Sunday, January 31, 2010

is this the best they can do???

I can't remember how I first came on The Other Journal by Mars Hill Graduate School (which, while in Seattle, is thankfully unconnected with Driscoll's church), but it happened, and every now and again, I go there just to see how many wacked-out ideas they are floating around.

And again, I'm not disappointed.

Reconciling Sufjan Stevens: Religious Hipsters and The Inevitable Queerness Of Christian Music

Perhaps the one thing that makes this article readable is that the writers spends the first half of it going on about music. Not necessarily in a way that I agree with, but matters of taste are what they are. I have some memory of the attempts by Christian bands and singers to "cross over", with greater to lesser success. I'm not a much into CCM now, but I do remember the first couple of Jars of Clay releases, and I liked them a lot. I don't know if I've ever heard any Eddie Vedder, but if Jars sounds like Vedder, so what?

Anyway, then the writer focuses on one modern musician, whom he seems to like. Then we get to what this article is all about.

So for everyone else Sufjan’s music begs the question “Is Sufjan gay?” but I find that pursuit a bit tiring. It does, though lead to a bigger, more entertaining question, that being “Is Christianity gay?”

Everyone who is in a gay relationship or knows someone who is, knows that sex has little or nothing to do with the relationships success or failure. What makes any relationship work is commitment. Whether a man is gay or not depends on who he chooses to commit to, a man or a woman.

So, at the very least, there is something a little gay about men who love Jesus. We commit our lives to him. We submit to him. His love for us surpasses the deepest of passion between the greatest of lovers. Priests take vows of celibacy so that they can be completely devoted to him and so that women will not be in competition for their affection. Sufjan does sing love songs to a man, that is for sure, and whether they are to his friends, a lover, or to Jesus himself, that is a little gay.

This writer plays so fast-and-loose with the word "love", that I can only assume that the editor for this journal either didn't read this article before publishing it, or published it solely for the sake of controversy and pushing an agenda.

By this person's abject misinterpretation, two men who are friends are "gay", a knigh of years ago who swore allegiance to a king was "gay", when Jesus told the disciples to love Him he was telling them to be "gay".

See how bad this reasoning is?

There is nothing "homosexual" about a man loving Jesus. There is nothing "gay" about men being true friends with each other. A few weeks ago, I was in a coffee shop, and overheard a couple of people talking about the supposed homosexual relationship between David and Jonathan. It honked me off a bit, and wisely or not, I asked how they found that in the Bible. Perhaps they weren't expecting to be challenged like that, but they had no answer to it.

Last year, about May or June, I read a Sojo article where the writer at least asked the question of "what if" the relationship between Naomi and Ruth was a sexual one (he also pretty much said that Boaz and Ruth had sex when she talked with him on the threshing floor).

You can see how the argument goes, which this TOJ writer contributes to--instances of deep frienship and commitment between men or between women are spun as "homosexual". And now men loving and commiting to Jesus are being spun as being "gay". Which, of course, only serves the purpose of the progressives' attempts to normalize homosexual activity.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

jokes without humor

Theology After Google
Here’s my answer in five theses. Whether you love them or hate them, I hope you’ll interact with them:

So, far be it from me to decline such an invite, sooo...

Theology is not something you consume, but something you produce. In the Age of Gutenberg, you read theology in a book; you heard it preached in sermons; and you were taught it by Bible teachers. In the Age of Google, theology is what you do when you’re responding to blogs, contributing to a wiki doc or google doc, marking up a Word doc on your computer, participating in worship, inventing new forms of “ministry,” or talking about God with your friends in a pub.

In reading that, it seems like he's saying that never before have people thought about and discussed theological matters. This presumption on his part reminds me of something Chesterton wrote about himself in the Introduction to Orthodoxy

For if this book is a joke it is a joke against me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fancied I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious. No one can think my case more ludicrous than I think it myself; no reader can accuse me here of trying to make a fool of him: I am the fool of this story, and no rebel shall hurl me from my throne. I freely confess all the idiotic ambitions of the end
of the nineteenth century. I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it. I did strain my voice with a painfully juvenile exaggeration in uttering my truths. And I was punished in the fittest and funniest way, for I have kept my truths: but I have discovered, not that they were not truths, but simply that they were not mine. When I fancied that I stood alone I was really in the ridiculous position of being backed up by all Christendom. It may be, Heaven forgive me, that I did try to be original;
but I only succeeded in inventing all by myself an inferior copy of the existing traditions of civilized religion. The man from the yacht thought he was the first to find England; I thought I was the first to find Europe. I did try to found a heresy of my own; and when I had put the last touches to it, I discovered that it was orthodoxy.

When someone talks as if Christians over the past few hundred or even couple of thousands of years merely took in and never produced, I can only assume that this someone is either practicing more hyperbol-ventiliation, or is simply showing a monumental amount of ignorance. Because whatever else mankind has done, and no matter how bad the quality of it may often have been, man has most certainly produced theological thought. And simply because people up to a few years ago didn't have Googles or Wikis or Word in which to do it, just shows that the supposed "Theology after Google" isn't really all they want us to think it is. It's like saying people didn't do carpentry before the advent of the laser level.

It's rather humorous how what Chesterton says he was like is how so many of the progressives and emergents say they are trying to be, in so many words. I especially like "I did, like all other solemn little boys, try to be in advance of the age. Like them I tried to be some ten minutes in advance of the truth. And I found that I was eighteen hundred years behind it".

Sadly, this writer, TheOoze in general, and most emergents and progressives as a whole, have not yet gotten the joke, that it's not a nice joke, and that they are they butt of it. They are trying to found a heresy of their own, and are not yet prepared to listen to those who are telling them that it is a heresy. Were they to actually do the hard work of putting in the last touches, like Chesterton did, they might actually learn that what they claim to be looking for they would find in biblical orthodoxy.

