And Another Thing…

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To Change The World: Essay I – Chapters 1 & 2

Up front, let me say that this series of posts is not going to be a traditional critique or summary of the book. Rather, I will be processing my response to the material as I work through the book and answering three questions as I go:

  • Do I agree with what the author says?
  • Should his ideas be applied?

and if so,

  • How can they be applied in the context of the churches of Christ?

The book is broken into three essays: “Christianity and World-Changing,” “Rethinking Power,” and “Toward a New City Commons: Reflections on a Theology of Faithful Presence.” Each essay has about six or seven chapters and I will likely devote two or three posts to each essay depending on the complexity of the material.

Now with all of that said, let’s jump right in.

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Filed under: Books, Faith and Religion, Politics, To Change the World, , ,

So did I miss anything?

Okay, as usual things did not turn as I had planned, so allow me to explain and  recap.

When I started blogging in 2007 I was working nights to get through grad school.  A large part of my job was being there in case anything happened. If nothing happened (which was the case way more often than not) then my primary responsibility was to stay awake. How I did it was up to me. My school work and Netflix subscription were not enough to fill my shifts, so I took to blogging. I had ample time to research, think, and carefully craft my blog. However, I finished school in May of last year and got a new job two months later that I anticipated would be fairly demanding. Being somewhat vain about my writing and expecting to not have the time that I wanted to put into it, I decided to retire the blog and gleefully announced my intention of doing so in July.

It turns out that I was right about the new job. In fact, it went beyond demanding into the realm of the vicious. The only way I could have handled everything that was thrown at me was to be in two places at once. I never knew when I was going to get to go home and I had energy for nothing beyond work. What’s more, I did very little truly therapeutic work; most of it was putting out fires (figuratively speaking, of course) and cleaning up messes caused by my more personality-disordered clients. In March I learned of an opportunity in the same agency, different division, where not only the hours were more consistent but the focus was on therapy and intensive treatment rather than case management. I put my hat in the ring and managed to score the job. I am now a therapist at a residential facility for people dually-diagnosed with chronic mental illness and substance addiction. It is a far better fit, I am getting the supervision I need for licensure, and my commute never takes more than 30 minutes (it used to be over an hour).

The new job has a weird schedule (no nights though) which leaves some “me time” during the work week. I could think of a lot to do with this time, but I found that I missed blogging. What’s more, to my surprise, more than a few people told me that they missed my blog. Never one to let an ego-stroke go unappreciated, I began to consider getting back into the blogosphere.

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

Not Like Riding A Bike At All

This summer the church that I attend is having devotionals on Wednesday nights in lieu of classes since, like most churches, our summer attendance is spotty at best and we have a hard time rallying teachers for this season. Because of our preacher’s absence this week I have been asked to speak this coming Wednesday night. It has been about nine years since I have had to prepare a sermon (not counting weddings) and I have one thing to say: It’s not like riding a bike. Not even close. The past two weeks of preparation have been a serious struggle for me.

That said; I am still looking forward to it. One of the few things that I miss about full-time ministry is preaching, even if all that I ever did was fill-in or pinch hit. Any believers who are reading this: I sure would appreciate a prayer for my message sometime before 7:30 PM Wednesday night, Eastern Time. Many thanks.

Filed under: Faith and Religion, , , , ,

Things I Don’t Think We Should Care About: The President’s Church

Christianity Today and Time both rushed to report that the President and his family have selected a church at which they plan to identify themselves as members. However, it appears that they may have spoken too soon.

And I submit to you: how important is this to anyone’s faith, or lack thereof?

So why am I even writing about it? Because people evidently think that this constitutes news. What’s more, some atheists are chortling over this as though it lends further credence to their meme (which apparently some of them really need to hold on to) that Obama is a closet atheist. If you don’t believe me, check out the Obama tag over at Friendly Atheist. I defy you to find at least one comment thread where some idiot doesn’t suggest that Obama pandered to all the slope-browed, mouth-breathing believers in order to be elected.  (FA is also the same site which gleefully informs us that a member of ABBA is an outspoken atheist. I guess if a member of a mediocre 70s vocal band doesn’t believe in God, well, the faith is sunk).

Until proven otherwise, I will maintain my default position that the god of all politicians, regardless of party allegiance, is power. Their only sacrament is approval ratings and their only holy day is the first one of their next term. I don’t need a pastor-in-chief to believe, and you don’t either.

Filed under: Faith and Religion, Politics, Rants, , , , , , , , , ,

Kinkade found guilty of defrauding distributors of his crap

Thomas Kinkade, purveyor of kitschy paintings and self-professed born again, has been found guilty of committing fraud against two distributors of his “paintings of light.”

From the article:

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Filed under: Faith and Religion, , , ,

Maybe this is how it’s done

There is a great profile of Tim Keller in this month’s issue of Christianity Today. For those of you who don’t recognize his name, Keller is a pastor, author and church-planter. In 1989 he and his wife began Redeemer Presbyterian Church in the heart of Manhattan. Keller’s prior experience had been as a pastor in the suburbs and a seminary professor. Balding, bespectacled, and studious, he is by his own admission neither dynamic or hip. In fact, he admits in the article that he didn’t even want to go.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Yet today Redeemer has an average Sunday attendance of 5000 and shows no signs of slowing down their growth in the near future. Redeemer’s membership body is made up of life-long New Yorkers, Wall Street wizards, blue-collar workers, and everything in between. Every ethnicity in the city is represented. And they are in the process of planting new churches all over the city. They do this without multimedia, soft rock, or interpretive dance. Keller’s sermons follow the liturgy and the music is traditional, except for evening services. They didn’t even advertise. Consider:

“Redeemer’s worship is seemly and traditional. Instead of using video monitors, casually dressed worshipers follow a 20-page bulletin that includes hymns, prayers, and Bible texts. Organ and a brass quartet lead the music. For evening services, jazz musicians play contemporary Christian songs.

