Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Finishing up this Christmas Wars stuff…

Well...for most Christians, Christmas is over for another year.  I think the Orthodox celebration, at least for those who still follow the "old calendar," takes place on January 6th....but for most mainstream denominations,  Christmas 2010 is history.  I intended to post more about the Christmas Wars. I read quite a bit about it but didn't actually get the reading morphed into a blog post. 

My own brush with the Christmas Wars was pretty limited.  Keith and I had a few discussions about it.  We see the phenomena from a different perspective. 

As far as experientially....concerning holiday greetings, two come to mind. 

I stopped at the liquor store, to purchase a few bottles of wine to have on hand for the holiday celebration.  A sixtyish, midrange friendly guy checked me out.  We talked a bit while he ran my debit card. I told him that I usually wait until the morn of December 24'th to think about purchasing wine. And I am usually not the only one because the little liquor store down the road from me is always amazingly busy...and the shelves rather bare on Christmas Eve morn. 

As I was leaving, without over thinking anything, in fact without even thinking about it at all, I extended my best wishes to the clerk by saying "have a great holiday!!" I wasn't thinking about the Christmas thing when I said it.  I was tired after running all over the place that Saturday morning. The liquor store was my last stop and I was sincerely wishing him...and his....a nice holiday.  He responded by clearly and purposefully wishing me a Merry Christmas.  To which I responded....Merry Christmas to you, too. 

If not for all this Christmas Wars stuff, the exchange would not have even registered.  I would have chalked it up to "season's greetings" and "goodwill to men" but now every exchange takes on this subtle undertone. 

The other check out experience that sticks in the brain waves was at Sam's on December 22nd.  Getting close to the actual day.  The mall parking lot was packed....Sam's not as much.  Sort of like the peak of a Saturday...or Sunday....afternoon.  I had a piece of pizza...did my shopping and checked out. 

The people in front of me...a woman older than me and her grown son, kind of doddered around.  Not sure exactly the hold up.  Something to do with the card or the purchase, whatever, I was preoccupied with my mental inventory of what was left to do before Christmas.  The clerk was very friendly.  Not a fake friendly.  She was cheerful and polite.  At the end of the checkout process, she sincerely wished me a happy holiday.  I wished her one as well.  No mention of Christmas. 

Now for a faithful soldier in the Christmas Wars (pro Christmas) this would have been taken as a slight, a defeat in battle.  Sam's might be blacklisted. 

Because, yes, there are actually sites that report on the content and sincerity of the greetings doled out by checkout clerks....those initiated by the clerks and those initiated by the good soldiers in this fight.  If the soldier initiates the greeting (already a minus in their eyes) and the response is not enthusiastic enough or does not actually include the words "Merry Christmas" that too is counted as a slight and goes against the store.  Think I'm kidding?  Check out the many comments on the website called Stand Up For Christmas. Or how about the one below.

Just the usual “happy holidays” crap from sales people … to which I shout “MERRY CHRISTMAS!!” What hogwash.

By all means shout your Christmas greetings to get your point across about the reason for the season and all.....

And then there are others who employ technology to rank a store's Christmas Spirit.  The following was about Banana Republic....

Rating: Christmas-Offensive
Comment: I clicked on their ad and used their search function. Typing in "Christmas gifts" I got "Holiday gifts." Narrowing my search, I typed in "Christmas" and got "0 results for this search." They will get the same number of purchases from me.

Another comment I happened upon

In this all-inclusive republic of ours, Christians get the short end of the stick when it comes to public policy, all because it’s assumed that since they are the majority, they can afford to be tolerant. Thus, unless their communities can come up with the money to fight an ACLU lawsuit, or unless they can get some lawyers to take the case for them pro bono-in which cases they still might lose, depending on the judge and the circumstances-they should just suck it up and quit being such crybabies.

I think part of the problem is that Christians aren't content with anything other than the whole stick...short end/long end, they want it all.  They want theirs to be the only game in town.  They seem to forget the principles the Bible clearly lays out for followers of Jesus. How about compassion to start with?

Perhaps the less than enthusiastic store clerk is not just anti-Christmas.  Perhaps she is just worn out from the frantic pace those who work in retail  maintain during the Christmas season. Perhaps she is one of the thousands and thousands of people who find themselves in varying stages of depression. Is shouting Merry Christmas in response to her lack luster greeting really what Christians are called to do? Will that encourage her to put Christ back in Christmas?

Christmas is over for this year....but it's never to early to prepare for  the battles of the next holiday...I mean, Christmas....season.

Onward Christian Soldiers....

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jello Christmas…

No...not a recipe...but a story I read years ago in a Christmas edition of Woman's Day magazine.  Long before I was ever on the internet.  I think I wrote it out longhand and included it in my Christmas cards that year.  I googled it yesterday at work...after it popped into my head....initiated by a sentimental email thing that hit my inbox yesterday.  I am pretty sure it is a totally true story.  Like I said, I first happened upon it, in a hard copy Woman's Day magazine.  I still find it very touching....


  By Sandra Bateman, American Fork, Utah

     It was but a few short days until Christmas in 1966. Two young elders of the Mormon Church walked the streets of Laredo, Texas, knocking on doors in search of someone who would listen to their gospel message. No one, it seemed, in the entire city had time to hear the teachings of the Savior, so intent were they that the celebration of His birth should suit their own purposes.

     Filled with discouragement, the two young men turned their backs to the approaching twilight and began the long walk home. Retracing their steps of the afternoon, they came upon a low, wind-swept riverbank. Jutting from its brow stood the barest means of a shelter, constructed of weathered wooden slats and large pieces of cardboard. Strangely, they felt moved to go to the door and knock.

     A small, olive-skinned child with tangled black hair and large dark eyes answered. Her mother appeared behind her, a short, thin woman with a tired but warm smile. In her rich Spanish alto, she invited the young men to come in and rest awhile. They were made welcome and seated on the clean-swept floor. The little one-room shanty seemed to be filled with shy, smiling, dark-eyed children. The mother proudly introduced each of them--eight in all—and each in turn quickly bobbed his or her head.
     The young men were deeply moved at the extreme poverty they saw. No one in the family had shoes, and their clothes were ill-fitting and in condition beyond mending. The walls of the little home showed daylight between the wooden slats, and eight little rolls of bedding were pressed tightly into the cracks to help keep out the draft until they were needed for sleeping. A small round fire pit dug in one corner marked the kitchen. An odd assortment of chipped dishes and pots were stacked beside an old ice chest, and a curtained-off section with a cracked porcelain tub served as the bathing area. Except for these the room was barren.

     The mother told how her husband had gone north to find employment. He had written that he had found a job of manual labor and that it took most of his small wage to pay his board and room.  But, she told the young men, he had managed to save fifty cents to send them for Christmas, with which she had purchased two boxes of fruit gelatin. It was one of the children's favorites and would make a special treat on Christmas day.

     The next morning, as soon as the local shops opened, the young men hurried to the dime store and purchased as many crayons, cars, trucks and little inexpensive toys as they could afford. Each was carefully wrapped in brightly colored paper and all were put in a large grocery bag.

