Welcome to Crucible of Thought! I'm Brandon, and I was a member of conservative evangelical congregations for 45 years. This blog is about things that I've learned since 2020, as I've been undergoing a process of "deprogramming," "deconstruction," "reconstruction"... pick whatever term you want, but basically a process carefully examining many different aspects of my social, political, and religious beliefs to see what really actually aligns with the Bible and specifically the teachings of Jesus, more than what aligns with the host of dogmatic statements I inherited in years of church training. I'm not trying to persuade anyone: I'm sharing my process, in the hopes that it inspires and enlightens others. I welcome you to join me as we move forward in our faith together.

How I Learned Empathy

A number of evangelical personalities are now calling empathy a sin and advocating that sympathy is the only Scripturally-appropriate way to deal with other people’s difficulties. Over the last couple years, the Lord has been reworking my heart to restore an ability to empathize, so I share that testimony and challenge this unscriptural position.

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A Collective Identity

I’ve been reading a book titled “Misreading Scripture with Individualist Eyes: Patronage, Honor, and Shame in the Biblical World.” It has me thinking about the dynamics of people that think primarily in terms of groups versus individuals, and about the patterns in American culture and society of the use of authority – and especially about

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Party Affiliation and COVID Rates: The Effects of COVID Vaccination Refusal as a Function of Political Persuasion

Recently the New York Times, as mirrored by the Seattle Times and other websites, posted an article titled “Red COVID.” https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation-politics/red-covid-in-u-s-the-coronavirus-partisan-pattern-is-growing-more-extreme/ (I choose to share the Seattle Times version here, because the New York Times version is paywalled.) The article notes the deeply partisan divide in COVID statistics, and considers the reasons for this difference

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Safe Places and Untouchables

When the church does not provide a “safe place” for the hurting and confused, it effectively eliminates itself as a source of counsel and wisdom, not to mention a place of sanctuary and healing. But “safe places” and a shame-based discipline system are incompatible with each other. My History with Shame For all of my

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COVID Contradictions

The COVID epidemic has clearly exposed a number of contradictions in the thought process and the actions of many American Christians. The very group that is the most vocal about stopping abortion, preventing euthanasia, and denying “my body, my choice” is also the group agitating the loudest against masking and vaccination and activity restrictions. Isaiah 1 has some strong words for God’s people in the face of their failure to look out for the vulnerable among them.

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Scattered by the Sower

Jesus predicted His death in the midst of a rather curious situation, in John 12. 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21 these people then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and were making a request of him, saying, “Sir, we

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