President Obama’s Christianity

For a while, President Obama’s religious affiliation has been in question, mainly by people who don’t like him or disagree with his policies. In response to a question directed at him, President Obama gave his answer. He stated that he was a Christian and gave an explanation of how he made the choice to become a Christian. Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be good enough for some. Groups like the American Family Association are not and never will be happy with someone who doesn’t agree with their political agenda. Too bad, salvation is by faith and not by political beliefs.

The problem with many Christian organizations is that they establish both a statement of faith and a statement of politics. Go against either one and there is a good chance you will be named an unbeliever or a heretic. Those who make accusations about another’s faith based on politics fail to look at the 12 disciples. The spectrum went from a conservative (Matthew, the tax collector)  to a radical (Simon the Zealot). Matthew worked for the government a despised government I might add. While Simon wanted to throw the Romans out. Yet, Christ embraced both as part of His inner circle. There’s a lesson there if we bother to listen.  Christians can disagree on political views and still accept each other as Christian. Our political discourse has become decidedly uncivil. The biggest contribution that we can make is to foster civility in our public debates.

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Published in: on 09/30/2010 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Seek and You Shall Find….Maybe

There’s a new search engine that has started that is aimed specifically at Evangelical Christians. It’s called Seekfind.org . Seekfind front page includes the Bible verse where the creators got it’s name. If you guessed Matthew 7:7 you’re right!

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

Seekfind’s mission statement is very simple and concise:

The mission of SeekFind.org is to provide God-honoring, biblically based, and theologically sound Christian search engine results in a highly accurate and well-organized format.

The truth is that the sites that are listed are pre-selected. So, when you search on a term like the Republican Party or Democratic Party the party listings do not come up. Rather, the number one  listing is (for both) is an organization called Probe Ministries. Instead of sending you to the appropriate site for whichever political party that you are interested in you get sent to an organization that will tell you their opinion of the parties.

What REALLY ticks me off is this is done so that you, the searcher don’t have to be offended (think) about the subject that you want to search on.  Funny, that there is a “safe-search” feature on Google that stops most offensive material. The safe search feature, however, doesn’t do your thinking for you. Too bad that so-called a Christian search engine has to edit political views to fit a rather narrow standard of what they consider to be “Biblical”. Slanting the facts does a disservice to those using the service as well as Christianity as a whole.

Published in: on 09/25/2010 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Fear Factor

Listen to the news for even a short time and you’ll hear a long list of things that we are told that we need to fear. Crime, the economy, politicians, job loss, Muslims,al Qaida, and oh, did I mention the economy? While many items on the list are things that we should be aware of and in some cases even concerned about, fear is not the correct response.

Fear is actually a very complex set of psychological and physiological responses. God designed fear for the times when your life is in immediate danger. Say, when you are being chased by a wild animal, or you’re trying to avoid being hit by a car, or even trying not to hit someone with your car. Fear causes what is known as the “fight or flight” reaction. You brain tells your body of  immediate, life threatening danger, your body responds by dumping adrenaline into your blood stream. Adrenaline causes your heart rate to go up, your mouth to turn dry, and a whole bunch of other reactions that help your body escape (or minimize) physical harm. Being in a constant state of  fear is detrimental to your health. Without going into all of the gory details, being in constant fear causes your blood pressure to rise and can contribute to heart attack and stroke.

Fear also gets your attention and keeps it until it goes away. When you are fearful, the threat is the only thing that you will pay attention to. Consider if your car starts to skid,  you’re certainly not going to pay attention to what is playing on the radio!

It’s the attention getting function that politicians, pundits, and the media like about fear. It seems that the more frightened and fearful you become, the more that you listen to their message. Since, September 11,2001 the fear factor has been in full swing. By getting us to be fearful, both Liberals and Conservatives have grabbed our attention and made us afraid. Afraid of another attack, the other side, al Qaida, the Taliban, Islam, and whatever else they can think of. Fear boosts their ratings, it drives elections, and gives pundits something to talk about where no knowledge is required.

What is disturbing to me is the amount of people, who claim to be Christian, who fall into the fear trap. The amount of confessing Christians who are convinced that some sort of tragedy will occur if the wrong person is elected, if a particular bill is or isn’t passed. One thing that I have noticed is the number of Christians who are fearful of what is  occurring. In any case, fear is not the correct reaction for a Christian. We are told in the Bible that we are more than conquerors and yet we act with fear. It astounds me that the same people who will post Bible verse after Bible verse will also talk about how we should be fearful of whatever political circumstance happens by. For those who are Christians, don’t let the spirit of fear influence your life.

