Black Lives Matter

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Photo: “Our Lady Mother of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence.” written by Mark Dukes. Commissioned by @trinitycwe

This was written in response to the death’s of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille on July 5th and 6th, 2016.


Two nights in a row I witnessed executions being streamed into my being through an iphone held 8 inches from my face. Mornings were spent crying into cereal bowls, re-listening to cries of help, desperate cries of help from brothers and sisters that I’ve refused to acknowledge as extended family.
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Welcome to Holy-Wood

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In one of the least religious cities in the country, a handful of new churches are setting the stage for spiritual revival.

This article originally appeared in the magazine RELEVANT Magazine > Issue 79: January/February 2016

Seemingly ripped from one of Los Angeles’ fashion billboards, hundreds of twentysomethings create a line down Sunset Boulevard outside of an LA nightclub.

When the red rope gets pulled back, the crowd is treated to a sensory experience of bright rhythmic lights, impressionistic videos and an auditory explosion with decibels that shake your chest cavity.

Then, the crowd begins to sing praise and worship songs. An offering is taken, a sermon is preached, the altar call is given.

This is the scene at the first service of Zoe Church, a new LA church plant whose christening took place at the infamous 1OAK nightclub on the Sunset Strip.

“They’re having church at 1OAK?” remarks a seasoned bouncer at a rival nightclub after hearing about Zoe’s location. “That’s where Suge Knight got shot.”
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Marc Maron: Wrestling With Big Questions

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This article originally appeared in  RELEVANT Magazine > Issue 75: May/June 2015.

Why does the comedian and podcaster always lean toward spiritual conversations?

There’s a book on the prophets in here somewhere,” Marc Maron says, perusing one of the several bookshelves in “the garage,” which is actually more of a glorified shed in the backyard of the two-bedroom house on the hills of Highland Park that he refers to as “The Cat Ranch.”

The garage serves as a home studio, where multiple times a week for the past six years, Maron has produced the innovative and beloved podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. Guitar cases, several bookshelves and rock posters cover all available wall space. They surround a modest desk in the center of the room that is overrun with wires, microphones, books, gifts from fans and various kitsch. It’s hard to tell if everything has its place or nothing does. Either way, Maron sits comfortably in the midst of it.
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Bill and Ted’s Exegetical Adventure

I recently had the privilege of writing “10 Sci-Fi Movies That Can Help Shape Your Theology” for RELEVANT Magazine’s website.

There is one important film I neglected to include… no, no, not LEFT BEHIND.

The two modern film icons most triumphantly apt to help shape and inform the modern church are yes, Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted “Theodore” Logan. For it’s no stretch to say that the 21st century church is, like Bill and Ted, flunking history. Continue reading

Losing My Team

We are in the year 2014 AD, and in the year 2014 AD one’s allegiance to a sports team is as strong as one’s allegiance to country or crest. I can’t trace my own nationality three generations deep, yet I can recite each of the sports loyalties of all far reaching cousins and in-laws for every professional sport. Of course family, friends, health, yada yada… but judged by actions and bank accounts, it would appear for many Americans the ultimate value is one’s allegiance to a sports franchise and virility therein.

My name is Eric VanValin, and I am a Washington Redskins fan. Continue reading

My Visit to the Texas Border

Today I met “Gloria”. She illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the United States of America when she was thirteen years old. She has spent the past twenty years living in a makeshift neighborhood called a colonia, located ten minutes inland from the Starbucks, Chuck E. Cheese’s, and shopping malls that populate McAllen, TX. Continue reading

A Video Essay on Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”

I saw the “The Tree of Life” three times in theaters.  The first viewing resulted in an experience that I only know to call… transcendent.  That is to say I found something internally had been awakened.  Deep places of emotional territory, the areas that connect me with all of humanity and all of creation, had been stirred.  So I returned a few nights later to see if the experience could be repeated.  If I was dunked under the water again, would I emerge changed a second time?  A third?

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The blog/sandbox of Eric VanValin