Saturday, November 01, 2014


Comic Art


Friday, October 31, 2014


At The Service

Christian Post lists "5 Mistakes Christians Make During Worship":
  1. Idolize the band.
  2. Be a music critic.
  3. Copyedit the slides.
  4. Fret about what your neighbor is doing.
  5. Think about how you look or sound.
There are so many ways to react to something like this, but the one my mind keeps running to is that I never worried about those things when I went to church as a kid. Church was so magisterial that it never dawned on me to be anything but quiet and respectful and to try and learn from it.

Yes, it was foreign and hard to relate to, but that commanded my attention and demanded my respect. Now I go to church and think, "I could do that, and probably better."

Church should not ask us to get on our knees - it should drive us there.


Friday Humor


Illuminated Scripture - Halloween Friday Edition

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Thursday, October 30, 2014


On Being Fat

Jared Wilson goes on about pastors that are not too looks conscious.
So no, I am not advocating gluttony here, just a Christward self-disregard, a godly un-self-consciousness. I am praying for an increase in the tribe of self-forgetful pastors — if not all-out dorky ones — with platforms thrust upon them genuinely “aw shucks”-wise, men who will love not their images even unto death. Men who at least are not obsessed with the camera catching their good sides. Give me a fat guy in the pulpit so long as he preaches not himself and not the law but the glorious gospel. And if you’ve got a pastor with washboard abs who does that– well, that’s okay too, I guess.
Fashions, haircuts, general unkemptness I cannot speak to, but I can speak to fat. The line between gluttony and un-self-consciousness is a fine one indeed. Were I not to quite consciously concentrate at every eating opportunity, I would soon weight a gluttonous 400 pounds again. It is a sad and deplorable fact that my life has a default gluttony mode.

Sure, a lack of fashion sense can be a sign of a guy concentrating more on the Lord than himself, but controlling our eating is behavioral, and disciplinary, and in excess sinful. Not sure why Wilson chose to call his post "In Praise of Fat Pastors" and why he chose to focus on that aspect of fashion - maybe is is becasue he has no concept of what weight control is really like. I just think the post should have been "In Praise of Unfashionable Pastors."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Science and Religion

At HuffPo a post about science and religion. Robert Slayton is attempting to find a middle ground. Not a bad idea, but his argument misses two essential points.

For one, he uses polls that show religious people believing in micro-evolution as evidence that they are not opposed to Darwinism. This reveals a misunderstanding of both Darwinism (as much philosophy as science theory) and evolution itself, which has both micro and macro elements and it is the macro element where some have an issue.

But the really serious flaw in his argument is that he confuses, deeply, fundamentalists and evangelicals. "The response to Charles Darwin created the Fundamentalist wing of modern religion, and turned evangelicals against the science they had previously pursued with fervor." The split comes much earlier and the two groups are pretty well opposed to each other on any numbers of things, most importantly theology.

This piece is lightweight uninformed fluff. It is as ignorant of religion as many of the scientific declarations of the fundamentalists are of science.

For most of my life I have written this stuff off, who cares about stupid people? But we are now to the point in serious public debate where the polarization born of this ignorance pretty well controls the debate. It's time to point out this stupidity wherever possible.

It is also time for Evangelicals to point out the ignorance of Fundamentalists. Their intransigence has deeply hurt the position of Christianity in the American public discourse. Talk about the baby and the bath water.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Seeking Depth

Gracy Olmstead writing at American Conservative:
Gingerich argues that such stylistic treatments dodge the real question: the issues of church authority behind the traditional liturgy. Cone says he sees “a sincere expression of gratitude and study” from his Protestant friends. But, he adds, “When I look at a Protestant service, it lacks the mystery and power of the body of Christ. … The whole life of the church, the prayers of the desert fathers, the blood of the martyrs, is more intimately connected in the Orthodox life than a mere stylistic change that a Protestant church can do.”