Published in: on 09/19/2010 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Speech and Consequences

The First Amendment took another hit last night. Dr Laura Schlessinger has decided to end her show so that she could exercise her First Amendment rights. Not that she hasn’t been exercising her First Amendment rights all along by broadcasting a daily radio show where she gives opinionated opinions on subjects that have nothing to do with her PhD in  Physiology. Dr Laura just doesn’t like the fact that people can organize against her opinions by boycotting sponsors and protesting to her syndication network. Schlessinger has decided to use books You Tube, her blog, and her website.

I hope that she shuts down her comment fields on her blog and You Tube channels because the Internet can be much more brutal than any advertiser boycott. She will be able to control it to a point, but once it goes viral, she will lose whatever control that she thinks that she has.

The biggest lesson that Dr. Laura can take away from this is that free speech goes both ways. She can say whatever she wants and we have the right to comment back. That is what free speech is about.

Published in: on 08/18/2010 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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That Burning Desire

Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center has marked September 11th as a day for all good Christians to burn Korans. This is to make a statement about the 9/11 attacks. Here’s a short interview with Jones from CNN:

What I find offensive about Pastor Jones’ attitude is his complete disregard/disrespect for all those of the Islamic faith. While Pastor Jones is magnanimous in allowing that Muslims are welcome in our country and welcome to worship, their scripture is not welcome. Jones claims that he wants to stop Islamic law. When asked if he would like it if some Muslims wanted to burn his Bible he said “No, but it is their right.”

No where in the Bible that I read do I see a verse that says “Let’s intentionally offend those who don’t believe as I do.”. I wonder how many converts Pastor Jones is planning on picking up among Muslims as a result of his Koran burning? Wouldn’t it be better to start ministering to Muslims than to offend them?

Published in: on 08/08/2010 at 9:04 pm  Comments (1)  

Education? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Education

Bob Herbert recently published an op-ed piece in the New York Times called Putting Our Brains On Hold. In the piece Herbert points out that the USA is 12th (out of 36) with adults 25-34 with college degrees among developed nations. Herbert quotes a report by the College Board that says that Canada, South Korea, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Israel, France, Belgium and Australia ranks above us in that 25-34 group having college degrees. Herbert calls this “beyond pathetic”. I call it inexcusable.

It’s easy to point fingers to bad public schools, ill conceived government intervention, and everyone’s whipping boy, the media. The fact is that learning is looked down upon in our country. Unlike years ago, people who are smart are looked down upon. I could list many more ways that this happens, but here’s a start:

  • We have blanded our educational system so that mediocre is the norm. No Child Left Behind pumped billions of dollars into Special Education programs to ensure that lower students got a good education. However, it neglected to keep the upper level students challenged. Upper level, high achieving students are not intellectually challenged in most schools in the US.
  • No Child Left Behind created an environment where many teachers wind up teaching to the test.
  • As a culture we don’t value intellect. Right now, there is a whole political movement set up upon the concept that the “Elitists” (read those who are educated) don’t get everyday life. We don’t want the smartest people in the room, we want the ones that we can have a beer with.
  • We give entertainers, athletes, and celebrities higher status than they are often worth.
  • The Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian community has long downplayed the idea of a thorough “liberal” education. Most Fundamentalist/Evangelical colleges have an agenda on hand that smacks of indoctrination rather than a learning experience.
  • Secular Universities and Colleges who are more interested in a bland “political correctness” that teaches no morality. Religion teachers who are fired for teaching the moral statements and beliefs of the relgion that they are supposed to be teaching.

Herbert predicts dire consequences if we don’t fix the education gap. I think those consequences have already started to take effect. Our political process has become dominated by those who would like to sit down with us for that symbolic beer. The trouble is that they lack a true understanding of our Constitution (on both sides of the aisle). We are addled into believing that a  public debate on the incarceration of Lindsay Lohan  is really discussing current events.  We need educated leadership and an educated workforce to survive the next generation.

Published in: on 08/08/2010 at 8:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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Rumors Hurt

Today’s news brings a valuable lesson in ethics, rumors hurt. A quick synopsis: A woman makes a speech where she admits  to having changed her attitude for the better. A clip of the speech, taken out of context, is published and leaked to media. No one in the media checks the whole speech to see context, rather spreads an unsubstantiated and inaccurate rumor. Woman loses job and is condemned by various pundits all based on rumor.

