Seminary Dropout 54: Walter Brueggemann Talking – Reality, Greif, Hope


wbIt’s hard to introduce someone like Walter Brueggemann. There are just too many accolades to mention. Yes, he’s got degree’s from Elmhurst College, Eden Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from Saint Louis University.

He’s written books, at least 58 books by my count.

He’s received numerous awards too including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Union Theological Seminary, and the Luce Theological Fellowship from the Association of Theological Schools. He was named an honorary member of the British Society for Old Testament Study. He received both the Academy of Parish Clergy Book of the Year award and the Catholic Press Association Book of the Year award for Theology of the Old Testament. The Association of Theological Booksellers named Brueggemann’s “An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination” Best Academic Book in 2004. Brueggemann was inducted as an honorary admiral into the Nebraska Navy. Really… the Nebraska Navy!

So yeah he’s done all that but still it doesn’t seem to adequately describe who he is, so I’ll just say that above all else what impresses me most about Walter Brueggemann is that after all these years he is humble enough to sit down and talk with someone like me.

On the show we talk about his new book
Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks.


Do you like Seminary Dropout? Have you benefitted from one or more of the interviews you’ve heard here? Then consider supporting Seminary Dropout. We’ve just launched a new and fun way to support the show through a new venue called ‘Patreon’. it’s similar to Kick-starter but it’s for things that are created on an ongoing basis, like podcasts! There are rewards for donating and goals that will improve the show once we meet them.

Please go to to see it for yourself. Even if you can’t contribute, it’s worth it just to watch the video some past Seminary Dropout guests helped me make.


If you liked this episode you’ll also like:

Seminary Dropout 41: Bruxy Cavey

Seminary Dropout 22: Philip Yancey

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Seminary Dropout 53: Jason Boyett on The Apocolypse, & Salvation


jbJason Boyett has a knack for boiling down complicated concepts and making them easy to understand to the average person. He displays this most notably in his ‘Pocket Guide’ book series. A.J. Jacobs, the author of The Year of Living Biblically called the Pocket Guides ‘smart’ & ‘hilarious’.  He’s written other things too, including a spiritual memoir called ‘O Me of Little Faith’, it’s shockingly honest, and pretty funny too.

You can find Jason at



If you like this episode you’ll also like:

Seminary Dropout 27: Greg Boyd

Seminary Dropout 16: Jeff Goins


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The Difference Between Christians & the Rest of Mankind

For Christians are not distinguished from the
rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in
For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their
own, neither do they use some different language, nor
practise an extraordinary kind of life.
Nor again do they possess any invention
discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious
men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some
But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and
barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the
native customs in dress and food and the other
arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their
own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous,
and confessedly contradicts expectation.
They dwell in their own countries, but only as
sojourners; they bear their share in all things as
citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers.
Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and
every fatherland is foreign.
They marry like all other men and they beget
children; but they do not cast away their offspring.
They have their meals in common, but not their
They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they
live not after the flesh.
Their existence is on earth, but their
citizenship is in heaven.
They obey the established laws, and they
surpass the laws in their own lives.
They love all men, and they are persecuted by
They are ignored, and yet they are condemned.
They are put to death, and yet they are endued with
They are in beggary, and yet they make many
rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they
abound in all things.
They are dishonoured, and yet they are
glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of,
and yet they are vindicated.
They are reviled, and they bless; they are
insulted, and they respect.
Doing good they are punished as evil-doers;
being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby
quickened by life.
War is waged against them as aliens by the
Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by
the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell
the reason of their hostility.

From the Epistle to Diognetus

Seminary Dropout 52: James Bryan Smith, Author of The Apprentice Series.


JBSDallas Willard, Richard Foster are names you probably know, they’ve both been on the forefront on modern Christian spiritual development with books like ‘The Celebration of Discipline’ by Foster and ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines’ by Willard just to name a few. Well if you don’t know James Bryan Smith, you should, he and his works were heavily influenced by Willard & Foster. He’s written among other things a trilogy of books that are somewhat devotional in nature, called The Good & Beautiful God, The Good & Beautiful Life, & The Good and Beautiful Community. James is also a professor of Theology at Friends University in Witchita, Kansas, as well as the director of the Apprentice Institute.

Be sure to check out The Apprentice Institute!

The Apprentice Series:


If you like this episode you’ll also like:

Seminary Dropout 011: Richard Foster

Seminary Dropout 43: David Leo Schultz, Director & Producer of ‘Ragamuffin’


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The Bible Doesn’t Believe in a ‘Plain Reading’ of the Bible

Sometimes you hear people advocate for a ‘plain reading’ of scripture. I believe that scripture isn’t meant to be molded into anything we want it to be. However, all too often I fear what people are saying when they advocate for a ‘plain reading’ is that we shouldn’t put ourselves in the shoes of the first recipients of the scriptures, in their context and customs, that we should trust that original language translated into English perfectly captures the idea that was meant to be conveyed.

