And Another Thing…

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Picking the Right Fights

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination. The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

– From the mission statement of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission

The CADC has released a list of the seven worst anti-Christian events of 2007. I will list them below in bold (as printed in the Austin-American Statesman) with my own thoughts on each one following in normal print.

1.) Colorado Church Murders – “You Christians brought this on yourselves I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. … God, I can’t wait till I can kill you people. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame, I don’t care if I live or die. …” Posted by a troubled young man, Matthew Murray, 10 hours after killing two at the Arvada missionary base and two hours before killing two at a Colorado Springs church. Churches used to be considered sanctuaries, but now they are targets for the hateful and the deranged. The CADC calls on every church to be prepared to use deadly force, if necessary, to protect their congregations.

Okay, it should go without saying that an armed maniac attacking a church building with the intent of killing people qualifies as persecution. However, does this constitute a trend in society or a tragic incident of one very disturbed individual acting out his delusions? Should we respond with armed security or prayers for the families of the perpetrator and his victims?  I think that the behavior of our Amish friends in Lancaster, PA in response to the massacre at West Nickel Mines School provides an example.

2.) Federal Hate Crimes Bill – The 2007 Federal Hate Crimes Bill, which threatens religious liberties and lays the groundwork for “thought crime,” which has no place in American law and violates the concept of equal protection under the law. As has occurred in other nations, these laws pave the way for Christians to be silenced and even arrested because they believe that homosexual acts are sinful. It is totalitarian regimes that punish thoughts, not free societies. Thomas Jefferson declares that “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions.”

Personally, I have a problem with the concept of a “hate crime” because we cannot legislate attitudes. Hate is sinful and ignorant, but a sinful and ignorant attitude is not a crime.  However, this law explicitly addresses acts of violence directed at minorities (specifically homosexuals), not statements about their behavior. In fact, there is a clause in the bill which prohibits banning any speech that is protected under the First Amendment. In other words, this bill will not prohibit any religious group from teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful.

3.) Violence on San Francisco Church – In September, Christians in San Francisco spoke out against a blasphemous anti-Christian advertisement for the Folsom Street Fair, a perverted “fair” for the sadomasochistic, leather fetish community. The ad mimics the classic Christian painting of Christ at the Last Supper. In the ad, Christ and the 12 Disciples are portrayed as sexual deviants provocatively posed before a table of sex toys.

Nasty? Offensive? Despicable? Absolutely. But violent? I don’t think so. And does making a fuss over it accomplish anything other than drawing more attention to it?  I am going to leave it to God to square this one.

4.) Attack on Jerry Falwell – CNN reached a new low when Anderson Cooper invited Christopher Hitchens, editor of Vanity Fair Magazine, on his show the day of Jerry Falwell’s death to make critical remarks about Falwell. Hitchens made the most reprehensible and offensive remarks one can imagine against a Christian minister, Jerry Falwell, even on the day of his death. Christopher Hitchens called Falwell “a little toad … a horrible little person…an evil old man… a conscious charlatan and bully and fraud…an actual danger to democracy, to culture, to civilization.”

It is low class to speak ill of the recently departed, especially on the day of their passing. But do we expect anything different from Hitchens, the author of a recent religion-basing bestseller called God is Not Great?  Somehow, I doubt that Falwell is terribly concerned, wherever he may be.  And is an attack on Falwell really an attack on the whole of Christendom?  Hitchens may have meant it as such, and the CADC may take it as such, but somehow the faith has survived both his little screed and his comments on CNN.

5.) CNN’s “God’s Warriors” and HBO’s “Friends of God” – Two biased, anti-Christian documentaries were produced and aired. One by Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra, “Friends of God” on HBO and the other by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, “God’s Warriors.” At least they tried to act as if they wanted to be fair. Of course, they failed. Evangelicals are almost 100 million strong and very diverse but are reduced to clichéd caricatures or are portrayed as the moral equivalents of Islamic terrorists.

The Lord already has this one covered:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

– Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)

6.) John Edwards’s Campaign Bloggers who called Christian supporters of President Bush his “wing nut Christofascist base.” One asked, ‘What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit,’ to which she replied, ‘You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.’ They posed the thoughtful question of religious conservatives, “What don’t you lousy %#*@!+# understand about keeping your noses out of our britches, our beds and our families?”

Yes, these comments are thoughtless and tacky, more reflective of the authors than of their intended targets. These comments are directed at Bush supporters, not all Christians.  By their response, it would appear that the CADC thinks that all Christians must be Bush supporters. Not so, folks. Besides, do these comments really contain anything new?  Stereotyping anyone who raises questions about abortion as a misogynist is a classic ad hominem distraction used by abortion advocates to confuse the issue.