Fortunately, the rumor was found to be what it is, a lie. Apologies have been given, but everything is not quite the way it was. This brings us to the point of this post. Rumors hurt, rumors do damage that cannot always be healed. There’s a reason that the Bible is quick to condemn those who spread rumors. It’s interesting that the sin of spreading rumors is classified along with some of the most powerful sins, like sexual sins. The damage that a rumor can do is devastating to the victim as well as the perpetrator. The victim has to deal with the direct results, losing respect, job, maybe even financial loss. The perpetrator loses respect and credibility.

In the case that I have referred to, there was a specific reason that the rumor was perpetrated.  It had a goal as can happen sometimes with rumors. According the rumor monger, the firing was not the result that he was looking for. Rather, he was trying to make a point. That point, by the way, has been long lost in the fallout.

Next time you consider starting or spreading a rumor consider the consequences. You may be very well getting more than you bargained for.

I have purposely left out the names and reasoning of the rumor mongering to stay clear of the political issues brought up by the incident. To read about the incident (if you’ve been out of touch) here’s a link to the story. Another link here.

Published in: on 07/22/2010 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bibles For Beck

Recently the blog Jesus Needs New PR  ran a post about Glen Beck talking about Black Liberation Theology. Beck used snippets of Dr James Cone’ talking about Black Liberation Theology. To watch the Beck segment and read the comments follow this link to the post.

Union Theological President Serene Jones has posted a letter to Glen Beck inviting him to attend advanced theological classes. She is also sending Beck a care package of Bibles and some concordances to help him in his studies. You can read the letter here

While I am not a fan of either side in this case, I do feel that Beck would do well to actually read the Bibles. I have little faith in Beck’s interpretation of the Bible. Like so many people, He tries to speak into the Bible rather than letting the Bible speak into his views.  This is a common problem. The real threat from Beck is that he is a Mormon, hardly a representative of Orthodox Christianity.

My hopes of a true discussion/debate will probably never come to fruition. Serious discussion doesn’t fit into cable TV’s formula for success. Not to mention a serious debate would require some real research on Beck’s part, not fancy editing.of other people’s statements.

The students at Union have made a video inviting Beck to the Seminary:

Wither Thou Libraries?

Scott McKnight at Beliefnet posted some quotes from a story at My Fox Chicago about closing libraries to save tax dollars. The Fox story is here

From the story:

They eat up millions of your hard earned tax dollars. It’s money that could be used to keep your child’s school running. So with the internet and e-books, do we really need millions for libraries?

There are choices that free societies make about what is important and what isn’t. Obviously, high on the list is safety and security A society that cannot protect itself breaks down very fast. After safety and security, education and information comes high on the list. Why? Well, educated and informed citizens make better citizens, particularly in a democracy.  Democracies by their nature need citizenry who are able to think through issues and make intelligent decisions. Libraries, by their nature help in the process of keeping citizens informed and educated.

At this time in our history libraries also serve an important function that often goes unnoticed. Many people have had to give up their home Internet access. For many jobs the Internet is the preferred way to both advertise  and apply for jobs. Closing down libraries will severely limit some from being able to get the jobs that they need.

Libraries are also a source of knowledge beyond books and Internet services. Many libraries offer free classes in a wide variety of subjects. Some even about topics that can help with your job skills.  It’s those skills that will help to get us out of this recession.

Some argue that in tight budget times like we are going through now, libraries represent an ideal place to cut back or even close. Those ideas are short sighted and counter productive. The benefits for our society as a whole outweigh the relatively small costs that the library represents. To quote an old saying, let’s not be penny wise and pound foolish.

Published in: on 07/05/2010 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Why Politicians Should Never Become Theologians

Before reading on, listen to this interview with Sharron Angle:

Ms. Angle is asked a question about abortion, which she is against. When asked if she is against abortion even in cases of rape and incest she states

You know I am a Christian,and I believe that God has a plan and purpose for our lives. And He can intercede in al sorts of situations, so we need to have a little faith in many things”

Her answer is quite curious. First, she doesn’t answer the question. The answer that she does give is a poorly worded statement of theology. It’s poorly worded because it makes it look like God planned the rape or incest that lead to the pregnancy. The problem this poses is simple, if God is all powerful , all loving, and cannot even look at evil, then why would He plan for sin to occur?

Now, I am not prepared at this time to write a complete theological treatise on this subject. It is a source of serious and sometimes heated debate in the Christian community. However, neither was Sharron Angle. Which is why it is such a poorly worded statement. This is also why politicians should stay far afield of theology. A better worded answer for Ms. Angle would have been this “I believe any abortion is wrong. However, the grace and love of God can help to heal the wounds of any attack.”  This answer would have avoided making God look like He is the source of evil and avoided a very tricky theological issue.

Published in: on 06/29/2010 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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