Saturday, November 22, 2014


Comic Art


Friday, November 21, 2014


Culture v Culture

Dale M. Coulter writes some heady stuff:
The issue of populism in the Evangelical ethos raises a concern for the need to differentiate between pop culture as folk culture and pop culture as mass culture. At its best, Evangelicalism seeks to preserve and foster folk culture and the critics of Evangelical piety need to recognize this strength, because it is through the ongoing propagation of folk culture that the disenchanting effects of modernity will be overcome ultimately. I say this knowing full well that the strong temptation within Evangelicalism is to traffic in the forms of mass culture, and it has succumbed to that temptation on more than one occasion.
So he introduces his thesis and defends the use of folk culture with a line I think is extremely important:
As Alvin Plantinga has recently reiterated, citing Calvin’s sensus divinitatis, religious experience more than theist argument may be the most important ground of belief.
And there in lies the rub with this very good, if very intellectual post. Most of the Evangelical confusion between folk and mass culture is coming from people chasing experience that will but absolutely no thought to the fine distinction drawn here. That is to say the people that most need to read and consider this piece never will.

I don't know what it is but there is something in us that tends to see things in either/or propositions. Evangelicalism is not lead by people that would think this hard about much of anything. Not only that, many of them would reject thinking this hard about anything as a blockage of the action of the Holy Spirit. Much of that has to do with the adoption of mass culture which is, if you look at it very long, completely thoughtless.

Which raises the question, can good ideas like this actually fix things or are we at a point where destruction/rebuilding is the only option?


Friday Humor

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Who Knew?...

...C.S. Lewis talked about this? Wise words to be heeded.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Annoying Singing

Justin Taylor quotes Jeremy Pierce on worship music. It is supposed to illustrative of the fact that in objecting to modern worship music we are often committing the same "sin." Example:
It patterns its worship on experiences that not everyone in the congregation will be able to identify with. If you’re not in the frame of mind or don’t have the emotional state in question (e.g., a desperate longing for God), then what are you doing lying and singing it? Worship leaders who encourage that sort of thing are making their congregations sing falsehoods.
The idea is that "it's all out of the Psalms." Could not agree more, but I do think that the Psalms are a) not all songs, some are just prayers, and b) not all meant for public, corporate worship.

Worship is not only a corporate experience, it is also a private one. There are some parts of worship that should remain private, between one individual and God. One of the things that is supposed to happen in corporate worship is to build unity of the body. The first line of the quote above, "It patterns its worship on experiences that not everyone in the congregation will be able to identify with." is correct, even if the whole "lying" thing stretches matters just a bit. Unity is not served if one group of people is left feeling alienated when the music is off-putting to them, for emotional reasons. (Taste we just have to get over on both sides of the equation)

Now, of course, it is impossible to ever capture the emotional state on a group of people, becasue there will be too much variation. Which is why I think corporate worship is not intended to be an essentially emotional experience. That does not mean emotions are not important, but it does mean they are for other, far more intimate settings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Maybe They Are Just Focused On The Wrong Stuff

Thom S. Rainer - "11 Reasons Pastors Are Trusted Less Today":

The moral failures of a minority of pastors receive widespread coverage.

Our nation has marginalized the Christian faith.

Pastoral tenure has dropped significantly over the past few decades.

Some church members have a strong entitlement mentality.

Social media encourages criticism from a distance.

A few pastors have poor work ethics.

Pastors are often the scapegoats for fear and change.

There is a pervasive cynicism in our society.

There is a failure of some pastors in two key areas: leadership and emotional intelligence.

There are higher expectations today for pastors to be competent, even dynamic, leaders.

More churches are dying in America today.

Or maybe, just maybe they spend too much time focusing on external factors and not enough time becoming the people God wants them to be. Look at that list - 11 items - only one of which is about the pastor him/herself. The rest is about expectations or media or membership or something not the pastor. That, I think, is the problem.

This thing seems to assume that trust is given to the title - trust is never given to a title or position - it is given to a person. And it is given to a person becasue it is earned. It is just that simple. Thus, if you are a pastor and you are not trusted you need to ask yourself what you are doing wrong. Nothing else matters, really.

Now, we can discuss a presumption of trustworthiness coming with a position or title. In other words the world probably did used to presume a pastor was trustworthy until they blew it while now there is no such presumption. I think that has little to do with the list presented and much to do with gate-keeping functions. When I was a kid a person that aspired to be a pastor went through so much to get their that their character had been shaped or they had failed. Not anymore, any idiot can decide to "plant" a church and call themselves pastor regardless of education or character. I have more religious education than some people I have met calling themselves pastor.

I think you are looking the wrong place Mr. Rainer.


Kitty Kartoons

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Monday, November 17, 2014



Mark Roberts examines the ministry of Henri Nouwen and wonders:
It's true Adam’s limitations would keep him from performing tasks we accomplish each day. But, could Adam's limitations teach us something about working with our own? I’m wondering if our first step, like Adam, is to more deeply embrace the power of being, recognizing that the greatest gift we give our coworkers and our vocations is who we are. Could it be that our best “doings” on the job will flow most freely and naturally out of us simply being our truest selves?
If we worry about "our worth" that makes a lot of sense. But Nouwen CARED for Adam, he was not Adam. Adam's worth, as is ours, is intrinsic. I don't think the problem this world faces is discovering that fact - rather I think it is in finding someone so unimpressed with themselves that they are will to care for the Adams of the world.

I know too many people that think they have more important things to do than care for the infirmed, aged parent that can no longer care for themselves. Often in my neighborhood I see groups of the severely disabled on little field trips to the convenience store from whatever group care setting they are in while their loved ones tend to "more important business."

I am not advocating for abandoning your job for the sake of caring for someone like that, I am more talking about the attitude of "having to find something to do with such people, so I can get on with my life." You see this reflected in churches that refuse the sacraments to the mentally disabled - such people are viewed as disruptive to the service, or incapable of forming sufficient understanding to participate. And yet, God loves them just as much - so should we.

There are two ways we can view those that cannot care for themselves. One we can pity them and feel sorry for them. Two we can value them as worthy of our attention and care. Anymore it seems that pity, an emotion that should be born of love and drive us to care has become an emotion of dismissal. When we pity someone, we are writing them off in a very real fashion. When Christ asked god to forgive us becasue we did not know what we were doing, was that born of pity? I don't think so - it was born of love. Can we do less for those that are not even capable of understanding what they are doing?

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