Nelson believes a sacramental hunger lies at the heart of what many millennials feel. “We are highly wired to be experiential,” he says. In the midst of our consumer culture, young people “ache for sacramentality.”
Authority and sacrament - seriousness in a sea of silliness - depth in the shallows - growth not just stagnation.

Here is the way I would put it. Genuine Christian growth, not merely salvation, but real growth in depth is in the end a matter of spirit, not intellect. To genuinely grow as Christians we must access that part of ourselves that is closest to God, something beyond emotion and physicality. It is that part of ourselves that makes the difference between babbling in church and genuine speaking in tongues. It is bit of the supernatural within our most natural state. Authority and sacrament are doors to that place. Some do gain access through gifting, but far fewer than those that demonstrate a gift. And even then it can lead astray. Unless tamed by authority and bounded by sacrament this is dangerous territory.

Authority and sacrament, the difference between a Sunday morning show and genuine worship. Where evangelism ends and growth begins.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, October 27, 2014



Chaplain Mike quotes one of Bonhoeffer's letters to Bethge:
I often ask myself why a “Christian instinct” often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, by which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.” While I’m often reluctant to mention God by name to religious people — because that name somehow seems to me here not to ring true, and I feel myself to be slightly dishonest (it’s particularly bad when others start to talk in religious jargon; I then dry up almost completely and feel awkward and uncomfortable) — to people with no religion I can on occasion mention him by name quite calmly and as a matter of course. Religious people speak of God when human knowledge (perhaps simply because they are too lazy to think) has come to an end, or when human resources fail — in fact it is always the deus ex machina that they bring on to the scene, either for the apparent solution of insoluble problems, or as strength in human failure — always, that is to say, exploiting human weakness or human boundaries. Of necessity, that can go on only till people can by their own strength push these boundaries somewhat further out, so that God becomes superfluous as a deus ex machina. I’ve come to be doubtful of talking about any human boundaries (is even death, which people now hardly fear, and is sin, which they now hardly understand, still a genuine boundary today?). It always seems to me that we are trying anxiously in this way to reserve some space for God; I should like to speak of God not on the boundaries but at the center, not in weaknesses but in strength; and therefore not in death and guilt but in man’s life and goodness.
and then opines:
Bonhoeffer notes that religious people tend to focus on matters of sin, guilt, and death — the “boundary” matters which only God can take care of. I wouldn’t deny that such things must be addressed, nor can I imagine that he as a Lutheran pastor would do so. But I hear him saying that perhaps we Christians spend so much time at the boundaries that we are missing God’s presence in “man’s life and goodness.”
I think it a reflection of me leaning Calvinist, not Lutheran, but I do not view sin, guilt and death as "boundary" matters. They are, in fact the core. I love Bonhoeffer, but I must disagree here. People that avoid topics like sin, guilt and death are the ones that make a deus ex machina of God - invoking God to explain the unexplainable, fix the unfixable. My sinfulness may be only God's to repair, but it is the very core of my being - not it's boundaries.

What I find fascinating is that Bonhoeffer wrote these words when he was suffering, and about to be executed, by one of the most barbarous, murderous, and hate-filled regimes in history. He is correct in noting that in the place he was fear and sin were no longer genuine boundaries - they had been rejected and the results were horrific beyond imagination, inclusive of the execution of Bonhoeffer himself. That is, I believe becasue those things were viewed as boundaries instead of what they really are - signposts.

Chaplain Mike, and Bonhoeffer, seem to think that we miss God by focusing on "the boundaries." And indeed we will if we view those things as boundaries. But how can we look at the horrors of Nazism and not see them as signposts? - Things that say "look for God here, for without Him here it's going to get real ugly real fast!" Such despair on Bonhoeffer's part, given his circumstance, is understandable. But those are the places I find God, because those are at the core of my being, they are expelled to make room for the Holy Spirit. I must empty the bucket of dung before it can be filled with water.

I am not talking about self-flagellation or things of that sort. I am simply talking about the fact that when the church in Germany forgot those "boundaries" Hitler arose. We'll probably never see the likes of Hitler again, but if we take our eye off the ball we could see something equally as evil.

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