Sunday, December 31, 2006

Mercy On Us All

I can't understand those Americans and others who are celebrating the execution especially now that I've seen it. I have more empathy for those whose family members were victimized by Hussein and his henchmen but for the rest of us I think it to be symptomatic of serious cultural decay.

My brother said it best last night. I was in the middle of watching the video while he was still on the phone listening to my reactions. At one point I whispered something to the effect that this was just wrong and Mike whispered back, "It makes me want to go to church".

Seeking God in this seems to be wise, more than wise, necessary in fact.

Yesterday I wrote of being unable to pray for mercy and that praying for justice seemed to be more apt. Today, after seeing the meting out of justice first hand, I can only think of praying for mercy. Mercy for those who've been victimized by Hussein and those like him, mercy for those who'll see this video and cheer it's showing, mercy for those who see it and are repelled, and finally, yes, mercy for Saddam Hussein and I say that knowing that it's quite the turnaround.

I can only conclude here that even the likes of Saddam Hussein deserve something other than dying via hanging.

God's mercy on us all.
[via Brutally Honest, emphasis mine]

sacrificed

gifts exchanged
are passing the piece
of life we lack
and beg or bless
and claim the least
we can accomplish

precious feasts
are bread that can slice
apart our body
whole in fragments
fraught with enough
unleashed by ourselves

spilt mercies
are friends who will thrive
upon the pulse
outpoured and drained
to quench the most
that will not die

the due process
of vital signs

Gift of gifts
[via The Idea Girl]

Remains To Be Seen

Saddam's case is, of course, rather exceptional, and the swift carrying out of his death sentence probably really had less to do with the particular processes of Iraq's new judicial system than with the more important consequence of the tyrant's death -- the guarantee that he can never again return to power. So I appreciate, as a "purely practical" matter, their desire to quickly be done with Saddam and to be through with that dark chapter of the past. But, again, whether that past is through with them remains to be seen.

Nixon's absolute amnesty for unspecified crimes emboldened others who followed to repeat many of those same crimes. Here's hoping that the execution of Saddam Hussein -- which leaves many of his other, grievous crimes unspecified and unaccounted for -- does not similarly embolden his successors.
[via slacktivist]

Place Holder

It seems to me that the GOP should have been far more grateful to Ford. Okay, he lost a presidency that he received without ever being elected to Jimmy Carter in 1976. He probably saved the Republican Party. Without Ford's efforts in healing the nation from Watergate, removing most of Nixon's appointees from the cabinet, and, especially, ending the Vietnam war, it is unlikely that the GOP could have elected anyone to high office for decades. Now, that might not have been a bad thing, from my perspective, but Republicans ought to be far more grateful....

His was the last Republican presidency that was dedicated to decency, didn't play to religious fanaticism, worked for bi-partisan solutions to problems, and was dedicated to supporting the United Nations. Although considered more conservative than his VP Nelson Rockefeller, Ford really exemplified many of the traits that we associate with the term "Rockefeller Republicans." (He regretted to his dying day caving to conservative pressures to drop Rockefeller from the ticket when he ran for election in '76. His VP running mate, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, would later run for president himself, with no more success.)

,,,,Ford will never be one of my heroes. I think if he had won the presidency in his own right, he would have continued the Republican favoritism of business interests over common people--but probably not the ultra-harsh economic policies that began in Reagan's era. Ford will never be on any list of my 100 most admired politicians. But maybe he was the right person for the Oval Office for the time--and certainly he brought more honor to that office than either his predecessor or any of the GOP presidents since. GOP partisans who wish to rebuild their party after the November "thumpin'," (which, if the Dems don't totally screw up, will continue in '08--especially if we are still in Iraq) would do well to look to Ford as one of their models for a new kind of GOP politician--but I doubt they will.
[via Levellers]

Will Not Undo...

When I heard about the execution, I felt sadness. Certainly not for Saddam, though the thought of executions leaves me cold. Certainly, if anyone deserved it, he did. But ultimately, I felt the sadness of the lie that violence can stop violence. The bumper sticker on my truck is the Ghandi quote, "And eye for an eye and soon the whole world is blind."

I am not naive. I understand that wars happen, and as my niece pointed out over the weekend, world peace is a pipe dream. But I prefer to believe that moving toward that ideal is a good goal.

His death will not make the world any safer nor will it make it any better. He was an evil man, I don't doubt, and I feel for the victims of his capricious and vicious tyranny. But his execution will not undo any of the tragedy.
[via Streak's Blog]

Monday, December 25, 2006

Always Seems To Be The Story

As we left for the shelter I prayed and hoped we could find it. I've not been to this one before and I'm still amazed that people will not question me when I say, "just follow me .... I'm not exactly sure where we're going" and they just get in their cars and follow.

On the drive there I convinced myself that all would go well once we got there, but we were in for another surprise....

Nothing had gone right. Yet in the end, everything went exactly as it was supposed to. That always seems to be the story. {the full post}
[via Along The Way]

When Everything In the World Seems Alien

We say that Christmas is for children, but I think it’s more about childlikeness than childhood. Even those who don’t believe in Jesus, or don’t know if they believe in him, or wish they could believe in him, Christmas holds something, but we have trouble saying exactly what that something is.

I think it’s too easy to say that we’re simply childhood nostalgia junkies, although I’m sure that’s part of it. I had some really good Christmases as a child and some Christmases that I’d rather forget. Maybe we come to see the candles gently push away the darkness. Maybe we come to listen to the calm and hushed silence. Maybe we come to bathe ourselves in the familiar. Familiar songs. Familiar carols. Familiar stories. When everything in the world seems alien.

When we are nostalgic for childhood, I don’t think it’s because childhood was such a fabulous time, but because we remember when the world was still new, and life brimmed with hope and expectation. Childhood reminds us when our mistakes didn’t cripple us, when we were not too wounded to look forward to the next day, when tomorrow was bright with possibility....

What would you do if you had to clean up the mess we human beings have made? How would you deal with war, violence, anger, corruption? How would you deal with fear of the future, destroyed relationships, or ravaging diseases? How would you deal with terrorism, fanaticism, or fundamentalism?

Would you send in the tanks? Would you break out the big guns? Would you launch the missiles?

....Would you send a baby? A helpless child completely dependant on those he came to save?

That doesn’t sound like a smart move, does it? At least by any human standard.
[via The Word Proclaimed, HT: Kevin G Powell]

It's Christmas -- time to mock the Christians
[via Bible Belt Blogger]

[via JourneyWild]

I may not go to-night to Bethlehem,
Nor follow star-directed ways, nor tread
The paths wherein the shepherds walked, that led
To Christ, and peace, and God's good will to men.

I may not hear the Herald Angel's song
Peal through the Oriental skies, nor see
The wonder of that Heavenly company
Announce the King the world had waited long.

The manger throne I may not kneel before,
Or see how man to God is reconciled,
Through pure St. Mary's purer, holier child;
The human Christ these eyes may not adore.

I may not carry frankincense and myrrh
With adoration to the Holy One;
Nor gold have I to give the Perfect Son,
To be with those wise kings a worshipper.

Not mine the joy that Heaven sent to them,
For ages since Time swung and locked his gates,
But I may kneel without--the star still waits
To guide me on to holy Bethlehem.

