And Another Thing…

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Who’s Woo?

Advocates of the “New Atheism” (and in the interest of fairness I want to point out that not all atheists or agnostics fall into this category) usually refer to religious faith as a form of “woo” and dismiss all believers as being credulous and ignorant. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that a new study released by Baylor University shows that there appears to be plenty of credulity and woo to go around. It’s a short article so I have reprinted it below in it’s entirety. Happy reading.

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I will never complain about worship again

In the tradition of how to pee like a Christian and Brother Barry (woo-hoo!), I offer the auditory/visual experience below. I have turned a corner, seen the light, responded to the wake-up call. As long as I never have to set through something like this at church, I will never complain about the song service again. You have to click below for the goodness, but I promise you it’s worth it.

The Renewed Mind Is The Key

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In Which Objectivists Descend Into Self-Parody

Like a lot of folks I had a brief interest in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism when I was younger. And like a lot of folks, I recognized it as completely bankrupt when I left adolescence. It should come as no surprise that teenagers are fond of Objectivism. It is a philosophy that encourages adherents to act as though they are the center of the universe, a behavior which most (not all, but most) teenagers have already mastered. However, spend any time in the blogosphere and you are likely to encounter adults who haven’t quite put away this particular childish thing yet. Their commitment to it is absolute, regardless of its precarious balance at the top of a very slippery slope.

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Meet our newest family member – Max

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Sorry for the quality of the photos…the light was bad and they were taken with my phone)

This is not going to become a doggie-blog where I post cutesy photos of Max dressed up in cutesy outfits or cutesy photos of him doing something cutesy with cutesy bad grammar superimposed (AH SNIFFS OTHER DOGZ BUTTZ!) or anything else cutesy. But, he is the newest thing in our lives and I thought that I would share his arrival and solicit feedback (more on this at the bottom).

 Max is a 5 year-old Boxer mix we adopted from A Forever Home. Like many of their animals he has a history of abuse. However, he is a mellow, well-behaved, gentle fellow and we are enjoying having him around. Most importantly, we got him already house-broken, crate-trained, fixed, and vaccinated.

 “Max” is the name he came to us with and while there is nothing wrong with that name, Christine’s sister-in-law already has a dog named Max and we are considering changing his name after he gets settled and used to his new home and family. So I put it to you: should we keep his name or change it? And if we change it, what would you suggest we change it to?

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Quick Hits VIII: Back to School

Michael Spencer (a.k.a the Internet Monk) has a terrific post up about “prosperity gospel.” However, it isn’t the one you hear about in the news. It’s the prosperity gospel that seems all too prevalent in Western Christianity.

Money quote:

We evangelicals apparently need to believe a version of the prosperity gospel where, at the least, none of us are below an understood “line of credibility” in Christian experience. And if we happen to go below that line, don’t expect instant encouragement. You may be surprised at what happens to you when you become walking evidence that not everyone is as happy, blessed, obedient and satisfied as they are supposed to be.

Ask yourself this question: Why is it that so many western Christians find the greatest challenges to their faith are experiences that do not even qualify as persecution or serious suffering? Why will the loss of a job or the moral failure of a pastor lead to the end of faith? Why do interpersonal conflicts in a church cause so many to abandon Christianity altogether?

                         

Over at Political Cartel, one of their members writes about having rocks thrown at the window of her dorm on Harding University’s campus because she put up an Obama/Biden poster.  While I don’t think that this behavior is indicative of Republicans, I do think that it is indicative of an on-going failure in the university’s self-proclaimed mission.

