Peculiar Faith, Peculiar People


“Holy Family,” Janet McKenzie

The Twelve Days of Christmas
December 25, 2022 — January 5, 2023

An old biblical translation of 1 Peter 2:9 refers to Christians as a “peculiar people.” Or to paraphrase Forest Gump, peculiar is as peculiar does. Living as a Christian ought to set one apart from the ordinary, the usual, the expected, and routine. The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for radical change, renewal, and transformation — a lifelong process of conversion.

In that sense, every account we read in the Bible about people encountering God qualifies as quite peculiar indeed. And how those encounters often transformed their lives and their communities made those characters themselves at the very least odd and strange.

I created this blog for reflections, musings, observations, and the occasional audacious thought-experiment as a way to tease out how the peculiar character of Christian faith can renew the Church and, in the process, change the world. And not a moment too soon. “Business as usual” just won’t cut it in a world of unrelenting violence, despair, an unprecedented gap between rich and poor, and planetary environmental degradation. Just to suppose that Christian faith and practice can address such challenges effectively is itself a rather peculiar claim; and I believe that Christianity can do precisely that.

These days, atheism is more trendy than Christianity. But I still believe that Christian faith is a living tradition, brimming with the potential to transform not only churches but the wider society with bold faith, vibrant hope, and sustaining love. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And I’m eager to learn even more from others.

In this blog, “peculiar” will sometimes mean odd, strange, extraordinary, but also something like “queer.” All of those 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 the 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)


  1. I love your quotations!! :-))

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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!

  4. This looks great. I really like ‘notables’. Have I just overlooked it or is it new?

    • 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!

      • 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).

  5. 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!

    • 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.”

  6. it’s a good suggestion, it’s really very impressive word !!

  7. good

  8. What a fascinating idea for a blog. Love it.

  9. where can i follow on your twitter

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. Enjoyed reading your thoughts. I am on board with your ideas, and beliefs that while Christianity is something considered peculiar at best these days, still holds the power to change the world.

  13. 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.

  14. As always, you provoke deep thought and meditation material; for which I never thank you for enough Jay.

  15. Lisa Hlass says:

    Thank you, Jay, thank you.

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