Category: Commentary

Commentary

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Pope Francis, ‘Throw-Away Culture’, and The Real Problem

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Once again, I agree with Pope Francis – but not on what you think.

Francis says abortion is a symptom of our “throw-away culture.”

Yes!  I agree that the rampant abuse of the practice of abortion is a symptom of our “throw-away culture.”

Instead of using our smartphones until they have ceased to work for our needs, we give in and get a new phone every two years – or sooner (with wireless carriers advertising heavily this sort of program, and profiting in a major way).  Instead of driving a car to the point where it no longer runs without thousands of repairs, we get a loan or lease for a new one.  Whenever a small appliance has a hiccup, our first reaction is often to go pick up a brand new one.

Now, there are certain situations where the above scenarios are the common sense thing to do.  However, we are trained from our youth to believe that the newer thing is the better thing – and then we need that thing.  This has trained us to believe that our desires are the only thing that should dictate our actions.

This is no different for many Christians, though it should be.

With that said, I believe the Pope didn’t go far enough.  Follow me, here.

Our throw-away culture is a symptom of our consumer culture.

Our consumer culture is a symptom of our capitalistic system.

Our capitalistic system is what makes this country the economic force in the world that it is, it is yet a symptom of our sin condition.

Each of our sins is our responsibility.  However, we cannot deny there is something else at work here.

Pope Francis has spoken out against greed and the financial powers of the world.  He made his latest comments on abortion to satisfy the faithful who spend way too much time on the big 3 social issues.

I just thought this connection needed to be made.

Though, not many people will read it.

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Matt Barber – @jmattbarber – Gets MLK Sooooo Wrong

Yes, I'm on a “calling out false claims of persecution” kick today. Unfortunately, it's necessitated by those who are making it…well…necessary:)

Matt Barber is with Liberty Counsel. Essentially, it's like every other conservative group that thinks just because they can't do whatever they want, whenever they want and wherever they want, that they are being persecuted against.

And like an increasing number of these people, they are co-opting the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to prove their point.

I have no proof of this, but I would say Dr. King might have some words for these types of people.

The video above is just more proof that some American Christians have gone soft, and are completely willing to cheapen the real persecution Christians face around the world.

Of his thoughts on persecution of Christians, he says:

Christians have been persecuted for 2000 years by radical leftists. They used to just throw us to the lions. Now, what they do is try to force us to their way of thinking, to rehabilitate us to their way of thinking, under penalty of law.

This is, of course, ridiculous, wrong, and offensive to our brethren in Egypt and elsewhere – and throughout history – but that doesn't really matter to people like this. At least, in my experience.

There are, obviously, many other things wrong with this man's logic and heart, but I'll leave it here for now.

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First “Juicy,” Now “Matthew 5.7?”

At least it doesn't say Juicy

A former Victoria Secret model has had a conversion experience. That's good news!

The bad news? Her new clothing line puts Bible verses on little girl's butts.

This story is about Kylie Bisutti's efforts to remain relevant in the fashion industry, after she gave up her lucrative modeling gig for a pursuit of God. Again, good news.

By now, you've probably seen the glitch in the design of these clothes – designed with the school-aged girl in mind. Much like the sweatpants emblazoned with the words like “Juicy” across the wearers rear-end, the clothing is designed in such a way that the viewer is reading a Bible verse that ends on someone's rear-end.

Forget the onging debates about Christian modesty – which treat men like mindless sex machines and are helpful in very few ways – it strikes me as just, plain tacky.

Let's hope they fix that particular glitch in the line.

 

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Pope Francis Sides With Me Against @TheIRD

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A recent quote from the Pontiff

 

Pope Francis has done plenty to ingratiate himself to the widest possible audience – especially progressive and social justice-minded Christians, like myself.

In a papal tidbit I missed, he talks about the people in his own church who are stuck in an earlier time and think that the answer to Christendom’s problems lies in “going back” to some time when they were comfortable with things.

The Institute on Religion & Democracy is one example of a group within United Methodism which thinks that the answer to our denomination’s problems lies in reliving the 1950’s.

In an AP article, Nicole Winfield recalls how Pope Francis has publicly spoken about groups like the IRD:

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That group greeted Francis’ election with concern – and now is watching its worst fears come true. Francis has spoken out both publicly and privately against such “restoratist groups,” which he accuses of being navel-gazing retrogrades out of touch with the evangelizing mission of the church in the 21st century.

“Restoratist…navel-gazing retrogrades.”

I couldn’t put it any better myself.

The problem with groups who believe that looking back is the most-significant thing an organization can do to reform is that they are dangerous and out-of-touch.

And, honestly, it’s nice when I can use a story about the Pope to further question the credibility of organizations like the IRD.

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Is @JohnLomperis “Skeevy” or “Hateful?”

"Irony" ft. John Lomperis

 

Before today, I wouldn't have characterized the IRD's UM Action Director John Lomperis as “skeevy” or “hateful.”

That was before today.

For, you see, I've read his latest diatribe against his fellow creatures of sacred worth in the LBGT community.

In response to Arizona laws that discriminate against and criminalize the behavior of transgender brothers and sisters who identify as a sex other than the one they were born with – by preventing them from using public bathrooms according to the sex they identify with – the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church passed a resolution stating the following:

  1. the Desert Southwest Annual Conference and the United Methodist

  2. 42 Churches of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference make the public statement that our

  3. 43 Churches and facilities (building, gathering spaces and bathrooms) are safe places for all

  4. 44 regardless of gender identity and that transgendered people may use the bathroom of their

  5. 45 choosing in our churches and affiliated buildings.