The biggest problem with this is that the Bible doesn’t believe in a plain reading of the Bible.

…and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand…  -From 2 Peter 3

Why is it hard to understand Peter? Just read it plainly.

Seminary Dropout 51: Michael Gungor Talks Creation, Music, & Art.



You’ve probably known who Michael Gungor is for a long time. Maybe you first remember hearing him in The Michael Gungor  bands  song ‘White Man’ on the Ancient Skies album. Michaels music is constantly evolving and eventually he went from The Michael Gungor band to a collective simply known as Gungor. The band has released 5 albums so far. Gungor’s latest album is called ‘I am Mountain’, and a deluxe version just released this July. 



Michael joined me on Seminary Dropout to talk about that whole creation scandal, the changes in his music throughout the years, and how he’s playing catch up with the music he never listened to as a kid.





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My Fellow White People, 6 Things

Part of the reason why I’m just now speaking up about Ferguson is because I’ve been wrestling and wondering if the world needs another white voice contributing to this conversation. I’ve decided to proceed with writing about it because this piece is intended to speak to other white people, and not signal to people of color that I’m ‘one of the good ones’, also, there have been people in my life that have told me things that were hard for me to believe, and if it had been anyone else talking, I wouldn’t have received it, but because I loved and trusted that specific person, I was able to receive and believe what they were saying. If I can be that person to anyone and say that white privilege is real, there is a big problem, and we need to do things differently, then this will have been worth it.

I don’t have all the answers and I’m not perfect. Christians many times have no problems admitting in general that we are sinful people, that we can be self-serving and unloving, but when it comes to the specific sin of racism we often claim we are immune. So if I can be uncomfortably honest and transparent, I’ll say that although I don’t know of any forms of racism in my heart, ugliness is not beyond me, so it is plausible that there may be racist ideas, and thoughts in the hidden recesses of my soul, and if there are, I pray that when they are revealed to me, God will eradicate them, and heal and cleanse me from that unrighteousness. Yes, God has made me a new creature, but often I forget to put on that ‘new self’.

So let’s talk about 6 things we have to realize…

1.) Hard facts and statistics show white privilege is real.

The example most widely known is the rate of arrests of black Americans for marijuana as compared to those of white Americans. The rate of use between the two races is similar while the rate of arrest is staggeringly uneven. How do you account for this? The only plausible reason is that whites are treated far more favorably than blacks. That’s white privilege.
But you don’t smoke pot, so you’re not privileged, right? Not so fast. Marijuana arrests are just most well-known and often cited example. Have you sent in a resume to a company you want to work for and received a call back? In all likely hood white privilege had a role in that call back. Easily acquired housing? White privilege. Been given the benefit of the doubt by authorities? White privilege. It’s real and it’s pervasive.
Many of us mistakenly believe that white privilege = racism, so when we hear someone talking about white privilege we think they’re saying – all white people are racist. That’s not the case. We benefit from white privilege whether we want to or not. That’s not to say we shouldn’t fight against the system that perpetuates white privilege, we should. One thing is for sure, not acknowledging it does not make it go away, and doesn’t make it better.

2.) There are good reasons why a black officer killing a white man doesn’t elicit the same response Ferguson is getting.

My Facebook wall tells me that an unarmed white man named Dillon Taylor was shot by a black police officer in Utah. This case and its lack of media attention has been lifted up by many as proof that it is whites not blacks who receive unfair treatment.
So let’s think this through. Why hasn’t this received the media attention that Ferguson has? Because there is not a systematic problem of the criminal justice system treating white people unjustly. There is also not, a tidal wave of support for the black officer who killed Taylor, nor to my knowledge, a site for him as there is for Darren Wilson. In all likely hood the black officer will face justice, while the Darren Wilson will receive at least $234,910.00, from his Gofundme site, a goal that was reached in 8 days. If Wilson does face justice, it will be because of the media attention, and protests. In America if you kill a person of a different race, you go to jail if you’re black, and you get rich if you’re white. The system is broken and needs outside accountability to act justly.

3.) ‘Waiting for the facts’ before passing judgement, doesn’t always hold water.

I’ve heard this a few times from people in regards to Ferguson. The problem is, unless the fact that – an unarmed black man was killed (a fact that no one is or has ever disputed (as far as I know)), changes, there are no other facts that could possibly justify what happened. Societies rules state (and almost no one would disagree) that a police officer should be able to defend him/herself, which would include returning lethal force with lethal force. When an officer faces less than lethal force, there’s no reason to return with lethal force. Police are armed with pepper spray and stun guns for this reason.

