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?

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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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I Know Porn When I See It

Very funny post at Jesus Needs New PR
Evidently, a male pastor at a church was offended when he was looking for men’s underwear at Walmart !
Alabama Pastor Calls Men’s Underwear at Walmart Pornographic.

Matt’s comments are the best!

Published in: on 08/01/2010 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Quitting The Church

Unless you’ve been in a cave (or sitting on a lake in a cabin with no electricity in Maine) you’ve probably read or heard about Anne Rice quitting Christianity. I can understand how Anne feels. Her list of complaints and accusations are somewhat familiar to me.  I’ve felt estranged from some parts of the Church for sometime. By God’s grace I have found a body of believers who are tolerant of diverse beliefs. For many years, I attended churches where I felt very uncomfortable and distrusting of their applied Christianity. It wasn’t their beliefs that I was leery of, rather how they applied those beliefs to everyday situations.

Anne has articulated several points where she feels that Christianity(read the Church) is not living out what Christ is really about. Her list is rather interesting, quoting from her post:

I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life.

Most of her complaints are on real or perceived hypocrisy in the Church. Truth be told the Evangelical Church in America is known more for what it is against rather than what it is for. That, in itself, is a sad affair. Stop most people on the street and ask what Evangelicals believe and that person will list all of the anti- that has been espoused. Ultimately, Anne Rice’s statements might do more to solidify what the Church believes in a positive sense. The great creeds were all written in a positive style. “We believe” was emblazoned at the start of each line. If the Church wrote a new creed for today, could they embrace a series of positive statements?

Ms Rice is absolutely correct in her evaluation of the current state of some churches in America. They claim to be pro-life. However, they are only pro-life when they refer to beginning and the end of life. The rest of the time, not so much. They are quick to protest in front of a clinic that does abortions, sometimes hurling insults at those entering the clinic. They fail however, to help those who might need the help the most, the mothers. They create caricatures of the women going into the clinic without getting to know them and come beside them to help.

Evangelicals speak about having “Family Values” then their divorce rate matches the secular world. Evangelical teen pregnancy rate matches or exceeds secular teens. Despite these facts, they claim that the “institution” pf marriage will be damaged by letting  gay couples get married. Their argument would be much, much stronger, if those in the Church actually had the same respect for “Family Values” that they want to impose on others.

So, for Ms. Rice, this has become a very public protest. Some have not been comfortable with what has been said, others are claiming that Ms. Rice was never a Christian. Still others like me, support her and understand what she is going through. Public protests can develop into great public discussions and debates.What is needed is a discussion of what the Church will look like and act like in America. Hopefully, this discussion will now start.

Some other sites that have had brisk discussions

Internet Monk

Jesus Creed

Excellent post at St.Johnny.com

Excerpt From today’s Doug Paggit Show

Huffington Post

Published in: on 08/01/2010 at 7:28 pm  Comments (2)  
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On Sale Now!

The 1599 Geneva Bible Patriot’s Edition.

What makes this Patriot’s Edition so special? It has copies of several historical documents that are purported to be based upon Biblical principles. Among the documents that you can peruse while studying the Scriptures are, The Magna Carta, The Mayflower Compact,and the Declaration of Independence. While each of these documents are landmark documents in our quest for Political Freedom, they are virtually useless when it comes to Bible study. Try as you might you will not find the phrase “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” anywhere in the Bible.Pursuing happiness is more of an Enlightenment concept than a Biblical one.

Mixing the political freedoms that the documents represent with the spiritual freedoms that Christian discipleship brings only dilutes the discipleship. I know that many people would disagree with that statement, however, consider this: The freedoms that were won on the Cross are eternal. Political freedoms, no matter how great they may be are at best temporal.

Whoever wrote the description for the Reformation Bookstore also had an historical brain knot when it came to the “power” of the Geneva Bible:

The results of a people reading and obeying the Word of God were the explosion of faith, character, the first missionary movement in history, literature, economic blessing, and political and religious freedom.

Perhaps the marketing person who wrote that little gem should read the Bible that they were describing. The “first missionary movement in history” occurs in the book of Acts. Remember that guy Paul?  He went on several missionary trips and no, he didn’t have the Geneva Bible.

Published in: on 07/25/2010 at 5:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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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Christianity in China

There’s an interesting NPR story on the Christian Church in China. Despite years of official atheism, the Church is flourishing. A good listen or read. Here’s the link.

Published in: on 07/19/2010 at 10:15 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:

Jesus Loves Strippers

One of my frustrations with Christianity is that the Church (for the most part) has trouble relating to sinners as they are. We spend an awful lot of time trying to change people before they come to church. I believe that this is due to the fact that we really don’t trust the  Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives.So, much of ministry is spent trying to change people’s behavior before they become Christians.

It’s very easy to hand a tract to someone and be on your way. It’s much more difficult to become a part of someone’s life, befriend them, and deal with the messiness of life. However, that’s what most people need.It’s also what Jesus did

There’s a ministry in Waco, Tx called “Jesus Loves Strippers”. It’s run by a husband and wife team Brett and Emily Mills with a few volunteers. Emily and the female volunteers bring bags of gifts to the strippers in their dressing rooms. From the wacotrib.com story:

Every month, the couple and about a half-dozen volunteers hit the Waco strip club circuit — Sonny’s BYOB, Show Time and Two Minnie’s — with bags of gifts from local sponsors filled with makeup, cookies, bandages and school supplies in August.

Wearing purple “Jesus Loves Strippers” T-shirts, Emily Mills and the female volunteers approach the dancers in their dressing rooms early in the night. They use the gift bags as ice-breakers and, more often than not, conversations flow from there.

The volunteers don’t bring Bibles. They don’t launch into talk about God.There’s a ministry in Waco called Jesus Loves Strippers.

Here’s what I think is the most important point in the story (emphasis mine)

“Only God can change a person,” said Emily Mills, a 32-year-old mother of three. “Our goal is not to go in and change them, but make them realize that God loves them no matter what they do and where they are.”

Anyone from the anti-gay or anti-abortion movements reading? Changing people’s lives is God’s domain. We’re here to show love and compassion, not hatred and disdain. Too many of our attempts to communicate with non-Christians are loaded with judgment. Which is why many people don’t take us seriously. Spend your life judging other people and soon no one listens.

Brad and Emily have the concept of ministry down. They are helping the people who Jesus wanted to reach and have answered the question WWJD. Those who have lives that are messy, complicated, and hopelessly confused. Jesus likes a challenge.

Published in: on 07/11/2010 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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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