As you can see, this policy is designed to treat with dignity all of God's people – not just the ones people like John Lomperis are weirded out by.

Mr. Lomperis, however, decides it isn't enough to say he disagrees with it – he has to demean an entire class of people to get his point across.

Such an “open bathrooms” policy is ripe for abuse by a few perfectly heterosexual, non-gender-identity-disordered, perverted individuals who now seem to have an invitation in Desert Southwest UMC congregations to go into the opposite sex’s bathroom. If anyone questions them, they simply need to claim (perhaps with a sarcastic smirk) that they identify with that sex, at least that day. The resolution suggests no safeguards or concerns for such abuses.

Any church worth anything already has a “safe sanctuaries” policy that is designed to deal with such individuals to which he refers. In other words, it's a non-starter and an attempt to emotionally manipulate the reader into siding with him.

Along with using dog-whistles such as the term “gender-bending,” Lomperis just takes his shot (by lumping transgendered individuals into the same category with heterosexual abusers) at anything with which he doesn't personally agree – pretty skeevy, if you ask me.

He even tries to co-opt the argument of an LBGT activist to mislead his readers (a tactic he isn't new to, as you will see me address in the closing paragraph of this Huffington Post piece).

Overall, his piece demonstrates just how hateful he and his ilk can be when they try to approach an issue that both upsets them and weirds them out.

The policy he rails against is designed to treat all persons with dignity. His attempt to pervert the idea or make it into something it isn't shows just how weak his argument truly is.

P.S. Lomperis is likely to treat this type of article as a badge of honor, rather than criticism he should listen to, so I don't ever really expect a reply. The fantasy of living as some type of martyr is very appealing to the conservative, evangelical elite.

 

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Joel is Right, but Needs Further Clarification

The Cross, the Church and the Flag

My friend, Joel, posted an interesting theory about the decline of the mainline church and the anti-intellectual streak within evangelical mainline enclaves.

How much better would we be if we had taught questioning our faith instead of absolute intellectual surrender when the New Atheists and Ken Ham arrived?

Essentially, he suggests that this “intellectual surrender” has forced the church to surrender credibility in order to maintain uniformity of thought. When a person with a question is told to “just believe” or that their question represents a lack of faith, why wouldn't that questioner find somewhere else to be? This is my paraphrase, but I think this is what he's saying.

I believe his theory to be correct, but insufficient.

We in the church must, first, disabuse (this word not used accidentally) ourselves of the notion that commercial success and the American Dream are synonymous with faithful Christianity.

They're so not.

They may even be the antithesis.

However, those who foster an unquestioning faith tend to experience the greater numeric church success.

Unless these ideas are separated by as much ground as we can get between them, the numeric success experienced by anti-intellectual evangelicalism will motivate the defense of the status quo – and his theory will wither on the vine.

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I See What Ya’ Did There, @GlennBeck

Glenn Beck, Professional Clown

I don't know why I do it to myself, but I listen to Glenn Beck's radio program.

Yes, seriously.

This morning, during one of his live advertisements for gold, he makes this statement:

I don't know how this all ends, but it doesn't end well.

He is – of course – talking about the continuing economic malaise the global economy is experiencing.

I've heard him say this – or things like this – numerous times. It wasn't until this morning that I realized what a weasely, chicken little-y, media whore-y type of statement it really is.

Essentially, he is able to keep his “the sky it falling” rap afloat without offering any evidence of it. Sure, he spends his entire broadcast presenting “evidence” of what he believes is the truth, but he is nearly never correct about any of his wild-eyed bloviating.

Why do I care?

If it weren't for the fact that Mr. Beck has such a broad reach – and has taken to shrouding his every move in the discussions he has with and visions he gets from God – I wouldn't care that much. I'd still listen, but not actively.

Glenn Beck is an entertainer. He's an actor. He's a visionary entrepreneur.

To be trusted for actual news or sincere opinion, he's not.

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In Fourteen-Hundred and Ninety-Two: A New Pneumonic Device

 

My beautiful wife put a History Channel 2013 desk calendar in my stocking at Christmas. As a history nerd, it was right up my alley.

Today, it gave me some inspiration. (see photo above)

We all know in what year Christopher set sail for foreign lands to pillage indigenous peoples, but my History calendar gave me a new fact.

Evidently, the same year in which the crown sent Columbus to a new world, they began to dismiss Jews from the country (Spain) – en masse. Even in my pastoral, post-Easter stupor, I have found a bit of inspiration.

Maybe schoolchildren can begin to learn my new learning rhyme:

In Fourteen-Hundred and Ninety-Two

Spain began to expel their Jews

However, given the vehement anti-semitism evident in a chain of events such as this, I think this one captures the essence of the event:

In Fourteen-Hundred and Ninety-Two

The Spanish expelled their filthy Jews

Alright, you can go back to your naps, now.

SERMON from 3-17-13: “I Thirst”

This is the fifth of a seven-part series for the Lenten and Easter season. I got the idea from my father-in-law, who serves as Senior Pastor at Mesa First United Methodist Church, downtown Mesa, Arizona. Luke 23.28-29 (CEB) 28 After this, knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said,

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Yes, @MarkDTooley, Murder is Murder

  Mark Tooley – @MarkDTooley and President of The Institute on Religion & Democracy – is reactionary enough to be the president of a Washington D.C. based think tanks, but too reactionary to be the religious leader he believes himself to be. Por ejemplo… His latest article is his reaction to an article by Christianity Today.  The

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