But for now, they would rather think their own high-blown thoughts, and try to shoehorn them into the Bible, even if it means doing unspeakable violence to the Bible, rather than let the Bible correct their thinking and beliefs. Which would be interesting, where it not that what they are saying and teaching has consequences, both for themselves and for those who believe what they are saying. Which is why the joke is not a nice humorous one.

Friday, January 29, 2010

sheathing Jesus' sword in mystery Babylon

More from a TheOoze video, this one titles something like "Transcendence beyond our belief system. Inclusion. Mystery. Humility.", with Burke and someone named Tim King.

Burke: Well, and a lot of times, I notice, that myself. others, you know we focus out on future, or heaven, or what's next, and we really can miss the kingdom here and now.

Kind: Which is the only moment we have. The present moment is the only thing that's real. If you talk about the past, it's no longer here; the future is no longer something we need to be obsessed with to the demise of the present moment, because the present moment sets that trajectory for the future. And so, if you're consumed in the present with the future that 's not a reality, what are you doing with the reality that is? You're just wasting it away.

What we have to do is reframe who the true self is. If we really get down to it, then we can say 'Wait a minute, our stories, our belief systems, at best are pointers, they're not our identity. And so all of these identity conflicts I think could go away, if we could take on more of a persona of saying 'Look, since our belief systems are merely pointers to that which is beyond and unnamable and unknowable, let's meet beyond our belief systems, in this area of mystery and humility. And I think if the world started coming together, and the world religions started coming together, to celebrate the dignities of each sacred narrative, all meeting beyond our belief systems, at the feet of mystery, then I think you've got phenomenal potential to real begin to create this tipping point toward celebration instead of doomsday.

When I was doing this transcription, I noticed King's phrase "to celebrate the dignities of each sacred narrative, all meeting beyond our belief systems, at the feet of mystery" (emphasis mine). It put me in mind of this passage from Revelation (again, emphasis mine)...

3Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5This title was written on her forehead:
AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.

Is drawing the line between King's statement and this verse fair? Well, consider what King is advocating. The world religions coming together to celebrate at the feet of mystery, or dare we capitalize it as Mystery. What could such a compromise be but prostitution and abomination? For two thousand years, Christians have gone to those who do believe, and told them the Gospel, or were Christians in their own homeplaces. They were often not welcomed, many were persecuted, harmed, and killed, often in truly horrible ways. These two, with their call to "celebrate at the feet of mystery", simply spit on those martyrs' graves, saying thier sacrifices were meaningless, useless, not necessary, that rather then trying to convert people to faith in the living God, they should have gone to the unbelievers to celebrate them, to be converted by them.

I have no patience with these smarter-than-God types, they sicken me to no end. About all I feel is a kind of pity for them. But if the woes Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees, that all their converts were simply more the children of Hell than they were before, how can I not think the same thing for these false teachers? I can only hope and pray that they are not completely hopeless.

Burke: Now the criticism always is: Oh, wait a minute, then I have to check everything at the door. We have this dualism like, it's all or nothing, you know. But you're not necessarily saying that. I mean, just as Merton would say Hey, I can be fully Catholic, fully Christian, and involved with Sufis and with Buddhist's traditions and not let go of who he is, but not necessarily trying to just convert other people, engage.

King: Exactly, and you use a key word there when you say 'convert'. If we could just embrace our sacred narrative--for me, my primal narrative is the Jesus story, that's what resonates with me at the deepest parts of my being. So while I'm not going to forfeit that, but I don't have to forfeit that story to contribute to the lives of others. Now if I feel like have to have a conversion mentality, now all of a sudden there's no chance for peace, none, because if I feel like I have to convert you, I've just drawn a line between us, and implicitly said "You're on the wrong side of that line". And the only way we can have fellowship, let alone celebration, is if you come on my side of the line. But when I'm secure in the fact that I'm not my belief system, I'm beyond that. Then I can celebrate the dignities of the Jesus story, the dignities of the Sufi or whatever relgion, you know, the person we're dealing with is, we can celebrate those things together, because ultimately again at best, they are just pointers to the reality that is, to the presence, to the unnamable, which has to dwell in mystery beyond us, and that's where we can come together, and meet at those crossroads, and have incredible fellowship and understanding.

It's always a bit surprising when someone claims to be into the "Jesus narrative" or some such thing, and then condemns something that Jesus Himself said would be true. This whole video is about the end times, and how these two think the biblical doomsday scenario (which isn't doomsday at all, but rather our blessed hope of Christ's return) needs to be discarded for, well, something more cheery. So, Jesus' words about how things will be are immediately discarded, if that tells you how much they "love" Jesus. Or how much the Jesus of their "Jesus narrative" departs from the Jesus of the Bible.

But consider these two statements, one from King in the paragraph above...

Now if I feel like have to have a conversion mentality, now all of a sudden there's no chance for peace, none, because if I feel like I have to convert you, I've just drawn a line between us, and implicitly said "You're on the wrong side of that line". And the only way we can have fellowship, let alone celebration, is if you come on my side of the line.

And this of Jesus'...

Matthew 10
34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law -
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'[e]

37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

King is right, though he rejects the thing that is right. If we seek to convert, as Jesus commands, there will not be peace. But we seek peace with God, not necessarily with men.

Perhaps this is a humorous and pointed way of comparing their "Jesus narrative" Jesus with the real biblical Jesus.
dis how u replace meh รข�� pug, cute puppy, loldog, lol dog, and funny dog pictures
see more dog and puppy pictures

targetting the weak and ignorant

This is from a video at TheOoze, a kind of driving conversation between Brian McLaren and Spencer Burke. Why in a car, I don't know. Probably not important, anyway. The video is called "ThinkFwd host Spencer Burke drive the streets of Santa Monica with author", and I assume McLaren's name is suppose to be at the end there somewhere, though I don't see it. Perhaps that's a browser issue, though.