Christmastide by E. Pauline Johnson Tekahoinwake

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My Heart Still Can Dream...



Amy Grant- Grown-up Christmas List

Christmas: God the Giver
[via Faith Dance]

The Nature of The Salvation

But, what is the nature of the salvation this child brings? This, I suggest, is the most important question that needs to be answered....Luke tells us the story of Mary’s conversation with the angel Gabriel because he expects us to understand that however beautiful the concept of virgin birth might be in theory… in reality, virgin mothers are indistinguishable from adulteresses. The last nail has been hammered into the coffin of her social respectability. This event propels her beyond the outer margins of community life and turns her into a complete social outcast.

Jesus will be born to a Jewish mother in the midst of an empire that paints Jews as backward savages. He will be born to a Palestinian mother while Palestine is under military occupation by imperial troops. He will be born to a Galilean mother in a world where Galileans are stereotyped as ignorant bumpkins. He will be born to a poor mother in an era when poverty is interpreted as divine punishment. He will be born to a teenage mother at a time when young people are expected to be seen rather than heard. He will be born to an unmarried mother in a culture where women have no social standing apart from their husbands. He will be born to a mother who looks very much like an adulteress in a world where adulteresses are ostracized and sometimes even killed. How much closer to the bottom of the social heap can Jesus go? We will only know the answer to that question on Good Friday when he dies the death of a violent criminal on a Roman cross.

My friends, we have to move beyond our portrayals of the Christmas story as something sweet and nice. The Christmas story is set into a context that is ugly, abusive and violent. But, thank God that it is. The salvation that Mary’s child brings is more than an interesting theological concept. The birth of Mary’s child is an event that makes a difference because it offers hope to those who have no hope in the world. When Mary says to the angel: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word,” she does so knowing the danger it will bring to her child and to herself. Her words are words of courage. Her decision is an act of faith carried out in the strong conviction that God is indeed at work in the world to save the poor, the oppressed and the outcast. Even more, she understands that salvation never comes in the form of a benevolent acts performed by those who hold wealth and power. Salvation never makes itself known in the palaces of emperors and kings, in the field tents of generals, in the justice halls of judges, in the markets of the wealthy, or in the temples of priests. God’s salvation always grows out of the hopes and dreams of communities that know they need to be saved.
[via Yeasty Words, HT: Jesus Politics]

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Promises of Tomorrow

Earlier this month, The Nativity Story offered a plain, authentic version of the birth of Christ. One aspect of it focused on Herod the Great, the political ruler of Judea who was paranoid about the arrival of a new rival to his rule. To avoid any challenge, Herod ordered for the killing of male children in Bethlehem so no one could usurp his authority. He did not want to lose his legacy, like King Saul in the Ancient Testament.

King Saul's son, Jonathan, also had a choice to make about his destiny. Samuel had anointed David as the new king while Saul was still on the throne. Threatened by David's reputation, Saul became David's worst enemy. Jonathan became loyal to David instead of his father, out of admiration or strategy. As a result, Jonathan gave up his due inheritance and his name for the sake of the greater good for his people.

These two men, Herod and Jonathan, went in two different directions regarding the path of history. Herod wished to maintain his reign at any cost, even attempting to ruin a fresh start for the kingdom of God's chosen. Jonathan embraced the change of royalty, finding a place to give up his fate for the cause of another purpose. As did them, we have a choice when our status and reputation are threatened by new life. How do we respond?

This Christmas, discover how to surrender and be the servant of renewal. Be like Jonathan and not like Herod. Learn to realize the promises of tomorrow.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What happens in the political realm - in the public world where people treat one another justly or unjustly, peacefully or violently, as neighbors or as enemies - can never be separated from what happens in the personal realm. And the reverse is true, too.

That's the source of the politics of joy.
[via God's Politics, HT: Shawna R. B. Atteberry]

Everything You've Always Wanted To Know About The Differences Between Christmas And Chanukkah (But Were Afraid To Ask).
[via Street Prophets]

Identity Cris(TM)is
[via daydreamer]

"Instead I just deceive myself, and think you'll never die..."

HT: Flaming Fish Music



"Reflections" by Travelogue

The Movement of Life

"The spirit of Christmas--what is it? It is the rainbow arched over the roof of the sky when the clouds are heavy with foreboding. It is the cry of life in the newborn babe when, forced from its mother's nest, it claims its right to live. It is the brooding Presence of the Eternal Spirit making crooked paths straight, rough places smooth, tired hearts refreshed, dead hopes stirred with the newness of life. It is the promise of tomorrow at the close of every day, the movement of life in defiance of death, and the assurance that love is sturdier than hate, that right is more confident that wrong, that good is more permanent than evil.
[via fluctuating certainty]

Real Time Incarnation
[via adventures in mercy]

Homecoming

At Christmas time especially, when there are many who will feel displaced and abandoned and who are looking for a place, looking to belong, wondering whether anyone really loves them or welcomes them, this work of God-With-Us is particularly important to bring to others.

Many this time of year will be asking, “Where is there a place for me?” Perhaps they are unable to travel to be with relatives. Perhaps they have no relatives. Some have been separated from the joys of family gatherings by divorce, unable to join their children when the “ex” has them over the holiday.

Our culture offers many solutions to the ache of having no place. But ultimately, those things bring more pain in the form of debt, false-hope, self-righteousness and bigotry, or addiction. Many look for a “Place” among the avatars, an electronic “home” in an internet community: {the full post}
[via The Philosophical Pastor]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hard To Wise Up

Over the last couple of years I have spoken with at least three people whom the Driscoll would consider close, personal friends. All have indicated to me that they were concerned about some of the things that came out of his mouth and that they had, on numerous occasions, expressed concern to him about his words and their impact.

I've also watched as slowly but surely, Mark has gotten somewhat more careful with his words. Though "limp-wristed homoevangelical" wasn't too awfully long ago, it seems to have been awhile since anything was labeled "faggoty" and that's progress no matter how you slice it.

But the recent fracas over comments on the Resurgence blog, the planned protest, the sit down between Mark and others, and Mark's subsequent statements have left me wondering- is Mark getting wiser... or just smarter?

I won't say why, but I have reason to believe, or maybe I should say reason to fear, the answer is "smarter."

So far, Mark has studiously avoided the language of apology, and while what he has said has been a step in the right direction, it should be noted that what might actually be happening is that Mark is getting smarter about what he says about people, but not necessarily wiser in what he thinks about people.

...External pressure brings about external changes and while I may make concessions to alleviate the pressure, often, the end result is a hardening. I'm sure that I was right all along, and all the pressure I'm feeling convinces me of that. I'll adjust to get different results- but the adjustments remain surface...

Here's the thing- I don't think protest ever makes someone wiser. It simply makes them smarter. Protest may have the power to change the outside, but it can never change the inside. Sometimes protest is needed, and sometimes we need to start with changing the outside, particularly when someone reaches a place of harm coming to others...

But head-on external pressure absent loving relationship will simply make someone smarter about their sin. It won't change their heart.
[via bob.blog]

Footprints[via Just a little smoother in Your hand]

But the steps I left behind
Can't show the cold places
On my cheeks
Where the winter wind touched my tears.