     That evening the two young men took their gifts to the shanty on the riverbank. When they knocked, the mother swung the door open wide and invited them in. They stepped inside and in halting Spanish explained to the children that they had seen Santa and he had been in such a hurry, he'd asked if they would deliver his gifts to the children for him.
     With cries of delight the children scrambled for the bag, spilling its contents upon the floor and quickly dividing the treasured packages. Silently the mother's eyes filled with tears of gratitude. She stepped forward to clasp tightly one of each of the young men's hands in hers. For long moments she was unable to speak. Then, with tears still welling from her eyes, she smiled and said, "no one ever has been so kind. You have given us a special gift, the kind of love that lights Christmas in the heart. May we also give you a special gift?" From the corner of the room she drew out the two small boxes of fruit gelatin and handed them to the young men.  Then all eyes were moist. All knew the true meaning of giving, and none would ever forget that at Christmas, the greatest gift of all
was given.
    (NOTE: This story won 1st Prize in the 'Woman's Day' Greatest
    Gift Contest.)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Banning Christmas-the slippery slope to banning Christianity…?

While following links, researching this impromptu series about Christmas and the "war" against it, I happened upon a site called...well....it's really not important what the name of this particular site is.  I've seen the same sentiments expressed in several places in varying degrees of paranoia. To see for yourself, just type a few variations of ACLU and Christmas, War on Christmas etc. etc into google and the results stretch into infinity. But here is a quote from just one of the many...about halfway on the paranoia scale....
Over the past two decades the ACLU has fought Christians on every front to eliminate all vestiges of Jesus from Americana--even to the extent of outlawing the use of the word "Christmas" because it contains the Greek word for Messiah, the "Anointed One"--Christos--in its name.
Pathetic, misrepresentation of the truth.  Note that "the ACLU" is a hyperlink in the quote above.  If you click on it, it will take you to two other articles on this website entitled American Christian Loathers Association and Christianity attacked by ACLU Terrorists.  Uh-huh...right. 
The truth is that the ACLU does defend Christians.  In fact, they were involved in a case with none other than Jerry Falwell fighting against the state of Virginia and its refusal to allow churches to incorporate. They won by the way. 
On their website, the ACLU describe themselves as
….our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.
These rights include:
  • Your First Amendment rights - freedom of speech, association and assembly; freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.
  • Your right to equal protection under the law - protection against unlawful discrimination.
  • Your right to due process - fair treatment by the government whenever the loss of your liberty or property is at stake.
  • Your right to privacy - freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into your personal and private affairs.
The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.
If you want to check out quite a few other cases in which the ACLU defended Christians....and Christmas go HERE...and HERE....
In the second link, scroll down to the bottom in the footnotes.
Imagine that!!!
Oh...and if you want to read their views on freedom of religion, check out this page....
I think the ACLU rankles many fundamentalist Christians because the ACLU vigorously defends religious freedom for everyone.  Religious freedom is not the agenda of the outspoken warriors in the “Christmas war.” They want religious preference.  Those who lean toward the dominionist/reconstructionist point of view really want religious exclusion. My way (Christmas) or the highway.  And the ACLU stands in the way of that pipe dream.   

Monday, December 20, 2010

How do you connect the dots…?

I know I am rehashing some of this stuff but I just can't help myself. It so totally irritates me.  I wrote several posts about it last year....here...when the Gap’s "Happy Whatever You Wannakuh" ad  was rattling right wing, evangelical chains across the nation.  I did come across a new quote in my travels this year....by none other than my least favorite hypocrite.  Miss Ann Coulter. 

I am confused.  She wears diamond crosses and proclaims herself a Christian but how do you connect the dots between Ann Coulter and Jesus?  There is a total disconnect there...as in "you can't get there from here."  I've got to wonder if she's ever even leafed through the gospels.  What part of "love your enemies" can be found in the following remark taken from an interview in 2005.  Granted....that was five years ago....but I haven't seen anything that would make me believe she's softened her views.....or her sarcasm....

  “Oh, it was so much fun this year, because saying ‘Merry Christmas’ is like saying ‘Fuck you!’ I’ve said it to everyone. You know, cab drivers, passing people on the street, whatever. And they come up with the ‘Happy holidays.’”‘Merry Christmas.’ I mean, it really is an aggressive act in New York.”

Well, there ya' go.  The spirit of the season summed up in two poignant sentences by a follower of Jesus.  Yeah' right.....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It Comes Out With the Christmas Trimmings…

Quite by happenstance, while involved in the "simple" process of migrating my blogline blogs to the new bloglines, powered by Merchant Circle (which, by the way, is anything but simple) I came upon a post about Christmas.  Specifically, about the CHRISTMAS WARS.  That...plus a few conversations I've had lately with Keith, reminded me that it's time to drag my yearly Christmas post out of the archives, dust it off and post it, once again, here on my blog.  I wrote quite a bit about Christmas last year.  About the organizations and websites that believe they are in an all out war to save Christmas from the left wing, politically correct, communist atheists who are trying to eliminate Christmas. 

The following letter “from God” so perfectly expresses the absurdity of the whole thing.  Is the celebration of Christmas…honoring the birth of the Christ Child…really supposed to be so intertwined with the over the top retail blitz that happens this time of year?

Does “come let us adore him” hinge on whether the clerk at Wal-Mart (or Target…or the Dollar Store) wishes us a MERRY CHRISTMAS…and perfectly enunciates each and every syllable? 


christmas rush


It seems to me that this is the time of year when the Christians who are the most disengaged…disconnected….from Christ show their true colors and trample the true meaning of the season.


Dear Children,
It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My Son's name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I didn't send my Son in December, it was some of your ancestors who decided to celebrate My Son's birthday at what was, in ancient times, a pagan festival; although, I do appreciate Jesus being remembered...anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate Jesus' birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My Son's birth, then make room on your lawn for the nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all my followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can remember me anytime you see a tree.

Instead of fusing over trimmings and traditions, consider giving My Son one of the gifts below this Christmas…

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing George complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone who's hurt you in the past, forgive them, and give them the gift of a future-free from the pain, shame, and guilt of yesterday's yuck.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. Be sensitive to the needs of others. A few cans of food or a simple gift can go along way towards good will on earth.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Please, if you love me, love my children-all of them, especially the ones that challenge your traditions. I'll take care of all the rest.

Invite others to a Christmas festival that has more to do with eternity than all the trimmings and traditions of December 25th.

"Merry Christmas!" means: "I love you." – God

Amen…and amen!!!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Never Be Silent….

"I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation.  We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."  - Elie Weisel

This quote immediately struck a chord when I read it. Quotes have the unique ability to encapsulate profound truth in a minimal number of words. They illuminate the hazy places in our thoughts....shining a light of recognition...putting into words what previously was a vague idea floating around in our subconscious.  Like putting a face with a name....quotes bring clarity...solidify a belief, a yearning, a conviction.  I love quotes. 