Although the behavior of throwing rocks is a new one on me, the attitude that it represents is not. The prevalent mindset on Christian college campuses of avoiding the standard don’ts (cuss, drink, smoke, chew, or date girls that do) seems to miss other don’ts, such as committing acts of violence (and throwing a rock through a window is an act of violence) against people you disagree with. Back when I was an undergrad, I used to marvel at how someone could get up in chapel and give a stirring devotional (always using the holy voice, of course) and then go out on the field or court during an intramural game and talk trash, gloat about winning or pout about losing, and curse everyone and everything around them. If you go and read the piece, make sure you read the comment thread, which is one of the most hysterical I have ever seen, especially the woman who tries to equate name-calling with violence. I’m not saying that name-calling is a good thing, but really people…

                         

Did you know that Sarah Palin once shot and ate an Eskimo and that Barack Obama hates children? I kid! But seriously, if you are tired of the spun-like-a-load-of-laundry campaign coverage and chain e-mails, check out FactCheck.org which seems to actually present non-partisan information on all of the candidates and the campaign. And please don’t come back here and tell me that they are biased because they have something negative about your candidate.

                       

You know, I start getting excited about elections every time one comes up but then the behavior of both major parties and their talking heads in the mainstream media (or, heaven help us, the blogosphere) becomes so vile, dishonest, and condescending that I find myself wishing that it was over long before the election arrives. I have mentioned my disgust in the past with the whole “Obama is a Muslim” meme, but now I am getting just as disgusted with the left. If Obama loses this election, it will be because so many who write in support of him seem determined to stereotype everyone who votes for McCain as a gap-toothed, slope-browed, troglodytic hillbilly who can’t keep his hands off his nearest sister. Newsflash, kids: voters will not select your candidate if you insist on calling voters stupid. I find myself leaning towards Bob Barr for the simple reason that neither he nor his party has done anything to disgust me yet. But the night is young…

                       

The pictures below bother me for a lot of reasons, but I think the most disturbing is the one in the upper left corner, where it looks for all the world like Jesus is about to face-plant that dark-haired kid.

 

Jesus saves...the big game!

Jesus saves...the big game!

[H/T: Stuff Christians Like]

                         

Mystery quote:

It’s gettin’ so a businessman can’t expect no return from a fixed fight. Now, if you can’t trust a fix, what can you trust? For a good return, you gotta go bettin’ on chance – and then you’re back with anarchy, right back in the jungle.

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Why I wrote that last post

Consider this:

Canadian doctor warns Sarah Palin’s decision to have Down baby could reduce abortions

’nuff said.

UPDATE 9/15: Link appears to be down. But the headline tells you all you need to know. The doctor in question seems to think that women choosing to keep their babies is a bad thing. Thanks to Micah for the notice.

Filed under: Politics, , ,

Just like everybody else

My career path, if it can be said in any way to actually resemble a path, has been a strange one, at least among many of my peers. When I left youth ministry at the age of 29, I more or less backed into the human services field. With some applicable experience but little in the way of relevant credentials, I found myself working at a home for at-risk youth (the less said about this experience, the better). When they ran out of money and could no longer pay us regularly, I went to work for a community mental health agency as a counselor/case manager at a group home for six adults with mental illness. I learned a great deal during that time and that experience put me into a position to take a government job as a manager for a 5-bed group home for adult women with mental retardation (MR). I was there for two years and would have stayed longer if I hadn’t gone back to school.

I have thought quite a bit about the experience of running that group home since reading Michael Gerson’s op-ed piece in the Washington Post about children born with Down Syndrome yesterday morning.  Gerson rightly points out that 90% of babies are aborted that receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome (DS), spina bifida, and other conditions that will affect function in life.

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My new heroes

I know that it shouldn’t, but this story makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside:

BLUE MOUND, Texas (AP) — When two gunmen smashed through the glass front door of her suburban Fort Worth home, Kellie Hoehn didn’t think twice.

The 34-year-old mother of two grabbed the barrel of a shotgun that had been pointed at her face early Wednesday, starting a struggle that ended with one intruder killed with his own weapon and another in the hospital.

“I wasn’t going to let them get to my babies,” she said, recalling the moment when she pushed up the muzzle of the shotgun, pointing it away from her children’s rooms.

Although the intruders told her to keep quiet, she screamed for her husband. She told her 12-year-old son, who was awakened by the sound of the shattering glass front door, to get his 5-year-old sister and hide.

