Bo Sanders: Public Theology

updating & innovating for today

Daddy God

More than masculine imagery is needed for health and wholeness.

The divine – transcendent – eternal is so much more than the metaphors and analogies that we utilize is worship and prayer.

“The rule of prayer is the rule of faith” has migrated historically from prayer to sacrament to preaching and, now in our musical age, to worship. See also Worship Words Determine Faith [link]

Our language about God functions – Elizabeth Johnson

This is why we must both account for and attend to a more well-rounded and balanced approach to our imagery about God.

Please support the work of Naked Pastor

Watch this video and let me know your thoughts about my nuanced and constructive proposal.

Here is the comic from Naked Pastor



Are Denomination (like Methodism) Antiques?

Not all antiques are created equal.

Some are just knick-knacks and mostly just ornamental or conversation starters.

Some are still useful and they come with a novelty factor.

Others need to be repurposed for some use other than their original one.

There even ‘reproductions’ that are designed take the best of the old model but which integrate new technology. These have been updated but in a way that still pays homage to the original purpose.

There are also antiques that don’t know that they are antiquated.

Denominations, like Methodism, are going through a challenging time. Their infrastructure and polity come from a European model leftover from State-Church models that prospered in Christendom. Even backlash movements (like early Methodism) become labored in legislation, politics, and governmental frameworks.

I am asking if they are ‘usable antiques’ or do they need to be repurposed. Are they able to be updated to include new innovation? Are they ornamental or can they be adapted in a way that still pays homage to the original design and vision.

Enjoy this video and let me know what you think.

Degree and Kind

Different in degree or has it become a different kind of thing?

Spelling Bee, Military, Religion, Farming, etc.

This is a follow up to Meaning Migrates.

We live in a time when change is inflamed by globalism, technology, and money.

Meaning Migrates

Everything changes and meaning migrates. Below is a video about the migration of meaning.

Military: from D-Day and the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago to the War on Terror and drones now.
Evangelicalism: from European and British examples over 100 years ago to Billy Graham and now 81% support for Trump.
Methodism: 300 years of historic drift
Farming: from Agrarian society to Agribusiness and Industrial Farming
Masculinity: in just the past 3 generations the meaning of ‘manhood’ has changed.
Politics: from ‘the party of Lincoln’ to the loss of conservatism. Also the ‘death of the Liberal class’.

Our access to truth is:

  1. Partial
  2. Provisional
  3. Perspectival

The result is that meaning is:

  • Contested
  • Mediated
  • Located

What inflames change all the more in our exponential times of cultural conflict are:
Globalization – Transnational reality as a legacy of colonialism
Technology – Internet, Social Media, etc.
Finances – capitalism in the 21st century

Just check out these stories in the news right now:
Climbing Mt. Everest has changed
China has changed global markets
The Mississippi River is being held by technology and money

Public Theology

Here is a short video about ‘public theology’.

Theology can be done with, for, and in public.

Check out a short article on public theology [here]

Postures of Prayer

This evening we are doing an experiment with postures of prayer.

Prayer is sometimes a verbal thing – trying to get the right words. Other times prayer is a heart thing – trying to make sure your have the right attitude or are in the right mood.

My thinking about prayer changed radically 12 years ago when I encountered Richard Twiss’ work We Dance Our Prayers. His basic point in that the tongue is muscle and words are learned and repeated motions to create certain sounds. Native dances are the same way!

Native dancing ceremony is different than night-club style dancing. In a club it is about the individual feeling and interpreting the music with spontaneous and individualized style and moves. This is often for the purpose of signaling desirability and attractiveness. Which is fine … but when Twiss talks about dancing, me means something different.

Twiss highlights Native ceremonial dance as a communal activity that replicates inherited movements and steps in order to tell a story or bring out a message. It varies according to tribe and song but it has an intentionality and deliberateness that is palpable if you have ever seen it. Here is an example from his Wiconi Living Waters Pow Wow

This is one kind of dancing and there are several others. A powerful example is shown at minute 15 of this presentation

We Dance Our Prayers opened me up from the vary narrow concept of prayer that I had as a charismatic-evangelical who primarily viewed prayer as intercession.

Twiss’ work coupled in my mind and heart with this new realization that the central story of the christian faith is about a body. That christianity is an embodied religion and that I had made it too ‘spiritual’ and other worldly. God intended for the body to be a something more than a mud-suit to temporarily house a ‘soul’ until it was time to ascend to the higher realm. This is more platonism or gnosticism than it is christian.

In the past 12 years my prayer life has changed a lot. Perhaps the biggest change came when I stopped closing my eyes. Randy Woodley first pointed out to me the 2-fold problem with closing your eyes when you pray:

  1. It is nowhere in the Bible
  2. You block out creation

I started praying with my eyes open and opening my eyes to the world that god loves so much. I look around for a tree or the sky or anything that god has made. Once in a while I get stuck in a church building that has literally blocked out all nature and so I have look at a person who’s eyes are closed to see something that god has made!

Which brings me to tonight. I am so excited to do this experiment.

Here is the thing that I hope comes through for people:

  • Our bodies help us pray. The posture creates in us an attitude that changes the way we pray.
  • Our bodies pray for us. This is the big epiphany! If I am kneeling with my hands raised and looking to the heavens … that is a prayer whether I say anything or not.

Talking is one way to pray. Dancing may be a way to pray. Placing your body in different postures is a way to pray.

Here are the postures we will utilize tonight:

Body Prayers


  • Gentle Movement
  • Folded
  • Raised


  •             Bowed
  •             Raised


  •             Closed
  •             Raised


  •             Looking Down
  •             Looking up


  •             Down
  •             Up

I would love to hear about your experience with any of this.

Rachel Held Evans Tribute

Rachel Held Evans was a popular author and blogger. Her voice will be missed.

This 2011 interview with Bo is a wonderful snapshot of her work, her insight, and her generous spirit.

You can post your comments here or on the show’s Facebook page or email

Please support the show through Patreon

You can also buy your book and seeds at

The next reading group May 14


Live As Easter People

Tomorrow will begin a new blog theme on Public Theology.

Today I wanted to share the most recent sermon series. It was a 3 part sermon centered on Easter. The themes are:

  1. Palms as Protest
  2. Easter as Life
  3. … as Easter People

The videos are below or you can listen to them on the podcast stream:

Quick May Update

After some time off and a house renovation, I am excited to return to the blog.

The past couple of months have renewed my commitment to ‘do theology in public’. The whole point of public theology (for me) is to engage 3 Publics:

  1. Society and Cultural Concerns
  2. Academy
  3. Religious Communties

These 3 Publics allow me to engage in a from of inter-disciplinary dialogue that is mutually informing and constructive. We can not afford to allow these diverse engagements to become silos and in-house conversations.

Here is a quick video (5 min) as I prepare to return to the blog.

I am really looking forward to this.

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