Anyway, this quote is from McLaren.

There's a cost to changing, but there's also a cost to not changing. Here's what I would say--the current kind of Christianity that's working for a lot of people, I don't want to mess with that. If you're happy--you know, if you hate my books, if you hate The Ooze--you know, if you like things the way they are, God bless you, we don't want to bother you. we're really--you're not really our main audience, you know. But your children, your grandchildren, your friends, your neighbors, who are completely shut out and disinterested and in many ways excluded by your form of Christianity, uh, you know, those are the kinds of people we're trying to help.

First, let's be honest--emergents are far from the only youth-focused religious or Christian group out there. It seems like every church I can think is focused on getting the kids, the youth, the young adults. As far as it goes, that would be fine, but it seems to become a discriminatory thing, too. On the other hand, I can think of churches that are the other way, who want little contemporary in their services, and I'm not in favor of that, either.

But in terms of the discriminatory, though, McLaren's statement voices something beyond even what those other churches I can think of exercise. The youth-oriented ones will welcome older people, and often have them. The more traditional ones have youth, and welcome them. McLaren, hardly a spring chicken in his own right (and Burke looks like he's seen younger days, too), basically dismiss the older people, saying rather they are focused rather exclusively on the youth.

In other words, those so weak in their faith they can be swayed by anything, and those so ignorant they are swayed by anything that sounds nice.

Yet the underlying message is, it doesn't really matter. They have dismissed things like judgment and hell, so the fact that they think the older people are so wrong simply means those people can be dismissed--let them stay in their conclaves and die out whilst we recruit their kids and grandkids.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

the left's new dream team

Sometimes, they spell it right out for us. A Sojo write has done so, at least.

Howard Zinn’s Last Advice to Me (and America): ‘Independence from the Military-Corporation’

It seems to me that the confluence of massive disemployment, plus knee-jerk militarism, plus stalemate on the climate crisis and on health care, plus the Supreme Court decision on corporate financing of elections, plus the use of the filibuster in the Senate — all in what many assumed or hoped would be a year of major progressive change — has shocked enough people that it should, and might, make possible a progressive coalition.

First, what is disemployment? What is knee-jerk militarism?

And the stalemates on climate change and health care are because the people know that these things are false crises--we know the data has been doctored on climate change, and we know that the health care bill will far more damage than good.

The Supreme Court's decision last week was a good and sound one.

And the liberals have had the supermajority in Congress this past year, such that the Republicans could have stopped them from passing any bill they wanted. One also wonders if this person would have been so quick to want it eliminated when, for example, Dems were threatening to use it concerning some of President Bush's justice seat selections.

No, all this person wants is for those opposed to his agenda to be shut up and shunted aside.

I’m imagining a coalition aimed at “independence from the military-corporate alliance,” with a platform that includes strong planks on climate, jobs, health, ending the present wars, major reductions in the military, transforming campaign finance, and ending the filibuster.

I could pretty much rest my case right there.

These paragraphs were excerpts from a letter he wrote, I think to a few people. This is part of one reply he got.

Someone or some group that is respected throughout the progressive movement would need to take the initiative and summon supporters. With blacks, Latinos, women prominent, and not disdaining celebrities. I think of Julian Bond, Danny Glover, Rosie Perez, Cindy Sheehan, Harry Belafonte, Matt Damon, Oprah, Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman — some well-known clergy, you and others, some labor leaders. Maybe not that exact group, but just to suggest a direction. And a few super-organizers.

Wow, how many more nut-jobs could have been listed? I do notice Sean Penn missing, but I suppose that wasn't an exhaustive list.

Remember Danny Glover? For a place like Sojo that had a high old time over Pat Robertson's statement about the Haiti earthquake, statement I'm pretty well convinced were taken out of context by a lot of people on both sides, they shouldn't even come within a hundred miles of Glover, after his statement that the disaster was the earth's response to the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit.

With a dream team like that, prepare for left's new nightmare.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

so greed means lots of charitable giving???

Listen to a conservative long enough, and he or she will likely make a statement about how liberals hate the US. Liberals, of course, deny such a charge, perhaps even with reason. Nonetheless, I think the charge has a large degree of validity--while they may not necessarily hate the country, they will often speak with distain of much that the US is about. I give you this Sojo article as a case in point.

Greed is God: Exporting the Values of America’s Prosperity Heresy

Arguably, most wars that America has fought aim to export U.S. values of freedom and democracy. However, a major lesson from Vietnam reveals that military intervention as a means to change values and political ideology can often backfire with indefatigable resistance. Today, we see Islamic extremists using terror as a means to communicate their values in opposition to Western ideals. However, if terrorism is fundamentally a form communication, what values do we represent when we respond militarily? We have chosen to speak their “language” of violence, and only time will tell if we will dominate the conversation.

This is "moral equivalency", equating US military action against terrorism with the actions of the terrorists themselves. This is, quite simply, a weak argument, and offensive to the hilt, but one that liberals have made many times. They will, for example, equate a parent spanking a child to correct that child to a person abusing a child. They will equate people louding voicing opposition to this current US presidential administration to racists in pointy white hoods.

To give you an idea of just how offensive the argument of this Sojo writer is, here some comparisons--the husband who makes love to his wife is not better than the rapist; the man who defends his property is no better than the thief trying to steal it; the police officer who shoots and kills someone shooting at him is no better than the criminal shooting at the police officer.