The above quote was coined by Elie Weisel, a Holocaust survivor.  A life long activist for peace despite the horror he endured as a teenager...witnessing the deaths (murder) of his parents and...from what I can remember....at least one sibling.  He has seen the very worst of mankind...yet he still believes in the future....

"I believe in God--in spite of God! I believe in Mankind--in spite of Mankind! I believe in the Future--in spite of the Past!"

So anyway....I digress and wax poetic....back to the original quote. 

I often speak out against those I deem bullies. Bullies who live in our modern society...bullies from the past...and those who seem destined to become the aggressors of the future.  I root for the underdog.  My heart goes out to those who are terrorized....pushed around....treated unfairly.....murdered....beaten...assaulted verbally or physically. 

This includes anyone the Westboro Baptist Church sets their sites on.  It includes the Native Americans whose land the white Europeans stole. It includes the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki....and the Japanese Americans here in the United States who were demonized and shipped off to "concentration camps" in the land of the free and the brave. It includes the "Ites" in the Old Testament....you know...the Canaanites, the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Hivites.....all those deemed worthy of genocide by the Children of Israel. It includes women who were tortured and imprisoned fighting for the right to vote, and the blacks in the 60's during Martin Luther King's era. When I think of anyone...of any color, race (or religion) forced to sit in the back of the bus...not allowed to drink out of the "white folks only" water fountain, I'm disgusted...outraged. The belief of racial superiority carried to extreme in South Africa...demonstrated by the violent, illegal, immoral activities of the KKK is ridiculous.

My outrage includes all those who have been tortured, killed, oppressed via religious persecution or for political gain....down through the ages (the Inquisition, Salem Witch Hunts) and in the present (the rule and reign of the Taliban, the Hutus' mass killings of Tutsis, the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Darfur) And the Holocaust? Well, that is the crowing glory of man's inhumanity to man....a hideous display of how low mankind can sink.

I feel similar stirrings when I visit a message board or blog and read comments that paint all Muslims with the same (terrorist) brush.  And Christians slamming gays...well don't get me started on that one. 

Pam Geller, Ann Colter, Laura Schlesinger...loud mouthed, mean spirited, sarcastic hypocrites. 

But I've often wondered why I feel okay speaking out (loudly and sarcastically) against the women I just listed....or against one of the very right wing conservative fundamentalist websites whose sole purpose is to pick apart anyone deemed new age, anti bible, or a member of a cult to preserve Biblical Christianity. The Dominionists, the Taliban…those are the ones we can paint with the same brush. The quote by Weisel kind of clarifies it for me.

If you throw the first punch....verbally or physically....and especially if you continue to throw punches...you are fair game.  Silence, in the face of oppression (past, present or future), is really not an option. Neutrality helps the oppressor.  Silence encourages the tormentor.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No Clean Hands – More On Dominionism

The Political Research Associates website…where I got a lot of this info…believes it is crucial to understand the different degrees and levels of this theocratic belief system.  Although I get that there are different levels of determination and commitment among these Take America Back for Jesus folks, the distinctions are not all that clear…but…all nuances of it are worrisome.

George Grant, a Reconstructionist has this to say:

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less... Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ."

Compared to Grant…Huckabee’s idea of tacking a couple extra amendments onto the Constitution seems pretty mild…but if taken to the lowest common denominator, the root of it is the same. And it’s not much different than Sharia Law…..

Friday, December 10, 2010

As If I Don’t Have Enough To Read….

On Greg Boyd's blog (I really like Greg Boyd) he posted a link to a list on "Super Scholar"...a site, self described as follows:

Super Scholar highlights the best and brightest in the academy while also helping up-and-coming students to get the most out of their academic experience. Our aim for this site is twofold. First, we want to showcase the highest achievements at colleges and universities from around the world. Second, we want to show students how to excel in their studies, in athletics, in charting a career path, in finding success and happiness. We believe that students excel when their expectations and aspirations are raised, and that this is best accomplished by exposing them to the exciting individuals and ideas that populate the academic world.

The list is entitled "The 20 Most Influential Christian Scholars" folks who have....

profoundly influenced the world by advancing Christian belief, by reconceptualizing it, or even by fundamentally challenging it.

Everyone on the list...

has deeply impacted Western culture’s self-understanding.

Boyd is on the list for his belief in open theology. 

Others on the list include....

  • Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger)
  • Francis Collins (teaches the compatibility of evangelical Christianity and Darwinian evolution)
  • John Dominic Crossan (head of the infamous Jesus Seminar)
  • R. Albert Mohler (head of the Southern Baptist Theological Institute and Convention...need I say more)

And 16 others...conservative and liberal.  There are links to their writings, websites, lectures...what have you.  Looks like a lot of interesting, far flung beliefs to read about...if I can only find the time....

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lesley Hazleton on the Quran….

I came across this video on the FB page of Ahmed Rehab.  The video is described as:

TED: An Agnostic Jew explores the Koran and finds much that is quite different from what is commonly reported

She is delightful to listen to…the author of many religious books…British accent, seemingly quite eccentric.  An avid pilot (she “flew away” her life savings and never regretted a cent of it) who lives on a houseboat in Seattle. Well studied and very sensible in her assessment in this 9 minute video.  One quote about the Quran that I particularly liked:

Yet the fact that so few people actually do read the Quran is precisely why it is so easy to quote, that is, to misquote.  Phrases and snippets taken out of context in what I call the "highlighter version" which is the one favored by both Muslim Fundamentalists and anti Muslim Islamaphobes. 

I find this same preference for the “highlighter version” when it comes to the Bible. Both Christian Fundamentalists and atheists take a very literal view of the Bible…usually out of context. Atheists use it to discredit the Bible and “prove” that its contradictions render it as nothing more than a fairy tale.  Christian Fundamentalists make themselves look ridiculous trying to defend each and every word as literal fact from the “mouth” of God.

She is quoted in the blog post

“The danger is one-dimensional thinking”

I can’t disagree with that.  Take 9 or so minutes and listen to this delightful lady…and take note of what she has to say.  She knows of what she speaks….


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

When Everything Falls Apart….

I’ve been listening to the local Christian radio station…now and then…usually on my way to and from work.  Lately, it seems that almost every time I tune in to WGRC there is a song playing with lyrics that grab my attention…a song I’ve never heard before.  Some are by performers of yesteryear…Petra, for example….and some are singers/bands that are popular right now.  Some are rock and rollish….some much more laid back. It’s the lyrics that usually break through my “gotta’ get to work/running late” preoccupation. 

I’ve been scribbling down snippets of the lyrics while stopped at red lights etc….then, later, google them.  I save the info I find in a file with the intent to post some of the lyrics and links and videos here on my blog. Today is as good a day as any to start.  It’s another interruption to the Clean Hands thing…which I have more to say about…but just not this morning. 

The You Tube Video I’m posting this morning is by a band named Fee. Emily knew the band and the song when I asked her about it, but they were to to me.  Most of their music is rock and roll and does not really resonate with me….but their song, Everything Falls, caught my attention the other day.

