Author: A.J. Swoboda

You Have Died of Dysentery

Encountering non-religious pilgrims along the Oregon Trail. “You have died of dysentery.” Those ominous words, one might recall, were the worst words any eight-year-old could read on the screen while playing The Oregon Trail—that folkloric, now ancient video game those of us of a certain generation played after school on our Apple IIGs’s before mom and dad returned from work. Fording our way across raging rivers, hunting rabbits and bears with our muskets, and looking for hospitable fort towns where a store could be found, we journeyed across the great unknown to a land they called Oregon. We knew...

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Damned to Unrelenting Goodness

Moral atheists remind us that Christians don’t have a monopoly on good deeds—and that’s okay.   Portlanders generally see themselves as good people. And I would not disagree. Portlanders go out of their way to do all the good they can. Recently I was driving down a street and saw one of those Oregon Adopt-a-Highway signs. They’re everywhere here; the state budget issues have forced the state to let lots of their highways get adopted. At the bottom, the Adopt-a-Highway signs often mention some church or youth group or Cub Scout group that takes the time to clean up...

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Good (Black) Friday: Reflections on REI and Christian Discipleship

This November 27th at around 6pm, shoppers will begin to form lines in in the bitter cold for their chance to shop at Macy’s and the Apple Store and Target. Bellies full of turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, these millions of seekers will pack into their cars to brave the cold for the chance to find that perfect buy they’ve been waiting for. However, these shoppers won’t be waiting in line at REI like they may have last year. Recently, REI—the famed outdoor clothing and gear chain—announced it will not be opening any of its 143 stores to...

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Transplants and Exiles in the Pacific Northwest

The church plays a unique role in the life of the Pacific Northwest. This particular coffee appointment wasn’t all that unlike the twenty or so other similar coffee appointments I’d had in the last five years. As a church planter, I suppose I’m to blame. When you’ve planted a church, incoming church planters are likely to get your name from someone and contact you. I’m not complaining. They always buy. This time around, before me sat a young, excited, Reformed, dark-rimmed glasses, tight-jean wearing church planter who’d recently transplanted with his new family to Portland from Middle America to...

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What’s Trending?

What’s trending? It was months prior to entering the Twitter world when I was asked that question for the first time; understandably it was a confusing question to the unenlightened pre-Twitter soul. Since then, my life’s been flooded with a new vernacular of at symbols (@) and hashtags (#). Trends are the new trend in the Northwest. Trends are the new trend in the Northwest. The great Northwest urban environment is inebriated with a deep-seated thirst for attaining its piece of what’s happening, what’s new, and what’s trending in the world. This trend toward trends has its benefits be...

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