Right now after I've just been
My footprints seem so clear
And my past
So close to me.

But soon the cold unfeeling wind
Will blow the snow
To cover up
The bit of me I left behind.

{the full poem}

Triumph Over the Rule

There is a beautiful spiritual message underlying Christmas that has universal appeal: the hope that gets reborn in moments of despair, the light that gets re-lit in the darkest moments of the year, is beautifully symbolized by the story of a child born of a teenage homeless mother who had to give birth in a manger because no one would give her shelter, and escaping the cruelty of Roman imperial rule and its local surrogate Herod, who already knew that such a child would grow up to challenge the entire imperialist system. To celebrate that vulnerable child as a symbol of hope that eventually the weak would triumph over the rule of the arrogant and powerful is a spiritual celebration with strong analogies to our Jewish Hannukah celebration, which also celebrates the victory of the weak over the powerful, and the triumph of hope (symbolized by the Hannukah candles) over fear and the darkness of oppression (both ancient and contemporary). Many other spiritual traditions around the world have similar celebrations at this time of year around the winter equinox. The loss of this message, its subversion into a frenetic orgy of consumption, rightly disturbs Christians, Jews and other people of faith.

...Thus, the altruistic instinct to give, which could take the form of giving of our time, our skills and our loving energies to people we care about, gets transformed and subverted into a competitive frenzy of consumption.
[via Common Dreams, HT: Jesus Politics]

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Keeping Santa in Christmas
[via The Philosophical Pastor]

O Come, All Ye Twisted...



Here more here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

WHAT DO CHRISTMAS AND PORN HAVE IN COMMON?
[via THE OOZE]

Full of Grace

“We are all meant to be mothers of God,” wrote Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic and theologian. “What is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.” (quoted in Barbara Brown Taylor’s Mother’s of God)
[via Kevin G Powell]

christmas alone
[via Scott Williams]

If the Nutcracker Went Wrong...



Get the Goodies for Christmas!

Men and Mary

In a recent pre-Christmas sermon on Mary, it was suggested that fathers should take their sons to see the movie, The Nativity Story. By seeing this movie, it was said, young men will see how they can be loving husbands, like Joseph, and protect their wives in difficult circumstances like these—“these” circumstances referring to their long trip to Bethlehem. I don’t know exactly what the preacher meant, but in the context, it made me laugh. I don’t anticipate making that kind of journey with a pregnant, God-Man bearing wife riding on a donkey anytime soon. Those circumstances belonged to someone else.

It also reminded me of something else, that is, the many times I’ve heard someone appeal to the biblical narrative (or any biblical passage) without regard to the context or genre. At times, what is merely description in the Bible is taken as prescription. By way of example, one might look to the Old Testament patriarchs with that sentimental feeling of missing the days when men were men. The hierarchicalist, for example, who longs to be like an Old Testament patriarch, may praise his patriarchy as an example of true biblical manhood. I know of some who want to emulate it so badly, they even set up arranged marriages for their children.

{read the full post}
[via The CBE Scroll]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Other Side

who doesn’t have to pretend that the beaten path is too conforming
deforming the fa├žade that plays out in the
open
fix the destination or
fix the compass

and you open the other side {the full poem}
[via D'Caffeinated Pickle]

Special and Peculiar

Lessons from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Dentist Elf
[via L'chaim]

Renewed Testament

I hate Christmas but I love Christ. I don’t have to like Christmas, but for some reason some people have a real problem with that and I have even had people try to guilt me into liking it. Nice. I guess I would just ask the question, how have you dealt with traumatic or negative events in your life? By celebrating them with cheer and presents, or by observing them, taking time to mourn the loses, the hurts, the pains, the memories that won’t go away, asking God for freedom and the strength to move forward. For me, Christmas is a time when I reflect on the birth of the saviour, and a time when I mourn, and a time when I ask God for renewal. Saying I hate Christmas doesn’t mean I see no hope, ...
[via Jayson Besserer]

The Power of Christmas

The Politics of Christmas
[via Kruse Kronicle]
Peace on Earth
[via fluctuating certainty]

Get Along and Love One Another

A message from God to His children:

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of you're predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me go on. {read on}
[via Blog of the LostDog]

If Only They Had A Star...

It's that time of year again...
When we remember those who travelled far to offer gifts to the newborn Saviour.

And at our house, it's the time of year when we scour the house looking for the Christ child....

It certainly fills us with anxious anticipation wondering where our Saviour is and whether he will indeed be found.
[via Vandermeander]

Coy With Cards?

Wow, a new story about Christmas
[via Get Religion]

Friday, December 08, 2006

After the Mark Driscoll Meeting...
[via Emerging Grace]

Safe Relationship

Whatever it is due to, maybe moving too often and not having time to establish friendships, or maybe being so busy with one’s own life that you don’t have time to cultivate a decent caring friendship, we just don’t have good friends any longer....

We can come home after a long tiring day, sit back with a cold one, turn on the TV and the consistent safe relationship we have with a few characters fills our need for relationships.

We laugh at their familiar mistakes and stories and they treat us like old friends by coming back tomorrow at the same time.

Besides, it’s easier to do that than to work at being a real friend, because sometimes being a real friend is just hard work.
[via Randall Friesen]

Everyone wants to be irreplaceable!!!
[via Intricate thoughts of a mind unleashed]

The Grace of Friendship
[via Faith Dance]

Christmas Shopping For Men
[via Blog of the LostDog]

More Than Memory...

Memory is a means of salvation in four senses:

1. Healing: healing only occurs through memory; but memory itself does not heal. That memory requires interpretation if the tragedy is to be redeemed.

2. Acknowledgement: we can only redeem tragedy by acknowledging that tragedy; but (once again) acknowledgement does not redeem it. Some acknowledge only to become vindictive. Unjustly remembering (or acknowledging) can distort truth and identity.

3. Solidarity: it makes sense to think that remembering can provoke us to identify in compassion and sympathy with those who suffer, but some memories do not provoke compassion. Memory alone does not create solidarity. Something larger can transform memory into solidarity.

4. Protection: Like solidarity, memory can lead to protecting those who suffer. Some memories lead to further perpetration of crime and evil. What is it that leads memory to become protective of those who suffer?
[via Jesus Creed]

What do we do with hate?
[via Prolegomena]

the dark side of christmas
[via oxymoronredundancyparadoxtrap]

Michnik on Conscience and Humility
[via Mainstream Baptist]

Diligent Protection

...given the option between a perfect superstar on a pedestal and some schmuck not much different than the rest of us, evangelicals are likely to continue choosing the former. If we want culture change, we need to strategize about how to make that happen. Additionally, we need to stop focusing nearly exclusively on the pastors caught in scandal, and give at least equal attention to their victims and their congregants....

Adults, too, can be encouraged to tell the truth, trust their instincts and suspicions, and give total trust and obedience to no person. How wonderful, if our churches could be characterized by critical thinking, diligent protection of the vulnerable among us, and skepticism toward power structures and personality structures that mimic the culture. We'd be culture-makers, helping create a world in which both the powerful and the powerless are made more safe.
[via The Paris Project]

Monday, December 04, 2006

Making Movement, Difficult and Slow

This past week I was reminded of the practical importance of encounter and presence in the process of reconciliation. A small group of Seattle-area Christian leaders, (Rose & Rich Swetman, Nancy & Tom Murphy, Sandy Brown, Paul Chapman, and myself) gathered together with pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church and Lief Moi one of the church’s founding elders to inquire of God as we explored the damage caused by the harsh and at times demeaning tone of some comments by Mark, and the public protest that was being organized in response to his comments....