4.) Putting on a police uniform doesn’t give a person license to do whatever they want. 

You hear often about our brave men and women in blue. I think that’s true for most police officers, it is for the ones I know personally. However you don’t get don’t get to be brave and shoot anything that moves. We exalt the police for putting their bodies on the line, and we should, but then we can’t also praise and defend one when he decides to shoot instead of putting his body on the line, and risk a beating.

5.) Death is not an appropriate punishment for being less than an upstanding citizen.

A big deal has been made that Michael Brown was a suspect in a robbery that took place before he was shot. Who among us believes that execution is a proper punishment for robbery? This is silly and to use it as some sort of justification for what happened seems to me to be motivated by racism.

6.) We need to perform a heart-check before we speak, even if what we’re saying is true & just.

Even when we’re saying something good, it doesn’t always need to be said by us, and at all times. Before we speak out against racism I think we need to take a long, hard look at our hearts and ask ourselves – Am I speaking out against racism because it’s the right thing to do right now, or am I speaking out because I want people to hear me speaking out. Those are very different things, one is self-righteous finger-waging. Self-righteous finger-waging is not helpful and not humble.

But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. James 2:9

Seminary Dropout 50: Margot Starbuck on God, Writing & Public Speaking


Margot Starbuck

Throughout the years Margot Starbuck has worn many hats, she’s been a chaplain to people with intellectual and physical disabilities, she painted and sold plungers, she’s swam next to a guy with epilepsy so he wouldn’t drown. I did say she wore many hats.
Today you probably know her from one or more of her many books, her contributions to publications like Today’s Christian Woman or Red Letter Christianity, or maybe you’ve heard her one of her many speaking engagements. Margot speaks about God’s love with fresh honesty, love and compassion.


Some memorable moments from the show:

I think a lot of us are walking around just slathered in shame. Tweet: 'I think a lot of us are walking around just slathered in shame' -Margot Starbuck

#AdultsDontThinkLittleKidsCanWalkBigDogsButTheyTotallyCanTweet: #AdultsDontThinkLittleKidsCanWalkBigDogsButTheyTotallyCan

Karate belts & ribbon cost money, words are free.Tweet: 'Karate belts & ribbon cost money, words are free.'

Margot’s latest book is Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God.

From our earliest days we long for love and acceptance. First from our parents, then from peers, and eventually from romantic interests. We look into their faces, searching for a smile, a look that says, I love you exactly as you are. Don’t change. We long for the same gracious acceptance from God. But despite the Christian gospel of unearned grace and unconditional love, too many of us feel as though we’re still not quite good enough as we are. We can’t believe that God accepts us. And often this is because those who represent God to us on earth–our parents, other Christians–have not looked upon us as we are with expressions of unrelenting love. -Publishers Description-

Remember our current twitter campaign:

Hey @JenHatmaker, I’d love to hear you on Seminary Dropout! #JenOnSDTweet: Hey @JenHatmaker, I'd love to hear you on Seminary Dropout! #JenOnSD

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RSVP or just show up here.


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Seminary Dropout 49: Michael Leary talking Mad Men & the Psalms


Michael Leary, is an Adjunct Instructor of Religious Studies at Fontbonne University as well as being a lecturer at Emmaus Bible College in Sydney, Australia, so naturally I have him here on the show to talk about AMC’s television show Mad Men.



Michael writes for the website Filmwell and recently wrote a few pieces on the biblical imagery in Mad Men. My friends know that I love Mad Men, and want nothing more but to constantly talk about Mad Men all day everyday, especially as it relates to the gospel and redemption. If your not a viewer of the show then I think there’s still something in the show for you, but be warned, there are spoilers in this episode.


I forgot to mention it in the podcast, but remember our current twitter campaign that we launched in last weeks episode. #JenOnSD

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Seminary Dropout 48: Author of ‘The Shack’, WM Paul Young


WM paul youngMy guest today is WM Paul Young. Paul grew up as the son a missionaries in what is now West Papua. There he experienced trauma at the hands of the indigenous people, as well as his own family. Paul grew up and worked various jobs, some in ministry, and some outside. Some point along the way he began keeping secrets from everyone around him including his wife and children. When his secrets came to light he was forced to deal with his hidden life, as well as the trauma he faced when he was younger.


The entire experience gave Paul unique lens through which to view the gospel. You may have heard the story – his wife eventually asked him to put into words who God was to him for his children, friends, and family. He wrote The Shack, and made 15 copies at an Office Depot. The copies eventually made their way into the hands of people who would be passionate about publishing it. Like I said, you may have heard that part already. What you haven’t heard is what we discuss on this episode on Seminary Dropout…


Remember the current twitter campaign: #JenOnSD

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