7.) “Golden Compass,” the movie – Phillip Pullman’s atheistic answer to C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series, because destroying the church and killing God in the mind of every child is the best revenge. Why be damned alone when you can take a few million souls with you and get rich on the proceeds?

It’s a movie, kids; and apparently not a terribly successful one with critics or with the public.  According to the Rotten Tomatoes website, it has only scored a 42% positive rating among the nation’s film critics and has taken in $48,413,000.  While that may seem like a lot of money, it is less than half of the film’s estimated budget of $150 million.

However, suppose it had been a hit. Would that really matter in the big scheme of things? Anyone whose faith is undermined by a single film (or even a trilogy of films) has far more serious problems than offended sensibilities.

__________

I have to say that I believe that the faith is bigger than any of these events.  The gospel has survived far worse, and continues to thrive despite real persecution throughout parts of Africa and Asia and most of the Muslim world.  Are we American Christians so thin-skinned and spoiled that we have to play the victim card every time somebody disagrees with us, insults us, or ridicules our beliefs?  I don’t like it any more than anybody else does; but Jesus said that this would happen, and he didn’t give a special exception for Americans.  No, I am not trivializing the shootings in Colorado, but I believe that the CADC is trivializing those tragic events when they compare the loss of human life to the making of a movie, a blog post by a couple of ignoramuses, or a gay parody of a painting.

Believers, we need to pick our fights. And I submit to you that some of the things that we should be fighting against are the authentic persecutions being carried out against our brothers and sisters around the world, the fact that millions die every day without hearing the gospel, false teachers (read: televangelists and anyone else who exploits the faith for personal gain), and the rampant poverty and preventable suffering abroad in and in our own backyards.  Let those who oppose the faith have their little books, movies, and blogs. The gospel will outlast us all.

Jesus said it best:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.'”

– John 15:18-25 (NIV)

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Filed under: Faith and Religion, , , , , , , , ,

Christmas 2007

So I find myself back at work with another Christmas having barely passed.  The last week or so has been somewhat chaotic. A little background: A couple of weeks ago the ever-thoughtful Christine suggested that since we were hosting my family for the holiday that we have a party on December 23rd for my family and long-time friends of me and my brother’s to visit and catch up. I asked her if she really wanted to get involved in throwing a party two days before Christmas, and she said that she was game. So the past week has involved a lot of shopping, cleaning, and cooking. Christine delivered in spades of course, and a great time was had by all. In addition to my parents, my brother Kelly, his girlfriend Jenny, and my nephew Brooks, we had 5 long time friends show-up with accompanying wives and children crammed into our place Sunday afternoon for great food, football, and a lot of catching up.

Because Kelly, Jenny, and Brooks have to do Christmas 3 more times with various segments of their extended families, we had Christmas on Christmas Eve. Christine whipped up another righteous feed. Mom pitched in with her special dressing and wild turkey (the bird, not the drink). I made out pretty good with a shaving mirror for the shower, DVD box sets for the 3rd season of Homicide: Life on the Street and The Best of Looney Toons, a wind-up flashlight, a new Swiss Army knife, and some tasty CDs: The Definitive Loretta Lynn Collection(I don’t care what anyone says, Loretta is the true queen of country; Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the rest aren’t fit to tune Loretta’s guitar), The Essential Ike & Tina Turner (yes, I know that Ike beat Tina and there is no excuse for such behavior; however, the facts of Ike’s despicable behavior don’t change the fact they made some fantastic music together), Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, an anthology of live music from Austin, TX (courtesy of Christine’s brother Steve who lives in Austin and shares my taste in music), and This Is Somewhere by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

Christmas Day was quiet. We had a leisurely breakfast with my folks who departed in the early afternoon, and Christine and I finally got some time to ourselves.

Christmas complaint: We attended the Christmas Eve service with our church, and it was, well, interesting. There were several vocal performances, all of which were superb. However, two of the performances made my jaw drop, and not in a good way.  The first was a glow-in-the-dark set featuring puppets lip-synching to a version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” that sounded like it was recorded by a Mighty Might Bosstones cover band. There was also an interpretive dance featuring some kids reenacting ancient Israel’s release from slavery to a Christianized version of the Survivor tune “Eye of the Tiger.” Re-read the last two sentences and try to imagine what I am describing.  Really, is this encouraging or inspiring for anybody?

Congratulations to my friends Paul Nagel and Sharon Berry on their recent engagement, and to my cousin Trista and her husband Dave who just discovered that they have a baby on the way.

My friend Dave has a thoughtful post about Christmas here.

Craig Hicks tells one of the funniest preacher stories (about Liberace, no less) I have ever read here.

Peace and joy to all.