Although the primary focus of our conversation was the tenor of Mark’s comments in recent years, he wasn’t the alone in making movement during the course of this conversation. Paul, the organizer of the protest, asked Mark’s forgiveness for labeling him, “Mark the Misogynist.” Not only that, the protest was called off. Further, for those in that conversation who had seen Mark as something of an an adversary prior to our meeting there was movement toward being advocates one for the other. I left that meeting with greater hope for a reconciled church in Seattle, and beyond....

We all know that actuating lasting change is difficult and slow as our greatest strengths are often our greatest weaknesses. And so the very things that brought us together for this meeting may bring people together again around future matters; and this is the nature of human experience.
[via and]

The seed doesn’t know about the care and concern given it so that it may grow, but it tilts it’s flower towards the sun and thinks that that is where all the food is coming from.
[via Calacirian]

[in a comment by VanSkaamper in this post]

Top 10 Changes to the Nativity Story that Would Have Made Hollywood Happy:

10. Annunciation delivered by 3 gorgeous “Yahweh’s Angels”.

9. Wise Men make gift of gold, frankincense, myrrh, and complete ‘Queer Magi’ makeover for Joseph.

8. Herod made more sympathetic and progressive character with change to Slaughter of UNWANTED Innocents.

7. “Immaculate” Hot tub love scene with Mary and Supreme Being.

6. Mary’s conflicted with pro’s and con’s of having newborn son circumcised on 8th day.

5. Nazareth made more urban: Joseph tags fiance’s home, Mary raps Magnificat.

4. Shepherds played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.

3. Paris Hilton given major role as Joseph’s jealous, bunny boiling stalker.

2. Roman soldiers interrogating Joseph and Mary at Bethlehem city limits played by Cheech and Chong.

1. Every time Lord’s name taken in vain, sinner vaporized by death rays emitted from baby Jesus’ eyes.

Waiting for Magnificat by Dr. Scot McKnight
[via Relevant Magazine, HT: Jesus Creed]

Almost Too Familiar

Recently I had the opportunity to be a part of a free pastors screening for the new Nativity movie being put out by New Line Cinema. I have to tell you, when I first saw the trailer, I got pretty stoked. I thought to myself, “Finally the first part of the trilogy is being released!” Especially on the coat tails of something like The Passion, I was really looking forward to a more historical and defiantly more biblical portrayal of the birth of Jesus.

I have to say that I really did like it, and it certainly is the best version of Christ’s birth out there. The costumes and the scenery were amazing. Watching the movie you really get the idea of both the social and political climates that Jesus grew up in. Seeing the unique settings of Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem really help you paint a more fleshed out picture of the life and times of these biblical stories.

Also the dynamic between Mary and Joseph was very touching. The movie portrays them as a real man and a real woman trying not only to learn about each other, but also trying to figure out how they will fit into God’s larger plan.

The movie is also very detailed concerning day to day Hebrew life, including the language, their prayers and customs and the dichotomy of living under both Herod Agrippa and Caesar....

It was just odd writing and directing choices like that that kept the movie from being spectacular and something that I would recommend to all of my friends. I have a feeling this movie is only going to appeal to Christians who are already familiar with the story. It probably won’t have the same seekers who perhaps might have paid to go see The Passion, just because there is not much story there to tell.

Don’t be confused, I know I told you that I liked the movie, and I did. I guess I was just hoping for something so much bigger and over the top and in the end, it just felt like another ‘bible movie.” {the full review}
[via The Way]

Who's Your Abel?
[via Thinklings]

Xmas in Niatirb
[via War on the War on Christmas]

Selfish Genes, Selfless Redemption

David Deane’s Nietzsche and Theology is a difficult, brilliant but perhaps flawed engagement with Nietzsche and his philosophical descendants from the standpoint of Christian theology....

The dichotomy of violence and peace we see in Augustine is given real biological structure by Deane who offers a model of the self driven by self genes being infected with the viral ‘meme’ of Christianity which causes all manner of anti-natural acts like loving our enemies and turning the other check. Using Nietzsche (and Barth) Dean offers a forensic anatomy of the City of God....

Dean has provided a “grammar” for Christian engagement with Nietzsche and the traditions he represents which both affirms the truth of Nietzsche and is totally orthodox. Let me put that another way, he shows how Christianity, postmodernity and Neo-Darwinism are totally compatible! And showing them as such will allow the Christian alternative of peace to be seen in a way it hasn’t been seen since Augustine! This is an amazing achievement. He does it with flair and subtlety but his theological ability, the ability to think theologically seems to be in the tradition of a Barth or Von Balthasar. {the full review}
[via Prolegomena]

Top Dog's The Underdog

I have to hand it to the party, Canadians love to root for an underdog and Liberals showed their true Canadian colours at this convention. Stephane Dion was the underdog from the moment that he launched his campaign – the fact that he pulled off a fourth ballot victory against the establishment frontrunner is nothing short of miraculous.

When it was all over Michael Ignatieff acted more gracious in defeat than we have ever seen. It’s pretty ironic that this experience, which has to rank up their as a personal worst for him, may in fact have been his finest moment in public life....

Dion is an enigma to most Canadians and that’s not such a bad thing. He takes over the Liberal party as a relative unknown and as a result people have pretty low expectations of the guy. This is a good position for a politician to be in, he really has nowhere to go but up.

At the end of the day though, watching Dion on stage, I couldn’t help but be amazed at his physical presence. The Liberals went into this convention with a host of choices. They could have gone with a battle-tested politician, a former athlete, a world famous academic or a food bank founder from the West; at the end of the day they choose the nerd.

That’s pretty Canadian.
[via Rick Mercer's Blog, HT: Kevin G Powell]

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Cold War on Christmas?



"Christmas at Ground Zero" by Weird Al Yankovic

Words of Yearning and Goodbye

[via relevantblog]

My heart's been atangle
bound by chords of language
these past two years
Even today
telephone to ear
mouth to receiver
I stuttered speech
unintelligible
Two years old I am
A toddler's bumbling
of language on my tongue
A tear slipped out
as I said au revoir
words of yearning
and goodbye
{the full poem}

Defined By Inner Turmoil

Are we really surprised anymore by reports that religious leaders have been charged with sexual or financial misconduct? From the good old days of Jim and Tammy Faye to the ongoing scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, such shenanigans have become so commonplace that news about clerics who live by what they preach is actually far more startling.

And yet, the news of Ted Haggard being outed by a gay male prostitute did come as something of a surprise. That the pastor of a Colorado Springs megachurch, president of National Association of Evangelicals, friend of powerful politicians, and one of the leading voices against gay marriage in America might himself be gay, or at least bi-sexual, raises questions that most of us in the religious world would just as soon not deal with. With few exceptions, even mainline Protestant denominations have embraced the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies of the American military....