Oftentimes, life is a perpetual series of inconveniences and upheavals….major and minor….heart wrenching or just simply annoying. Jesus did give us a heads up about that when he said, “In this world you will have trouble.” So sometimes even when things seem to be going the best…or seem to be on an even keel, I get the nagging feeling that calamity is just around the corner. 

The second half of his “heads up” is not as easy to live out.  “But be of good cheer…for I have overcome the world.” 

In it’s usual wordy style the Amplified Bible renders John 16:33 like this:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

And about that calamity waiting around the corner….again Jesus gives us a heads up.  This is from the Message…

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:34

And we get through it all by remembering that when “everything falls apart, Your arms hold me together” or in the words of a much older song…

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Video follows….

Sunday, December 5, 2010

No Clean Hands – Sharia Law by another name is….Dominionism…

I have been reading some really eye opening…scary… stuff while cruising around the internet researching this series.  It is not just radical Islam that wants to impose their own narrow interpretation of God’s Law on the nations of the world.  No sir-ee bob.  There is an underground movement in Christianity that believes this nation (and eventually the world) should be governed with laws set out in the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament. They are willing to overlook the ceremonial laws and customs…but the moral laws, in their view, are still binding. 

There are several different terms used to describe this ideology. The Christian Right is just the tip of the iceberg.  Dominionism, is more toward the hardcore/radical end of the spectrum. They claim the following verse as their Biblical mandate.

• "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (King James Version).

There are degrees of belief among the Dominionists. From an article on Public Eye I found the following descriptions:

Soft Dominionists are Christian nationalists. They believe that Biblically-defined immorality and sin breed chaos and anarchy. They fear that America's greatness as God's chosen land has been undermined by liberal secular humanists, feminists, and homosexuals. Purists want litmus tests for issues of abortion, tolerance of gays and lesbians, and prayer in schools. Their vision has elements of theocracy, but they stop short of calling for supplanting the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Did you note the above was the description of the “soft” variety of Dominionists.  Check out the beliefs of the ones who are a bit more zealous.

Hard Dominionists believe all of this, but they want the United States to be a Christian theocracy. For them the Constitution and Bill of Rights are merely addendums to Old Testament Biblical law. They claim that Christian men with specific theological beliefs are ordained by God to run society. Christians and others who do not accept their theological beliefs would be second-class citizens. This sector includes Christian Reconstructionists, but it has a growing number of adherents in the leadership of the Christian Right.

Okay…so the Christian Right can be annoying but are any of them really serious about this dominion stuff?  Doesn’t this all sound a bit…ah…far fetched? 

Well, think back to 2008 when Mike Huckabee was campaigning for the Republican nomination….and he had the following to say the following to say during a campaign speech.

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

You can hear it for yourself HERE…if you don’t remember.

He later recanted….sort of… when asked on the Hannity and Colmes show if he would like to see America become a theocracy he said:

“Not at all. On two things. The context is two things: Human life amendment, which I support and which has been in the Republican platform since 1980. And, by the way, Fred Thompson doesn’t support it. Nor does John McCain. And yet it’s part of our platform. And it’s a very important part of our platform to say that human life is something we’re going to stand for. And the second thing is traditional marriage. So those are the two areas in which I’m talking about. I’m not suggesting that we rewrite the Constitution to reflect tithing or Sunday school attendance. I want to make that very clear…

At the heart of comments like these…and the whole Dominionist/Reconstructionist movement is the same spirit that spurs on the Taliban's desire to see Sharia Law enforced far and wide.  More to follow…..

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I got a new kindle a few weeks ago. I've been busy filling it with books that I plan to read/hope to read/possibly might read/will probably never find time to read…but hey, they were free! There are a lot of free books in the kindle store….. some hokey and in the public domain (but formatted for kindle) and others regular books that, for a short time, are free. Perhaps not hot of the press bestsellers...and perhaps not books I would consider paying full price for....but interesting books from fairly well known authors that you would expect to see on the shelves at the Christian bookstore. I downloaded Gary Smalley and The DNA of Relationships, and Great Parents, Lousy Lovers for nothing..zero….zilch…nada. 

It’s also amazingly easy to send docs from my computer to the kindle. And another of the features I love about this new kindle is the text to speech function. It “reads” the book to you. Yes, it is a computer animated voice....and no, it is not comparable to the quality of an audio book...but you know, it's not bad. And he (or she, if you choose the female voice) reads to you while you walk.

The other day I listened to several chapters from a book called "The Land Between" by Jeff Manion..."Finding God in Difficult Transitions." He uses the Biblical story of the children of Israel....their Exodus from Egypt and their wanderings around the desert....and finally…their arrival in the Land of Milk and Honey four decades later. The desert years are what he refers to as the "land between."

And, he says, we all have our own "land between" experiences to live through. Sometimes these experiences come on gradually...like the frog that starts out in the pot of tepid water....only to realize a while later he is boiling. Other times we find ourselves transported to the "land between" in an instant....from an "everything is okay" frame of mind to a worst case scenario moment.

In one of the chapters I "read" while hoofing it around the park, he talked about the manna God provided for the children of Israel. Manna for breakfast....manna for lunch....manna for dinner. And on the menu the next day and the day after that....and the day after that for forty long years....manna, manna and more manna.

They didn’t see it as the blessing it was intended to be. It was provision from God...but they grew weary of it. And not only that....they really didn't even know what it was. The Hebrew word manna means "what is this." Perhaps they didn’t know exactly what it was but they knew for sure they were sick of it. They grumbled and complained....yearning for the flesh pots of Egypt.

I happened upon an article that had this to say…

God did not give them manna to satisfy their longing for taste, pleasure, and adventure, nor did he give it in an abundance to give them the security of knowing they would not starve. He gave them manna day-by-day to sustain their existence. But he did not intend to delight them; only to keep them from starving. In Praise of Manna by Jack Crabtree.

Hmmmm. Sounds like the situation many of us face every day….at our place of employment. Many…most?....jobs have that ssdd (same shit/different day) aspect to them. It pays the bills but there is certainly no delight….just another day of “bland, uninteresting, tedious manna.” We grow weary of the same old/same old duties, responsibilities and obligations that drag on and on in perpetual tedium. Or as Drew Carey so eloquently put it….

Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called everybody, and they meet at the bar.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Colson, Boyd and Claiborne Video

The second video was from a “Speaking of Faith" radio program where three generations of evangelicals…Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne expressed their opinions on a variety of topics.  The snippet I watched was about homosexuality. Greg Boyd said this,

It seems to me that there's two fundamental issues that Evangelicals do have to wrestle with. The one is simply the terrible, abysmal track record the church has towards gays. You know, the reputation out there is that Evangelicals are homophobic and I don't think that it’s liberal media that's spinning that. I think we've earned the right to have gotten that.

But what's happened is, we have a list and our sins, you know, like gossip and greed and gluttony and not caring about the poor, and all the stuff that's mentioned all the time in the Bible, we minimize.

