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]


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]


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.

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

[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
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
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]


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]



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]