No entity plays a bigger role in the current debates over sexuality than the religious community, and this not just a Christian issue. Our entire society’s sexual mores are influenced, if not determined, by sacred texts of all denominations, most of which appear to frown upon homosexuality. Our debates and our conversations seem to center around how we view and interpret these texts. And it’s far more than an academic exercise, because human lives are at stake.

Pastor Ted initially took the ill-fated Bill Clinton approach, denying the allegations and insisting that everything was just fine at home. But as the evidence against him mounted, he was forced to admit that maybe some of the accusations were true. What he found difficult to confront was his lifelong struggle with homosexual tendencies that he’d tried to suppress. I’ve read recently that at least a few of his friends had an inkling that something was amiss, but I’m sure the revelations came as a shock to everyone near him, particularly his family and his church.

I completely understand why Haggard chose to resist the urges that would be his undoing. He felt called by God to serve the church. Should he admit to what was going on inside, he would have to leave behind what he honestly considered his true vocation. Thus, he was a man of contradictions. Even as he campaigned against gay marriage and spoke out about the sinfulness of homosexuality, it’s been reported that he could also be welcoming and supportive to gays and lesbians. He was, essentially, defined by his inner turmoil, and his unsuccessful attempt to control that turmoil.
[via SoMA Review, emphasis mine, HT: Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

Related: Ted Haggard's Sin [via Ponderings on a Faith Journey]

Bibliolatry?

Why would anyone want to force someone to make a statement of belief in the Bible? Such an act would not only be distasteful for the individual who has been coerced, but it would also degrade the Bible by making it a weapon instead of a book about God’s love. Well, that is exactly what Dennis Prager seems to want in a Human Events column entitled “America, Not Keith Ellison, Decides What Book a Congressman Takes His Oath On.”

Prager is upset that Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has decided to be sworn in with his hand on a Koran instead of a Bible....

Maybe instead of worrying so much about making a Muslim swear on the Bible, we should look at the plank in our own eye and consider if Christians should even do so.
[via For God's Sake Shut Up!]

we are one charismatic leader away from creating a holocaust of our own.
[via The Bush League Theologian]

Inspired by Jonah 4:5-11

A Lament for Jonah
[via The Philosophical Pastor]

Being Held Back

I feel as though I hold my family back and that makes me sad.

I want to be good.

I don't want to be myself.

{the full post}
[via 99% Crazy, 1% Insane]

Friday, December 01, 2006

December Darkness and Christmas Hope
[via Blue Christian ~ On a Red Background]

Sanctus

Prologue

You hear the same thing every time; “why did you come to LA?” Never Los Angeles; everyone will think you’re a tourist if you say “los Angeles”. The answers always the same, too: “ Oh, I just love the big city, the culture, the art scene.” Inside, of course, you want to make it big, get discovered, publish the important paper, and, if you’re insecure and cynical like me, to be able to go to your 10th high school reunion and be the one who Made It.

I’ve only once met someone who actually loved the City itself. When I asked her why she came to LA, she just smiled and gave the only unique response I’ve heard.

You have to understand about this girl. She was very average. Non-descript blondish hair, about a size 13, grey-green eyes, so on and so forth. But she noticed the things that no-one else ever took time to notice, and got excited over the most mundane things (she was always the first to point out that “mundane” meant “of the world”, and the world was anything but boring.)

She came to the West Coast not to find herself, but to lose herself. She didn’t want to go home as the person who had Made It, but as someone who had Found It.

She said she had come to the city of Angels to learn to live in the City of God. She said she had come to Los Angeles to become a saint.

{read the whole story}
[by Joi Elizabeth Weaver of Deluded Wine]

If You MUST Shop...

7. Thou Shalt not Trample Thy Neighbor for Sale Items.

8. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Motorized Ashtrays or Shopping Channel Zirconian Chandeliers.

9. Remember! You don't have to buy a gift to give a gift.{from Reverend Billy's Ten Christmas Commandments}
[via Christian Alliance for Progress Blog, HT: Jesus Politics]

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Name-Dropping

Articulation is such a challenge. I consider it one of my greatest weaknesses. I’m not exactly superhuman in other areas either, but in some sense, ineffability has become my Kryptonite. (Maybe that’s why I’m so hard on those who pursue ineffability.)

I can already see the irony in what I’ve just said here, because, my pursuit to improve my ability to articulate my thoughts and feelings about my life and the world I live in, is, in fact, a form of pursuing ineffability. Let me attempt to clarify: I’m not saying any pursuit of ineffability is dangerous. What I am saying, is - destroying or barring forever any knowledge, and the language that carries it, is dangerous. If we pursue ineffability by reaching the limits of knowledge and language after using all knowledge and language available to us, then ineffability can be accepted as a part of our current identity. Arriving at this point, for me, is the pinnacle of poetry.
[via daydreamer]

Why On Earth Would I Want to Picket a Church? More on the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Seattle Action
[via Shari MacDonald Strong, HT: oxymoronredundancyparadoxtrap]

The Unforseeable Desire

2,000 years after a resurrection we never witnessed, facing a future that seems more or less insoluble. We’re not deluded into believing we can return to the idealized modernism of the ’50s. And still we’re not yet willing to throw in the towel and succumb to nihilistic despair. We still hope beyond hope. We groan. We struggle. And we cry out—not defiantly into the void and not to some man-diluted, manufactured god who can’t satisfy. We cry out to the God we hope is actually here.
-- From 2,305 Words On "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Curt Cloninger in the Nov 2006 issue of Paste.

[via Ideajoy]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Flawed Post, Flawed Testimony

So, here is how I think that Mark should have worded his advice TO men about their marital relationship. I won't pretend to be a martyr and take one for the team on this one.

"Men, how is your relationship with your wife? Are you attentive to her or have you neglected her and put her last on your list of people who need you? Are you giving her the better part of yourself? Does she feel lonely and neglected? Is she starting to exhibit addictive behaviors like over eating, smoking, drinking, watching too much TV or the like? Has she tried to talk to you and you rebuffed her with an accusation of being a "nag" or "too demanding"? How is your sex life? If it is suffering, look in the mirror. You, as the man, must take responsibility in this. A woman doesn't have a problem with wanting to have sex when she feels loved, cared for, appreciated and made a priority. Is sex enjoyable for your wife? Does she get pleasure from it or does she do it out of duty? Maybe your technique is lacking? She may enjoy sex more if you would commit to being the kind of lover that Solomon was in the Song of Songs. Are you a "wham, bam, thank-you maam" type of lover? Or are you gentle, considerate, wanting to please? Do you approach sex with the attitude of thinking that it is something that you deserve and it is something for your pleasure? Or do you have the attitude that sex is all about pleasing your wife? 1 Corinthians 7 tells us that intimacy is important in our marriages. Too many women are being neglected and then expected to perform like women we see in the movies or women we have seen in porn. Men, you cannot allow your ideas about sex to be defined by this culture and this world. We cannot afford to be selfish in our approach to sex and we cannot afford to neglect our wives. After all, if we cultivate our gardens, will they not bear delicious fruit?

Men, marriage reflects Christ and His love for the Church. Christ is not selfish and He is not a clod. He is a thoughtful, sensitive, doting lover of our soul. Shouldn't we strive to reflect His love to the lost and dying world? I believe that men are the ones who initiate and women are responders. We see this in the Church and how God set up these gender distinctions to show the world something of Himself. Christ initiates and we respond. Right?

