Tag: religion
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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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Christians Creating Culture, Not Controlling It

 

This semester – my final semester at United Seminary (as I graduate in December) – I’m taking a class entitled ‘Christ, Culture & Conversion.’

So far, it has proved to be very challenging and exciting.

The above video features Andy Crouch – editor of Christianity Today – talking about how Christians should understand, interact with and create culture.

I highly recommend taking 10 minutes to view it.

Christians should be about creating, contributing to and interacting with the culture (a term which he defines in this video), rather than seeking to control it.  When we seek to control the culture – as we see is the goal of so many prominent Christians today – we typically don’t do a very good job.

To borrow a phrase from my new obsession with British television, “we muck it up.”  Let’s stop mucking it up.

IRD Intern @BrianKenMiller Criticizes Rowan Williams, Makes His Point For Him, @TheIRD

Pseudo-Methodist Washington think-tank The Institute on Religion & Democracy has interns.  If the goal is to produce people exactly as confused as they are, they are so nailing it! Brian Miller is the intern in question. He picked up on the comments of former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and his comments on Western Christianity and

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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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Persecution Schtick Makes Christians Look Like Dopes – @TheIRD

A screen-grab from the 'Fortnight for Freedom' website

A screen-grab from the ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ website

 

If it weren’t for @TheIRD, I would have no idea what the above event is.  I’m talking about Fortnight for Freedom – an effort by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to bring attention to what they feel is a war on religious liberty.

There is, of course, no war.

At all.

It.

Doesn’t.

Exist.

That hasn’t stopped the USCCB from creating this event from whole cloth.  What is it?  It’s a two week event that begins today, and ends on July 4th – which isn’t heavy-handed in the least.

Independence Day.  Get it?

What does @TheIRD have to do with it?  Nothing.  They just featured a blog post from one of their interns about it.  The thing is, @TheIRD uses any excuse to add another layer to the myth – yes, myth – that religious liberty in this country is under attack.

It has become no more than a schtick to them – or any of their ilk.  The phony cries of a “war on religious liberty” are more often fundraising pleas, than actual concern for actual instances of incursions on those who seek religious liberty.

Whenever some semi-prominent religious person is shouted down by someone with a differing opinion – or some small town nativity scene is forced to move from city hall to the church grounds – certain Christians hit the airwaves to cry foul.

It also doesn’t help that pompous media figures posing as journalists bring the offended parties on their FOX News shows and ask questions to get answers that aren’t actual journalism – but shilling to a particular population subset.

Why does this persecution schtick make us look like dopes?

This story from Patheos recounts 6 recent stories of actual persecution against Christians in portions of the world where Christians face actual opposition.

American Christians are so spoiled and weak.  Is it any wonder that the church continues it’s decline, considering that a mere disagreement with a Christian is construed to be an attack on religious liberty?

It seems silly to have to explain this, but your First Amendment rights mean you have the right to say what you want.  It also means that others have the right to say what they want.  Free speech rights do not protect you from people saying they disagree with you.

When we don’t act like we understand that, we look like dopes.

Now, the Fortnight for Freedom has more to do with the USCCB’s snit with HHS over reproductive issues. It’s still not a war on religious liberty.  It’s figuring out that your religious rights stop at someone else’s reproductive system.

So, I mean, come on.  Let’s act like adults who understand that we don’t always get our way, and not petulant children who throw fits when we don’t.

*dismounts soapbox*

SERMON from 6-16-13: “Open Outcry”

This past Father’s Day, I preached on Psalm 5.1-8.  Here’s part 1: Here’s part 2:

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Video From The Pastor’s Office #19 – “Killing @OReillyFactor’s Logic”

Bill O’Reilly says that Jesus was killed over the issue of taxes. There are literally dozens of things wrong with this assertion. This is my off-the-cuff attempt to thwart them.

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“Do You Read the FOX News Version of the Bible?”

This is one of the best quotes I’ve heard in a while.

This quote was uttered by Dr. Mark Lamont Hill to Bill O’Reilly on his show.  It was in response to the outlandish – and ignorant by default – statement made by O’Reilly; and you will see it in this clip:

“Jesus was killed over taxes.”

Wrong.

Real quick, Jesus was killed for being a threat to Roman and Jewish leadership, and Jesus encouraged people to pay taxes (“give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” – Mark 12.17).  If Bill will remember, Pilate gave the crowds a chance to free Jesus (John 18.40).  If they really wanted him for tax-related issues (a ridiculous claim made by the cable “news” host), he would have gone down without that little opportunity for escape.

Not to mention the fact that Pilate also found him not guilty (John 19.6).

Only in the FNT (FOX News Translation) Bible can it be found that Jesus was killed over the issue of taxes.

Bill O’Reilly.  Bad Catholic.  Bad journalist.  Bad historian.

Unfortunately, the fact that he is bad at his many jobs doesn’t preclude him from being able to write another “history” book.  This time, he is taking on the subject of Jesus in his “Killing…” series.

His book about Jesus should be about as historically accurate as Quentin Tarantino’s portrayal of the death of Hitler in Inglorious Basterds.  

Remember the outrage over the artist who submerged a crucifix in urine – literally called Piss Christ?  I believe there should be similar outrage over this “book.”

Oh, and don’t forget, NatGeo – the cable channel named for National Geographic magazine – is working on a TV version.  Why not?  They produced his other two, widely historically panned books.

I will read this book, only so that I may get in on the long lone of critiques this book will face.

It appears more and more obvious that these types of attacks from the likes of O’Reilly and Barton are going to have to be met with critiques by the adults in the room.  Why are the critics the adults?  Because, the truly childish thing these people do is produce this razor-thin dreck for the highest possible monetary return.

Good day.

P.S. Check out what my friend, Joel, wrote about it.

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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Oh, Let Me Answer That for You, @eJoelWatts

Joel has certainly taken a liking to the new Holy Father (evidenced here, here and here). He called out those of us who were quick to be pessimistic about this new Pope, once news began to spread about his demeaning comments about the LBGT community.  I was one of them, and I gave my mea culpa:

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