Changing global values through the economy, however, is a completely different matter. We are winning this fight; we are changing how the world fiscally relates. What economic credo are we exporting to the rest of the world, you might ask?

Jim Wallis names that credo, “greed is good,” in his new book Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street—A Moral Compass for the New Economy. Wallis rightly assesses the current global financial crisis as primarily a moral crisis with severe economic consequences.

I have to smile at this. The naivity inherent in such a statement is almost winsome, if it weren't so silly.

As someone who's done a good bit of international travel and even living, I think I can say with some authority that no one how to tell people how to be greedy. In fact, no one has to tell a small child how to be greedy. They seem to come by it perfectly naturally on their own.

Now, is the US's credo really "greed is good"?

What's funny is that it seems we're suppose to take this statement a face value, or else put out $20+ for Wallis' books. But I suppose I will question it, nonetheless.

Charitable Donations by Americans Reach Record High

Americans increased their charitable donations significantly in 2006 to more than $295 billion -- a record, according to a study released June 25 by the Giving USA Foundation, which reports on charitable contributions.

The overwhelming majority of this money was donated by individuals, not corporations or foundations, according to the chairman of Giving USA, Richard Jolly. Donations from individuals, including bequests, accounted for 83.3 percent of total giving last year, or $245.8 billion, he told USINFO.

“The total amount of money that was given to nonprofit institutions is remarkable,” Jolly said. “What we see is when people feel engaged, when they feel a need is legitimate, when they are asked to support it, they do.”

U.S. charitable giving estimated to be $307.65 billion in 2008

Giving in worst economic climate since Great Depression exceeds $300 billion for second year in a row

Charitable giving in the United States exceeded $300 billion for the second year in a row in 2008, according to Giving USA 2009. Donations to charitable causes in the United States reached an estimated $307.65 billion in 2008, a 2 percent drop in current dollars over 2007.

The 2008 number is the first decline in giving in current dollars since 1987 and the second since Giving USA began publishing annual reports in 1956, says the annual report on philanthropy, released today for the 54th year by Giving USA FoundationTM. ( Revised estimated giving for 2007 was a record $314.07 billion.

“With the United States mired in a recession throughout 2008, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that charitable giving would be down,” said (Ms.) Del Martin, CFRE, chair of Giving USA Foundation. “However, what we find remarkable is that individuals, corporations and foundations still provided more than $307 billion to causes they support, despite the economic conditions.

Kentucky basketball coach, team raises over $1 million for Haiti

The University of Kentucky basketball team, led by first-year head coach John Calipari, has helped raise over $1 million for Haiti earthquake relief. An auction for the cause included a dinner with the coach and actress Ashley Judd, going for $98,100.

Kentucky may be one of the few states in the nation in which someone would pay $98,100 to have dinner with a college basketball coach.

But this is no ordinary dinner invitation; it is dinner for six with the University of Kentucky (UK) basketball coach John Calipari, his wife Ellen and Hollywood actress Ashley Judd, a graduate of the university. And the price of the dinner is a donation to the Calipari-inspired, "Hoops for Haiti" campaign which has collected more than $1 million for the earthquake stricken nation since Sunday, January 17, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The "Hoops for Haiti" charity event was the result of a desire that Kentucky coach Calipari had after the Haiti earthquake to do something substantial to raise money for the relief efforts in the devastated country.

630 WLAP and Southland Christian Church of Lexington, KY collect and ship peanut butter to Haiti.

The above is pictures. People took peanut butter to the station last week, which Southland Christian Church then sent.

I will agree with the Sojo writer that the Prosperity Gospel is poison, though her solution is rather iffy. Her attempt to make John 3:16 into a socialistic spread-the-wealth verse is humorous, but a madly wrong application of the verse.

I'll end this with a little cartoon for you to visit, which I originally saw here. Substitute a Sojoer for the Jihadist, and you'd quite succintly have what I'm saying here.

Quick! Pass the Shovel!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

paradise misnamed

Theology After Google

I’m almost embarrassed to list these differences, because they’re so obvious. But here’s the amazing fact: Denominations aren’t changing. In most cases they’re not planning for and investing in new forms of church for this brave new world. (There are some great exceptions.)

I find it a bit ironic that he should refer to the things happening today as a "brave new world".

A few years ago, I tried to read Huxley's book. I didn't get very far into it, for whatever reason. But I did get enough into it to get some idea of what that 'brave new world' was like--people kept docile in a kind of drug-induced haze; babies mass-produced on a kind of test-tube assembly line; people's lives pretty much engineered from the get-go.

In other words, like Orwell's "1984", Huxley's "Brave New World" is dystopic. It isn't a paeon in praise of that brave new world, but a siren in warning of it, to keep us from going there.

At the risk of having both the shrink and the seer do flips in their graves, perhaps we could say that this choice of words by the Ooze author is both Freudian and prophetic.

If there are "some great exceptions" "planning for and investing in new forms of church for this brave new world", what does this mean? Since this writer seems to be in the Emergent and liberal camps, why should a conservative like myself be overly impressed with his assertions? Could his statements about the death of the traditional church be like Carville's statements last year about the the GOP being dead? Is it not more wishful thinking than actual fact? Is it that, having gone over to the liberal and Emergent sides, he simply may be seeing things wrongly?

Not that the Church is very perfect. Yet I will not thunder as if from on high about the supposed laxity and luke-warmed-ness of the Church. I've known to many Christians whose lives are not going to be famous, who lived quietly and did what they could in the circles they were in, and I have too much respect for them to belittle them and those like them.

I think that, for all it's faults, the Church is far from dead, but I think this writers wants people to think it is. And he has reason for wanting them to think that, for even wanting to speed it's death. And it will become clearer soon, I hope.

Monday, January 25, 2010

gimme that new time religion...