If your woman is not responding to you, then you need to take a good look in the mirror. You are the one responsible for your marriage as the head of your home. If your wife is being sinful and neglecting you in spite of you being a good husband, then go find help. Your marriage depends upon it. "

This is how pastoral advice to men should look like. This is how it should sound....

Part of being a mature male is taking responsibility. It isn't feminism that is the problem in our churches. It is the lack of accountable and responsible men. I will take one for the team on that statement.
[via The Pineapple Pundit, emphasis mine]

We are free to choose life. We do not value life, as some pro-lifers say, because of innocence.
[via Levellers, HT: Jesus Politics]

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Vanishing Concerns

If this really happened, we would give it a name. The instantaneous disintegration of every child and of hundreds of millions of adults, everywhere, at once. The lethal aftermath.

And the psychological aftermath. The panic and fear and realization that everything had changed. Every parent on earth simultaneously experiencing every parent's worst nightmare. "I only turned my back for a second and she was gone." "He's not in his bed, where is he?" In an instant, the world is transformed from the home of 6 billion people to the home of only 4 billion, most of whom would be suffering from some form of traumatic stress.

"Things don't just disappear," my mother used to say. But in this story, they do. People do. And in addition to the shock, grief, loss and horror, this is something else everyone would have to cope with. They could no longer take for granted something they didn't even realize they had been taking for granted. The possibility now has to be considered that you might at any second vanish without trace or explanation. A third of us gone, the remaining two-thirds would all feel the carpet had been yanked from beneath our feet.

So if this really happened, we would need to give it a name.{read the full post}
[via slacktivist]

Protective Coverings

Today many of the people that walk in supernatural power keep it captive in small enclaves of Christians.
[via The Heresy]

Friday, November 24, 2006

Can't We All Be Nice?

People are no so easily categorized into “nice” and “jerk.” The guys who you think are “nice” sometimes turn out to be jerks and the jerks could actually be good guys. As humans, we are more complicated than that. We all have our moments. And the people who are stuck at the ends of the spectrum, those men who truly are 100 percent “nice” or 100 percent “jerk” are actually really boring and impossible to talk to. Because the interesting stuff about humans isn’t found in the extremes. It’s found in the middle, where us normal people live, balancing our good intentions and kind natures against our darker side that is more likely to misbehave and call people names, gossip, sleep around, act cocky and generally not always be polite.

In short, sometimes the flaws are what attract us to people. Sometimes the flaws are what make people not boring.
[via Charming, but single]

Thanks fluctuating certainty for the link! See them all here.

"I don't wear my faith on my sleeve."



"Maybe I have a loose 'Fire'-wire!"

[via fluctuating certainty]

Our walls of division do not rise all the way to heaven.
Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow

And I wonder, which of the two let themselves go?
[via Emerging Grace]

Daring to pray for Gayle and Ted Haggard
[via Get Religion]

Do Men "Get" Driscoll?

While IM'ing with a male friend today, I got fairly animated while we were talking about Pastor Mark Driscoll. He gave the common male refrain that we should just ignore him, that there were more important causes, and that some were "hurt". Somehow one thing was obviously missing: a statement that said "it's tragic that women were negatively effected by this". If we Christian men can't even seem to say that, then we have failed our sisters in Christ. Period. Full Stop. What does this say to the broader world?

So why do we waver, guys? What's our problem here? Are we that dense? Do we think it won't make an impact? (I explore this some here.)

Discuss here or elsewhere.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Driscoll Thanks Critics For Getting No Respect

In the aftermath of Pastor Mark Driscoll's post about pastors and sexual temptation, he recently posted some clarifications that thanks his critics while avoiding any reponsibility for any damage he may have caused. He particularly appreciated how they helped him reconsider how to restate things. There was nothing in his statement that indicated that Driscoll would restate things again in the future, but many supporters hope so.

Although many bloggers were critical and suspicious of his response, many men commended Pastor Mark for his ability for damage control. One commenter expressed a typical response:

Thank you again Mark, for your humility and grace. As a man myself, I just want to thank you for being able to write better clarifications after bringing more attention to yourself than to Christ. I also appreciate the way that you obscured the problem women had with the post by not acknowledging them explicitly. After all, we men should lead by example. Thanks!
Others also thanked Mark for how he inspired them to disagree with others without worrying about the effects, particularly toward women. Some even wondered how they could proclaim Jesus and have a successful church like Pastor Driscoll without worrying about the harm it could have. However, women were particularly puzzled and ungrateful about how the pastor of Mars Hill Church could respond so nonchalantly about their concerns.

Complementarian women, though, were more encouraged by the Seattle pastor's response. One in particular remarked, "It just shows Pastor Mark's consistency in being the engaging, humble guy we all know and love. Who cares if he was mediocore and alienating? He's a complementarian!" Another, named Daisy, figured the controversy was exaggerated. "I don't understand what all the fuss was about anyways," she said. "Those disagreeable women just need to be more submissive and understanding, or they can simply ignore him. How hard is that?"

Even with a protest on the way, Pastor Mark Driscoll still seemed quite satisfied with his update on his blog. He mentioned that it will help him continue to write sloppily because it gets him a reaction. "After all," he noted, "if I had to improve my writing and avoid conflict with women, I couldn't respond this way, could I?" Driscoll commends men for being so favorable to his clarification, and hopes that they can avoid tempting situations that sabotage their ministry. When asked how he will respond to the demonstration coming soon, Driscoll replied that he would welcome them while not changing anything substantial.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Unnecessary Adversaries

Arguments in which both sides launch aggressive offenses and structure fortress-like defenses can be unnecessarily adversarial. I am not suggesting that such arguments have no place, but let’s acknowledge that their value is vastly over-rated

Stories cover the same territory, but they are testimonialsand it is hard to argue with someone’s testimony {read more}
[via Jesus Creed]

The Best We Can Do?

Mark spoke. His adversaries reacted. Mark clarified. There are now many on both sides hoping that his recent letter will put an end to it all. Is it time to sweep this whole fiasco under the rug? Many say “yes”, appealing to the idea that Christians should not be fighting among themselves; their concern seems to be with the message we are sending to those outside the Church. The idea that a protest would be launched by fellow believers or that Mark Driscoll would be publicly berated has been deemed unseemly....

The question therefore, is what is the import of this issue. Those who contend that unity should pre-empt theological difference in this arena, should also insist that Mark exercise restraint from here on out. Mark may believe with all his being that the ordination and leadership of women are heretical, but if we agree that this debate is less important than our Christian unity than it must be less important for him as well! That would mean no more derogatory remarks about women or the “effeminate” church....

Is our theology an offense of the gospel or is it an offense to the gospel?

If Mark is wrong on this issue than he is placing an unnecessary hurdle between Jesus and those who might otherwise be drawn to him. That is a very serious matter and it is one reason why it is difficult for Mark’s dissenters to let this one go. If we are aware that this issue may deafen some to the gospel, if we know that it hinders the expression of other’s gifts by telling them God has subjugated and limited them in role, then we damn well better be sure of our theology.