Standing 6’4”, with a bald head, glasses, and a coat and tie, Keller, 58, does not look hip. Nor is his sermon funny, charming, or daring. He preaches from the first chapter of Genesis, on the doctrine of Creation.

Keller speaks like a college professor, absorbed in his content, of which there is a lot. When longtime friend and founding member Dee Pifer invited colleagues from her Manhattan law firm, she would say, “I want you to hear a really good litigator.”‘

How does this happen?  You really need to read the article to get the whole picture, but the following points stood out to me:

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

While I Was Out

I got caught up on a couple of things at my internship and the instructor for the only class I am taking cancelled one of our major assignments, so here I am. What’s more, hundreds many a handful a couple of my beloved readers have written to ask when I plan to return, so here I find myself. What did I miss? Well: This twitter thing has caught on something fierce, a development which I absolutely did not expect. I won’t be taking this up, however. I can’t imagine that my life is that interesting minute by minute, even to me. I’m sure that I missed blogging on some other things, but for the life of me I can’t think of them right now. Consider this an invitation to do an open thread in the comments.

Books

I recently finished Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. I think whether or not this book is for you will depend on your response to the title, because it delivers exactly what the title promises: an action-packed post-apocalyptic satire set in a future US where the most powerful business, bordering on a fiefdom, is a strip bar franchise. The humor is dark but the characters are endearing. Right now I am reading L.A. Outlaws by T. Jefferson Parker. So far, it is a good read with an interesting plot and believable characters. More after I finish it (maybe).

 TV

Battlestar Galactica came to its eagerly anticipated ending, and the results were interesting: neither the GREATEST ENDING OF ALL TIME as some critics have trumpeted nor a complete failure as other critics insist. Spoilers below:

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Filed under: Books, Faith and Religion, Geek Stuff, Movies, Music, Politics, School, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heh.

No comment necessary:

God’s  “25 Random Things”

 ____________________

barbie-church

[HT: Jay Guin]

Filed under: Faith and Religion, , ,

The Stupidest Thing I’ve Heard This Week

Regular readers of this blog know that I frequently take issue with Christians here in the States and other western nations for whining about perceived persecution every time that we are misrepresented, ridiculed, challenged, or have our sensibilities offended. I make no apologies for this. Jesus said that this (and far worse) would happen to those who chose to follow him and I don’t know why any group of believers would think that they should be exempt.

But it would be inconsistent of me to not call a spade a spade. So I am going to call the actions of a British foster care board (as detailed in the story below) for what they are: favoritism at best, persecution at worst.

A foster mother has been struck off the register for allowing a Muslim girl in her care to convert to Christianity.

The woman, who has looked after more than 80 children in the past ten years, is considering suing the council over the decision.

Although she is a practising Anglican, she said she had put no pressure on the girl who was baptised last year at the age of 16.

She said social workers had also raised no objections to her own attendance at church.

But officials insist she failed in her duty to preserve the girl’s religion and should have tried to stop the baptism.

Last April, they ruled that the girl, now 17, should stay away from church for six months….

 

…The carer is a single mother of two in her 50s who has worked with young children for much of her life. She has had an unblemished record since becoming a foster parent in the North of England in 1999.

Of the Christian convert, she said: ‘I did initially try to discourage her. I offered her alternatives.

‘I offered to find places for her to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends and family.

‘But she said to me from the word go, ‘I am interested and I want to come.’ She sort of burst in.’

I have no problem with prohibiting a person in a secular job that requires providing care for others from using their status to evangelize. When you are taking care of someone else, child or adult, there is a power differential that is far too easy to exploit. I have serious doubts whether a conversion that takes place under the influence of a person with power over the convert can be authentic.

But this foster mother never leaned on this kid, and made every effort to do the opposite. Furthermore, the child in care was 16; children younger than this have made decisions about their faith before.

Apparently, the foster mother’s crime was failing to impinge on the child’s rights. I can’t help but wonder if a similar fuss would have been made over a Christian child converting to atheism or Islam.

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

It’s Never Going to Stop, Is It?

Warning: If you have no history with the churches of Christ or any other fellowship to come out of the Restoration Movement, this post may make no sense (or be of interest) to you whatsoever. However, if you are curious, read on; if you have something to share from a different perspective, by all means feel free to comment.

The c of C blogosphere has been all abuzzin over a story in the Christian Chronicle about the 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States. This latest edition reports that our congregations are closing shop at record rates and our membership numbers are on an increasingly steep decline. To be exact: we have lost 526 churches and 78,436 members in the past six years. And we were never that big to begin with: 12,762 congregations with 1,601,661 adherents at our peak.

As the story points out, some of the reduced numbers can be attributed to the decision of the directory’s editors to remove congregations that have one or more services which use dat ol’ debbil instrumental music. Case in point: the directory excludes the Richland Hills church, which as it happens is the largest congregation in the fellowship.

Many c of C bloggers (mostly elders or ministers) have chimed in on the issue; and best as I can tell, there are six recurrent (and contradictory) themes:

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

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