You can be a church member and have that stuff, but the homosexuality issue is all of a sudden the deal-breaker. And who christened that the deal-breaker sin? I don't get that. I used to wonder why did Jesus attract prostitutes and other, you know, sinners that were judged by religion and the church doesn't? They tend to stay away from us as much as the Pharisees. And one of those reasons might be that Jesus never made a public policy trying to pass laws against them. And here's where politics can get in the way of our Gospel message. They don't want to hang out with us, because we made a platform out of, uh, you know, going after them instead of our sins….

Many conservative Christians feel entitled to speak out against homosexuality….and to make it a political issue…a litmus test issue… because of their interpretation of certain verses in scripture that appear, at least on the surface, to deem homosexuality an abomination to the Lord. I think those verses can be explained using the same principles that universalists use to denounce an eternal hell (reasoning, definition of certain words in the original language, context and the customs of the times)   But that is the subject of another series of posts…one that I wrote about, in part, HERE

As far as scripture…well, there are plenty of abominable things that touch the lives of all Christians. More than enough abomination to go around…. 

Proverbs 6 comes to mind….

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.  ESV

Note the reference to abomination?  Just sayin'….


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Tony Campolo Video

I went “you tubing” yesterday morning. Two of the videos I happened upon are worthy of a blog post….so today video number one.  Tomorrow…video number two.

Video Number One...a snippet from an interview with Tony Campolo answering the question "what would happen if more Christian people, no matter what their theological perspectives, actually got to know the gay people in their neighborhoods" 

Tony replied that for someone who is very “unaccepting” of homosexuality, the turning point often comes when they find out someone they know is gay. A friend, a sibling....a child.  He said the plea of many homosexuals is: 

Would you please get to know us beyond the label. You may find the same Christ that you love, is waiting to be encountered in me.  When you get to know me, perhaps we will feel a spiritual connectedness in a way that transcends the categories.

Then he told a story about a “right before bed” phone call he received...at 10:00 at night… when he was very tired and very ready to call it a day. The caller was a woman he didn't know with a deep theological question.  

Her question....?

Do people get judged immediately after death or does the Lord judge everyone together...at the same time? 

Tony explained his beliefs....and long story short...his answer was that we all get judged together.  Then he said....

Friend, you called me at 10:00 at night.  I don't even know how you got my phone number.  But I have to ask you a question.  Why, at 10:00 at night, would you call up a tired guy like me and ask a heavy question like that?"

She replied,

"well, 3 weeks ago my homosexual son committed suicide...and when he stands before the judgment seat, I want to be next to him and try to tell Jesus what a good and loving boy he was."

That's brought tears to my eyes several times. There is so much pain condensed into that one paragraph.  It contains the pain her son must have endured....until he couldn't endure it anymore and he took his own life.  It conveys the pain she felt at the loss of her son....a son she obviously loved very much.  And most of all, the pain of believing she would have to plead her son’s case to Jesus and talk him into letting her beloved son "into heaven"...that she would have to somehow convince Jesus to forgive him.

And there is a lot of blame condensed into that short snippet.

The church's status quo teaching that homosexuality is the mother of all sins....and that suicide is even one up on that....has brought so much pain and heartache to so many people.  To so many hurting sons and daughters who have assimilated the teachings of the Christian community and translated the message as one of condemnation and rejection. To so many grieving mothers and fathers...mourning the loss of….or the sexual orientation of...their children.

Even more damaging is the church's status quo teaching about judgment...and that Jesus, who was partial to those who were ostracized....society's outcasts....would somehow change into a stern, rigid taskmaster. A judge...quick to condemn and hard to convince, deeming someone worthy of hell for failing to live up the stereotype of a "good Christian." 

Jesus came to seek and save the lost.  He is still seeking and saving the lost.  On both sides of death.  In this earthly realm and in the spiritual realm.

No mother's son will slip through his hands.

I hope that mother has come to believe Jesus already knows what a good and loving boy her son was.  Jesus knows every nuance of the pain and confusion that drove him to take his own life.  And now, without the confines of the flesh...his spirit freed of carnal compulsions....in a realm where there is no male or female or taking in marriage, he will be whole and healed. 

More “tubing” tomorrow….

Monday, November 22, 2010

No Clean Hands – about this world domination thing….

It is not Islam that is the problem.  It is not Christianity that is the problem.  The problem is the carnal mind/egoic mind or in Islam…the nafs… that perverts and selfishly tries to make itself the king of the universe. The egoic mind with its propensity to covet what the other guy has.  And “other” is the key word there.  The carnal mind is oh so ready to deem someone “other.”  Not one of us.  One of “them”…ewwwwww.  And once someone is so deemed it is infinitely easier to distance ourselves from their humanity.  Which is one short step away from declaring them not only “other” but also “enemy.”  Running late….more to come….

Saturday, November 20, 2010

No Clean Hands – the Rise of the Christian and Islamic “Empires”…

If you check out the following graph that depicts the breakdown of world religions, two clear winners emerge….eating up over half of the “pie.” Christianity and Islam.  Together they account for 55% of the world’s population.  That is a big chunk. 



An article in the Huffington Post (the namesake of this series) claims the reason is

....both Christianity and Islam owe their global success not so much to the magic words in their scriptures as to their effectiveness in practicing forced conversions. Oh, yes, we all know about the growth of the Islamic Empire, whose berobed foot-soldiers held a scimitar in one hand and the Quran in the other. But pull that beam out of your eye, dear Christian reader, and remember the Celts, the West Africans, the Indians of the Plains, the Hawaiians, and countless other peoples whose religions and languages were violently suppressed that they might know salvation through “our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In my journeys around the internet…while reading up on the controversy of the “mosque at ground zero”…. I came across many articles, comments and blog posts warning that the goal of Islam is to take over the US and institute Sharia Law. Many see this as a real threat.

Recently, I’ve been revisiting a topic I first ran across a while back (and wrote about here on this blog)…the Dominionists….the Christian Reconstructionists…the “take America back for God” folks. They  come in many flavors and degrees..but their goal is to make American a theocracy and institute Biblical Law.  Their interpretation of Biblical Law is very literal and very narrow.  Some advocate reinstituting Biblical punishments like the stoning of homosexuals, adulterers etc. (Sound similar to the oppression found in many middle eastern countries?  The Taliban by another name is still the Taliban.)

And the thing is…the history of both religions is tainted with forced conversions, tyranny, oppression, and theocratic rule. 

Pot…meet kettle. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Clean Hands – Apples with Apples

I'm having trouble getting this series organized in my head.  That's the reason it's been four...or more...days since my last post. It still hasn't "congealed" so I guess I'll just jump in and start typing...and see where I end up. In the post a few days ago I said:

Those who have never even leafed through the Quran, proclaim the holy book of Islam a book of hate that promotes…demands…violence against those of other faiths.  They’ve taken to heart short, snappy little excerpts repeated over and over like, “Kill the Infidel” without acknowledging that their own holy book…the Bible…also seems to promote violence, war, sacrifice, genocide and a whole host of other unsavory behaviors.