Theology After Google

Take the question of authority. In the frontier town, the Southern city, or the New England village there was the authority of the law and the government. A lot of folks weren’t very educated, so they didn’t read much, and there was no radio or TV. The pastor of the church was not only the moral and spiritual authority — the representative of the only true religion and its obviously true scriptures —but also probably the most educated person in town. He (there were virtually no female pastors!) spoke with authority on a wide variety of issues that were important to the society of his day.

Contrast that with today’s situation. Rarely are pastors approached as figures of authority, except (sometimes!) within their own congregations. Radio, television, and the internet are our primary authorities for the information we need, with newspapers, advertisements, and movies coming in a close second. For many American Christians (“Your Trusted Source for Free Daily Inspiration & Faith”) is a bigger authority on matters of Christian belief and practice than any pastor.We love self-help books, so we’re more likely to read Spirituality for Dummies than to go to a group Bible study. Forty years ago people were influenced in their judgments about religious matters not only by their pastor but also by the editorials in the Religion section of their local newspaper. Today the blogs one happens to read are more likely to influence her beliefs.

Well, I suppose he has a point, to an extent. I'm not sure how comparing a pastor as authority figure to various media outlets as sources for information works out, but, oh well.

But if we look at the two time periods, perhaps we can ask which is necessarily better? Oh, no doubt, one could point to ways in which society today has changed for the better from various periods in the past. But just as well, one could point to ways that society today has become worse. And if we look at the attributes he assigns to today, perhaps those attributes are at least one source of those problems.

He says that pastors are not as sought out as authority figures as they were in the past. Perhaps he is right. But can he say that the things he lists as replacements are better? While I know of much good that comes from those media, one doesn't have to look far to see how they have been sources of things that have done no small amount of harm to society. Have people who substituted out the pastor and subbed in the Oprah really been better off? Saying this as one who believes in personal reading and study, have we really become better Christians by replacing the pastor with theological readings, even good ones? Are we better off having been preached to by televangelists? Are the people who get their 'church' from CBN better off than if they had gone to a local church?

...If they have the good fortune to depart seminary with their idealism intact, they’re generally assigned to a traditional church that has virtually no youth or younger families present, an average age of 60, and a major budget crisis on its hands. The orders are, “Keep this church alive!” The church members like the old hymns and liturgies; they don’t like tattoos, rock music, or electronics. They are about as likely to read and respond to blogs as I am to play in the Super Bowl. So the young pastor folds her idealism away in a closet and struggles to offer the
traditional ministry that churches want.

In short: the majority of our resources continue to be flung at traditional church structures. Those doing the real revolutionary work, those trying to envision — and incarnate — the church of the future struggle on with the barest of resources.

This is not smart. Let’s do something different. Let’s do it now.

I've been to many different kinds of churches. When I was young, we went to some rather charismatic types of churchs. I spent much of my youth in a rather strick fundamentalist church. I've gone to Vineyards and Calvary Chapels, and little storefront churches. I've been to those that seemed to think that anything after the 60s was evil, and anything before the 90s was archaic.

It is amazing how this writer gets caught up in the superfluous, like many others do.

The people in the church like the old hymns and liturgies? Ok. Sorry, I don't see that as being much of a problem. Personally, I'm so sick of any church music, be it traditional or contemporary, that I'd as soon arrive at a service after that music has ended than endure it. Still, I do find the words of many hymns fit to use for my own expressions. Some choruses are good, too, though I usually find myself wondering what the song is really about, considering how much many P&W singers and writers are in the charismatic camp that all in on the modern-day frauds calling themselves apostles and prophets, or are into the whole latter rain thing.

And as far as this "real revolutionary work" the writer goes on about, well, I suppose we can ask what he means by that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

the more everything changes...

I suppose it could safely be guessed that the author of this Ooze entry would not mind that someone would make comment on his thoughts, given the content of his article. Well, whether so or not, let us be off...

Theology After Google

There so often seems to be this emphasis by postmoderns on some kind of event or some thing that they focus on as being rather a kind of turning point, or a kind of marker in time, where they say "when X happened, things changed or began to change". World War II, particularly the part in Europe, seemed to be that thing for the philosophical side of postmodernism. For this more popular form, there are a few candidates--the fall of the Soviet bloc, the internet, maybe 9-11.

So, what about Google? Or, more precisely, the internet as a whole?

Why is it that most Americans today don’t walk down to their neighborhood church on Sunday mornings for worship, Sunday School, and a church potluck?

Were I content with just being snide, I would say "They don't walk because they drive their cars". I'm not, though I will throw it out there.

Why don't most Americans do that? Perhaps because most aren't believers? After all, we are a country of religious freedom, so people are not required to attand a church service, Sunday School, or potluck, thank you very much.

And, frankly, I think that a good thing. Why should people who have no desire for church be forced to go? Understand what I just wrote--I think it would be good for them to go, if they go to a church that truly preaches God's Word, but I would not force anyone to go.

Although some Christians seem to get it that “everything must change,” why is it that the vast majority don’t seem to recognize the enormous changes that are already upon us?

Oh, some of us do see these "enormous changes", which I would guess this writer means thing like the Emergents and the Liberals. Sigh, oh yes, such enormous changes, unlike anything in the past, except that, well, there were all kinds of things like it in the past. The church, after all, has had to put up with smarter-than-God heretics in the past. The church has been pronounced dead before, and while most of those who have announced it's death have themselves found their graves, the church has shown more life than they gave it credit for. Such great excitement over, for example, the Gospel of Thomas, like we were the ones who first took it seriously, plainly forgetting that Christians roughly 1800 years ago also took it seriously--so much so, in fact, that they found it to be seriously wrong, and dealt with it accordingly.

