Peculiar Faith, Peculiar People


“Shine,” Mike Moyers

The Season of Advent
December 3-24, 2023

One of the translations I love of the first letter of Peter in the Christian Testament of the Bible refers to Christians as a “peculiar people” (2:9). Or to paraphrase Forest Gump, peculiar is as peculiar does. Living as a Christian ought to set one apart from the ordinary and expected. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for radical change and transformation–a lifelong process of conversion for the sake of a whole wide world of thriving and flourishing for all of God’s creatures.

I created this blog to offer occasional reflections on how the peculiar character of Christian faith can renew the Church and, in the process, change the world. And not a moment too soon. The world is reeling from unrelenting violence, an epidemic of despair, an unprecedented gap between rich and poor, and planetary environmental collapse. I believe the world’s religious traditions were made for just such a moment as this–to inspire and help facilitate healing and renewal. (To read my latest blog posts, click on “Commentary” in the menu above.

As a living tradition rather than a museum exhibit, Christian faith can still create communities of bold faith, vibrant hope, and sustaining love. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And now is the time to retrieve those resources for a world in need.

In this blog, “peculiar” will sometimes mean odd and strange, but also something like “queer.” These are synonyms in most dictionaries, even though today “queer” usually gets tossed around like an insult for people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). I prefer the old-fashioned definition, which “peculiar” captures much better. To be sure, LGBT people often have some great insights into what that means and looks like, both in the wider society and in Christian churches–and I’ll draw on some of those insights here. But I have a much larger horizon in view. I’m eager to retrieve the most peculiar bits of Christian history for the sake of renewing Christian witness in the world today.

You can read a bit more about this and about me by clicking on the “About PF” tab above. For my latest blogging posts, click on “Commentary.” And please join me in this conversation, which may seem new but is really many centuries old – and still compelling!

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10

“Let nothing trouble you, let nothing scare you, all is fleeting, God alone is unchanging. Patience everything obtains. Who possesses God nothing wants. God alone suffices.” – Teresa of Avila (16th century)

“All will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.” – Julian of Norwich (14th century)

“Si comprehendis, non est Deus.” (If you understand it, it’s not God.) – Augustine of Hippo (4th century)

“Concepts create idols; only wonder understands anything.” Gregory of Nyssa (5th century)

“The finger is not the moon.” – A Buddhist saying, referring to doctrine as only pointing toward the reality it wants to evoke, which is just as true for Christian doctrine

“When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C. S. Lewis (20th century)

26 thoughts on “Peculiar Faith, Peculiar People”

  1. Wow. I just found your blog by mistake, and you kinda make me wish I was religious. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. You make sense, are compassionate, and smart, all without being snarky. Rare qualities. Thank you.

    1. I used to be religious. And then I considered the harm wrought by institutions. So I switched to being more spiritual. And I still need to focus on my sleep hygiene protocols.

  2. I went to the to check it out an there you were. Great presentation of current topics delivered with a very readable style. I’m one of “trendy” types who knows
    he doesn’t know what death holds, but believes in Christian principles. I’m thinking that
    you might not know either, but I really like the thoughts you share.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to reply! And actually, as a theologian, I don’t very often use the word “know” in articulating beliefs and practices. Faith is not the same thing as knowledge, and belief has more to do with what one gives one’s heart to. I’m glad that you find what I’m sharing here helpful!

    1. Oh! Thanks! Yes, that’s new. A place to put stuff I can’t figure out where else to put. And it needs lots of work. I’ll be building that out. Give me suggestions! Thanks!

      1. I like it and a lot of my readers seem to really appreciate short reflections with ‘quotes’. It may be a trend. Have you done anything with Pintrest? There are short thoughts/quotes on lots of boards (including mine – call it Musings).

  3. It’s a good point you make about what’s happened with the word “queer”. Now if you’d called your blog “” people would make some immediate assumptions!

    1. This blog used to be called “Queerly Christian,” but it was quite an uphill battle to convince people that “queer” doesn’t just mean “LGBT.” Thus the name change to “peculiar.”

  4. Howdy would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time making a decision between
    BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something completely
    unique. P.S Sorry for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  5. Have to challenge you on this fundamental error: “a lifelong process of conversion.”

    Conversion takes place at Baptism (full immersion) into Yashua Anointed’s name alone with the gift of The Holy Spirit as we rise from the watery grave – a new man or woman. Then follows a lifetime of gaining Spiritual maturity – this is not conversion as we are already converted at Baptism

  6. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it
    up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying
    your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing.
    Do you have any tips and hints for inexperienced blog writers?

    I’d certainly appreciate it.

  7. Gd Morn, Rev. Dr. Jay, A week or so ago, I wrote a response to your blogpost in which you described going swimming in Lake Michigan. I would like to be able to locate my writing about that. I have found my August 12 comment to your blog about the movie “Oppenheimer.” Could you, in a quick and easy way, help me locate my other comment. The writing I am seeking was likely to also be on August 12 — or one day befor eor after.

    All is well here in Oakland, CA with me and my two children. Sincere condolences again on the loss of your beloved dog. I have graduated from PSR.

    Beth Preton

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