An example?

Deuteronomy 20:16-17 declares

But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:

Phillip Jenkins is a fairly well known author, Biblical scholar, and a Professor of Humanities at Penn State University....with other honors and titles (Distinguished Senior Fellow...Distinguished Professor...etc.)  Jenkins is a contributing editor for The American Conservative and writes a monthly column for The Christian Century. He has also written articles for Christianity Today, First Things, and The Atlantic so he probably can't be pigeonholed in that "he's a left wing liberal" column.  When he says his studies have led him to the conclusion that

"the Islamic scriptures in the Qur'an were actually far less bloody and less violent than those in the Bible"

perhaps folks who think of the Quran as nothing more than a book of hate should pay attention. He goes on to say:

“By the standards of the time, which is the 7th century A.D., the laws of war that are laid down by the Quran are actually reasonably humane,” he says. “Then we turn to the Bible, and we actually find something that is for many people a real surprise. There is a specific kind of warfare laid down in the Bible which we can only call genocide.”

The Hebrew word that describes this kind of warfare is "herem" and the children of Israel attempted to carry it out against the original inhabitants of the Promised Land....the "ites" listed above.  Talk about jihad...a "holy" war. 

Now, I know this has been explained away with concepts such as old covenant/new covenant....and dispensationalism....and progressive revelation....and types and shadows....and how most of the Old Testament points to Christ. And countless essays and books and Biblical commentaries have been written to try to minimize or justify the absolute wickedness of slaughtering whole groups of people...but they fall short.  Genocide is genocide. 

I don't read the Old Testament literally....as history.  I don't have it all figured out by any means... but I think perhaps some of the stories are parables....or analogies...or word pictures...or fables.  Or perhaps some....maybe even most....of the events actually happened but I think the retelling is from the perspective of the authors.  I don’t believe that God actually whispered in Joshua's ear about mass slaughter.  Joshua may have believed he heard God clearly but his interpretation was colored by his prejudices, his carnality and his lust to possess the Promised Land.  Damn inconvenient that it was already inhabited....

But that is the subject of a whole other series of posts.  My point is that if we compare apples with apples....a literal reading of the Bible compared with a literal reading of the Quran…choosing the most violent, bloody holy book is, at best, a draw.

More to follow….

Friday, November 12, 2010

There are no clean hands in this quarrel…

I came upon a series of articles on Huffington Post…

I know many consider Huffington Post a very left wing website…with the likes of Brian Mclaren, Shane Claiborne, Tony and Bart Campolo, Jim Wallis etc. posting there.  But they make some very good points about important, divisive issues…and upon further pondering…and research…and surfing the internet…and more pondering…..a series has been birthed. 

There are no clean hands in this Christian / Muslim dialogue. Many Christians cry out against terrorism (and well we should all condemn acts of terrorism) but as my cyber bud annie is fond of saying….pot…meet kettle. That is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Atrocities have also been committed by followers of the Hebrew God down through the ages…a fact many Christians ignore in their condemnation of Islam.

Those who have never even leafed through the Quran, proclaim the holy book of Islam a book of hate that promotes…demands…violence against those of other faiths.  They’ve taken to heart short, snappy little excerpts repeated over and over like, “Kill the Infidel” without acknowledging that their own holy book…the Bible…also seems to promote violence, war, sacrifice, genocide and a whole host of other unsavory behaviors. When taken at face value, of course. 

I found a quote in an article on the Grove Report Website written by Theresa McCune.  I love the following…short and snappy excerpt from her post….

If you honestly seek the truth about Islam and Muslims, just pick up and read the books written by Muslims, not the ones written about Muslims.  Get your information from the horse’s mouth, not the other end.

Touche’ Theresa!!!!  And I couldn’t agree more….

Most Christians have at least cursory knowledge of the “basics” of Bible interpretation. 

Something along the lines of

* OBSERVATION: What does it say?

* INTERPRETATION: What does it mean?

* APPLICATION: How does the meaning apply to me?

Or in more detail….

  1. WHO: Who are the people? Who did it? Who can do it? Who is it talking about?
  2. WHAT: What is it saying? What is it talking about? What is happening? What did they do?
  3. WHERE: Where are they going? Where did it happen? Where will it take place?
  4. WHEN: When did it happen? When will it happen? When can it happen?
  5. HOW: How did it happen? How can it happen? How was something done?
  6. WHY: Why did he say that? Why did he do that? Why did they go there?

But how many Christians realize there are also principles of Quranic hermeneutics?  Type the phrase into google and 196,000 websites come up in the results. Something to ponder before dismissing the Quran as a holy book of hate. Perhaps the texts, taken out of context and at face value, are the problem….and are not what the message of the Quran is over all. 

This series will meander along…as most of my series do…morphing as I explore and ponder.  I invite you to expand your horizons right along with me…as I expand mine.   

Monday, November 8, 2010

Very much like us…

Well, I thought I had laid it to rest for a while…this stuff about Islam and the Mosque and the belief that there ARE moderate Muslims who do abhor terrorism…and that it is only the perversion of Islam that transforms it into a religion of hate.  But stuff keeps coming to my attention…

In the Sunday paper a few weeks ago…in The Parade Magazine… there was an article about a Muslim family who immigrated to Lincoln, Nebraska. Naef and Suad and their seven children fled to the US from Baghdad, leaving behind a construction and restoration business, after a kidnapping and death threats. The article does not reveal their last name because of concerns about the safety of family still in Iraq. (Something to keep in mind when leveling the criticism that moderate Muslims in the US do not speak out vehemently enough against terrorism.  Perhaps some are reluctant because of the threat to family still in Iraq)

Weekdays, the four older children are on the school bus at 6:30 a.m. Naef and Suad spend their days studying English and doing volunteer work (a requirement for some government benefits). On weekends, the family goes to Pioneers Park and barbecues. The kids have even sampled the delights of Chuck E. Cheese on a few special occasions.

They are unemployed at this point…but are seeking work…learning English and adapting to a culture very different from their native homeland.

When you think of diversity, Lincoln, Nebraska is probably not the first city that comes to mind but….

Because of the city’s size, relatively stable economy, and educational opportunities (it’s home to the main campus of the University of Nebraska), the U.S. State Department designated Lincoln—current population 250,000—as “refugee friendly” in the 1970s. Thousands of Vietnamese refugees were resettled there, and waves of immigrants from other countries followed. Lincoln’s public schools now include children speaking 52 languages.

That is so cool.  For the most part the city has welcomed the estimated 5000 to 7000 Iraqis who’ve chosen the Lincoln area as their home in the last 15 years.

The article also tells about a few other Iraqi families who live in Lincoln…and the blending process that has taken place there.  It is a real life example and puts an “a lot like us” face on the Iraqi immigrants who have come to our country. 



Sunday, November 7, 2010

C.S. Lewis Quote on Truth….