Do we really inhabit two different worlds: those who text, Twitter, blog, and get 80%of our information from the internet, and those who are “not comfortable” with the new social media and technologies? It's the same world. Sorry, but Twittering doesn't make you special. And if there are people who choose to not lead a plugged-in life, or who do so in a very limited sense much like myself, than more power to us.

Could we today be facing a change in how human society is organized that is as revolutionary in its implications as was the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg over 500 years ago?

Well, first, though I am a respecter of Gutenberg and his printing press, I would need to know exactly what this writer means by how it changed human society and how it's organized.

If we are, what does all this have to do with theology and the church?

First, should we assume his "If we are"? What if we are not? For that matter, so what? He has used the language of "everything must change", but why must it change? Must I think that the advent of Google rivals the advent of Christ? Should I think that because a person believed X to be true the day before Google advented, that the day that person must now believe that X is not true, because everything has changed?

No doubt, someone will say that the rhetoric of "Everything must change" is simply hyperalventilation, a bit of overstatement to make that point. Very well, if we wish to be more exact, we may say "Most things must change" or "70-90% of things much change" or "We think that there are things that must change but we're not sure yet what exactly but we know it will be almost everything".

To look at a parallel, how did things change when, for example, the steam engine was created? Well, journeys that once took months became journeys of days or maybe a week or so. Then came the automobile, which became for most people a more personal change. Then the airplane, and trips that took days with the train became trips that took mere hours (not counting layovers and delays).

So, some of the outer forms have changed. But how much have things really changed? People who once walked or rode mules or horses or wagons to work not drive cars to work. People who once took boats to cross the oceans now fly airplanes. Not saying that the changes weren't significant. But the things is, people didn't really change.

Before, a man might have to go to a bar, or a brothel, to satisfy his lustful urges. Then there came the magazines. Now, he can go online and find the pictures and videos. The means have changed, or more accurately diversified, but the man himself has not. Before, a person may have needed guns and dynamite to rob a bank. Now, all he or she needs is someone else's identity, which is far too easy to get. The techniques of robbery may be different now, but theft is still theft.

Why we should assume that what was true 2000 years ago is today not true is beyond me. I suppose a person could argue that the Apostles were wrong to have thought that they had seen the resurrected Christ, because dead men don't become not-dead, but if what they believed was true, then nothing that happened with the advent of Google made it not-true.

The phrase I have heard was "chronological snobbery", the idea that people today (whenever "today" may have been or is now) are vastly superior to the ones who were around yesterday. Oh, let those old-timers be respected, of course, they did the best they could with what they had, but we have more, and are simply smarter. We found the atom, and flew to the moon, and we have the advent of Google. In the face of such modern miracles, we deny that the old miracles really occurred. We can make puppies that glow in the dark, but we cannot accept that God took water and made wine. We can question the nature of matter, but woe betide the man who says that the axehead really floated.

Perhaps it may safely be said "The more everything must change, the more everything just stays the same".

Monday, January 18, 2010

"we're not responsible for out bad policies!!"

The title may as well the be the battle cry of all things liberal. Sojo has a prime example of this type of...I can't call it thinking, because it is more that vacuum left when thinking is abandoned for feelings, weepy stories, a simple demand to "do something".

Honoring King: Economic Justice for All

The gap between the rich and poor has reached Depression-era standards. Corporate CEOs now make nearly 400 times the average worker. African Americans earn less, die earlier and are imprisoned at disproportionate rates than whites. Even in the Age of Obama, young black men are more likely to be locked up than graduate from college, and the leading cause of death for black men under 30 is homicide.

Liberal policies of welfare, mostly focused on racial minorities who are poor, have led to a mindset of waiting for the government check, having children so the check will be bigger, don't work lest you lose the check, don't worry about being a real Daddy to your kids because the government will send the kids and their mothers checks, and hate the people who have worked to get out of the poverty and no longer rely on the government checks. And if you hate the rich white guy whose taxes fund the checks, all the better.

And, in typical liberal fashion, Sojo blames those who work for the problems. They cite CEO salaries, as if one man's wealth much equal another man's poverty. They cite minorities being arrested, without asking why that is--that perhaps, for example, their welfare policies have taken incentive away from all but the most determined.

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina exposed in stark and shameful ways America’s enduring racial and class inequalities. Our government has spent more than $1 trillion on the Iraq war even as our inner cities crumble and 40 million Americans live in poverty.

So, helping Iraqi's out from under a dictatorial rule and back on their feet is an unworthy goal? Sure, yeah, whatever.

Remember the "War on Poverty"?

Democrats' War on Poverty Has Failed

Nor is the problem that we have failed to spend money generously. The public expenditure on the variety of governmental schemes devised in the last forty years to eliminate poverty has been extraordinary. Since 1964 we have spent $8–10 trillion on antipoverty programs. In 1996, at the midpoint in the Clinton administration, the federal government expended $191 billion on poverty programs, fully 12.2 percent of the federal budget. President George W. Bush actually increased the effort. The 2006 budget, at the midpoint of Bush’s administration, calls for a massive increase in poverty programs, increasing the expenditure $368 billion to 14.6 percent of the federal budget.7 The Bush administration oversees a host of continuing poverty programs that includes Medicaid, food stamps, supplementary security income, temporary assistance to needy families, child day-care payments, child nutrition payments, foster care, adoption assistance, and health insurance for children.

The conclusion is virtually inescapable: if the availability of nearly an unlimited amount of money and the determination of countless government bureaucracies were the necessary and sufficient conditions to eliminate poverty, then in 2004 we should not still have more than 12 percent of the U.S. population—nearly 37 million people—in poverty.

