Saturday, June 21, 2014


Comic Art

Special Edition

Poking around, I found this. It's really cute, so enjoy all of it. In the meantime, a taste

Friday, June 20, 2014


The Dehumanizing Effects of Focusing on Numbers

From Christian Post:
Pastor Sergio de la Mora of Cornerstone Church of San Diego, which is the largest Latino-led church in the city and one of the fastest growing churches in America, took the stage during The Heart Revolution conference on Tuesday to speak to over 200 church leaders in attendance about maintaining their focus on the people they serve in order to avoid becoming "ministry monsters."

"People become addicted to doing ministry work at the expense of loving the people they minister to," de la Mora told The Christian Post. "People need to become more important than the project because oftentimes the project becomes more important than the people and that's how we become ministry monsters."

De la Mora's message focused on leaders in ministry who often times treat others as objects instead of humans, causing leaders to become "human doings and not human beings." His message also emphasized how leaders lose sight of their purpose to serve and focus more on doing the work of the church instead of being the church.

"We're task driven people and we love our to-do lists and we live to complete those lists. You can do that with things but when it comes to people, you have to be careful because they need to be handled with love and care, not treated like a thing," de la Mora said.


Friday Humor

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Going Deep

Gene Fant @ First Things:
What caught my eye today, though, was his chapter “For the Young People.” He goes straight to the throat of the deep South’s cultural Christianity with bare knuckles and brutal prose. He was concerned about the demise of religion in the lives of the young people he knew. He termed this sort of pseudo-faith as filled with “the ghosts of dead phrases—salvation, washed in the blood of the Lamb, He descended into hell, the resurrection of the body, born of the Virgin Mary.” He knew even in the pre-World War II era that a cultural religion is no religion at all but is a winking form of hypocrisy that finds thin consolation in a genial Sunday morning service that is detached from either the life of the mind or the reality of the work-a-day world.

I blogged about one of these Mississippi youth, the Faulkner scholar Noel Polk (who was among my doctoral mentors), whose own memoir documented indirectly how Percy’s concerns facilitated his departure from the faith. As I noted in that post, for those of us from the deep South, it is easy to wonder how anyone from that era was able to stomach remaining in the faith after witnessing so much hatred and ignorance.

Will Percy did not share his more famous nephew’s orthodoxy, but he did have a high view of the ideals of the faith (as filtered through the pragmatic Stoicism he saw in Marcus Aurelius). Percy notes the all-too-rampant detachment of morality from theology by relating a conversation he had with a pastor. He asked the pastor why so many prominent church members were rogues and scoundrels. The pastor replied, “They have been born again. When they are born again, they are certain of salvation, and when you are certain of salvation you may do what you like. . . . The ethics of Jesus do not interest them when their rebirth guarantees them salvation.” Percy then amplifies this by calling this sort of religion “an emotional experience . . . not related to morals.”
Not sure why this is limited to "Southern" other than they may have lead the vanguard that has seemingly at this juncture swept the nation.

I was commenting to a friend just the day before I write this that we teach people what to believe - Theology. We may also give them a set of rules, that are treated, as this quote points out, rather optionally - but we do not teach them how to be Christians to their core. The life of the mind matters - increasingly as people simply think less and less. But I think there is more, on a deeper level.

It is not enough to provide programs and services, we have to provide mentoring, on a deep and life changing level.


Illuminated Scripture

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Are They Still Pentecostal?

I found this AP story fascinating:
At Three Crosses Church, Pastor Ken Walters urges his parishioners to join him in song and scripture. The charismatic 58-year-old extends his arms skyward and belts out melodies praising God.

While the small Assemblies of God congregation goes through all the traditional trappings of a Pentecostal service, there is one notable absence: speaking in tongues, a defining trait of the faith.