I was reading through a long list of CS Lewis quotes this morning....long after I should have been in the shower.  I came upon the list somewhere...somehow this weekend... in my internet escapades.  Only a handful of the hundred or so short, snappy quotes really resonated...which is odd because I really like CS Lewis.  I have a book...a devotional....that consists of excerpts from his writings. The quotes on the list I read this morning were one liners mostly.  Perhaps honed too close to the bone to convey the deep thoughts of CS Lewis.  But there were a few that caught my attention....and one caught it enough to be given a chance at a blog post.

"And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger."
--The Last Battle

So many times this charge is leveled against those who believe differently.  You know....those "new agers"...heretics....universalists.....unitarians... etc...etc....etc.  This accusation can easily be turned around on those who level it against any of the groups that I just rattled off.  And there are many more.  Ask the Catholics about the Charismatics.  Ask the Seventh Day Adventists about the Lutherans.  Ask the Southern Baptists about the Universalists.  Everyone thinks they have a handle on THE Truth....when in actuality we all see through that murky glass.  

Good to know that Jesus promises us that Comforter is going to lead us to the truth.  And not to  just a little piece of the truth (like we possess now) but he will lead us into ALL truth!  All. Truth.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spirit of Truth, Take From Us What You Will

About a week or so ago, I posted excerpts from a sermon by Gary Sigler.  In that post I mentioned an interesting sermon by D.E. Paulk of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit .  This sermon also, no doubt, raised a few kingdom eyebrows. He began the sermon by urging everyone to "come empty" and set their preconceived notions aside for a bit...and he prayed

Spirit of Truth carry us where you will.  Bring to us what you will and take from us what you will.  We are surrendered to you tonight...in the name of the Christ.

Take from us what you will...hmmmmm....sometimes we don't want to let go..sometimes we hold on for dear life. 

In the post about Gary Sigler, I mentioned the tendency of some kingdom folk to be very set in their views....in a "B MUST come BEFORE C but ALWAYS AFTER A" kind of way. Paulk talked about that as one of the stages of spiritual consciousness. The steps he listed are below...paraphrased....not word for word....

Absolute...the absolute level of thought progression, everything is concrete. Everything is literal.

Abstract....when you begin to accept that in the same Bible there are opposing, contrasting from glory to glory ideas.  You are willing to walk in the gray...

Mystic Receptivity - totally bow down and say God you are unknowable

Oneness...no longer see God and truth and other people as separate from yourself.

He went on to talk about how you can find so many contrasting (sometimes seemingly opposite) ideas in the Bible. There is meat, milk and mystery in the same Bible

You can find dispensation and kingdom

You can find rapture a physical second coming and the idea of kingdom now

You can find exclusion and the finished work

In the Epistles you can find Paul speaking evangelically and universally.

Paul teaches against circumcision (you are trampling the blood of Jesus underfoot) then he circumcises Timothy

So which is accurate?  Good question....

He claims you can usually find truth in the middle.  Truth is found not in polar opposites, not in black and white, not in extremes but truth is found in the gray areas.  Take two opposites and the truth is usually in the middle of them...the middle way...moderation...the balance.

And the Bible is often used as a weapon of exclusion based on the scriptures....

More on that in an upcoming post.....Oh...and the WE in the title is an acronym for the weekly devotional he writes.....the WE....short for The Weekly Eureka.

And the emblem from the Church’s home page says it all….



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wow…that’s a relief….

Almost always on my web journeys, I stumble upon sites that totally resonate with my spirit…and I am blessed.  Other times I stumble upon things that cause the totally opposite reaction and I am saddened, sickened and angered.

I came across a site today that fits into the “other times” category. I’m not linking to it. You can google it if you feel in the mood for a bit of hate speech this afternoon.  It’s a blog that proclaims it is “upholding the Biblical standards on sexuality”….specializing in homosexuality.  And it hones its focus a bit more with the title…..the gay christian movement watch.  

Hey, it’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it.  What a relief someone is looking out for our Christian interests and upholding the biblical morals of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I will sleep so much better tonight knowing this. 

Yep, this site is a triple header…it saddens, sickens and angers.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jesus said…Ye shall know them by their fruits…

LOL…LOL..LOL….!!!  This video is hilarious.  Catchy tune, too…if you like twangy country music.  And using parody, Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours remind us that Christians are indeed ambassadors for Christ…



This morning…since o’dark thirty, I’ve been going through some old stuff…files, bookmarks, draft copies of emails in my “Send Later” file, message board posts and ideas for blog posts.  I came upon this video on a site called dabmin.org …that I saved long ago and faraway.  I revisited this morning.  There were several videos there that impacted me.  More about them in a later post….if I don’t get distracted and lured down some rabbit trail by an interesting but unrelated notion.

Anyway…this video reminded me of a joke I have oft heard told on Christian message boards and email lists….

Mistaken Identity

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard, when suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing and stopped, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After several hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate, the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.

Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car.

2 Corinthians 5:20

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. KJV

From the Message -

We're Christ's representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God's work of making things right between them. We're speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Definite Maybe?

The following quote is from Greg Boyd’s latest blog post …that he thoughtfully delivered directly to my inbox this morning….

…don’t wait for what supposedly “will” happen in the future. Instead, work with God to help create the future by acting on the maybe’s that are in front of you right now.

Boyd is an open theist.  I’ve mentioned that here before on my blog.  He has gotten lots and lots of flack for that view.  In his latest post he talks about words and phrases like “might” and “might not”…”will” and “will not.” While I agree (concede) that there are will and will not circumstances in our lives, things that are going to occur (or not)come “hell or high water,” I also think there are might and might not circumstances. As my friend annie has said (paraphrased) Do I believe in free will.  Yes.  Do I believe in sovereignty?  Yes.  It’s not either/ or.  It’s both /and……


Artwort designed by Brothers of Weston Priory


Designed by Brothers of Weston Priory – Benedictine Monks in Weston, Vermont

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Excluded From Most Kingdom Ministries

A few weeks ago I listened to a podcast entitled Religious Deception.  The link came to me via an email from Kingdom Ministries. There was also a link to sermon by a pastor from The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit...R.E. Paulk.  I am going to post a few snippets from that sermon tomorrow....
But for today, following are a few quotes from Gary's sermon....
If you believe in a higher power, or if you don't believe in a higher power, you know there's got to be something greater than you....just call out to whatever that is.  And I guarantee you he will meet you right where you are.  If you're in alcoholic's anonymous...if you're in Buddhism, if you're in Hinduism, no matter your culture, no matter your background. And this is what got me excluded from most kingdom ministries....because I say God does not care about your doctrine.  He doesn't care about your intellectual knowledge, he wants your heart.  So no matter what culture, no matter what religion, no matter where you are, if you'll just cry out to Him
Yeah' I can see how that might stir up some kingdom ministries.  So many of them depend on correct doctrine and intellectual knowledge...all the t's crossed and the i's dotted.  The correct view of free will/sovereignty....the right theory of the atonement....preterist, full preterist, partial preterist. Everything has to fit...be scripturally correct...fall into it's place.  One card taken from the house of cards and it all comes tumbling down. Gary goes on to say....
Once you cry out to God, he will be your leader.  He will draw you out of any religion you're in.
There is only one teacher and that's the comforter.
A verse from Ezekiel comes to mind.....I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.
You have an anointing and that anointing abides in you.  The anointing that you have received abides in you and you have no need of no man to teach you....for that same anointing will teach you and it's the truth.  You have an inner guidance system that will not lead you astray.  Oh your mind will!!  You mind will lead you down many paths but when you learn to sit in the quiet and you learn to hear that inner guidance system, its infallible.  That's what all of us have.  But we don't listen to that.  Many times we will listen but then we'll go to the preacher and he'll say, "Ah Brother, you can't listen to that." I've had many preachers tell me I was in deception and hearing demons and angels of light.  But you have to learn that the anointing is in you and you can trust it.  You can trust that anointing above what your preacher says, above what Gary says.... God is wonderful...