I too long for this controversy to be over. I have no desire to keep throwing darts at Mark, but neither do I wish for Christian women and men to continue to be divided in ways Jesus never intended. Mark needs and deserves our forgiveness, our love and our respect. So do the women in our midst.

If this debate is silenced will they receive it?
[via Blog- People Against Fundamentalism]

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bunnies Nibble at Driscoll, Find Him Fluffy
"He may be good, but he's not safe," hares claim.

Today rabbits everywhere became hopping mad because of a recent blog post by Seattle Pastor Mark Driscoll. In it, the minister of Mars Hill Church had suggested that bunnies may possibly substitute for humans as Episcopalian Bishops to remedy traditional exclusion. Males needed to "man up", Driscoll said, so this would not happen in the future.

The hares were split on the meaning of the bizarre reference, but most did not think it was meant to be cute. "We may be cuddly and soft," said a particularly incensed rabbit of Caerbannog, "But we won't take this insult lightly. I just want to bite him, and not just a flesh wound either!" Many acknowledged that the post was not directly meant for bunnies, yet felt it was not necessary. "He could've left us alone," mentioned Rabbit of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. "He is such a typical omnivore."

While some also considered Driscoll's comments as a slander against rabbit virility, others took them as an attack on women and homosexuals. Jessica Rabbit and Bugs Bunny particularly thought so, and worried that it could spread contempt beyond Mars Hill. "As a woman, I wouldn't even be considered for such a high-ranking position as a human," she remarked. "He's just acting like he's a playboy, and he isn't even a bunny." Bugs Bunny, on the other hand, wondered whether his cross-dressing in some of his animated films negatively influenced the Seattle Pastor. "Elmer and Daffy are just dumb sometimes," Bugs noted, "but this guy, I don't know what to think."

Whatever the case, the hares want Driscoll to stop putting his foot in his mouth instead of using it as a charm. Protests and other actions will be planned soon, and they hope that it will bring attention to the Seattle Pastor's unhelpful words. (Brian McLaren is apparently not involved as some people had rumored, they state, so this is not a matter of jealousy from his supporters.)

Mark Driscoll, when asked about all this, claimed that this was just a misunderstanding. He welcomed the protesters, and hinted that perhaps having them over for dinner would be an option. "I really need to get a taste of my critics," Driscoll replied. He also stated that a clarifying blog post was in the works, and will involve no mention of the offended bunnies.

Beyond Service

The caution I must exercise is not to direct my anger, my hurt, my frustration toward a person. Mark Driscoll drives me crazy. I have never identified with his style of communication. I have described him as arrogant, one who loves to hear himself speak and thumping a potentially damaging message about women and their place in the kingdom.

It was not surprising, in fact, it was predictable to read his answer to the Ted Haggard disaster. Mark Driscoll makes several glaring remarks about women. Yes, I know he wasn’t blaming Gayle Haggard for her husband’s sin, but it certainly seemed like he was suggesting that women share in the blame of their husbands’ wandering minds, hearts and bodies if they don’t keep themselves beautiful and available to them. In taking a hit for the home team, he perpetuates the home-boy attitude that reduces women to mere objects for sexual pleasure....

So, now what? Is Mark Driscoll my enemy? If I label him as a misogynist, maybe he is? Then what am I to do about that?

Let him bring out the best in me, not the worst in me! and I am an intercessor, a prayer warrior. So, I must pray, wash Mark Driscoll’s feet with prayers to the Lord.
[via Graceful Journey]

Filters Out, Comes Off Nicely

Here is my over-simplification of his re-statement...

I meant what I said... but if it looks like I am apologizing without apologizing, then all those who are not "Bible-believing, Jesus-loving" (aka "my critics") will get off my case. So, I am going to "clarify", or restate in a nice way, and hope that it comes off as an apology.

One of the things that MD talks about in the original post is the great protection he has surrounded himself with. You know, the pastor needs a pastor, his heterosexual male assistants, everyone having access to his email, and all...My question then is: Is there no one filtering what comes out?? Are the filters only on the stuff going in? Because, it seems that the stuff that is coming out is a potentially damaging as the stuff going in.
[via Revivified Hermitess, emphasis mine]

Friday, November 17, 2006

From What should we do about Mark Driscoll--a cussing, hot-tempered, chauvinistic pastor?:

I would like to offer three observations about the Church’s expectations of its leaders and their wrongdoings.

First, we expect pastors to acknowledge their own sinfulness, but we’re somewhat picky in how they do so. We prefer that they refer to sin only at a general, theological level. E.g., “All have sinned, and so have I.” Openness about specific sins should never happen, or, if it does, only in the context of recounting long ago deliverance.

Second, under no circumstances should we directly observe or learn of sins. Pastors can mention having a problem with anger, but we must never see them lose their temper. They can refer to foul language, but we must never hear them curse. They can lament struggling with their flesh, but we must not know that they looked at porn. They can want to love more, but we must never witness them disrespecting someone.

Third, the more accomplished the pastor, the more rigorously these first two principles are applied. A pastor of a small, stagnant church can say and think all sorts of things, and most Christians, aside from the few who sit in the church’s pews, would not care. If, however, the pastor has done a lot of good—saving the lost, raising disciples, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor—we insist on them displaying little if any wrong. (As a side note, this reverses the concept of social capital—which holds that the more “good” one has done the more “bad” one is allowed to get away with.)

These observations fit with Mark Driscoll.
[via Bradley Wright's Web Log]

I want to be a bearer of the gospel.
It doesn’t matter if I bear children.
I want to fulfill my vows to God,
And not have my calling dependent on a man.

{the full poem by Shawna R.B. Atteberry}

Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils.
G.K. Chesterton

It Could Be Worse, Right?

Sure, Mark Driscoll is a hard complementarian, but at least he isn't this[Warning: *may strongly offend*], true?

A generous apostasy?
[via IdeaJoy]

Emerging Context, Essentially Divisive

This sort of division within the church isn’t new…but it is unique. While folks have debated the role of women in ministry before, this is version of that old debate is taking place in an emerging context. It is interesting that most of those who have posted comments are talking about Driscoll versus McLaren…not the CBE versus Grudem/Piper.

I used to be a complementarian. Now I am basically egalitarian–though I have problems with the term. Once, I would have said that the role of women in the church and within marriage was an essential issue (like Driscoll and others would argue). I saw it as a sort of gateway doctrine, that if eroded would lead to much more heinous doctrinal errors. For a while I tried to put it in the “unimportant” pile. Now, after years of struggle, I see it again as an essential issue–an issue of justice that cannot be ignored.

At one point I would have had hope that a discussion like the one you’re suggesting could happen and be fruitful. Now, I am of the opinion that the sort of Christianity Driscoll holds to is often fundamentally different than the sort that I hold to. And while I don’t think protesting is a worthwhile option, I have profound doubts that interested parties would be able to sit down with one another for a meaningful discussion. Both sides of the debate see it as an essential issue–but for completely different reasons. Both sides of the debate see the folks on the other side as “the enemy.”