The 40-member church is among many nationwide that are reducing or cutting out speaking in tongues as they become more popular and move to the mainstream. It's a shift that has unsettled some more traditional Pentecostals who say the practice is at the heart of a movement that evolved out of an interracial revival and remains a spontaneous way for the poor and dispossessed to have a direct line to God.
Regular readers here know I am no fan of Pentecostalism. I won;t go into that. Rather, I'd like to look a the phenomena - as a church grows in attendance it give up its uniqueness, it homogenizes and compromises. You can see this happening in other branches of the faith as well.

One must constantly ask, "Where is the line?" At what point do we cease to be that which we are? I would say that these churches are ceasing to be Pentecostal. My church, the Presbyterian church, is becoming increasing staff driven as commitment levels in the pews to the church lower. That strikes right at the heart of what it means to be Presbyterian.

But more important than "Where is the line?" is "What is the response?" As I age I grow increasingly convinced that the schism that has traditionally marked such changes in American Protestantism is not the way to go. The question should be "When do I fight?" What changes are such that they drive you to force the discussion? What changes are you willing to put your personal comfort and energy into?

Maybe, just maybe, such a question can change what is happening in churches for the better. Maybe it is not such a bad thing to become something different.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Save Us From Ourselves

Out of Ur quotes a news story (link now dead) discussing asking only white people to greet at the door:
A viewer contacted WBTV after getting an email from Pastor Makeda Pennycooke, an African-American woman, at Freedom House Church along Salome Church Road.

The email was sent to a group of church volunteers who act as greeters for the church's 9 a.m. service.

Carmen Thomas, who has attended and served at the church for the past two years, sent us the email. She was appalled.

"I was floored," she recalled. "Like it was a jaw dropper. You can put a white face all over the front door. But when you come through those doors, you're going to see African Americans, you're gonna see Asians. You're going to see people of color."

In the email, Pastor Pennycooke reminds volunteers that fall is one of the busiest times of year for the church.

"We anticipate having an increase in the number of people visiting and attending Freedom House over the next few weeks," Pastor Pennycooke says in the email.

She then says that "first impressions matter" and says the church wants "the best of the best on the front doors."
I think the most important thing to note in this is that the pastor that sent the offending email is African-American. This is stupid, offensive and all sorts of things. But why, oh why is a black pastor thinking this way. Can you call this racism? Honestly.

Ther eis only one way to respond to this:
Gal 3:28-29 - There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. NASU


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, June 16, 2014


A Lesson From The Mormons

James Faulconer:
With some regularity we use the words faith and belief interchangeably. We speak of those who profess a certain faith. We often call such people believers, making it appear that professing faith and having belief are the same. Our language isn't precise in these matters and normally it doesn't need to be.

But that imprecision can mislead us. Faith rather than belief is central to Christianity. But if we equate the two, then our difficulties with belief can become crises of faith. Not seeing the difference between faith and belief can have deadly spiritual consequences.

As the New Testament uses the Greek word that we translate faith (pistis), it means "trust or fidelity." A person of faith is a person who trusts and who can be trusted. If I trust in Jesus Christ to redeem me from the fallen state of human being, then I am a person of faith. If I trust in him, then I also am trustworthy: I can be trusted to work at living the life he calls me to.

In that relationship of trust, I will certainly have beliefs. I don't know what it would mean to trust in Jesus if I don't believe that he exists and is divine. Nevertheless my trust and my beliefs aren't the same thing. And many of my beliefs, perhaps even most of them, can waver or even fail with little effect on my faith.
That's a Mormon talking there folks. Now, I see three possible reactions to such teaching.

One. We scoff and say "Well, Mormons ought to have trouble with what they profess to believe." Look I'll agree that some Mormon belief is a bit strange to my orthodox Christian eyes and ears, but God even used an ass to teach a lesson so I am not sure I would be so fast to dismiss.

Second. we could listen and take a way from this the fact that our theology is only a secondary concern in our lives. This would be a good thing.

Third. We draw a conclusion that if a) theology is secondary and b) Mormons have at least something to value to offer that maybe we ought to start to consider them cousins if not brothers.

Might be a different world.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Illuminated Scripture - Father's Day Edition

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