From the moment the Great Society conceived of the War on Poverty, it was a bad idea to believe that we could eliminate poverty by allowing a government bureaucracy to distribute massive amounts of public money to the poor. In the antipoverty efforts of the last four decades, we have witnessed one of the largest income redistributions from the taxpayers to the poor that the world has ever seen. Still, we have not eliminated poverty. Why should we believe that continued or expanded, new, and “improved” government programs, spending more trillions of dollars, will ever achieve more?

In a very real sense, the Sojo writer pretty much admits the failure of the "War on Poverty" and the ideas behind it, though good luck in getting anyone at Sojo to admit it.

Why the War on Poverty Failed

The war-on-poverty activists not only ignored the lessons of the past on the subject of handouts; they also ignored their own experience with the poor. The case of Harrington himself is especially revealing.

In the early 1950s Harrington worked at the St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality, a shelter for the homeless in New York’s Bowery district. The philosophy of the shelter was pure handout. Beds, food, and clothing were given out, as Harrington proudly reported, on a “first come, first served” basis. The shelter didn’t require anything in return: not small amounts of money, not work, not any effort at self-improvement. In The Other America Harrington described at length the tragic lives of the alcoholics served by the shelter, the degradation, exposure, disease, theft, and violence that made up their lives. Yet he didn’t report having any strategy to uplift them, and didn’t report rehabilitating a single one. Though he became friendly with some of the street alcoholics, he never saw his friendship as a platform for mentoring them, as a way of guiding them to recovery. He simply watched these suffering men go in and out of their drunks, and gave them handouts as they went along. Summarizing his experience, he concluded that alcoholic poverty was not an economic problem but “deeply a matter of personality.” In a revealing aside, he added, “One hardly knows where to begin.”11

For someone so ready to hector others about how easily poverty could be “abolished,” Harrington was astonishingly unreflective about his own performance. His failure as a social worker among the homeless never led him to question his handout approach, and his personal knowledge that poverty was not an economic problem never shook his ideological conviction that it was. The rest, as they say, is history. The man who “hardly knew where to begin” in treating the problems of poverty—and who failed when he tried—became the guru for a massive array of government handout programs that, as even the New York Times now concedes, only deepened the culture of poverty.

Demonizing the one who has will not help the one who has not. Demonizing the one who works to gain will not help the one who lacks because of lack of work, either through choice or through lack of opportunity. That isn't saying the rich are good and poor are bad, we know some rich can be poor bastards and some poor can be saints, and vice versa. But Sojo does employ such simplistic thinking, citing the CEO's salary as if the CEO is responsible for the poverty of the poor man and woman.

because it's Monday, that's why


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

a liberal who agrees with me??

Or, more likely, he says some things I think are good points.

Anyway, I seem to remember Dyson from the Gates controversy, and none too fondly, either. He was, I think, one who was early one saying the officer was racist, and I don't know if he ever apologized for that or not.

But here, he calls out the Dems and libs about read.

Black Professor: If White Republican Said What Reid Did It Would Be Huge News

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: I think the Democrats here are morally weak, they are noxious to me, because on the one hand, you don't have to play into the Trent Lott versus Harry Reid thing because you can see a bunch of differences there. The reality is this, though. We have a President who is loathe to speak about race. He would rather talk about anything but race. And I think his personal discomfort should not be stand-in for his bully pulpit use here to say, "Look, I can accept Harry Reid's apology. But let's explore what Harry Reid said." [...]

To be honest, the Republicans are given a high hand here because our side refuses to say anything that is even intelligible or coherent about the issue of race and to sweep it under the carpet as if it makes no difference. If a white Republican had said this, this would be huge news. They would be making hay out of it, calling for his resignation. I think we're hypocrites and we're morally weak here. [...]

Here's the problem though: [Obama's] personal discomfort with race must not absolve him of responsibility as an American president. We don't expect you as a black president to deal with race. We expect you as the President of the United States to address this. And I think that he's being shown short here. He's shown that he's not really capable.

sojo is on the job...NOT!!! 2

Well, trying to be true to my word, I thus need to report that Sojo has now indeed weighed in on the Reid statements.

Let the spin begin!!

Not All Racial Comments Are Created Equal

Please God, save us from hyper-partisanship and hyper-media in perpetual election mode selling us a hyperbolic public discourse. Not everything is a crisis setting off alarm bells in a red hot explosive firestorm that may cost someone the next election. Not every disagreement about public policy is an intractable impasse, or at least not everything ought to be.

Translated--"It's ok for us liberals to go into crisis mode when a conservative says something we can twist and spin as racist/bigoted/homophobic/anti-women/whatever, but when conservatives insist on holding a liberal's feet to that same fire, well, that's just wrong."

Harry Reid expressed confidence that an African-American could be elected to the highest office in the land. Harry Reid told the truth. It is very likely that for many European-Americans, Barack Obama was an acceptable candidate because of his skin color and because he is both eloquent and articulate.

I can't remember if it was Sharpton or Jackson who made a comment how Obama wasn't "black enough". And one can certainly recall the LA Times article about "Barack the Magic Negro".

The point is, all of those who said that were liberals, and thus immune from anything but a surface correction. Heck, Shanklin makes a song about the LA Times articles that Limbaugh plays on his show, and it's Limbaugh who gets painted as a racist.

Whether Reid was speaking the truth or not (likely not), he was still saying some rather racist things. And if racist, or supposedly racist, statements are the no-no that liberals want to make them (whether real or implied), then Reid has indeed called the thunder down on himself.

But the real spin comes toward the end of the article.