Perhaps the passages of Scripture everyone involved should investigate aren’t the ones that talk about the role of women, nor the ones that say we should have unity–instead we should all read the Sermon on the Mount, particularly where it says we ought to love our enemy.
[by Mark Van S in this post, emphasis mine]

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Hard Complementarian, Fighting Words

His teaching may disempower women. It may hurt emotionally. It may lead to gifts given by God to the Body of Christ not being used to their full extent. It may even lead to some women making choices in life to forgo education and live a life that is more hemmed in and constrained than necessary...
But none of these things, bad as they are, are abuse, oppression or misogeny. Tragic, yes. Misogeny, no.

That having been said, Mark Driscoll is a male chauvinist. He frequently uses "feminine" as a derogatory. His version of manhood is becoming more of a ridiculous charicature every day. I have sat in the room with him and been told "If your wife is working, you are a selfish bastard. How dare you make her shoulder her half of the curse and part of yours as well." In addition to being erroneous theology (it really, really is), this kind of talk has some far reaching consequences, and communicates a lot of things that have the potential to really screw people up (guys- it's all on you! Perform! Women, hold back... don't shine too brightly!)

Mark is not a complementarian. He's a Hard Complementarian, who borders on a heirarchicalist. He gives lip service (I know he would say it's more- but actions and outcomes speak louder than words) to equal value of men and women, but effectively negates this as he teaches a view of headship that has some women promising to "obey" in their wedding vows, and seeking the "covering" of a fill-in dad when theirs is unavaliable and they would like to date.

Mark needs to smarten up and his elders need to kick his arse hard enough to help him smarten up. He needs to re-assess some of his views and soften how he presents others.

The elders of Mars Hill (IMHO) need to see at this point that Mark's blog, Mark's comments and rants, is/are a net-negative to their church community, and they need to shut it down for the time being. The best known church in the Acts 29 network, other than Mars Hill, has left the organization, in part in an effort to distance themselves from the blowback from Mark's comments. There are still personal friendships there, to be sure. But when people have to start organizationally moving away from each other- that's a sign to me that something is amiss. And it wouldn't surprise me if other A29 churches weren't moving in the same direction.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again- Mark is at a crossroads. What I'm seeing now is that a lot of people, his entire church community, and the leadership in particular, are there with him.

As his apparent pride grows, so does the danger- the danger of his words hurting, the danger of other emulating him, and the danger when/and if someone that big, and that prideful, takes a fall.
[via bob.blog, HT: TallSkinnyKiwi]

And from the comments:
The problem attitudes regarding women extend to the elder board of the church, AND, in my opinion, the purveyors of various complementarian materials, such as the CBMW.
Mark Driscoll and Leif Moi do not produce new ideas. They rehash, without any tact or restraint, ideas that are coming out the complementarian movement, stating bluntly the things that are carefully veiled by more experienced speakers and writers....

I think Mark Driscoll is a very intense, serious and sincere Christian. However, he has a huge weakness in terms of his Wayne-Grudem-meets-drunken-frat-boy attitude towards women. It is his Achilles heel, and it will be his downfall if he cannot get it under control.

If the protests about his recent indiscretions provoke him to either rethink his attitude or restrain his expression of it, or both, then it will be the best thing that ever happened to him, and Mars Hill.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Disapointing Driscoll and the Pornographic Imagination
[via The Philosophical Pastor]

The mind is a better actor than the heart.
[via daydreamer]

Evangelical Denial

The sins of the institution nurture the sin of the individual.{read the full post}
[via The Paris Project]

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mark, Mark, Mark...

Mark Driscoll and women
[via Conversation at the Edge]

A Wittenburg Christmas

With A Wittenburg Christmas: Shakespeare's Lost Pageant, Donnie Wildmon Finds Evil in TV Commercials, The Gospel of Caiaphas, Spiritual To-Do Lists, Satan's MySpace Page, and so much more.

Also features interviews of Will Campbell and Cathleen Falsani, as well as "interviews" of The Veggies of Veggie Tales, Warren Jeffs and Rev. Raymond L. Chrissler. The Last Word is about mocking lips.

Casual Fellowship vs. Visceral Fellowship
[via Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit]

Monday, November 06, 2006

One Bad Day From...

haggard was undoubtedly trying to cover his ass and made some obvious blunders, blatant lies and stupid moves. his bad timing is nothing short of legendary. he is a part of a system that has chosen to make a big deal about status, and has become a victim of his own culture. for some reason he felt pressured by a system that cannot accept its own humanity and pretends that it's hired guns are above reproach. i feel bad the the guy, for his family, and his people. i know a little about what it means to feel unjustly or justly accused. i know the fear of going out in public because the very people who once told you they loved you have made it their personal mission to hold a crucifixion. i cannot imagine the pain of seeing your mug on cnn and looking forward to a life selling cars branded as a pervert.

we forget we are all one bad rumor from ruin. one bad day from humiliation.
[via Scott Williams]

Respectability vs. Responsibility

Sometimes people act respectable as though it substitutes for responsibility.

The Ted Haggard scandal is a case in point. Both Haggard and Jones exemplify stereotypical versions of respectablity and homosexuality. Haggard became irresponsible by hiding his desires and looking functional; Jones became irresponsible by simplifying his identity and pursuing pleasure. Consider the following:

1. When gay indentity can be associated with overindulgence and risky behavior (in Jones's case), it dilutes any impact.

2. When homosexual behavior can be just covered by religiosity and deception (in Haggard's case), it doesn't fix anything.

Perhaps we should expect more responsibility from all involved.

Not Well-Served

Imagine the conversation in the back of Ted's head everytime he addressed homosexuality. There is nothing to suggest that he is some kind of Elmer Gantry, so we have to believe he is a true believer. He had to have been completely devastated everytime he visited that man. I can only imagine the prayers to take away that temptation.

I really feel for the man when I think of how tortured he must feel. And, as others have written, I can only imagine the horror of being taken down this way; gone from national evangelical figure to pariah over a weekend; the impact on his wife and kids....

It seems to me that the Christian right could learn from the Haggard experience. Here is a man devoted to his church, to his God, to his ministry. A man, by all accounts, who tried to love his wife and certainly his kids. If any person on the planet could have prayed this away, don't you think it would have been him? Don't you think he would have given anything to not be gay?

I don't think our sexuality works that way, and I don't think the conservative church is well served by this.
[via Streak's Blog]

Afraid to Confess

But, what I find here is what I want to call the evangelical environment. In evangelicalism, and the charismatic stream in which Ted Haggard swims, sin is bad and sin by leaders is real bad. This leads to a complex of features that creates a serious problem:

1. Christians, and not just pastors, do not feel free to disclose sins to anyone;
2. Christians, including pastors, sin and sin all the time;
3. Christians, including pastors, in evangelicalism do not have a mechanism of confession;
4. Christians and pastors, because of the environment of condemnation of sin and the absence of a mechanism of confession, bottle up their sins, hide their sins, and create around themselves an apparent purity and a reality of unconfessed/unadmitted sin.
5. When Christians do confess, and it is often only after getting caught, they are eaten alive by fellow evangelicals — thus leading some to deeper levels of secrecy and deceit....

evangelicals need to work hard at creating an environment of honesty. It is dishonest to the human condition to pretend that Christians don’t sin; but as long as we are afraid to confess to one another we will continue to create an unrealistic and hypocritical environment.
[via Jesus Creed, HT: The Eagle and Child]