Indeed he is....

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Problem of Good….?

Many..many times...on many, many lists and message boards, I've participated in discussions about the POE. 
The. problem. of. evil. 
Suffering. Disasters. Disease. Pain. Loss. Heartache.
In my web meanderings I came across a quote I thought was kind of interesting...looking at it from a different angle....

The older ways of talking about evil tended to pose the puzzle as a metaphysical or theological conundrum. If there is a God, and if he is a good, wise and supremely powerful god, why is there such a thing as evil? Even if you're an atheist, you face the problem: Is this world a sick joke, which contains some things that make us think it's a wonderful place, and other things which make us think it's an awful place, or what? You could of course call this the problem of good, rather than the problem of evil: If the world is the chance assembly of accidental phenomena, why is there so much that we want to praise and celebrate? Why is there beauty, love, and laughter?
To read more from the article God, 9/11, the Tsunami, and the New Problem of Evil…where this quote came from…go HERE.

And I recently posted about Greg Boyd.  In that sermon marathon I talked about in my post…that I listened to on my way to Ellwood City, there was one called The Gospel of Suffering that I thought was pretty good.  You can find it HERE.

The POE...not something we are all likely to agree upon anytime soon. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Warrior Jesus?

A few weekends ago, when I drove to visit my mom about four hours away, I helped pass the time by listening to a series of sermons downloaded from Woodland Hills, the church where Greg Boyd  is senior pastor.  The series I listened to was about the outrageous love of God as told through the parables of the prodigal son, the lost sheep and the lost coin.
An interesting thing he mentioned about the parable of the lost coin...there was a custom during that time period...brides wore necklaces made of coins....as a symbol of the marriage bond.  The coins were the wedding ring.  Losing one of the coins....definitely not cool.  So she looked and looked until she found it....just like God seeks until he finds us....ALL of us.  And then there is rejoicing.  This view of the parable is not unique to Boyd.  He credited Wiersbe with introducing him to the idea.

While I'm on the subject of Greg Boyd...on his blog he recently posted a writing called,  Revelation and the Violent Prize Fighting Jesus.  It is a response to a comment in Relevant Magazine, by Mark Driscoll (well known pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle)
“In Revelation, Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.”
Wow...think he might have missed the gist of the teachings of Jesus?  Jesus didn’t come the first time to make someone bleed…HE came to bleed and die on the cross.  And even if I believed in a literal, bodily return of Jesus the next time around, I’m thinking he wouldn’t come to kick anyone’s ass. 

Boyd responds:
.....the model of Jesus as a “prize fighter” with a “commitment to make someone bleed” allows us to indulge it. (our tendency to resort to violence) If we can dismiss the peace-loving Jesus as a “hippie, diaper, halo Christ,” then we’re free to wish and even inflict vengeance on our enemies all we like — and feel righteous about it! 
He mentions his upcoming book...
A Questionable Peace: Responding to Alleged Violence in the New Testament). It will serve as a prequel to my book offering a non-violent theological interpretation of the OT (The Crucifixion of the Warrior God).  Because the literalistic, violent misinterpretation of Revelation is so prevalent among evangelicals, I get asked about Revelation frequently. So I thought it might be helpful for me to share with you fine folks a few of the scholarly works I’ve found that support a non-violent interpretation of this book. How I wish Mark Driscoll and others who embrace the “prize fighter” perspective would digest some of this material!
He lists a dozen or so books that address the issue of an apocalyptic Jesus and a violent, literal interpretation of Revelation. I may not purchase the Questionable Peace book...but the other book...the Crucifixion of the Warrior God will be a must read for me.  It addresses something that has always bothered me.  The different face of God in the Old and New Testament.  Almost as if God was “two faced”…. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Faith vs. Works??

Okay, changing the topic a bit....I wrote the following post a week or so ago when I was visiting my mom for a few days.....

For the past few days, I’ve been visiting my mom in a small town in Western Pennsylvania…Ellwood City. It’s economy went down the crapper back when the steel mills packed up and left and it’s never really recovered. Still it is cleaner and more thriving than many towns in this area and I’ve lived here off and on throughout my life. As a baby…as a child…even as a young adult. I would probably never move back to Ellwood, but it feels “"homey” to me in some ways.

My mom is not into technology…proof of that…..she doesn’t even own a TV. Nope, no TV…and no computer. No computer equals no internet. I’ve been without internet for four days….except for my daily pilgrimages to the closest McDonald’s. (fyi…McD’s has free wifi at most of it's locations across the country. Easy to connect to with a minimum of fiddling with the wifi settings on your computer. And they have great coffee…equaling Starbucks or Dunkin’ in quality but cheaper )

For the times, I knew I would not be hanging out at McD's, I downloaded a few websites (using a nifty free app called Backstreet Browser) to read offline. One was an eclectic site called The Nazarene Way…lots of obscure, odd writings there. The other site was Richard Beck’s blog, Experimental Theology. I’ve spent most of my offline web browsing at Experimental Theology checking out the archives. I’ve come across a lot that has resonated, piqued or stirred….and I plan to write about some of the topics here on my blog…..beginning with this one.

On Being a Practicing Christian: Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy – 6/23/06

New word for me…orthopraxy. But not a new concept to me or to Christianity. Actually, it's been the topic of much debate down through the centuries.

Faith vs. works. Right belief or right action. Faith IN Jesus or the faith OF Jesus. Orthodoxy or Orthopraxy?

The Bible is not silent on the issue. Trouble is, like most issues the Bible addresses, there are conflicting views both laid out in scripture.

James addresses it head on in James 2....

14What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

So does Paul….

(Ephesians 2:8-9) - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

And so does Richard Beck on his blog

For me, beliefs are like the tides, they ebb and flow. But how I treat my neighbor, how I practice my faith, should be constant and unchanging.
"How can you be actively engaged at church, call yourself a Christian, and be agnostic?" I responded, "Easy. You're a practicing Christian." The students responded, "What? How can you be a practicing Christian? If you don't believe then you are not a Christian." I responded, "Well, what about times when your faith fails or falters? Wouldn't continuing to practice Christianity during that dark time help keep your faith alive while you struggled? If so, practicing Christianity might actually be more important, more vital, than believing in Christianity.