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“harding university’s band sucks”

Actually, this post has nothing to do with Harding University or it’s band. The title is a Google search that brought someone to this blog recently. I have absolutely no idea why. I don’t think that I have ever posted anything about Harding. Weird.

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How it all worked out

Whew! Just checked my grades on-line and got a B in Research, an A in Disorders, and an A in Child Welfare. The 4.0 I carried for my first 30 hours in blown, but I don’t care. As brutal as Research was, I can live with a B.

Thank you again for your supportive comments and prayers. Now I can really enjoy my break.

Filed under: School

Quick Hits III: 3-D

  I am ever-so-slowly getting into the Christmas spirit as the holiday gets closer. I have struggled with grinchiness (or scrooginess, if you prefer) in the past few weeks. My reasons are neither original nor profound. First, I hate that Christmas hype begins earlier each year. I have neither the energy nor the inclination to worry about gifts in October. Second, I hate shopping for any reason, especially buying things for people that they don’t really need or want just to have something to put under the tree. Third, I hate the political correctness run amuck of the so-called “Christmas wars.” As I have said before, it doesn’t bother me in the least when the girl who charges me for my coffee says “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” Besides, anyone who knows their history knows that many of the rituals associated with this holiday were ripped off from pagan religions. Finally, I don’t really need anything besides money. Hey, I know it’s crass, but that’s the truth.And yet, and yet…I had a great time shopping for a tree and putting it up with Christine the other night. I am genuinely looking forward to decorating it, as well. I fully expect to catch It’s A Wonderful Life on cable in the next few weeks and I will probably choke up at the end just like I always do. I am enjoying hearing children talk about Santa Claus, getting Christmas cards from friends and family, and the generally better attitude I am encountering wherever I go. So maybe I can beat back my scrooginess this year without a visit from three ghosts…

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Quotables

“We do not see the early Christian communities in the streets railing against the sins of their culture. Without compromising the moral vision of scripture, they are being transformed into an alternative community, where the fruit of the Spirit and the law of Christ fulfill the moral vision of God in those made in the image of Christ.”

From “C.S. Lewis and Christian Morality (with some thoughts on the culture war)” over at Internet Monk.

And:

It’s time to recognize, and celebrate, our differences.  Joining the celebration of religious expression is easy:  Simply be offended by everyone else’s religious expression…

… Our own government continues to refer to this day [Wednesday] as the Day of Woden, clearly embracing one religious view over others.   Even our public schools embrace Woden, throughout school publications and practices.  While I’m not steeped in Teutonic lore, I suspect, based on our monthly cafeteria calendars, that Woden remains the Teutonic Lord of pizza square, pear, brownie and choice of milk.

… Not to mention these “Saturdays” we keep having!   I try to be open-minded about this stuff, but c’mon:  “Saturn” is just the Roman equivalent of the Greek god “Cronus”.  What did Cronus do?  Oh, boy.

‘Cronus was the ruling Titan who came to power by castrating his Father Uranus. His wife was Rhea. There offspring were the first of the Olympians. To insure his safety Cronus ate each of the children as they were born…’

That’s pretty much not cool.   I don’t want to judge, I’d have to walk a mile in his shoes, etc., but — I don’t know, man — this just seems out of line. 

But he gets his own DAY for that.  He castrates his dad, eats his kids…and then mall stores honor Cronus with “Saturday Sales Events”?  I don’t even want to know what goes down at those things. 

So yeah, stop saying “Saturday” around me.  New rule:  Even if the culture is steeped in it, and even if most even prefer it; even if it might seem to be reasonable to expect I could accommodate it, heck, even if it IS Saturday:  don’t say it.”

From “Don’t Tell Me It’s Wednesday” over at Letters from Kamp Krusty.

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It looks like one of my two favorite new shows of the season is finished: Journeyman has not been given a full-season pick-up by NBC. It’s really a shame. I know that many people dismissed it as a rip-off  of Quantum Leap  (another great one) just because of it’s time-travel plot, but really folks, that’s like saying Firefly was a Star Trek rip-off because both were about people who travel in space during the future. Journeyman managed to incorporate a broad range of stories and genres in each episode: mystery, suspense, police procedurals, journalism, urban legends, and family drama (the dynamics of the conflict between main character Dan and his estranged brother Jack made for one of the most realistically portrayed sibling rivalries I have ever seen). What’s more, it had one of the best casts around, including the excellent Kevin McKidd (whom I had not heard of before) and Reed Diamond (formerly of my all-time favorite Homicide: Life on the Street) as the feuding brothers. If you missed out, rent the inevitable DVD set when it comes out. You’ll be glad you did.

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Mystery quote:

 “Walter, man, why is everything a travesty with you?

