Transforming Repentance

Sheesh. If you’re like me, just the words “repent” or “repentance” make you shudder. If there was one word that we could use to sum up all of our misgivings about the modern-day church–the stuffiness, the severity, the toxicity, the judgment–it might just be the word “repent.”

For those of us who are weary or worn out from the Church, empty and melodramatic calls for “repentance” are as grating as they are a cliche. These calls can be really great at conjuring up guilt and building up isolation between people and faith communities, but they don’t do much good in changing people’s behavior or promoting real reconciliation between ourselves, the Church, and God.

Enter Dana Cassell. Dana is the pastor at Peace Covenant Church of the Brethren in Durham, NC, and she’s a great writer and theologian. You should check out her blog. Do it.

In the latest episode of the Dunker Punks Podcast, Dana takes on the weighty subject of repentance, and she breathes some serious new light into it by putting it in its proper biblical context. She looks at repentance through the lens of empire, which has been the subject of her other work with the Dunker Punks Podcast. She also talks about repentance by considering her experience growing up in the South and learning to confront problematic notions about race, segregation, poverty, and more that had embedded themselves in her own worldview.

It’s a refreshing, honest, and compelling look at repentance, and Dana did a lot to reclaim and reform that word in my mind. I don’t want to give too much more away because I could never do as well as Dana at explaining repentance and drawing upon biblical examples to elucidate it! (And because I want you to listen to the podcast!)

But, I will say that Dana demonstrates that repentance is a deeply Dunker Punk act. After all, the Dunker Punks are all about being transformed personally by Jesus and his teaching so that we look, think, and act a little bit more like him. And then we push for similar transformation in our communities, in our society, and in our world so that we see God’s justice and peace reflected there.

Here it is in Dana’s words: “It’s not about pretending to feel bad, it’s not about empty regret, it’s something much much more radical: to turn ourselves entirely around, to return to the purpose God created us for, to be completely transformed, to start living in an entirely new way.”

Inspiring, isn’t it? Almost makes you want to… repent! To listen, click here! For more great episodes, check out the Dunker Punks Podcast by visiting You can also find us on iTunes and Stitcher. And be sure to follow the podcast on Facebook and Twitter. And stay tuned every two weeks for new episodes!

podiumEmmett Eldred is a recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in Creative Writing; Professional Writing; and Ethics, History, and Public Policy. His passions include reading about, writing about, and snuggling with pugs. Emmett is the founder of and he wants lots more people to contribute!  Fill out a Dunker Punks profile, and join the conversation! He also co-hosts the Dunker Punks Podcast. Follow Emmett on Twitter @emmetteldred and follow Dunker Punks on Twitter @DunkerPunks and on Facebook.


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