However, what has gone unsaid in the analysis of this situation is that Barack Obama’s mixed race heritage gave him an advantage that other African-American candidates for president did not have. It gave him an intimate understanding of European-Americans. Born of a European-American mother and raised by European-American grandparents, he knew that white skin was not immunity against life’s hardships and disappointments. He saw his grandmother’s hard work and determination to rise to advance on her job. He saw up close his grandfather’s strengths and failings. When he was on the campaign trail, he no doubt recognized his grandparents in the hundreds of thousands of older white people he met. He may not have gotten their vote, but he knew their lives because he had grown up with it.

Barack Obama could see European-Americans through a lens that was not tinted with the horror stories of growing up African-American in the United States. And most African-American families have their own stories of racist injustice. Some are tragic. Some are heroic. A shadow of distrust remains. He knows such stories through his wife’s family, but he did not grow up with them. Without this heritage, he can say with absolute conviction that the United States is the only country on earth where his story is possible. He can talk of there being not a red America or a blue America but a UNITED STATES of America because the red and the blue, the white and the black, the European and the African are united inside of his very self.

I can only shake my head. Were those the reasons why he attended the church of Rev "God (bleep) America!!" Wright? Which grandmother was it he threw under the bus during his campaign? Does this mean that criticism of his policies is now not a matter of racism, or merely half-racism?

Monday, January 11, 2010

sojo is on the job...NOT!!!

Last year, Sojourners had quite the little fits over, for example, the arrest of Professor Gates and the one Congressman's "You lie!" exclamation. They found all kinds of reasons to play the race card in those situations, and did so quite loudly and frequently.

But, when faced with some real racist remarks by a key liberal, one Harry Reid, well, they are strangely silent. Ok, not so strangely. If that should change, I'll let you know when I see it. I'm not counting on seeing it, though.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a moment of respect

This is a pause to the regularly scheduled programing, to give some respect to a man who did things right.

Brooks retires as UK coach

University of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks announced his retirement on Monday, ending a seven-year stint at UK in which he turned around a program saddled by NCAA probation and led them to an unprecedented four straight bowl games.

"I just felt it was time to make the change," Brooks said at a late morning news conference. "The losses take their toll."

Brooks had a losing record during his time as UK coach, but while stats are important, in this case stats don't come near to saying it all. For years, the football program had been pretty bad, with the occasional good year to highlight that bad. With Brooks, the teams went from the depths to knocking on the heights, I think at one time being ranked in the top 10 three years ago, and beating some nationally ranked teams.

While not yet able to stay at such heights, the teams have gotten over the winning-season hump the last four years, and have come close to some impressive years.

Brooks laid a good foundation for coming years. I only wish he could have stayed around one more year, so we could get him the wins over South Carolina and Tennessee that he deserved.

working for it

Many Christians advance the idea that Jesus' death was a way by which God satisfied God's own need for a punishment that could atone for the sins of the world and perpetuate the idea that God's willingness to sacrifice Jesus on our behalf is what reveal's God's love to us. The problem with this is that it leads to an overemphasis on putting faith in a God who loves us so much he is willing to sacrifice his son, and it can reinforce the caricature of a God who is angry, bloodthirsty, and judgmental...
Burke and Taylor, A Heretic's Guide to Eternity, p. 131

This is only part of the paragraph, I intend to get to the other part of in a moment. For now, see what things these two are attacking, and trying to discredit.

In my responses to B&T, I am using the book "What the Bible Teaches" by R.A. Torrey to help, and want to acknowledge that here.

First, we have to deal with the these emergents' attack on the idea that God is angry with us.

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and fourth generation
Exodus 34:6-7

This would, I suppose, be a hard passage for some to accept. It seems good at first, God saying He's merciful and forgiving and all that, but then He also says He's not one to just let the guilty get off, but will punish them and even their future generations.

On point, I think, is this--we cannot have the nice aspects of God without the harsher ones. To simply say that we will take the mercy and forgiveness, but will explain away the punishment and anger, is to create a God who is in essence a grandpa in the sky.

And were by nature children of wrath, even as others.
Ephesians 2:3

I suppose that couldn't be more plain, and it's even a New Testament passage, so dismissing the Exodus passage as being OT will not suffice here.

Responding to the statement attacking the idea that "God's willingness to sacrifice Jesus on our behalf is what reveal's God's love to us" is almost too easy, as they are in actuality attacking the plain statement of Scripture.

For God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us
Romans 5:8

Because the truth is, Christ's sacrificial death does show God's love for us.

Even more outrageous is this statement of theirs, "The problem with this is that it leads to an overemphasis on putting faith in a God who loves us so much he is willing to sacrifice his son", in light of one of the Bible most well-known verses.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, and whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life
John 3:16

There is no 'problem' in 'overemphasizing' having faith in a God who loves us so much that his sacrificed His Son for us. The only problem is in underemphasizing it, or attacking it as being not something people want to hear.

The remainder of the paragraph gives a glimpse of what they think instead.

To balance this view, we need to act out in faith, living the way Jesus lived and standing up for the things he stood for. What counts is not a belief system but a holistic approach to following what you feel, experience, discover, and believe; it is a willingness to join Jesus in his vision for a transformed humanity.

Salvation by works.

When I read through this book, I tried to do so with a pencil, to mark and make some notes. Here, I underlined the last part of this paragraph, and made a note of one word, the word being "dominionsim".

I have for a few years known of one form of christian dominionism, the Reconstructionists. Given what I have seen of Emergent's views of Christ's return, I think it safe to say that some among them have their own version of it. If Reconstructionists lean somewhat to the right politically, Emergent and Progressive Deconstructionists are decidedly more to the left.

But don't think it is any less virulent; if anything, it's more so.

For now, though, it is enough to focus on their dismissals of the Scriptural concept of Christ's sacrificial death, and their replacing of it with works. And that they claim that their works are "the things he stood for" is rather funny, seeing as I see nowhere in the Gospels where Jesus stood for the things these Emergents stand for.