According to this civilization-shaping narrative, human life is rooted in violence. (It’s also worth noting the gendered nature of this violence.)

Moreover, according to Enuma Elish, the purpose of human life is to labor as the gods’ slaves, building temples for their relaxation and farming food for their feasting... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Remembering Jean Vanier: The Tender Rebel We Need Today

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Dear friends,

On May 7, Jean Vanier passed away at the age of ninety. Many people have never heard of Vanier, but I believe he should be respected and celebrated like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and other iconic moral leaders who inspire and challenge us. Vanier shows us a fundamentally new way of being human that is so beautiful and healing.

I explore Jean Vanier’s life and thought in my video course Neighbor-Love, and I want to invite you to spend a few minutes learning about this beautiful man with me. “The Life and Love of Jean Vanier” (4 minutes) explores Vanier’s story and work. “Vanier’s Wisdom of Tenderness” (8 minutes) explores five of the core ideas that energized his vocation and defined his philosophy. Both videos are free.

Stop & Think this week is a lightly edited version of “Vanier’s Wisdom of Tenderness.” Look for the recommended reading list at the end. Thank God for Jean Vanier!

Yours with gratitude,

Andrew

 

What were the core ideas that inspired Jean Vanier’s work with l’Arche for the last half-century?.. Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

My Enemy Became My Healer

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Last week, I felt spiritually sick. Perhaps you know the feeling.

It was like my soul was nauseous, bent over, and invisibly heaving inside. My chest felt like it was caving in under the pressure of a sorrow, discouragement, and confusion whose source I couldn’t pinpoint. I told Lily that I felt like I was dying inside.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, I was scheduled to meet with someone that I thought hated me for the last two years.

This person had publicly attacked my character and tried to ruin my ministry, because I asked difficult questions and called for deeper Christian thought. This episode was extremely painful and consumed a lot of my time and energy. I felt like someone I didn’t even know was trying to assassinate God’s calling on my life after Lily and I had sold our things and risked our livelihood to serve in Ethiopia.

So, as 3:30pm approached on Tuesday, I thought about rescheduling the meeting... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Resurrection: What We Believe and Why It Matters

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Dear friends,

Melkam Fasika – Happy Easter! Yesterday we celebrated Christ’s resurrection in Ethiopia following the Orthodox tradition. This week I take a look at what Christians actually believe about the resurrection and why it matters for us today. I pray your week is full of fresh hope, peace, and joy.

Yours,
Andrew

Easter is the special holiday when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus after he was executed outside Jerusalem. What do Christians believe about the resurrection and why does it matter for us today?

What We Believe

Peter explained the meaning of Jesus’s resurrection to a crowd in Jerusalem soon after this extraordinary event: “You, with the help of wicked men, put Jesus to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:23-24).

The Christian belief in resurrection is threefold.

First, God miraculously raised Jesus from the dead – never to die again.

.. Read More
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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

The End of Revenge: Easter’s Silent Miracle

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There is a silent miracle hidden in the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection. But I’ve never seen a preacher or commentator point it out.

As we know, Jesus was unjustly arrested, brutally tortured, and horrifically executed by the religious and political leaders of his society. The Roman invention of crucifixion was meant to maximize agony and anguish. Perhaps more painful than his physical suffering, Jesus died in betrayal, abandonment, and mockery.

That’s what Jesus got after “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). That was Jesus’s reward for proclaiming good news to the poor, declaring freedom for prisoners, opening the eyes of the blind, and speaking God’s blessing (Luke 4:18-19).

It’s hard to imagine greater justification for righteous anger and brutal revenge. After all, Jesus was known as the “son of David.”

If we look at the end of King David’s story, bitter anger and brutal revenge is exactly what we find... Read More

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Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.

Jesus and Resistance to Injustice

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Dear friends,

It’s been moving to receive messages from abuse survivors in response to my essays on Jesus’s condemnation of abuse and Aquinas’s love-based defense of opposing injustice. Thank you for writing.

This week, my essay will be a bit longer as I dive deeper into this topic of loving our neighbors – enemies and the abused – as ourselves. I look at the ethics of resistance in Jesus’s teaching and practice.

Thanks as always for stopping and thinking with me on these important, very practical topics!

Yours,
Andrew

Thanks to our newest monthly supporter, Lindsay, and the 30 supporters who make this writing possible.

Introduction

Last week, I concluded my essay by asking if Jesus supported principled resistance to injustice.

This question arose from Thomas Aquinas’s argument that forcefully opposing an abuser can actually be an act of love. For Aquinas, when we stop injustice, (1) we love our victimized neighbors by protecting them; (2) we love our abusive neighbor by giving them the chance to repent and be restored; and (3) we love our abusive neighbor by preventing them from further damning themselves, even if they don’t repent... Read More

  • Share post

Announcing my new course:

Neighbor-Love

Neighbor-love is a revolutionary idea. It transforms how people see and treat one another across our greatest divisions. And yet it has been neglected or misunderstood today.

This 8-hour course distills my deepest passions and highest hopes as a professor and practitioner. Please join me and rediscover the rich history, profound meaning, and practical implications of neighbor-love. Become an ambassador of neighbor-love for our world.

View Course

Donation = Appreciation

Stop and Think remains free (and ad-free) and takes time to write, and money to sustain.

Please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of coffee and a good meal.

Sign Up for the Newsletter


I write to help people stop and think, and thus to restart and live more thoughtful, loving, deeply human lives with others. As you stop and think with me, I hope you discover new beginnings that enrich and enlarge your love.