“It was like a horror movie,” her husband, 32-year-old Keith Hoehn, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I thought I was a dead man. We’re fighting for our lives.”

With Kellie Hoehn clinging to the weapon’s barrel, her husband tackled the man who held the shotgun. Kellie Hoehn knocked the intruder in the head with a jar candle, giving her husband a chance to wrest the shotgun.

By then the tussle had spilled out onto the front lawn. Keith Hoehn shot one of the men who had a pistol, police said. Wounded, that man ran away.

Then the intruder who initially had the shotgun charged Keith Hoehn.

Kellie Hoehn told The Dallas Morning News that she screamed at her husband, “Shoot him, shoot him, shoot him.”

Her husband fired the shotgun and the man fell to the ground. Then the shot man lunged a second time. 

“Well, I shot him again, and I guess that was it,” Keith Hoehn said.

Dakota Scott Benoit, 20, of Richland Hills, was pronounced dead at a hospital. John Garland Pierson, 25, of Haltom City, was in critical condition and in police custody at the hospital.

“I am not happy that someone is dead,” Kellie Hoehn said. “But I am glad that my family is alive.”

Police said Pierson was shot in the left arm and the bullet pierced his diaphragm and other organs but his condition was improving. He will face charges of burglary of habitation with intent to commit another felony, police said.

Investigators say the couple were just defending their family and probably won’t be charged.

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Jesus, School My Heart

 Those who know me know that I have mixed feelings about contemporary church music. I do believe that it is essential for believers to always be writing and singing new songs. At one time, all of the classics that our more traditional brethren prefer were new songs, and came from some surprising sources. For instance, Martin Luther “borrowed” the melody and tempo for “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” from a popular German beer-hall sing-a-long. And it worked. The people knew the melody and the lyrics just fell into place. By all means, we should use the language of the day. It is a waste of breath and energy to sing a song whose language is so esoteric that 75% of the people singing it have no idea what they are expressing.

On the other hand, I also believe that songs written in devotion should demonstrate our best efforts. Nothing less than our deepest reflection, our best choices of language, and our most creative, moving, and poetic thoughts should find expression in congregational singing. Songwriting, much like preaching, is both gift and discipline, and only those who have the inborn talent and the discipline to hone that talent should try to pass their songs onto the church.

This is why I am sometimes left stunned or snickering at some of the language of devotion that we employ in church singing. For instance:

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

Quick Hits VII: The Quickening

“Now Amos Moses was a Cajun, he lived down yonder in the swamp, he hunted alligator for a livin’, he used to hit ’em on the head with a stump”

Country musician, singer, and sometime actor Jerry Reed passed away from emphysema on Monday. Known as much for his gregarious personality, humorous songs, and moderate acting ability as his innovative guitar picking, he was always a guy who could bring a smile to your face. He was 71. Rest in peace, Mr. Reed.

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Simple and to the point:

[H/T: Film Chat]

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The world has lost it’s coolest voice, ever.

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Patrick Mead takes churches of Christ to task for our often disgusting treatment of our ministers. My favorite quote:

“…it is good to finally have the chance to speak up for the ministers of small churches; those who bear the greatest burden in our fellowship and who are never on the lecture circuit, never invited to our large gatherings, and whose names never grace the latest bestseller. Without them, our religious tribe would collapse. In the same way junior enlisted men are the backbone of the military, these men and their families are the backbone of our movement. They should be treated honorably and sacrificially.”

I don’t always agree with him, but Mead is on the money here. There are thousands of good people laboring in obscurity as they minister to the sick, broken, and needy in our churches. How dare anyone look down their noses at them for not having the cult of personality earmarks that we associate with pastoral effectiveness: lectureship invitations, articles, etc. I’ll take a humble man who is responsible with the Word any day over some self-promoting circuit jockey. I wonder if those who bemoan the preacher shortage in our fellowship ever make the connection?

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Mystery Quote:

“The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.”

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