Peace.

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End of the blogging break

It has been a hard semester.

Back in the fall I shared information about the courses that I was taking. One of those courses was Research. The last time a course ate my lunch like this was when I took Greek as an undergraduate Bible major.

The stressful situation that I asked believers to pray about a few posts back was finishing this semester, especially my Research class. I don’t know why, but the stress over this began affecting me physically. Headaches, chest pains, sweats, anxiety, and nausea were common responses whenever I worked on assignments from that class or even when I had to attend it.  A heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who responded to my request.

While blaming others is a habit I try hard not to fall in to, I do think that on this occasion some of the blame must go on the instructor. Every student who had this instructor in two different sections of this class had the same complaints about being held accountable for learning things that we were not being taught in the classroom. What is more, this instructor is quite prolific in publishing so no matter how much we complain, the school will take no action. It is exasperating and nerve-wracking.

Having said all of that, I have decided that if I am going to express myself freely on this blog, I need to not “leave a trail” that can come back on me. I have removed all references to my school by name in any posts or links. Long-time readers may remember where I am attending, but if you comment I ask that you not refer to the school by name for two reasons. 1) I don’t want to cast an otherwise excellent program in a negative light, and 2) I don’t want anything I say to come back and bite me on the rear. Please be conscientious.

I am going to try to put all of this out of my mind, at least for a little while. Christine and I will be hosting my family for Christmas, and we are getting more and more excited. We just bought our first live Christmas tree. I cannot wait to see my parents, brother, nephew, and my brother’s girlfriend; nor can I wait to dive into some wild turkey (the bird, not the drink) and my mother’s sublime dressing. I am looking forward to me and my brother’s traditional last-minute shopping rampage. And I am looking forward to spending some much-needed time with my infinitely patient and thoughtful wife. I couldn’t do it without her.

Filed under: School, , , ,

Things that none of us should care about

ateam.jpg

According to AICN, John Singleton (Boyz in the Hood, Shaft, Four Brothers) is the current front-runner to direct the big screen version of The A-Team. One has to wonder several things: First of all, why? Second, how many more old TV shows can they plunder for cinematic defilement? Third, will the team finally be able to actually hit anyone when they fire their guns? Finally, who will they cast? For some reason, I can see John Travolta as Hannibal, Michael Clarke Duncan (Coffey from The Green Mile) as B.A., and Johnny Knoxville as Murdock. Does it really matter who they cast as Face? Sound off, all of you geeks out there – who would you cast and why?

Filed under: Movies, ,

One for the parents out there

As a rule I don’t forward or post the copious forwards I find in my in-box on a daily basis. However, I received one today that struck me for a number of reasons and I thought that I would share it.

Christine and I are already trying to plan for the children we hope to have in a couple of years. And I see more and more of my friends becoming parents and facing the inevitable responsibilities that the job brings. So I want to invite those with children to read the essay below and chime in. Is worrying the biggest part of parenting? How do worries change as children age. Have your worries intensified or lessened? How do you cope? Any feedback is welcomed.

Is there a magic cutoff period when offspring become accountable for their own actions? Is there a wonderful moment when parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, “It’s their life,” and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my daughter’s head. I asked, “When do you stop worrying?” The nurse said, “When they get out of the accident stage.” My Dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little chair in a classroom and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class, and was headed for a career making license plates. As if to read my mind, a teacher said, “Don’t worry, they all go through this stage and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy them.” My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open. A friend said, “They’re trying to find themselves. Don’t worry, In a few years, you can stop worrying. They’ll be adults.” My dad just smiled faintly and said nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick & tired of being vulnerable. I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle. There was nothing I could do about it. MyDad just smiled faintly and said nothing. I continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented by their frustrations and absorbed in their disappointments.

My friends said that when my kids got married I could stop worrying and lead my own life. I wanted to believe that, but I was haunted by my dad’s warm smile and his occasional, “You look pale. Are you alright? Call me the minute you get home. Are you depressed about something?”

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life?

One of my children became quite irritable recently, saying to me, “Where were you? I’ve been calling for 3 days, and no one answered I was worried.” I smiled a warm smile. The torch has been passed.

 -Author Unknown

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A Break in the Break

Hey folks,

 The blogging break is still on as the semester is almost but not quite done. With the break coming up, I will finally have the time to read whatever I please, so I put it to you good people, many of whom I know to be voracious readers: Recommend a good book to me, as long as said book has nothing to do with social work. Suggestions can include fiction or non-fiction, religion (as long as it’s not Joel Osteen© or Max Lucado© or anything to do with emergent emergings of the emergents etc.) I look forward to your suggestions, and I will see all of you soon I hope.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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